2021: A new year but same old attacks

Happy New Year!

We start 2021 not with widespread devastating bushfires, thankfully, but instead we have the Morrison Government still on the attack over workers’ rights by continuing to pursue its latest industrial relations bill. The Bill fails the Government’s own test that workers won’t be worse off because these changes will leave workers worse off, deliberately. Ensuring workers weren’t going to be worse off because of any changes to our IR system was agreed up front in the IR discussions between unions, the government and employers.

Australians have suffered significantly from the pandemic not just in lives disrupted and our social and cultural norms being turned upside-down. The pandemic has seen almost a million Australians unemployed and 1.4 million are underemployed; many have exhausted all their sick leave, annual leave and long service leave; and 3.3 million people have raided their super account.

The Government’s changes will make jobs less secure by making it easier for employers to casualise permanent jobs and allow employers to pay workers less than the award safety net. This is the opposite of what the country needs.

We can’t save Australian small businesses if people don’t have secure jobs and money in their pocket. Any cuts to pay or loss of rights for workers will make recovery harder and longer. Couple this with international uncertainty over COVID the proposed changes will significantly hurt workers and our local businesses.

We can’t rebuild our economy by threatening to cut workers take home pay or by giving more power to employers. If we take money away from workers, people won’t spend. It’s a simple equation that when finances are tight people don’t go on spending sprees. If people aren’t spending, it will ultimately hurt local businesses, further damaging our already frail economy. If we actually want to come out of the pandemic stronger, we need a strong local economy where people have the confidence to spend, buying local goods and services.

The Morrison Government fails to deliver a way out of this crisis while it continues to give employers more and more rights and especially the ability to leave workers worse off by cutting pay. Australian workers have already shown enormous flexibility. For decades we’ve been told about how flexibility benefits workers, but the truth is that it has only ever favoured employers. These changes won’t deal with the fact that wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. It won’t protect insecure workers that need to work multiple casual or part-time jobs to just pay the rent or mortgage and keep food on the table. How much more do workers have to sacrifice before given a fair go?

The truth about the coalition Government’s idea of flexibility is that it has only ever favoured employers. These proposed changes won’t deal with the fact that wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. the changes also won’t help create secure work, something that is sorely needed. They will not deal with the changing nature and challenges of the modern-day workplace, including rampant wage theft. The changes are little more than a political drive to make sure we maintain 19th Century attitudes towards work in the 21st Century.

2021 also sees the Union continue negotiations for a new Public Sector agreement. However, after months of negotiations with Public Sector employers, it’s very clear to us that your employers are not engaging in negotiations in good faith and decided to end 2020 without making any meaningful offers to our key claims. Instead, they make demands that will reduce your conditions at work and your pay, turning pharmacists into shift workers and further limit career progression for psychologists and our members in allied health.

Health service responses to our claims make a mockery of you and your contribution to Victoria’s healthcare system and the government’s public expressions of healthcare workers being heroes. To make sure you’re valued and respected, we are going to have to prepare for industrial action. The Union will begin the technical work necessary for this to happen and will keep you informed.

While we are looking to return to the office in February, which at this stage looks promising, we are at the mercy of COVID-19 and we are monitoring the situation and any changes that may delay our return.

If you need any workplace advice, assistance or representation please contact us by email at enquiry@msav.org.au Our team continues providing advice, assistance and representation for members while they work from home.

2021 is going to be big year for the Union, and we look forward to working with you to make it another successful year.

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