Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ozpolitic: IR reform

Significant media attention has been given to the Howard Government's very recent reform of IR. Australia's IR system was, until recently, much more complex and institutionalised that NZ's not least of all because of the federal system which means states and territories, except Victoria, share responsibility for IR with the Feds. Workchoices, the pithy little name given to the reform bought about under the Workplace Relations Act 2005, will change all this without reducing existing entitlements. Yeah right!

This report, from Sydney University, forecasts a grim future for vulnerable workers. The report predicts that in the short-term, there will be a declining numbers of employees in preference for contractors (with lower and less secure conditions), increasing pressure on families (work-life collision), and growing in-equality. Crazy you say, well consider that:
  • within a day of the Act coming into force, there was stories about 29 meat workers in Cowra (Western NSW) sacked so that fewer could be re-hired on lower conditions,
  • the following day a young Juice Bar part-timer was laid-off only to be offered her job back with lower wages and no over-time.
In the Cowra case, the Minister intervened and the meat company backed off - the Minister argued that the company didn't understand the new law and, unbelievably, that the situation proved the effectiveness of the new regime. In the case of the Juice Bar, it was all a misunderstanding and Pulp (now Pow) Juice have offered to increase her pay but the young woman involved is insisting that her colleagues also get the same rate...

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