||Issue No. 316||21 July 2006|
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Sick of Ants
Praise from Belly
Hendification Blurs WorkChoices ll
Proposals to do away with entitlements to annual, sick, shift and bereavement leave were listed for a hush-hush get-together between the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, on July 12.
ACCI boss, and former Peter Reith staffer, Peter Hendy, has denied the meeting took place but his agenda is clearly laid out in a leaked internal document.
It reveals that business wants Andrews to green light AWAs that supersede all minimum employment standards.
One ACCI constituent says most of its concerns would "be resolved if the government allowed AWAs to override the Standard".
Specifically, bosses are calling for:
- the ability to "completely cash out annual leave", effectively leaving Australians with no guaranteed annual leave at all
- the right to halve the WorkChoices entitlement to 10 days parental or sick leave a year through the use of take-it or leave-it AWAs
- a cap on entitlements to "paid compassionate leave".
- a block on the ability of NSW employees to utilise recently won casual conversion provisions. They describe the Secure Employment Test Case that delivered them as "draconian".
- get out provisions that would allow people to be employed for more than 38 hours a week without payment of overtime
- limitations on shift worker access to a fifth week of annual leave
The ACCI denial, co-signed by Hendy and Communications Director Brett Hogan, is illuminating.
It skites that "key measures" in government's WorkChoices package "directly accord with the policies of Australian employers, and are precisely the approaches we endorse as the way forward".
It denies employers had "sought to be able to have all annual leave cashed out" or "sought any changes to overtime pay, nor to change the 38 hour working week".
Yet each of those claims is outlined in a document that tells recipients they are "confidential items that ACCI will be raising with the Minister on 12 July 2006 in respect to potential amendments to the Workplace Relations Act".
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said the leaked documents were evidence the government planned another assault on working Australians.
In March, Finance Minister Nick Minchin told supporters at the HR Nicholls Society there was much for the government still to do on workplace reform, although he conceded, most Australians "most Australians violently disagree with what we are proposing".
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