Employment and Workplace Relations
The Greens are committed to finishing the job of abolishing John Howard’s Work Choices and creating fairness in our workplaces.
Adam is using his knowledge and experience as a former industrial lawyer to work for positive reforms such as flexible working arrangements for workers and putting job security at the heart of the Fair Work Act.
09 Jul 2010
The Greens say they will work to increase the family friendliness of the country’s workplaces and provide flexible and considerate working arrangements to employees, correcting an imbalance which sees a lower workforce participation rate among women and older Australians.
22 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens believe that robust and effective occupational health and safety laws and practices are vital for the social and economic health of our workplaces and, more importantly, for Australians and their families.
We fought the Howard government's attacks on workplace safety and have defended the long established practice of involving employees and their representatives in workplace safety issues. When the Government wanted to set up Safe Work Australia we argued for the organisation to be truly tripartite and ensure appropriate representation of employees. You can read Rachel Siewert's second reading speech on the Bill here.
The Greens support in principle the harmonisation of occupational, health and safety laws across the nation. However we want to see the strongest laws, not a weak compromise. We remain concerned about the potential for safety standards and rights to be diminished through this process. We want to keep talking to stakeholders and employees about the proposed laws. At a federal and state level we will continue to fight for robust safety standards and regulations.
22 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens have consistently demonstrated our commitment to the abolition of the ABCC over the last 5 years, including through the following actions inside and outside the parliament:
- Opposed the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act in the Senate in 2005;
- Moved to disallow the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Regulations and used the opportunity to highlight the harsh impact the laws were having on building workers in 2005;
- Took an explicit policy to repeal the BCII Act and abolish the ABCC to the 2007 election;
- Introduced a Private Senator's Bill to repeal the BCII Act in its entirety in 2008;
- Re-iterated our strong position that the ABCC must be abolished in Senate Committee reports on our legislation and the government's current amendment Bill in 2008 and 2009;
- Moved a motion noting the recent ILO report on the ABCC and calling on the Government to abolish the ABCC in 2010; and
- Numerous press releases and public speeches calling for abolition of ABCC.
We have not wavered from our position that the BCII Act is undemocratic and the Australian Greens remain the only party to consistently argue that building and constructions workers should not be subject to special laws and coercive powers. We have never denigrated building and construction workers by calling for a "strong cop on the beat" to justify the use of these unnecessary coercive powers.
In the next Parliament, we are prepared to do what we can to ensure the ABCC is abolished, including by re-introducing our Private Senator's Bill.
22 Jun 2010
How the Greens secured fairer workplace laws
The Australian Greens consistently and vigorously opposed Work Choices and we were pleased to have played our part in ensuring the passage of the Fair Work legislation.
The Greens secured important improvements to the Fair Work Bill, including:
- Expanding the right to request flexible working hours to parents and carers of children with a disability under the age of 18;
- The removal of the contentious objection provisions in relation to right of entry;
- Expanding the matters to be reviewed by Fair Work Australia to include the use of individual flexibility arrangements and the right to request flexible work arrangements;
- An interim review of modern awards after two years instead of four to examine whether modern awards are meeting the modern awards objectives and are operating effectively.
The Greens also insisted the definition of small business not be increased above 15 and received a commitment that employers will have the onus of proving they complied with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code. We also negotiated to increase the time period for lodgement of unfair dismissal claims.
As well as the above outcomes, the Greens moved a series of amendments that were not supported by the Government addressing a number of serious concerns raised in the course of the public debate over the Bill. These amendments included:
- Allowing employees to terminate unfair AWAs;
- Expanding the dispute resolution powers of Fair Work Australia;
- Removing the restrictions on the content of enterprise agreements;
- Providing a review process for the right to request flexible work arrangements and the request for an extension of unpaid parental leave;
- Removing the Work Choices barriers to workers taking lawful industrial action;
- Seeking the Bill be compliant with Australia's international labour obligations; and
- Linking excessive salaries to the ability of employers to make employees redundant.
Along with many in our community we remain concerned with the consequences of the award modernisation process for some employees and will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the Fair Work legislation.
We are committed to working to improve the Fair Work Act in next parliament.
Read Rachel Siewert's Second Reading Speech.
Follow the debate on the Australian Greens amendments in Hansard.
Read the Deputy Prime Minister's letter on the outcome negotiated by the Greens.
22 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens believe that:
- working people have the right to be involved in decisions about their work
- free, independent and democratic unions are an essential pillar of a civil society
- all people have the right to pursue their well-being in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity
- we can create a sustainable future - where fair workplaces and strong communities protect our environment and ensure a healthy economy
We have matched our words with action – standing up for the rights of workers and unions inside and outside the parliament.
A strong Greens presence in the Senate is the only way of ensuring progressive employment and workplace laws for all Australians.
Download our flyer for a summary of our commitment to fair workplaces or follow the links below for more information.
The Fair Work Act and how the Greens secured fairer workplace laws
Our commitment to providing a better balance between work, family and community life
Abolishing the ABCC
Securing robust Occupational Health and Safety laws
15 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens are fully supporting calls from construction unions around Australia for the removal of the undemocratic building and construction laws, as a worker faces goal for taking a stand against the ABCC.
04 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens are extremely concerned about the widening gap in employment rates between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
03 Jun 2010
The Australian Greens have today welcomed Fair Work Australia’s decision to increase the nation’s minimum wage by $26 a week.
30 Apr 2010
Calling all Greens! Join Rachel Siewert and the Greens WA as we march for worker’s rights in the May Day Rally 12 noon this Sunday, May 2 at the Esplanade Reserve, Fremantle.
Meet at the Greens stall wearing a Greens t-shirt at 11.30am to march at noon.
We have printed ups some excellent flyers showing why the Greens are the best party fighting for workers rights.
Flags and triangles will also be available. Its really important that we have a strong Green presence in Fremantle this Sunday to show that we are a force to be reckoned with. Come along and celebrate what’s great about being Green – and stand up for workers rights!
28 Apr 2010
"Today, around Australia, workers are commemorating the International Day of Mourning and remembering colleagues, friends and family who have died from work-place incidents."
"It is also a time to reflect on how as a society we can work together to prevent such deaths," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on workplace relations.
"The statistics on workplace injury and illness in Australia make for sober reading and hide many personal tragedies", said Senator Siewert.