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Labor's Industrial Relations Taskforce visits Tasmania and listens to community concerns.

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Labor's Industrial Relations Taskforce visits Tasmania and listens to community concerns MEDIA RELEASE 02 February 2006

The Federal Labor's Industrial Relations Taskforce met in Launceston yesterday to examine the potential adverse effects of the WorkChoices Act 2005 upon families and communites.

The Taskforce listened to 19 Tasmanian witnesses tell of their grave concerns and their growing anxiety over the extreme and unfair laws. Small Business operator, Andrew Lovitt Launceston Legal Centre Manager Debbie Butler.

The Taskforce heard of employees being forced to sign Australian Workplace Agreements(ie individual contracts) and being sacked when they chose not to sign an AWA. We heard from a young worker that she was denied any further work when she told her employer she did not want to sign an AWA that would cut her hourly rate by more than $2 and later told by her employer that 'she was no longer needed'.

Local fire fighters told us that the removal of collective bargaining in the industrial relations system will undermine the comraderie required amongst firefighters and undermine employment conditions. Wayne Seabrook, President of the United Firefighters Union said that the voluntary fire fighters would also be worse off because certain employments conditions acquired by professional fire fighters, such as improved protective clothing currently won through collective bargaining usually flowed on to the volunteers.

We heard from a childcarer who was worried that her employment conditions would worsen once her award was undermined. She told the committee that the already low wages were driving qualified and dedicated childcarers out of the profession and these laws would worsen the standing of an already undervalued workforce.

There were many other witnesses that raised their concerns about the extreme and unfair nature of the new legislation. All employees were already concerned about the growing casualisation in the workforce and believed this legislation would increase the likelihood of precarious employment.

Yesterday was the first of many vists planned across the country to listen to concerns from community groups, churches, unions, employers and most particularly hard working Australians who believe the laws to be extreme and unfair. The Taskforce is giving ordinary Australians a voice that the Howard

Government denied them. The Taskforce first reports to Kim Beazley and caucus in May.

said that she was angry that the debate was gagged in parliament and that so many submissions to the Senate Committee Inquiry into the new laws such as her own, were ignored. She was also concerned that the new laws would cost small businesses and employees in dispute as they would have to hire legal repesentation rather than use the Tasmanian Industrial Commission. She also believed that most employees would not be able to afford to challenge a dismissal even if it was grossly unfair. told of his fear that the new industrial relations laws would cut wages in Australia and change our society for the worse. He personally paid for a $5000 advertisement in the local newspaper, The Examiner to publically protest against the new legislation.