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Bracks vows to protect Victorians from Howard's industrial relations changes.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

77/05 2 August 2005

BRACKS VOWS TO PROTECT VICTORIANS FROM HOWARD’S INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS CHANGES

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks’ move today to protect the entitlements and conditions for as many Victorian employees as possible follows the Prime Minister’s failure to guarantee that Australian working families will not be worse off under his industrial

relations changes.

While Premier Bracks has the capacity to protect the entitlements and conditions of workers employed by the Victorian public sector, he is unable to offer the same protection to the 90% of employees in Victoria working in the private sector.

A significant majority of private sector employee’s jobs are at further risk under the Howard Government’s change to unfair dismissal laws.

The Howard Government’s changes will remove the current no disadvantage test and leave four statutory employment conditions within the Fair Pay and Conditions Standard. Included in those four conditions are the entitlements of annual, sick and parental leave. (Attachment)

Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, has indicated that the minimum standard for annual leave will be 4 weeks and sick leave will be 8 days per year.

Minister Andrews has refused to guarantee entitlements in any award that grants employees more than 4 weeks annual leave and 8 days sick leave will not be adjusted down to the Howard Government’s new standard.

As the largest Victorian employer in the health service industry, the Bracks Government has taken a significant step to protect the workplace entitlements and conditions for employees in the industry.

Over 60,000 nurses in Victoria are currently entitled to 6 weeks annual leave, 21 days sick leave, and 26 weeks long service leave after 15 years of service.

Under the Howard Government’s changes, these nurses face the loss of 2 weeks annual leave, nearly two-thirds of their sick leave entitlement, and their long service leave halved to 13 weeks.

As the Victorian Government cannot offer the same protection of entitlements and conditions to Victorian workers outside of the public sector, the Howard Government’s changes will leave these employees at the mercy of the goodwill of their employer to maintain current entitlements and conditions.

By removing the no disadvantage test, Australian families have nothing to looking forward under the Howard Government’s changes to industrial relations changes other than having their wages reduced, entitlements and conditions stripped, and their safety nets removed.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651

Attachment

There are currently 20 Allowable matters in Awards:

1. classifications of employees and skill-based career paths; 2. ordinary time hours of work and the times within which they are performed, rest breaks, notice periods and variations to working hours; 3. rates of pay generally (such as hourly rates and annual salaries), rates of pay for

juniors, trainees or apprentices, and rates of pay for employees under the supported wage system; 4. incentive-based payments (other than tallies in the meat industry), piece rates and bonuses; 5. annual leave and leave loadings; 6. long service leave; 7. personal/carer's leave, including sick leave, family leave, bereavement leave,

compassionate leave, cultural leave and other like forms of leave; 8. parental leave, including maternity and adoption leave; 9. public holidays; 10. allowances; 11. loadings for working overtime or for casual or shift work; 12. penalty rates; 13. redundancy pay; 14. notice of termination; 15. stand-down provisions; 16. dispute settling procedures; 17. jury service; 18. type of employment, such as full-time employment, casual employment, regular part-

time employment and shift work; 19. superannuation; 20. pay and conditions for outworkers

The Government proposes to remove four of these from awards entirely - long service leave; notice of termination; jury service and superannuation (see items numbered 6, 14, 17 and 19).

The Government proposes to set out in legislation four minimum conditions - annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, parental leave (including maternity leave) and maximum ordinary hours of work.

Providing these conditions in legislation will only partially protect the entitlements currently in awards. The allowable matters (see items in the list above numbers 2, 5, 7 and 8) are broader than the proposed minimum conditions legislation, and there is no guarantee that these legislated standards will be at the same level as currently in Awards

In addition, the Government proposes a review of the remaining allowable matters putting at risk a further 12 allowable matters (items numbered 1, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 20)

The allowable matters identify what can be included in Awards. Awards form the basis for the No Disadvantage Test, the base line for individual or collective agreements.