Victoria Defends Workers’ Rights

Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins has today defended the rights of Victoria’s most vulnerable and low paid workers, following recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s workplace relations inquiry.

The Andrews Labor Government’s reply submission to the Draft Report into the Workplace Relations Framework details how the current recommendations would hit the safety net that protects thousands of Victorian workers, with a Level 1 retail employee facing an effective pay cut of nearly 11 per cent or $105.64 per week.

The Labor Government’s response shows how the current proposal to reduce some sectors’ Sunday penalty rates would create an unfair, two-tiered system of workers’ entitlements, with no evidence it would benefit employment or productivity.

The submission also disputes the assumption that the majority of retail and hospitality workers were low skilled and young employees, citing the Retail Council’s 2015 report which found that the number of mature aged workers in retail had increased 50 per cent in the last decade.

Further, the Labor Government also rejected the Commission’s recommendations to water down the current ‘Better Off Overall Test’ (BOOT),  the introduction of enterprise contracts, further limiting unfair dismissal and quarantining some workers from minimum wage increases.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins

“The Productivity Commission found our industrial relations system is working well. But at the same time, the Commission has suggested changes that would create a two tiered system of penalty rates.”

“If the industrial relations framework is working, then why push for an underclass of workers whose time with friends and family is valued less? Why cut more than $100 from the earnings of a Level 1 retail employee?”

“I call on the new Federal Treasurer and Minister for Employment to confirm that the wages and conditions of thousands of Victorian workers will not be put on the chopping block.”

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