IR SHORTS

Kids home alone thanks to WorkChoices

Australia is at risk of raising a whole generation of children home alone because their working parents are unable to arrange childcare at short notice, according to the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney.

The group’s report blames the federal government’s WorkChoices laws for situations where parents can be called in at an hour’s notice.
This report is backed by a study from the University of South Australia conducted by Professor Barbara Pocock, Director of the Centre for Work and Life.

‘A huge number of parents are making ad hoc arrangements to care for their children because they are on call, but they often feel they have no choice because their jobs are on the line,’ she said.

Professor Pocock said she found evidence strongly suggestive of ‘greater managerial prerogative, more unfairness at work, loss of control over working time, weaker voice, lower unionisation and less capacity of workers to negotiate.’

Abbott too busy to talk about health funding
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott says he won’t discuss negotiating the Australian Health Care Agreement with state health ministers until after the federal election, even though the current agreement expires at the end of this year.

Abbott said: ‘The important task at the present time is to get re-elected and that is where my energies are focused.’
The agreement includes Commonwealth funding for public hospitals.

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher criticised significant under-funding by the Howard government saying that NSW was being ripped off by upwards of $330 million a year.

‘This could pay for 4,600 nurses per year or the running of a big teaching hospital such as Liverpool for a year,’ she said.

PM knew IR laws would hurt workers

John Winston Howard: The Biography, by academics Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen, says Cabinet members who approved the introduction of new industrial relations laws in 2005 knew workers would be disadvantaged.

Mr Howard refused to pledge that no worker would be worse off.

Deputy Opposition Leader and Labor’s Industrial Relations spokesperson Julia Gillard said: ‘These extreme laws, WorkChoices, were a cold-blooded, calculated, premeditated act,’ and added that ‘Mr Howard and his government knew they would hurt Australian working families, but they went ahead with them anyway’.

Young workers hit hard by WorkChoices
A survey by the New South Wales Teachers Federation has found high school students are working longer and later hours in part-time jobs than ever before. Randall Pearce who conducted the survey said about 25% of students in a sample of 300 said they had signed an Australian Workplace Agreement.

‘A further 37% said that they had signed some kind of an employment contract, but they weren’t sure exactly what it was called,’ he added.

The study also found that students are no longer being paid penalty rates to work on Sundays and public holidays – the days they most frequently work. They must therefore work more hours in order to earn the same income.

Church attacks IR laws
The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) criticised the WorkChoices laws as skewed in favour of the bosses and called for them to be changed. The laws failed to meet fairness requirements in the areas of minimum wages, unfair dismissal rights, ability of unions to represent workers and the provision of a fair safety net of minimum terms and conditions, ACCER said.

Put staff on AWAs, universities told
The federal government has intensified pressure on universities to use Australian Workplace Agreements with a new threat to withhold funding if they do not. Universities were required to offer AWAs to all staff last year when the federal government tied $400 million in funding to their compliance with certain workplace provisions, known as the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements.