||Issue No. 207||22 December 2003|
Backs to the Wall
Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Unions: Fightback 2003
Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Politics: United Front
Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
International: Net Benefits
History: The New Guard
Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Review: Culture That Was
The Locker Room
Looking The Otherway At Christmas
Bennelong Grinch Strikes Again
As the year draws to an end Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has blundered into the Labor Council's Secure Employment Test Case, while deputy Prime minister John Anderson has threatened state funding of the building industry.
Andrews applied to formally oppose Labor Council's case, designed to establish basic rights for millions of Australians employed on casual or labour hire terms, at last week's directions hearing in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
The Test Case is the first attempt to establish basic rights for the growing number of casual and labour hire workers.
The Case has three main objectives:
- Casual workers who receive regular work of six or more months should have the option to convert from casual to permanent.
- Companies using labour hire should ensure that workers are paid no less than the company's own employees.
- Employers should consult with their workers and unions before contracting out, ensuring employees and contractors receive the same pay and conditions for similar work.
NSW Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, said unions would present evidence that shows workers in the same job working regular shifts for five years were still being classified as casuals and denied the permanency benefits such as redundancy pay, paid holidays and sick pay.
"While there are workers who are suited to casual employment, there are many more who would take secure work if given the choice," Robertson says. "If you want to take out a loan for a car or home, for instance, you have no hope if you can't show you have secure work.
"In opposing our claim the Howard government is saying workers should have no say in their form of employment and are just cogs in the machine rather than human beings.
"Australia has one of the highest rates of casualisation in the developed world - and it is clear that the Howard Government wants to keep it that way. In contrast, unions believe workers deserve the real choice as to the form of their employment.
Meanwhile, the federal government has upped its assault on the state's, threatening to withhold federal funding to any construction project that doesn't comply with the draconian federal code.
Robertson says the NSW Government has held out from the pressure to date
But acknowledged that any new federal funding could become an industrial battleground.
"The crazy thing is that the Howard government is attempting to over-ride state laws that deliver better productivity outcomes than the federal system," Robertson says.
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