ACTU on IR laws: pay cut pain, employer gain

WORKERS AT a Melbourne company are facing up to 20 per cent in pay cuts and the loss of entitlements such as Rostered Days Off (RDOs) under the Federal Government’s new industrial relations laws, the ACTU recently claimed

WORKERS AT a Melbourne company are facing up to 20 per cent pay cuts and the loss of entitlements such as rostered days off under the Federal Government’s new industrial relations laws, the ACTU claimed recently.

In the first test of the reforms, due to come into force this month, the union said car parts manufacturer Dana Australia planned to cut redundancy entitlements in half and make workers wait longer before accessing long service leave, under a 41-point wage plan unveiled in enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations.

Dana Australia also planned to reduce top-up payments to injured workers and abolish income protection for the company’s 350 workers, according to ACTU secretary Greg Combet.

“Now we are seeing the reality of the Howard Government’s new IR laws,” Combet said.

“The Government spent millions of dollars of workers’money saying that the new IR laws wouldn’t see workers losing wages and conditions. They said that workers’ pay and conditions would be protected by law.”

However, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, accused the ACTU of another campaign to try and re-ignite concerns about WorkChoices.

“Hysterically claiming that an ambit claim by Dana Australia is anything other than normal negotiations in the manufacturing industry is nonsense,”Andrews said.

Every three years, he said, the unions, and in particular the Australian Manufacturing Workers’Union, conduct rolling negotiations within the manufacturing sector.

“In this atmosphere unions make ambit claims, employers make ambit claims and both sides make counter claims,” he said. “And as existing agreements expire in the coming months we are going to see more desperate and hysterical claims made by the union movement as they conduct their political campaign.”

When confronted on ABC radio about ambit claims made by unions, Combet said: “We’ve been compelled to do that by the existing industrial relations system to make ambit claims.”

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