||Issue No. 325||22 September 2006|
A Values Call
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Aussie Values DOA
It’s Not Cricket
Kim’s New Platforms
Reaping What You Sow
Roll Out the Tanks
WorkChoices Reverse Somersault with Pike
The Government today announced changes to regulations affecting sick leave and the cashing out leave entitlements in a move to ease community concerns over the impact of the extreme industrial laws on Australian workers.
The Australian described the Government's changes as a " clear response " to the Your Rights at Work campaign for fairer workplace laws - observing that " if John Howard wasn't in election mode before, he certainly is now."
This latest decision follows other recent examples poll-driven policy tweaking such as the privatising Medibank, Telstra and the Snowy.
Predictably, Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews denied claims of that the policy reversal was due to union pressure, instead trotting out the mantra that "the Government is always listening to the community."
Opposition IR spokesman Stephen Smith warned the public not to be fooled by the policy tinkering, labelling it a "manipulative political fix."
"These laws can't be amended, they can't be made good - they must be ripped up," Smith said.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the moves proved that the new workplace laws were "too extreme" and that the changes did not go far enough.
"They seem to involve only minor amendments to the Government's new watered-down sick leave provisions and while they promised to protect public holidays, data shows that public holiday entitlements were cut in 40% of all new AWA individual contracts," she said.
Citing research conducted by the Government's own IR watchdog, the Office of Workplace Services, Burrow explained that two thirds of WorkChoices individual contracts slashed penalty rates, overtime payments and leave loadings.
"More than half of these individual contracts cut shift loadings and around a quarter of new AWA individual contracts individual contracts contain no pay increases over the life of the contracts, which can last for up to five years," she said.
"These IR laws are grossly unfair to working families and this bit of window-dressing by Kevin Andrews doesn't change that."
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