Women worried about ALP’s IR laws

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Today, Senator Siewert told stories of women workers currently finding life very difficult under Work Choices and wondering what their working lives will be like under Forward with Fairness.

The stories were taken from a booklet prepared by Asian Women at Work called ‘Cries from the Workplace: 20 women, 20 stories'. The women outline what they want from fair workplace laws, including broad minimum legal protection, unfair dismissal laws, stronger anti-bullying laws and removal of restrictions in unions' rights of entry.

"We haven't seen the Government's Forward with Fairness legislation yet but on the basis of the implementation plan and the Minister's public comments so far we believe that Forward with Fairness will not be meeting the needs of many Australian workers," said Australian Greens spokesperson on industrial relations Senator Rachel Siewert.

"Women are more likely to be in award-reliant, low paid, part-time or casual jobs, and as such are reliant on Government protections to ensure fair working conditions. I have heard stories of women workers being made to meet union representatives in the toilet area, of women being held to ransom by employers refusing to negotiate with the union for a collective agreement, and of women threatened with dismissal for insisting on their rights."

"We are already seeing minimum conditions reduced from pre-Work Choices levels under the award modernisation process with the potential for these standards to be undermined even further with individual flexibility agreements."

"What must underpin our consideration of any future workplace laws is the inherent right of employees to be treated with dignity. If our framework of laws and the enforcement of those laws do not respect the dignity of work then they cannot be considered fair," said Senator Siewert.

"I urge Minister Gillard and my fellow parliamentarians to not ignore or silence the very people who need to be heard the loudest," she concluded.

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