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Greens help broker deal and ensure passage of Fair Work Bill

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 20 Mar 2009

Greens hold line and ensure retention test for small businesses is 15, not 20 or 25

Following a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Australian Greens Senators Bob Brown and Rachel Siewert, the Greens have helped brokered a deal to ensure that the Work Choices legislation is repealed.

This afternoon, the Greens have ensured;

  • The cut-off for definition of a small business is set at 15, not 20 as demanded this morning by Senator Fielding nor 25 as demanded by the Coalition
  • Abandonment of the Opposition amendment that would make unlawful terms in enterprise agreements that restrict, control or dictate the use or non-use of independent contractors
  • Continued discussion over how the unfair dismissal code will operate.

"It was good to see several commonsense Greens amendments agreed to in this debate. Through working responsibly and collaboratively, the Greens have achieved some real wins in restoring equality to the workplace," said Australian Greens industrial relations spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.

"The Greens have always supported the rollback of Work Choices - we took that promise to the 2007 Federal election. While we still maintain the Rudd Government's Fair Work Bill retains large parts of the Howard approach, it is good to see industrial relations in this country moving forward."

Senator Siewert also outlined assurances from the Government that reviews will be carried out of;

  • Individual Flexibility Arrangements,
  • Award modernisation process, including pay equity,
  • employment law services,
  • the right to request flexible working hours.

The long-held provision for Exclusive Brethren businessmen to refuse union entry to workplaces has been removed, but the Greens expressed concern that parallel provisions privileging the sect which exist in all states except Victoria still need to be removed.

"The ALP will champion that Work Choices is dead. Whilst this Parliament has certainly heaped dirt over that part of our political history, it is a shallow grave indeed," she concluded.

The Greens' have also ensured the following elements of the Bill:

  • The right of parents of children with disabilities to request flexible working arrangements
  • A review of individual flexibility arrangements, award modernisation processes, the operation of the right to request flexible working arrangements and employment law services
  • Removal of conscientious objection certificates (commonly used by the Exclusive Brethren)

Media contact: Tim Norton - 0418 401 180

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