Morrison’s IR Bill breaks promise

The Morrison Government continues releasing details about its industrial relations agenda; and it’s nothing like what it promised Australians.

Instead of it making sure workers were not going to be worse off, which the Morrison Government promised, the Bill seeks to hand extraordinary power over your employment to your employers. Instead of sitting down with Australia’s union movement and workers, Morrison has listened to employers and vested interests to water down your rights at work. There is nothing in the legislation that strengthens the rights workers have or improves the likelihood of increasing your pay and/or improving your conditions at work. The Bill fails the Government’s own test that workers won’t be worse off because these changes will make it easier for employers to leave workers worse off. 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.

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. 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. Australians continue suffering significantly from the pandemic, not just in lives disrupted and our social and cultural norms being turned upside-down, but with uncertainty about their employment and even greater uncertainty about how we can keep a roof over our heads and ensure the bills are paid.

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. The proposed changes won’t deal with the ongoing revelations of the depth of wage theft in Australia and how widespread it is across a large range of industries and professions. Morrison’s changes won’t help create secure work, something that is sorely needed and an issue we know has contributed to the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19. They will not deal with the changing nature and challenges of the modern-day workplace.

How much more do workers have to sacrifice before we’re given a fair go? Morrison’s bluster about protecting Australian jobs and workers is all hot air with no substance and certainly no truth to it.

The Morrison Government’s proposed legislative change has emboldened employers in every sector, including health sector employers who continue to seek ways of undermining your rights at work and to make changes that will prove to be detrimental to your health and safety at work.

The proposed changes will also lead to worse outcomes for patients as people who are already overworked, get overwhelmed. We know people are looking to leave the sector because employers refuse to show respect or value their workforce. We’ve seen healthcare employers looking to make changes that will exacerbate huge workloads and reduce staffing; a direct contradiction to everything that we know about the need to expand the size of the health workforce in a range of areas; and especially our disciplines.

We will continue to fight back against the changes being proposed by the Morrison Government – you can add your name to the fight here – and we will fiercely push back to protect your rights at work as health employers actively look to undermine your hard-won workplace rights and conditions.

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