Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford in Townsville. Picture: Evan Morgan
Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford in Townsville. Picture: Evan Morgan

Unions take on government over ‘unfair’ proposed law

THE Queensland Council of Unions is preparing to do battle and protect workers.

The QCU has taken on the federal government's proposed workplace law changes.

This comes as a Senate inquiry into the proposed law gets underway in Townsville today. On December 10, 2020 the Senate referred the bill, which will amend the Fair Work Act, for an inquiry.

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford in Townsville. Picture: Evan Morgan
Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford in Townsville. Picture: Evan Morgan

Federal Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter introduced the bill last year, saying the government was committed to ensuring the industrial relations framework was adapted to meet the needs of businesses and workers alike.

"This year, more than ever, has highlighted the need for flexibility for workers and employers - and the organisations that represent them," Mr Porter said.

"This bill will give greater flexibility to constituent parts, such as branches and divisions, of amalgamated registered organisations by providing them with an opportunity to withdraw from an amalgamation if that will better serve them and their members."

But the unions say the new changes will give employers sweeping changes to wages and conditions. QCU general secretary Michael Clifford said workers had been the heroes of the nation's pandemic response and this change would directly target them.

"These new laws will allow employers to cut wages and conditions to below the minimum award safety net, allow employers to turn permanent workers into casuals and strip away sick leave and holiday pay, as well as remove blue collar workers of their right to have a say on working conditions on big projects, creating a new class of worker with fewer rights than other workers," Mr Clifford said.

The QCU, which represents more than 350,000 workers throughout the state, has lodged a public submission to the Senate inquiry calling for the laws to be totally scrapped. The submission says the Morrison Government's proposals will increase income inequality and insecure employment.

"These changes are dangerous and extreme, and if the proposed laws pass through parliament, they will reduce job security for workers and seriously tip the balance in favour of big businesses," Mr Clifford said.

"At a time when Australia desperately needs wages to grow, the Morrison Government is trying to pass laws that will slash wages."

The QCU will appear before the Senate inquiry today, and seek one-on-one meetings with senators. Today's hearing is one of three to be held across the nation.

"The crossbench senators in Queensland - Senator (Malcolm) Roberts and Senator (Pauline) Hanson - will be pivotal on whether these laws become reality and make things even harder for workers in regional areas," said Mr Clifford.

"Through our campaign senators are already hearing from cleaners, nurses, aged care workers, retail workers, tradies, FIFO workers - all those in essential services at the forefront of our community response to the pandemic.

"Working people, essential workers, have already sacrificed so much during this pandemic, these proposed laws will punish them.

 

Originally published as Unions take on government over 'unfair' proposed law


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