Fair Work Australia — The following comment(s) from Julia Gillard on Unfair Dismissal:
“In the past small business operators have raised genuine concerns about the impact of unfair dismissal laws on their business activities. The Government agrees with them that they should be allowed to get on with running their businesses, making a profit and giving people jobs,” she said.
When you look at it workers working in small business have never been able to bargain collectively — at least not in an effective way. There are big unions involved in small business like the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association SDA however they have not organised effectively in small business at the grass roots level preferring to cut deals with big businesses like Woolworths and governments to serve their members.
So for all Gillard’s talk at the National Press Club and in the parliament, her claims of ‘forward with fairness’ — at least in small business — is a nullity. Her laws carry little weight at the shopfloor level where the small business owner has always held the upper hand.
“The previous Liberal government swept aside all unfair dismissal protections for employees of businesses with fewer than 100 employees. And if various former Liberal ministers are to be believed, the Liberal Party wanted to go further and junk protection for every one.”
Workers never came off very well under the unfair dismissal laws even before WorkChoices.
In 2003, before WorkChoices, only 42 out of over 8,000 workers who were unfairly dismissed were reinstated by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission . Good for the 42 that got their jobs back but what about the other 4,000 who would have paid out more to their lawyers than they would have been awarded under the WorkPlace Relations Act [See AIRC yearly report 2003].
The rulings of the Industrial Relations Tribunal under Labor’s unfair dismissal laws did not do much for workers either, as most workers did not have the wherewithal to even get their cases heard, much less get a decent result from lawyers in the IR club so distant from the workplace.