How fair is the Fair Work Act 2009? A socio-political legal analysis By Michael Tubbs The Oppositionâ€™s anti-union and anti-employee WorkChoices IR regime cost it Government on 24 November 2007. Thus one would expect the new Rudd Governmentâ€™s Fair Work Act (The Act) to be the complete opposite – liberating. Unfortunately, inexplicably this is not […]
Young People Demand Equal Pay Young workers in Canberra rallied outside Dickson Woolworths in Canberra this Saturday 21 to demand an end to discriminatory â€˜junior employeeâ€™ rates. The rally was part of a National Day of Action and kicks off the Youth Wages Suck national campaign. The rally demands the removal of discriminatory pay rates […]
We therefore call upon the federal government and the Workplace Relations Minister to immediately:
1) Review the membership of the original panel and change it to a membership of no less than three persons from each state and territory with a balance of appropriate industry, professional and academic knowledge, skill and experience;
2) The key stakeholders and social partners from each state i.e. employers, trade unions and the government shall put forward nominations and agree upon those nominees to fill these positions;
3) In full consultation and consensus between the stakeholders and social partners, the panel shall be appointed to comprehensively review, research and reconfigure all of the original recommendations for a new model OHS Act in a realistic time frame of no less than four years;
4) Panel members must be made publically accountable for all their recommendations;
5) From that point, a panel of no less than seven members elected from the â€˜newâ€™ panel (founded upon the true tripartite principles of the ILO convention; to which Australia is a willing party and signature) and with a balance of appropriate industry, professional and academic knowledge, skill and experience, shall make the final recommendations into achieving the highest levels of OHS legislative standards taken from each state or territory. Each of the highest OHS standards shall unambiguously apply;
6) A further two years of deliberation and true tripartite consultation and debate consistent with ILO principles shall follow the drafting of the agreed highest standards of OHS legislation;
7) A public comment period of no less than six months (as opposed to six weeks) shall be allocated to enable full and proper discussion and debate to occur.
VTHC submission continues. Part 4 â€“ Consultation, participation and representation Q21. Is the proposed scope of duty to consult workers appropriate? The proposed duty to consult is based largely on the current Victorian provisions and will mean that the problems we have had due to the wording of our current provision will be replicated. It […]
Victorian Trades Hall Council Public Comment on Draft for Model Act and Stage 1 Model Regulations The VTHC represents over 50 affiliated union organisations representing approximately 400,000 Victorian union members. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and the protection of workers rights is a core function of unions. The benefit of the efforts of unions is […]
The role of unions
As currently exists for nearly one third of the Australian workforce, the Model Act should stipulate that unions have unrestricted right of entry powers to consult workers over OHS issues and inspect suspected breaches.
The Model Act should also stipulate, as also currently exists for nearly one third of the Australian workforce, that authorised union officials have the power to immediately copy all available relevant documents, take photographs and make audio and video recordings of incidents and take samples and witness statements in connection with suspected breaches.
The Model Act should ensure that upon application by a union, OHS right of entry permits are issued in all jurisdictions in a quick and uncomplicated manner.
Political discourse and contested debates on the labour movement. Margarita Windish in a Socialist Alliance discussion of union work. http://alliancevoices.blogspot.com/2009/11/notes-on-our-trade-union-work.html
Unions NSW submission on Draft OHS bill continued. Part 1 Preliminary Matters Q.1 What is the best title for the Model Act? Unions NSW strongly support the title â€˜Occupational Health and Safety Actâ€™ as the most appropriate title for the Model Act. . Any legislation dealing with OH&S must recognise both â€˜health and safetyâ€™ as […]
In 2008, when harmonization of national OH&S laws became a reality, Unions NSW was
fearful that in a worse case scenario, the â€˜harmonizedâ€™ Act would be based on a lowest
common denominator approach. However, as NSW was recognised at the time as
having the most powerful OH&S legislation in Australia, there was some optimism that
the harmonized Act would reflect some of the more important and powerful NSW
provisions, and in particular retain the provisions giving NSW Unions the power, and
right, to prosecute employers for contraventions of our OH&S Act utilising our right of
Now Unions NSW worst fears were realized on reading the recommendations in
response to the 2008 Discussion paper and now been fully realized as a result of our
examination of the Model Act and Model Regulation. The most important provisions of
the NSW Act have been totally ignored.
As a consequence we now strongly believe that this legislation if it is enacted will,
regrettably, do nothing to advance, improve, or secure the OH&S and welfare of workers
in NSW, or the rest of Australia.
We make no apology for these observations as the Model Act completely removes the
long held rights for NSW union officials to protect the OH&S interests of their members.
Furthermore, the Model Act will allow most employers sufficient means to evade future
prosecutions and other mandatory duties which have been part and parcel of the NSW
In particular, there is no recognition given to the power relationships that employers can
and will exercise over unprotected workers, including union members who are excluded
by law from getting reasonable assistance from their union.
Alternatively, the Model Act appears to enshrine the principle that employers should
enjoy unfettered power in managing their workers (and OH&S) and exclude Unions
attempting to safeguard the OH&S of members.
We recognize that the Model Act goes to extraordinary lengths to deny unions acting on
behalf of their members access to an Industrial Tribunal to resolve OH&S disputes. This
will only result in an unrealistic approach being taken in dispute resolution. This
approach, plus Union exclusion, we predict likely to result in more stoppages and
disputes on OH&S that occurred prior to â€˜harmonization.â€™ How these matters will be
resolved in such a vacuum is a matter of conjecture.
About The Author
Chris has worked in the trade union movement for 30 years and researches on left politics, union issues and China labour law. He lives in Darwin.
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