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Studying single mums forced into child care debt

"Many single mums are being forced to drop out of degrees and take on huge debts since the Government changed its eligibility criteria for childcare assistance while studying," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

Prior to July 2006 the "Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program" helped eligible single parents studying at University or TAFE to cover the costs of childcare. New changes to the system now only recognise courses up to 12 months long. This is leaving single parents without any hope of obtaining a higher education.

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"Fairness" put to the test by the Greens

"There are still too many loopholes in the government's safety net for it to provide the protection that working families need," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

The government refused to support Greens' amendments to fix a number of the glaring gaps that would have ensured a fairer and more robust safety net.

The Greens also moved amendments to ensure a minimum standard for redundancy pay based on the AIRC test case from 2004.

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The Safety net that Wasn't

Work Choices is bad law and it is bad policy. Work Choices has proved to be a disaster for many in the community, with the supposed economic benefits proving to be more spin than reality. One of the most objectionable and detrimental aspects of Work Choices is Australian workplace agreements and their undermining of collective bargaining.

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Australia left behind on rights of workers

"With the government's so-called 'fairness' test for workplace agreements due before the Senate early next week, it is remarkable to reflect just how far Australia lags behind similar countries like Canada in protecting the rights of workers", said Senator Siewert.

At the same time the Australian Parliament is considering the government's flawed 'fairness' test for AWAs, the Canadian Supreme Court has recognised the right of employees to collectively bargain is a fundamental human right protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Greens: wait and see on ACTU campaign

"The ACTU has the right to campaign in the election to change unfair workplace laws, and the real proof they are running a non-partisan campaign will come when they inform voters who has the best IR policies," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Last October the ACTU Congress was clearly told that the 'Your Rights at Work' campaign would never be a sectarian vote-ALP campaign, and we remain assured that the ACTU will inform their members about where all the parties stand on industrial relations."

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Fairness Test? - What Fairness Test?

The Australian Greens will be moving a series of amendments to put real fairness into the Government's 'fairness test' when the Government's Safety Net Bill is introduced into the Senate next week.

"The Senate committee hearing yesterday served only to confirm that there are so many loopholes in the so-called 'fairness test' you could drive a truck through them," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson, today.

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The statistics Hockey didn't mention - women

"The ABS statistics released today on working hours show women are losing out in our workplaces," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"More women than men are working multiple jobs. 58% of employees who work more than one job are women. This startling statistic is a consequence of government policies that have reduced many women to needing to take more than one part-time job to make ends meet," she said.

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Government cuts legal centre funds as demand for workplace advice rises

"With increasing numbers of employers and employees struggling to negotiate the complex legislative tangle of Work Choices it makes little sense for the Government to cut the funding for workplace advice," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

When Senator Siewert cross-examined the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) in Senate Estimates today they were unable to justify why they had cut funding to community legal centres (CLCs) for providing workplace advice.

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Dangers of individual contracts exposed

The Greens today reaffirmed their opposition to AWAs and statutory individual agreements in the wake of allegations that a company owned by Therese Rein underpaid employees on common law contracts.

"What this whole episode shows is the vital importance of a strong award safety net of wages and conditions. With an award underpinning their contracts, these employees and others like them are able to claim their underpaid wages back," said Greens industrial relations spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert.

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'Safety net' won't break Work Choices fall

"This is not a safety net for working Australians, but a desperate effort to break Mr Howard's fall from grace," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"This is a Clayton's safety net."

"The Bill is nothing more than a cynical attempt to change public perceptions of Work Choices. It does nothing to change the inherent unfairness at the heart of Work Choices."

"Now we have seen the details, it is clear the "fairness" test will not provide much protection at all. AWAs simply cannot be made fair by any test," said Senator Siewert.

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