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Submission to Senate Standing Committees on Education and Employment: Inquiry into Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020

United Workers Union has asked the Senate Committee to reject this legislation which is an attack on workers’ pay and conditions at a time where we need to be rebuilding our economy. This won’t be possible if employers have the ability to entrench insecure work and slash take home pay.

If passed the IR Omnibus Bill will leave workers worse off and will have a significant negative effect on those workers whom we relied on to deliver us through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation will:

  • Make insecure workers even less secure
  • Will allow employers to rush through enterprise agreements that undercut the safety net with less scrutiny
  • Will lock some workers out of enterprise bargaining for unacceptably long periods
  • Will replace more effective criminal sanctions against wage theft with less effective ones.

Summary of United Workers Union recommendations:

  1. Having regard to the dire impact the proposed legislation will have on millions of Australian workers and the broader economy, the Senate must reject The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 in its entirety. 

If recommendation one is not supported by the Senate, we propose the following additional recommendations:

  1. The proposed definition of casual employment contained in The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 be rejected in its entirety.
  2. If there is found to be a need to define casual employment in the Fair Work Act 2009, the definition must be reflective of existing common law precedent.
  3. The proposed casual conversion clause contained in The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 be rejected in its entirety.
  4. Any introduced casual conversion clause must contain a clear and reasonable employee right to request, must be enforceable and have a right of appeal.
  5. The proposed amendments contained in Schedule two of The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 that seek to deregulate permanent employment be rejected in its entirety.
  6. The proposed amendments contained in Schedule three of The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 relating to enterprise bargaining reform be rejected in its entirety.
  7. The proposed amendments contained in Schedule Five of The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 be rejected in its entirety.
  8. If wage theft is to be introduced into the Fair Work Act 2009 as a federal offence it should at least mirror existing legislation in Queensland and Victoria.

After what Australian workers went through in 2020, they deserve more job security not further attacks on their rights. Under the guise of helping Australia to rebuild the national economy during a global health pandemic, the Morrison Government made a clear promise to all Australians – no worker would be worse off under proposed industrial changes. They have broken that promise.

Following pressure from United Workers Union and the wider community, the Government has decided, at this time, to scrap their plans to weaken the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT). However, this doesn’t change the fact this Bill will leave workers significantly worse off and so we remain steadfast in our call to the Senate Committee to reject the Bill in its entirety.

The Union’s full submission is available here.