||Issue No. 180||30 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
Unions Deserve Reputation
Entitlements Revamp – Acid on States
The coast-to-coast state system would ensure access to, and safety for, billions of dollars in workers money at risk from business failures.
The radical proposal, involving similar protections regimes across the nation's states and territories, will be given substance at August's ACTU national congress.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson said he would meet with counterparts from around the country, during congress, to finalise proposals to be recommended to Labor administrations in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA, South Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory.
Entitlements have become a key issue since a raft of companies folded leaving workers without accrued holiday pay, long service leave, redundancy and other owed monies, sometimes including super contributions.
Federal Government made promises, especially in the build-up to elections, but delivered little. When Ansett crashed last year it began slugging travellers $10 on every ticket to supplement its safety net program but, even so, jobless workers are being short-changed millions of dollars.
Robertson told this week's Labor Council meeting workers were "sick and tired" of being left in the lurch when companies hit the wall and intended doing something about it.
"This is our money we are talking about, money we have earned over the years. It's alright arguing about where we stand on the creditors' list but when there is nothing left in the kitty it doesn't really matter," he said.
"One of the answers is trust funds but Federal Government is not going to do it.
"We will push state governments to make the running. If we can convince them all to do it, I think we can move forward."
Initial approaches to the NSW Government were rebuffed on the grounds it could make the state uncompetitive. A joint approach, coast-to-coast, would allay that concern.
Robertson was responding to a challenge laid down by National Entitlements Security Trust (NEST) CEO, Andrew Wyllie, in a speech to mark the first anniversary of the revamped union-backed protection fund.
Wyllie asked unions to consider employment statistics that revealed
- 20 percent of workers were now in "atypical" employment relationships, labour-hire or the like
- one third of private sector workers had no access to paid sick or holiday entitlements
He said various funds, including his own, had been successful in protecting billions of dollars worth of entitlements but there were billions more exposed to uncertainty.
Portability, he said, had become a critical issue in an uncertain environment.
"It is time to ask that every worker has a universal leave entitlement irrespective of where they work," Wyllie said. "Then we need to protect those entitlements as they accrue. The issue is not who but whether or not we can build more portability into the system."
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