||Issue No. 178||16 May 2003|
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
In Defence of Tom
Costello Whacks Women
That was the warning delivered by Professor Ron McCallum of Sydney University’s Law Department in a speech that challenged Australians to “stand up and fight back”.
McCallum said the change, denying state remedies to employees of "corporations", was a cornerstone in Tony Abbott's drive for a single IR system.
He predicted the more restrictive, complex and costly Federal procedures could leave 30 percent of working Australians without any rights to challenge unfair sackings.
"In NSW 60 percent of workers are covered by the state system and three fifths of them are women. This would deny them the right to use the state system to challenge unjustified dismissals," McCallum told Labor Council delegates.
"It will force workers, unions and employers to operate under two system - state for awards and agreements and federal for unfair dismissals. That is bad public policy."
He said the federal unjustified dismissal system was "discriminatory" because it wrote large sections of the workforce out of coverage. Then, he said, it was more legalistic and expensive than its NSW counterpart, limiting the IRC to conciliation and forcing workers into formal Federal Court action if that procedure failed. The NSW jurisdiction, on the other hand, provides for the IRC to make binding decisions.
"The system in NSW is easier and fairer and the biggest impact of these changes will be felt by women. Transport drivers and outworkers, deemed to be employees in NSW, would lose coverage," McCallum said.
He prediced that if the change was voted up in the Senate it would mean the eventual "death" of state IR systems. Robbed of the majority of their work, he said, they would lose funding and eventually relevance.
McCallum urged unionists to lobby Democrat Senators "hoodwinked by the Minister" to reverse their support for the proposal.
In other key budget announcement, Treasurer Peter Costello ...
- confirmed Government would allow general practitioners to levy upfront charges whilst being subsidised by the public purse in changes to Medicare that critics say will wreck the public health. Labor, Greens and the Democrats have pledged Senate resistance, leaving Meg Lees and other indepedents as keys to whether or not the changes are passed into law.
- announced that $404 million in funding to universities would be tied to the introduction of individual Australian Workplace Agreements and that an amendment to the Workplace Relations Act would make industrial action by academics illegal. Huge hikes in student fees were also announced and the policy of allowing full fee paying students to jump better credentialled applicants for popular courses was reconfirmed.
- refused the request of the ABC's Government-appointed board for an "urgently needed" funding boost.
- proposed restrictions on the rights to take protected industrial action of hundreds of thousands of Australians employed in health, education and community services.
- announced another $17 million for the implementation of recommendations from the Cole Royal Commission, taking to $67 million the public spend on the Government campaign against building workers.
- failed to deliver on maternity leave, costed at $200 million a year, whilst delivering tax breaks to Australian-based multinationals worth around $270 million.
- announced personal tax cuts averaging $4 a week, worth less in the words of Cabinet Minster Amanda Vanstone, than a sandwich and a milkshake.
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