|Issue No 49||07 April 2000|
Entitlement Changes Fail to Protect Workers
The ACTU has told a parliamentary committee that proposed changes to Corporations Law are meagre and fail to protect vulnerable workers.
The changes are designed to make directors more accountable when employees lose accumulated benefits when a company collapses.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet says the changes are welcome, but inadequate and too narrow.
"Directors must be liable for unpaid entitlements in all cases. This bill only places the onus on a director when the company is in liquidation, and that is not good enough,"
The ACTU welcomed the introduction of a penalty for directors who avoided their liabilities, but rejected the proposal that a worker must prove the director's intentions.
"This is too much to expect of employees," Combet says. "Of course this sort of deceitful behaviour by a director should be a criminal offence, but it is plainly unfair to ask an employee to establish guilt.
"People who have lost their income when a company folds cannot afford to waste time and pay legal costs proving the director is at fault - they need their money immediately."
Combet also says the Government had acted with stealth by planning to introduce the Basic Payments Scheme administratively, rather than opening it to the scrutiny of parliament. The restricted safety net scheme will pay workers a maximum $20,000 when a company collapses.
"I wrote to Workplace Relations Minister Reith in February asking for a meeting to discuss this scheme. Two months later, we have heard nothing. We have no idea when this scheme will be introduced.
"Workers should be protected by a full, compulsory insurance scheme. Money owed to employees will never be safe until we have a fully funded insurance scheme."
Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005