|Issue No 109
|31 August 2001
Abbott Clears Way for Lower Wages
More than three million employees of small businesses would lose their legal protections against lower wages, unfair sackings and sub-standard conditions under legislation introduced in Federal Parliament this week.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said the small business amendment Bill would remove legal rights from half the Australian workforce, or more than three million employees of businesses with less than 20 staff.
"Small businesses are struggling because of John Howard's GST and the slowdown its forced on the economy. Now John Howard is trying to recover ground by taking away the rights of small business employees. Under these laws, John Howard is saying that these employees can be sacked and have no protection.
"These laws would unfairly discriminate against half the workforce. Why should employees have fewer legal rights and protections just because they work in small business? John Howard and Employment Minister Tony Abbott don't care about the employment conditions and job security of these working families," Mr Combet said.
"Former Employment Minister Peter Reith tried to bring in these changes and they were rejected by Parliament because they are unfair. Now Tony Abbott is serving them up again as a political stunt.
"Small business people and working families need a Government with new ideas to solve real problems, not this second-hand piece of union-bashing."
Mr Combet said the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment (Small Business and Other Measures) Bill 2001 discriminated against small business employees by:
� allowing sub-standard individual contracts to apply without review by any independent umpire, including the Industrial Relations Commission and the Office of the Employee Advocate;
� banning unfair dismissal claims;
� exempting many businesses from awards and commission hearings; and
� preventing union representatives from visiting many businesses
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