The campaign to protect penalty rates kicked up a gear today with the release of new ACTU research, ‘One out – The Abbott Government and the return of unfair individual contracts’ which outlines how the Abbott Government’s proposed Industrial Relations legislation robs workers of their penalty rates alongside other workplace rights.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said that Australian Unions are taking up the fight to protect penalty rates and will be engaged in grass-roots lobbying in every State and Territory alongside a national advertising campaign, amid significant and rising concern over the Abbott Government’s proposed Industrial Relations legislation.
“Tony Abbott and his Government are working hand in glove with the business lobby to cut penalty rates and lower take home pays,” Mr Oliver said.
“Legislation before the Parliament will strip current protections around individual flexibility agreements (IFAs) and make it much easier for employers to force workers to forgo penalty rates.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers could be moved off safety net conditions onto IFAs with less pay and less conditions under a scheme that will make it virtually impossible for workers who are ripped off to recoup their losses.”
Mr Oliver said union members were staunchly opposed to the blatantly anti-worker legislation and would be taking the fight to workplaces, to the community, to the industrial tribunal and onto televisions sets around the country.
“Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Mr Abbott didn’t present these plans to the public pre-election instead he promised that workers would benefit or, at least, not be worse off,” Mr Oliver said.
“This was an outright lie. Mr Abbott is attacking the workplace rights of hardworking Australians including penalty rates, the minimum wage and imposing unfair individual contracts.
“Our campaign will warn hardworking Australians about what they could face and encourage them to actively stand up and fight this legislation and fight Mr Abbott’s attacks.”
Mr Oliver said that this legislation gives employers the green light to cut people’s pay under the guise of greater ‘flexibility’.
“When employers say ‘flexibility’, what they actually mean is reduced pay and conditions, Mr Oliver said.
“History tells us that under WorkChoices, individual contracts cut penalty rates for an estimated 65 percent of signed up workers, nearly 70 per cent lost annual leave and shift loading, half lost overtime and allowances and a quarter lost out on state and territory public holidays.
“This new plan will see workers working longer for less pay and outrageously includes a provision that requires them to sign away their future right to claim that the IFA left them worse off.
“We know that most people signing IFAs will do so under pressure to keep their jobs, particularly when starting a new job or to continue their employment.
“Tony Abbott’s legislation provides significant financial incentive for bosses to exploit workers with minimal ramifications.”
Key facts: IFAs: what’s at risk for workers?
Download this media release: Actu release-140618-penalty rates
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