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.
And of course, if an employee is made redundant because of a business downturn or their position is no longer needed, it is not grounds for unfair dismissal. But where dismissal is justified the Code simply requires the employer to:
• give the employee a warning, based on a reason that validly relates to the employee’s conduct or capacity to do the job; and
• provide a reasonable opportunity for the employee to improve his or her performance.
“It’s as simple as that. Multiple warnings are not required. There is no requirement for `three strikes and you’re out’. It is desirable, but not necessary, for a warning to be in writing,” she said.
Workers and the Trade Union movement are in big trouble under Labor or Liberal. In harsh financial times, both parties are competing more than ever for the friendship of business at the expense of workers.
More Gillard Quotes
Gillard also said:
“Unprotected industrial action will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” she said.
“Even short unplanned stop work actions can have devastating effects on employers with time-critical processes.”
What she should be saying is that workers need is someone in the union to be able to stand up to the CEOs from time to time and tell them to get stuffed.
However Gillard told the National Press Club: “Employees who engage in wildcat or snap strikes or bans instead of following proper dispute resolution process will face significant consequences.”
Employers could tolerate the bans or they could stand down or lock out employees and deduct pay, Ms Gillard said.
“But offensive pre-emptive lockouts taken by an employer when employees haven’t taken any industrial action will no longer be permitted.”
In reply one union delegate said: “It would be worth the loss of the occasional day’s pay to have the boss worried about what we would be doing next.” Unionism is about democracy in the workplace not about a CPI wage rise every time an EBA comes around.
On the Building Worker Watchdog (ABCC)
In answer to a question that the Federal Government may water down the ABCC Julia Gillard said that this was not correct, that the federal government will fund the ABCC fully till 2010 and then seek to include that function in a special inspectorate set up for that purpose.
17 September 2008
Worklife members for those able to hold in there while you read Julia Gillard’s speech to the Press Club, here is a link to it, as well as a link to fact sheets on the new Govt plans for IR policies.
Gillard’s Press Club speech http://services.thomson.com.au/cpdnews/docs/Workforce/1651Speech.pdf