Even netballers fall foul of IR laws

It’s not just burly construction workers and hard-working nurses that are vulnerable to the federal government’s IR laws. The laws are so all-encompassing that even the world of sport has been affected.

Two players, captain Peta Stephens and former captain Melanie Griffiths were sacked and 18 other elite players from the Queensland Firebirds were threatened last month after refusing to sign individual contracts that stripped out annual leave and child care provisions that were standard in the National Netball League.

Netball Queensland also removed the right for players to put their education first and the contracts allowed Netball Queensland to on-sell the image of a player to a third party.

Netball legend Liz Ellis from the Melbourne Swifts was one of many who stood by her Queensland colleagues.

‘If the players don’t stand up for themselves it could set a precedent,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.

In contrast, Joe Hockey, the new Minister for Workplace Relations, stood alone with Netball Queensland.

‘Can I just point out that Queensland netballers, they are [on] individual agreements, that’s right. The fact is, people are offered individual contracts. Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, a whole range of footballers,’ he told The 7.30 Report.

This was contradicted by Paul Marsh, CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

‘Our collective agreement provides Australian cricket and its players with a workplace framework that has enabled us to dominate world cricket for the past decade. From newly contracted to senior, our players are well looked after and therefore very happy with our collective agreement,’ he said.

Workers’ comp changes under fire

There has been strong and broad opposition to changes to Commonwealth workers’ compensation laws (Comcare) that are being pushed by the Howard government.

The government is looking to cut costs by insisting that an employee’s work would have had to have contributed in a significant way to the contraction or aggravation of the employee’s injury or sickness in order for compensation to be paid.

Another amendment would end Comcare coverage if an employee’s injury occurs during a journey to or from work. Comcare would only cover injuries that occur at work.

The ACTU has argued that the Bill should be rejected. BeyondBlue, an organisation that works for people with depression said the bill would make it hard for those with a psychological illness to make a claim.

12% of kids work for nicks

Recent figures released by the NSW Office of Industrial Relations show 12% of young people surveyed had done unpaid work trials when they begun their current jobs.

Bullying, working in dangerous jobs and injuries at work were also common among those on unpaid work trials.

The NSW Office of Industrial Relations found that Christmas really was the time for giving – from teenagers to employers that is – when they were flooded with calls over the festive period.

Under NSW law, young people are entitled to be paid proper wages for pro-ductive labour and employers found breaching the law are liable to fines of up to $10,000.

Tristar’s double tragedy

The bizarre story of workers at Tristar who sit out their workdays in an empty shed in Marrickville while their employer waits for the golden moment presented by the federal government’s workplace laws to sack them more cheaply, took a tragic turn when one of the employees, John Beaven, passed away recently.

John, a father of three, accepted a $50,000 pay out from the company just before he died after an intervention by Joe Hockey, the federal Minister for Workplace Relations. John’s colleagues say he was entitled to $212,000.