Workers today celebrated the 150th anniversary of the eight-hour day, while the State Government approved a new code of practice on working hours.
Employment Protection Minister John Bowler today announced his formal approval of the Code of Practice on Working Hours while attending a function in Kalgoorlie celebrating 150 years of the standard eight-hour working day.
“The eight-hour day was introduced in the building trades in Melbourne on April 21, 1856, and at the time it gave Australia a reputation as the ‘working man’s paradise’,” Mr Bowler said.
“Unfortunately, this is now looking more like ‘Paradise Lost’, with the Federal Government’s Work Choices legislation threatening the working conditions of all Australian workers.
“I recall my own doctor one day saying: ‘A wise man decided a long time ago we should have eight hours’ work, eight hours’ rest and eight hours’ play,’ and that still applies today.
“While we in Western Australia are issuing a code of practice which addresses the safety and health risks of long working hours and provides guidance on control measures, the Federal Government is clearing the way for employers to enforce any working hours they see fit.”
The Code of Practice on Working Hours has been developed by the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health to promote an holistic approach to identifying the hazards and assessing the risks of extended working hours.
Although guidance material has been made available in the past, this is Australia’s first comprehensive code which provides guidance for addressing the risks associated with a range of working hours issues across all industries.
Now the code has Ministerial approval, it will be finalised and should be released to the public around the middle of the year.
“On this 150th anniversary of the standard eight-hour day, it should be remembered that preventing incidents and the risks arising from extended working hours is important to the safety and health of workers in this State,” Mr Bowler said.
“I hope the struggle to attain this milestone will not be negated by the Federal Government’s questionable new workplace relations laws.”
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