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11 hours ago
GOVERNMENT ATTACKS WORKERS RIGHTS AND JOB SECURITY
TONY BURKE MP

Australian workers need paid pandemic leave – not more Morrison Government attacks on their rights and job security.

Reports today confirm the Government is pushing on with a plan to give businesses sweeping powers to stand down workers, slash their hours and pay, vary their duties and rip away their job security – even if the business is no longer experiencing a downturn.

Employers were given these emergency powers at the height of the pandemic if they had taken a major hit. Now the Government is saying that even if a business has recovered – or is even doing better than they were six months ago – they should get to keep these emergency powers.

As we learned this week, some of the companies that would get to keep these powers are actually earning higher profits and paying increased dividends to shareholders.

Why should their workers have their rights ripped away?

These are the same businesses and workers that the Government decided last month it no longer needed to support through JobKeeper. If they don’t need support why do they need emergency powers that will allow them to slash their workers’ hours from full-time to part-time without warning and without negotiation?

This news comes a day after the Government also confirmed plans to dump the “better off overall test” – an important protection to ensure workers end up better off in enterprise agreements.

This is exactly what Labor warned about. The Government is using the pandemic as an excuse to bring in extreme changes that will leave workers worse off.

It is truly extraordinary that in the middle of a pandemic the Government's only ideas for industrial relations reform involve cutting workers' pay, conditions, rights and job security.

It’s clear now that all their talk of cooperation and collaboration was just empty rhetoric. The Government is pursuing the same sorts of attacks on workers they were pursuing before the pandemic, and for the last seven years.
 
Meanwhile Scott Morrison has still failed to deliver on paid pandemic leave.
 
Australia needs a universal paid pandemic leave scheme to protect workers, public health and the national economy. Labor and the unions have been calling for paid pandemic leave since March.
 
But right now, millions of Australian workers still have no access to such a scheme.

We need a national scheme now to prevent a repeat of the Victorian outbreak in other states.

Mr Morrison needs to stop dithering and make this happen now.

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