The "Closing the Loopholes" bill passed last week is big news. It's a step towards bringing back balance to Australian workplaces, with greater protections for workers.
The Liberals are furious. The Minerals Council have vowed to run millions of $$$ of ads against Labor in retaliation. Qantas are complaining it will stop them circumventing workers' rights. In short, the bill is really annoying all the people who you would expect to stand up for wage theft and smashing workers conditions. It's a good day to be union.
There's more to do next year, but this is a great start.
- ‘Same job, same pay’: labour hire paid at least the same as the direct workforce
- National Wage theft laws!: 10 years prison' or $7.8 million ﬁnes for intentional underpayments; ﬁvefold increase in ﬁnes for civil underpayments
- National Industrial manslaughter laws!: 25 years prison' and up to $18 million ﬁnes for negligently causing the death of a worker'
- Delegate rights: more support for workplace delegates
- Comcare review: independent review to improve outcomes for injured workers
- better support for first responders with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- protections for workers experiencing domestic violence
- protect workers who work with silica
- redundancy protections for workers in small business
In a top contender for "things we'd never thought we'd say", Michaelia Cash probably summed it up best.
Senator Cash gave a full throated defence of wage theft, union busting and outsourcing jobs to labour hire as a method of attacking working conditions in the Senate, admitting "we don't have the numbers [to stop the bill]", and seething at the audacity of cross-benchers to pass the bill before Christmas.
She also congratulated the Australian Union movement on a hard fought campaign for these improvements over 9 years: shucks! Gosh Senator, it's what we do!
Cash also boldly tied the Liberals' fortunes to the reputation of Qantas and BHP, promising "The Coalition is always on the side of employers". When they steal your wages, when they smash job security, when they force you into working conditions that make a decent life impossible - the bosses can ALWAYS rely on the support of the Liberal Party.
Merry Christmas indeed!
The next tranche of the Closing the Loopholes Bill, which Labor has committed to passing next year, will include more important reforms including:
■ Casual conversion rights: the right for regular casuals to convert to permanent
■ Sham contracting: stop employers from wrongly classifying workers as contractors to avoid minimum conditions
■ minimum pay and conditions for "gig" workers
■ Right of entry: union rights to inspect records in underpayment investigations
■ Road transport: minimum pay and conditions for truck drivers
These changes are huge. In the case of labour hire reform, wage theft and industrial manslaughter laws, Victorian workers won the changes here first and proved their effectiveness before we could win them at the national level.
This is why we campaign together in union, across industry and classification. We don't just defeat bad laws and kick out bad governments - we win changes that protect all workers across Australia. Solidarity Forever!