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Employee entitlements.



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THE HON PETER REITH NIP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT, WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS

LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

94/99

10 August 1999

 

EMPLOYEE ENTITLEMENTS

 

The Minister for Finance and Administration, the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources and the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business met today with representatives of the Oakdale colliery workers.

 

The Ministers informed the Oakdale workers that the Government was undertaking detailed examination of a proposal to pay a proportion of entitlements lost and it is the Government’s intention to make such payments. The Government’s role in such circumstances was to provide a safety net for employees, as is the case in other areas of social welfare provision.

 

With respect to the Oakdale workers the Ministers also advised that the Government had decided to provide $200,000 worth of assistance for training and skills development for the workers, funded through the Regional Assistance Program (RAP). The RAP funding would be used primarily to support new employment opportunities for the retrenched workers. It would supplement activity already commenced by the NSW Government through Campbelltown TAFE and would include: assistance with resume preparation; counselling (careers, financial, and other); organising for the recognition of prior learning or licenses held by the workers; coordination of a targeted direct mail campaign to likely employers; other training (e.g. Small Business Management); and literacy and numeracy training.

 

The Ministers noted that the issue of employee entitlements went well beyond the Oakdale mine or the coal industry.

 

At the meeting the Ministers stated that the Government was genuinely looking at the issue of providing protection to workers faced with losing their entitlements due to employer insolvency. This is in addition to a number of important Corporations Law changes previously announced by the Government, aimed at preventing misuse of company structures to avoid payment of employee entitlements and strengthening existing related party and insolvency trading provisions.

 

The Government is considering options to deal with the wider issue and would require a number of weeks to finalise its position on the issue. Discussions had been held with the Australian Democrats and were expected to continue this week.

 

Ministers noted that the Government considers that the protection of employee entitlements is not solely a Commonwealth issue. It is an issue that also extends to the States’ and Territories’ responsibilities. Any package of proposals would require State involvement and funding.

 

It was agreed that a further meeting between the Ministers and the Oakdale workers would occur on Monday, 30 August.

 

For further information contact: Ian Hanke 0419 484 095

 

 

rw  1999-08-12  10:53