||Issue No. 147||09 August 2002|
A Call to Action
Interview: Save Our Souls
Unions: Rats With Wings
Bad Boss: If The Boot Fits
History: Political Bower Birds
International: No More Business as Usual
Corporate: The Seven Deadly Sins of Capitalism
Review: Prepare To Bend
Satire: Bush Boosts Sharemarket Confidence: Shares his Cocaine Stash
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Unions Push for Baby Nest
Under the proposal, employers would pay a top up levy into the National Entitlement Security Trust (NEST) to allow women to access 14 weeks leave at full pay when they have a child.
Unions are arguing strongly that the 14 weeks at full pay should be the standard for universal maternity leave, which would cost employers less than $1 per week per worker.
The Senate Inquiry into Paid Maternity Leave is being held as the Howard Government leaves open the option of some form of universal taxpayer funded scheme of a more modest duration.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union argues that to reach the international standard of 14 weeks a combination of taxpayer funded safety net and an employer-funded top-up is required.
That money could be held in either a government pool such as the Australian Tax Office, or preferably a scheme such as NEST - jointly administered by employer and employee representatives.
The Umbrella Trust
The bid to handle top-up maternity leave payments is part of NEST's transition from the nation's first industry specific entitlements fund (previously known as Manusafe) into an all-purpose entitlements trust.
NEST is also moving to establish sector or industry based schemes that would manage portable long service leave entitlements for the millions of Australian workers who will never hold the same job for ten years.
NEST CEO Andrew Whiley says one aim is to create a one-stop shop for entitlements that workers could draw upon throughout their working life - be it to take time off for training, long service leave or when they were retrenched.
NEST is run as a non-profit organisation with investment returns going back to employers to assist schemes to reach self funding. Its board has recently welcomed its first employer representative to complement the current trade union nominees, with negotiations with other employer representatives well advanced.
"For millions of workers the absence of traditional entitlements like long service leave and are an emerging industrial issue," Whiley says. "The old notions of one or two jobs in a lifetime are gone, and the traditional way many workers accrued entitlements from extended service with a single employer has gone with it."
" All the flexibility seems to be one side of the employment equation, with many workers having to be more mobile whether they like it or not. It's time to have some flexibility on the other side, so that workers can accrue and carry leave with them from job to job.
"I see NEST as providing unions with the basic infrastructure to underpin various campaigns and initiatives - especially in industries with high levels of labour mobility, multiple employers and broken work patterns. With a credible and effective trust fund now in existence workers will have extra ammunition in the growing push for recognition of service to an industry and portability of their entitlements."
NEST is targeting traditional blue-collar workers as well as workers in the burgeoning casual sectors such as labour hire child-care, education, hospitality and the media.
"We remain a solution for protecting workers entitlements; but we offer a generic vehicle for the labor movement to access when grappling with the reality of employment patterns facing more and more Australian workers. Baby NEST is yet another example how a generic trust can be adapted to meet differing needs of Australian workers.
NEST will officially unveil a new board - including a high profile chairman - later in the year.
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