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10 questions for the Prime Minister about his fake safety net.

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Deputy Labor Leader

Shadow Minister for Employment & Industrial Relations Shadow Minister for Social Inclusion


The Prime Minister has today announced a fake safety net for Australian workers as a blatant political stunt in the lead up to the election. The fact is when you read the flimsy details of the Prime Minister’s so called ‘fairness test’, there are questions that the Prime Minister must answer.

1. Doesn’t the fake safety net permit AWAs that enable an employer to summon employees to work at a moment’s notice? Isn’t it a fact that the provisions in awards which give employees notice of changes of hours of work and shifts aren’t part of the fake safety net?

2. Will the AWAs of new employees get tested against the Prime Minister’s fake safety net? What did the Prime Minister mean when he said to The Australian Financial Review that the test will be worded in such a way that the offer of a job in itself could be considered fair compensation for the loss of protected award conditions like penalty rates?

3. Will the AWAs of new employees in struggling businesses get tested against the fake safety net? Who determines whether a business is struggling? What did the Prime Minister mean when he said to the Sydney Morning Herald that it would be acceptable if a business was struggling and a worker willingly took the job with the five minimum conditions knowing this, and not expecting penalty rates or some other trade off?

4. What happens to those employees who are currently on AWAs that strip off conditions like penalty rates? Will those employees remain stuck on them for up to five years? What happens to a worker who is stampeded by their employer in to signing an AWA today that strips off protected award conditions?

5. Will the $75,000 cut-off apply to employees who would be entitled to $75,000 under their Australian Pay & Classification Scale and award when working their usual hours or whose total earnings are $75,000? Will the fake $75,000 safety net comprise wages alone or will it include the ’value’ of other entitlements?

6. How is the so-called ‘fairness test’ going to work? How is it decided whether a car parking space is more beneficial for an employee than an increased rate of pay? What if the employee rides a bicycle to work?

7. Isn’t it the case that nothing in John Howard’s fake safety net will guarantee or protect employees’ redundancy entitlements?

8. When the new fake independent umpire, the Workplace Authority ‘examines’ AWAs, will each and every AWA be examined and assessed against the fake fairness test?

9. Did the Prime Minister consult with the business community on his fake fairness test? Did he take the fake fairness test to his Cabinet?

10. Will the fake fairness test apply to collective agreements? What will stop an employer from making an unfair employee collective agreement with a couple of high paid employees and then applying it to all future employees?

The Prime Minister might be a clever politician but hard working Australian families can see that the only job the Prime Minister is worried about is his own.

FRIDAY, 4 MAY 2007