Employers push to cut pay, hours

General news0

Employers push to cut pay, hours

Clay Lucas

April 10, 2012


EMPLOYERS have expanded their push to cut minimum working hours – in one case to as little as 90 minutes a day for school students – and to slash weekend pay for casuals.

They are also moving to abolish evening penalty rates and to narrow the definition of ”shift work”, according to submissions to a major review of the awards system being conducted by Fair Work Australia.

Unions, after analysing more than 200 submissions to the review, have accused employers of ”merely laying the foundation” for an Abbott government to cut wages and conditions.

<p>” /></p></div>
<p>”What employer groups want is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week economy in  which  they have all the flexibility, the power and control over who  works when and  how little they are paid,” said ACTU secretary Jeff  Lawrence.</p>
<p>But employer groups say the push  to reduce entitlements for some  workers is  a direct result of the Rudd and Gillard governments having  allowed  costs to  dramatically escalate for businesses from 2009.</p>
<p>The Fair Work review will set future awards covering most jobs across  Australia, and took submissions  until last month.</p>
<p>The ACTU seized on a submission from the  National Retail Association   arguing in favour of reduced minimum hours for  secondary school  students  employed as casuals. The retail group wants a Fair Work  Australia decision last  year for a 90-minute-a-day minimum for students  to be expanded into other  retail awards.</p>
<p>The ACTU also cited employer submissions arguing for:</p>
<p>■Reduced penalties for casual employees, particularly on weekends and public  holidays.</p>
<p>■New annualised salary arrangements that would avoid payment of allowances,  penalties and overtime.</p>
<p>■A narrowing of the definition of shift work to reduce access to pay and  leave entitlements.</p>
<p>■Discounted rates for apprentices and trainees where adult rates have  traditionally applied</p>
<p>Mr Lawrence said the submissions showed employers wanted a return to the   former WorkChoices policies of the Coalition. ”Australia’s employer  groups  have never accepted the reality that WorkChoices-style laws were   whole-heartedly rejected,” Mr Lawrence said.</p>
<p>Australian Industry Group  director of workplace relations Stephen Smith   accused unions of trying to  portray all employer requests as  unreasonable.</p>
<p>He said the last review of awards across all industries – which was   completed in 2009 and crunched over 1500 industry agreements down to 122  – had  created a raft of problems for businesses.</p>
<p>Many employers were now struggling to cope with the increased costs.  ”For  example, afternoon shift loadings in the glass industry increased  from 15 per  cent to 50 per cent … and the new loadings are having a  major negative impact  on the industry,” Mr Smith said.</p>
<p>Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter  Anderson  said  the unions’ analysis had misleadingly implied that  employer claims were  across all industries.</p>
<p>”The ACTU is implying employers are being greedy and unreasonable in  these  demands, but is failing to disclose the areas where employers have  had to  accept significant new regulations and costs” since 2009.</p>
<p>Mr Anderson said the government had at the time promised employees no  loss  in pay, and  employers no huge increase in labour costs. Only the  first promise  was kept, he said.</p>
<p>Opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said employers  needed  ”practical solutions to practical problems” – something not  being provided by  current workplace laws.</p>
<p><strong><img src= Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/employers-push-to-cut-pay-hours-20120409-1wl8s.html#ixzz1raddV36m

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.