||Issue No. 257||01 April 2005|
Unions: State of the Union
Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Legal: Leg Before Picket
Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Health: Cannabis Controversy
Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
History: Politics In The Pubs
Review: Three Bob's Worth
Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
The Locker Room
Bus Lanes On Vic Rd
Dirt Cheap Right On Money
Health System to Subsidise Shonks
A discussion paper released by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, proposes denying contractors access to the Workplace Relations Act, along with state occupational health and safety, workers comp and anti-discrimination rules.
At essence, it proposes anyone deemed a contractor by him/herself and an employer will be a contractor at law.
The radical shift comes as the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research warns the rush to labour hire and contracting out is exposing taxpayers to a $14.38 billion loss, every year.
That figure, spent on nation-building, could wipe out the public health crisis by funding 42 new teaching hospitals or carrying out an extra 5.6 million operations annually.
Alternatively, it would fund the construction of 770 new high schools or the employment of an additional 1.5 million teachers.
AMWU secretary, Doug Cameron, presented the economic research as part of his union's submission to a parliamentary inquiry into contracting.
The Institute estimates the annual "risk" to the taxpayer, posed by avoidance and evasion, at $13,897 for every non-employee in the economy.
The research mirrored ATO evidence to the Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry.
In damning evidence, largely ignored by the Royal Commission, the ATO said up to 40 percent of building industry income was "hidden", at an estimated cost to state and federal coffers of $1 billion a year.
It pointed the finger at contracting when it said non-compliance levels were "high and widespread" among smaller industry operators.
"This represents a massive drain on the Australian taxpayer and shows outsourcing, labour hire and false independent contractors are really an exercise in cost-shifting from big business to ordinary Australians," Cameron said.
Cameron told the inquiry, increased labour hire and contracting out, would lead to ...
- business risks being shifted from business operators to individual workers
- deepening the national skills crisis by removing incentives to train and develop workers
- undermining safety standards
TWU state secretary, Tony Sheldon, said the legislation would be a disaster for thousands of truck operators who depended on the IRC in legal and health and safety wrangles with multi-national operators.
More than 12,000 "independent" NSW truckies belong to the union which files two to three new cases every week, alleging unjustified dismissal, harsh or unfair contracts, and breaches of safety regulations.
Sheldon said the Andrews' definition of a contractor was a "sham" that would leave small operators and genuine workers at the mercy of multi-nationals and their legal teams.
He said federal government catch-cries like "choice" and "freedom" were "double-speak of the worst kind".
"Where is the choice when you go for a job and the employer tells you, you can choose to be a contractor or not but, if you don't become a contractor, you don't get the job?" he asked.
"That's the freedom this government wants for thousands of Australians who need to work to put food on their tables."
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