Members unite to stop WorkChoices 2.0

12 February, 2021

IEU members are calling on Queensland crossbench senators Pauline Hanson and Malcom Roberts to help stop the federal government’s plan to weaken important worker protections and allow employers to cut pay and conditions below the minimum award safety net. 

IEU Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said the federal government’s proposed Omnibus Bill to Australia’s industrial relations (IR) laws could see one in four workers have their pay and conditions cut.  

“After the year we have been through, where we’ve seen so many essential workers, including school staff, work tirelessly in challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic – the last thing these workers deserve is government attacks on their working conditions,” Brad said. 

“Yet this is exactly the federal government’s plan,” he said. 

Punishing our frontline workers 

“The pandemic has revealed just how badly flat wage growth and insecure work are harming workers and the economy,” Brad said. 

“Now is the time to enhance wages and conditions, not to cut them.” 

“That’s why IEU members are now calling on Queensland’s federal crossbench senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts to do the right thing and protect Australia workers by voting against this Bill. 

“What is being put forward by the federal government is nothing more than WorkChoices 2.0. 

“IEU members experienced firsthand the cuts to working rights and conditions that came with the then Howard federal government’s WorkChoices legislation in the mid-2000s. 

“Our union fought back then with the Our Rights At Work campaign to change the government in order to change the IR laws that were hurting Australian workers – and we are ready to do it again,” Brad said. 

Hurting workers harms the economy 

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus has described the changes as “dangerous and extreme”. 

The ACTU has now made a submission to a senate inquiry into the Bill stating that the changes will not only harm workers but will hurt Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery. 

The ACTU’s main concerns with the IR Omnibus Bill include but are not limited to: 

  • allowing employers to bring in agreements that do not meet the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) – meaning they can include cuts to pay and conditions; 
  • making it easier for employers to casualise jobs that would have otherwise been permanent; 
  • making bargaining for better pay and conditions more difficult than it already is, 
  • allowing wage cuts; and 
  • rolling back penalties for wage theft in Queensland. 

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the Bill would harm our economic recovery and is instead a recipe for keeping wages low and jobs insecure. 

“As all working people know, bargaining with employers for better pay and conditions is already difficult enough,” Ms McManus said.  

Australian workers are suffering from years of wage stagnation, and that is not the way to lead this country to economic recovery. 

“The rate of casualisation of our workforce desperately needs to be addressed.  

This bill will make the problem worse. 

“If this bill cannot be fixed, it needs to be dumped.” 

What can I do to help? 

IEU members can take action right now to stop this dangerous Bill and defend the working futures of all Australians. 

Show your support for the Stop This Dangerous Bill campaign by signing the workers’ pledge. 

You can also help protect workers’ rights by starting conversations with your friends and colleagues – and encouraging them to become union members too. 

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