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HSU members rally for rights
04 November 2005
Hundreds of HSU members have turned out in Melbourne to protest against new work laws which will cut the rights at work of millions of working Australians.
Members arriving at the work rights rally
The HSU members marched to the Dallas Brooks Hall in East Melbourne where they joined a large crowd of members of the Australian Workers Union for a joint function.
Speakers who addressed the rally included the HSU Victorian branch secretary Jeff Jackson and the health professionals branch secretary Kathy Jackson.
Members were informed of the details of the Federal Government's proposed new work laws, called WorkChoices, which were introduced into parliament earlier this week.
The laws aim to shift power to employers in the workplace and make it harder to maintain working conditions and decent pay rates.
The proposed changes include:
- Removing the condition that new pay agreements have to improve on the industry award. That means in any new agreement conditions such as penalty rates, overtime pay, redundancy pay, meal breaks and redundancy pay will be up for grabs.
- New employees can be forced to sign an individual contract or Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) when they start a new job. That AWA can pay less than other staff are receiving and may not include the penalty rates, meal breaks, maternity leave or holidays they receive. Employers are also free to make taking an AWA a condition of getting a pay rise;
- The independent umpire, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, will lose the power to scrutine new pay agreements to make sure they are fair. The commission will also no longer be able to grant a pay rise each year to the 1.6 million workers who are on awards. Award pay rises will be decided by a so-called Fair Pay Commission which will have members hand-picked by the Government.
- It will be harder for unions to enter the workplaces and much harder for members to take industrial action. Employers will have a whole range of new options to stop any action which is being taken by members in trying to win a pay rise or better working conditions.
Labor's spokesman on Industrial Relations, Stephen Smith, told today's rally that Labor would tear up the work laws if it won the next election.
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