The State Government will appoint an advocate to help Western Australian workers and families from being exploited or disadvantaged by the Howard Government’s unpopular Work Choices legislation.
Premier Alan Carpenter announced the appointment of a Fair Employment Advocate at today’s National Day of Union and Community Action lunchtime rally at Members Equity Stadium.
“The Federal Government’s Work Choices legislation severely disadvantages employees and it is vital that the State Government puts in place strategies to protect Western Australian employees, particularly the low-paid, vulnerable and those already disadvantaged,” Mr Carpenter said.
“A Fair Employment Advocate is the first of a range of strategic reforms this Government will introduce in response to Work Choices to ensure fairer, safer and productive workplaces in WA.”
Employment Protection Minister John Bowler said that employees of Constitutional Corporations who were covered by State awards and agreements, were now covered by the new Federal laws.
“Many of these employees can lose most of their award entitlements and protections if their employer goes for a minimalist agreement under the new Work Choices legislation,” Mr Bowler said.
“Despite the current buoyant economic conditions in WA, there is evidence that some employees are already under pressure to sign inferior agreements which reduce their current wages, penalty rates and conditions of employment if they want to keep their job.”
In his announcement, the Premier said the Fair Employment Advocate would be able to assist these employees in understanding their rights and entitlements under Work Choices by providing information, advice and support.
The Fair Employment Advocate will be able to look into illegal, inappropriate and unfair practices, and mediate and make representations to persons or bodies, as appropriate, on behalf of employees. The Fair Employment Advocate will also be able to use cases of clear exploitation to raise public awareness of the pitfalls and traps of the new Federal legislation.
“The aim will be to inform employees publicly of their rights and entitlements and to deter employers from using the legislation to disadvantage employees,” Mr Carpenter said.
“The Fair Employment Advocate will also be required to monitor and report on the impact of the federal industrial relations system in WA.
“The State Government stands on its principles of creating fair, safe and productive workplaces. Undercutting employees’ current entitlements is unfair, and will not facilitate safe and productive workplaces.”
The services of the Fair Employment Advocate will be available free of charge to employees and employers, providing access to information, advice and support to help them make informed decisions.
Premier’s office - 9222 9475
Employment Protection Minister's office - 9222 9699