|Issue No 40||19 November 1999|
Reith Calls on States to Split Entitlement Costs
Workplace relations minister Peter Reith has told the States they will have to split the costs of any entitlement protection scheme on a 50-50 basis.
Reith told today's meeting of state and federal labour ministers that he would not need State financial support to convinvce Treasurer Peter Costello and the Cabinet to approve the protection package, sparked by the plight of the Oakdale miners.
Sources at the meeting say Reith put up two proposals, both costed at $100 million to set up, for either a compulsory insurance scheme or a government-funded scheme.
But he conceded neither scheme would fully reimburse workers for lost entitlements and no details were offered as to where the thresholds should lie.
Queensland indicated in principle support, NSW said it would have to go to Cabinet, although NSW industrial relations minister said he wanted the matter dealt with urgently.
It is also understood that Financial Services Minister Joe Hockey is moving forward with changes to corporations law propsed by Shaw at the height of the Oakdale criss.
These include holding comany directors and employers personally liable for unpaid entitlements.
New Balance on Council
Enjoying a majority for the first time in a decade, the Labor States have used a meeting of state and federal industrial relations ministers to promote a common agenda.
From being in a minority of one just two years ago, Shaw was this week joined by Paul Braddy (Queensland), Monica Gould (Victoria) and Peter Patmore (Tasmania) at the regular meeting..
In joint statement after the meeting the Labor ministers:
- condemned the federal government for dragging its feet on the protection of employee entitlements.
- called for a national approach to halt the exploitation of clothing outworkers.
- called for a national safety code to stem the fatality rate in the truck industry.
- and rejected the federal government's attempts to dismantle minium working conditions.
"Labor will turn the tide on the Reith wave and restore the balance in industrial relations to one of an independent umpire, equitable work conditions with minium standards and a spirit of co-operation between employers and employees which will encourage investment," they said.
It is the first time in 44 years that ALP Governments have held power along the eastern seaboard.
Focus on Truck Deaths
The Labor Ministers accused conservatives states, led by federal workplace relations minister Peter Reith of running down national safety standards, cutting projects in the National Safety Standard program by two-thirds.
"It is a national disgrace that the Federal Government has played fast and loose with workers' safety," they said.
Changes to industrial relations have also increased driver danger, with drivers forced to work longer and harder - meaning excessive speeds and fatigue on the road.
They said one agreement, approved under Reith's laws required drivers to travel at an average of 90kmh, regardless of safety conditions.
"One hundred and seventy nine people were killed in accidents involving articulated trucks on Australian roads in 1998," they said.
"The only way to stem this toll is to ensure drivers have reasonable working conditions and stringent and enforceable safety requirements in place."
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005