Working for the man
By Julia Iles
Unions NSW representatives came to Grafton yesterday to inform the Valley's workers about the Howard Government's proposed industrial relations reforms.
The Your Rights at Work tour, which visited Grafton's Memorial Park, comprises around 20 people, including Big Brother finalist Tim Brunero.
Workers were able to ask the contingent questions about the proposed reforms relating to such issues as unfair dismissal laws, the casualisation of the workforce and increased individual contracts for employees.
"I believe passionately about workers' rights which have lasted for a 100 years. This may be the first generation that will have worse rights than the generation before," Mr Brunero said.
In a speech to around 60 people in Grafton, Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said if the reforms were passed, he was concerned workers would be helpless to do anything if they were dismissed.
The unfair dismissal laws were implemented by the Keating Labor government, but under the new proposals, will not apply to any business with less than 100 employees.
Clarence Valley Council mayor Ian Tiley said the proposed reforms needed to be properly explained.
"The proposed reforms need to be made user friendly or be scrubbed altogether," he said.
Craig Chandler of the United Services Union was at Memorial Park with a petition containing more than 1400 signatures opposing the reforms, which he will present to Member for Page Ian Causley.
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker, a member of the Howard Government's reform taskforce committee, said the current industrial relations laws were a major impediment on job creation.
"We have found that countries with tight unfair dismissal laws have poorer employment outcomes," Mr Hartsuyker said.
The proposed legislation will be introduced later this year and will be made public in October.