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ACTU Attack IR Law Regulations

March 22 2006 - Not surprisingly, Australian unions have attacked the details of regulations relating to the Government's new industrial relations laws recently released by Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews, describing them as 'harsh new Federal Government fines and penalties for workers and unions and a crackdown on union activity in the workplace'.

Union critics point to Federal Government fines of between $6,000 and $33,000 for seeking commitments from employers around job security or fair treatment processes and claim that many basic union activities in the workplace have been effectively outlawed.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said:

"These laws are an affront to basic Australian democratic rights. They impose harsh fines on Australian workers and unions simply for standing up for fundamental values like job security and fair treatment for employees.

"Under the regulations workers or unions who even ask to have certain matters contained in a workplace agreement will be fined by the Government. For example, an individual or union that seeks to have some protection from harsh or unfair dismissal for workers written into a workplace agreement will be fined $6,000 and $33,000 respectively by the Government - even where their employer also wants or agrees to such a provision.

"The question that the Federal Government and Kevin Andrews need to answer is why should a worker or a union be fined by the Government for trying to make jobs more secure or asking for fair treatment for workers?

"These are things of fundamental importance to workers and working families - job security and fair treatment - but the Government is saying it will now be illegal for workers or unions to even ask for these things.

"The laws also provide for fines for workers or unions who seek commitments in agreements that union or OH&S representatives will have access to training or that union members be allowed to meet to discuss workplace issues. Clauses regulating the use of independent contractors or labour hire employees have also been banned.

"These laws infringe the basic rights of every Australian worker. They will increase the pressure on people in the workplace and put more pressure on the incomes and lifestyles of Australian working families. The Federal Government has produced no valid argument, evidence or justification as to why such laws are necessary."

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