Showing posts with label employment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employment. Show all posts

Friday, 21 July 2017

A reminder to rural and regional businesses that there always needs to be a valid reason based on fact for dismissing staff


FAIR WORK COMMISSION
Excerpts, 14 July 20017

[42] In dealing with unfair dismissal claims over the past 20 years a handful of cases remain memorable because of their particular circumstances. In some instances, the case was remarkable because of the manifest absence of valid reason for dismissal, usually accompanied by deplorable procedural deficiencies. In other cases, the audacity of the employee to make complaint about their dismissal was consistent with a history of misconduct that provided unassailable valid reason for which the individual should have been dismissed much earlier. Unfortunately, this case will join the ranks of those elite few which forever remain ignominiously memorable…..

[52] Employees are human beings and not human resources. A machine or item of office equipment might be quickly discarded if it is broken or malfunctioning. However, an employee is entitled to be treated with basic human dignity, and advice of the termination of employment by telephone or other electronic means should be strenuously avoided so as to ensure that the dismissal of an employee is not conducted with the perfunctory dispassion of tossing out a dirty rag……

[59] In summary, this case has involved a very regrettable absence of valid reason for the applicant’s dismissal. Further, it has been highly lamentable to observe the seriously flawed manner in which the employer first determined, and then conveyed the decision to dismiss the applicant. The circumstances of this case provide strong foundation for argument against any lessening of legislative protections for unfair dismissal, a proposition which seems to regularly resurface, and gain a level of publicity that is disconnected with reality.

[60] Regrettably, the dismissal of the applicant was harsh, unjust and unreasonable. Thankfully, the applicant is a person protected from unfair dismissal, and she is entitled to have the Commission provide an appropriate remedy.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Can't live on the wage you bring home but can't get a raise from the boss? Here's the reasons why


In 2016 an est. 3.89 million people living in New South Wales had a personal weekly income of between $0 and $644 per week, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In Tasmania an est. 1.03 million people had way less than $573 per week.

Between March Quarter 2016 and March Quarter 2017 wages growth remained at record lows.

So this should come as no surprise……

Industrial relations lawyer Josh Bornstein writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2017:

When Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe recently declared a "wages crisis" following a prolonged period of low wages growth, it appears to have caught the federal government on the hop. Quick to respond to crises about border protection, terrorism and rising energy prices, this is one crisis that renders the government mute. There is no plan, no working group, or commissioning of a white paper from the Productivity Commission. Instead, the government has announced a plan to pay up to 10,000 "interns" to work in the retail industry for as little as $4 an hour. This plan will only exacerbate the wages crisis.

Phillip Lowe is not the first prominent mandarin to observe that stagnant wages threaten economic growth. A new consensus has emerged since the Global Financial Crisis that anaemic wages growth and increased income inequality is retarding economies and stoking political volatility in developed economies. Nevertheless, Lowe is the first in Australia to join the chorus. His suggested remedy – that employees need to speak up more to request higher pay – is strikingly naive, inviting the obvious question. What if the boss says "no"?

Lowe's counterpart at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, has offered a more sophisticated analysis of the wages crisis, focused on the transformation of the labour market. Haldane recently observed that profound changes in workplaces had produced a period of "divide and conquer" that left workers less able to bargain for higher wages. "There is power in numbers. A workforce that is more easily divided than in the past may find itself more easily conquered. In other words, a world of divisible work may reduce workers' wage-bargaining power," he said.

The collapse in bargaining power for workers that Haldane has observed is reflected in the plight of Australian trade unions, which are languishing at their weakest point in their history. Only 14.5 per cent of employees belong to a trade union. In the private sector, that number sits at a shocking 10 per cent and falling. The tipping point passed long ago. Australian trade unions are fighting for their survival. That wage growth and employee share of GDP has hit record lows is no coincidence…..

The explanation for the severity of the collapse of unionisation is far more prosaic. It's our laws. Unions have been seriously weakened by 30 years of constant political and legislative attacks. The last conservative prime minister not to establish a royal commission into trade unions was Billy McMahon (1971-1972). For decades, business lobby groups have permanently and successfully campaigned for legislative change that weakens unions.

In this era, workplace laws have been changed in two key ways. First, the laws have been deregulated to encourage employers to cut wages and de-unionise their workplaces. At the same time, unions have been subjected to complex regulation that restricts their ability to access workplaces, recruit members and to bargain for better wages and conditions. The laws have allowed employers unprecedented ability to cut labour costs, outmanoeuvre employees and their unions while at the same time inveigling unions into a kind of regulatory quicksand…..

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work*: has an employment epoch finally come to an inglorious end?


Looking at the Australian employment market in 2016 and 2017 one has to ask if this country has entered the Era of Exploitation………

ABC News, 1 March 2017:

the Australian economy is currently growing at around 2 per cent per annum. That's about fast enough to keep the unemployment rate steady, but it's not fast enough to create lots of new jobs. To create jobs, it needs to grow at least 2.5 to 3 per cent per annum.

The economy isn't growing fast enough for a whole bunch of reasons, but the big picture is that we haven't been able to transition as smoothly as we would have liked from the mining boom, to an economy being driven by a number of different sectors.

The sectors of the economy that have enjoyed increased activity are healthcare, hospitality, and tourism. These sectors tend to be biased towards hiring part-time workers.

Nine2Three Employment Solutions in Sydney's Sutherland Shire specialises in placing candidates into part-time roles. Managing director, Kathryn MacMillan, say business is booming. Right now, she's placing job seekers into part-time roles including mining, tourism, retail, clerical and accounts-type roles, sales roles and business development.

Ms MacMillan explained to me that she's placing lots of mums re-entering the workforce, and people after just a few days of work a week. Part-time work can also be convenient for students, and for those returning to the workforce after an illness or injury.

You can't ignore, however, the hundreds of thousands of Australians over the past 12 months that have either lost their job, or would dearly like to work more (to help pay the mortgage, utility bills etc.).

We know, for instance, the economy shed 53,000 full-time positions in September last year. Another 44,800 full-time jobs disappeared in January.

It's really quite straight forward. The Australian economy is transitioning, and many workers are getting left behind.

Remember the kids' game, musical chairs? Everyone has a seat to start with. That was the mining boom. The music started playing during the financial crisis, and now that it's stopped, we've noticed quite a few chairs have been taken away. We're now seeing two or three people trying to squeeze onto the same chair in many cases!

Darren Coppin is the chief executive of Esher House. His company spits out all sorts of interest research. He told me recently that this big economic transition has also ignited a bit of a social change.

He explained to me that 30 years ago the man did most of the paid-for work (40 hours a week). Since then millions of women have entered the workforce. During the 1980s and 1990s both men and women were working more, and earning more (excluding the recession).

Recently, however, the economy's been unable to sustain those jobs.

Now, women tend to be working 25 hours a week, while men also work 25 hours a week (in trend terms). So, overall, the household is working more, but because both jobs may not be strictly full-time, the actual combined take-home pay at the end of the day is less.

So yes, you guessed it, overall we're working more, for less pay.

Record low wages growth is also rubbing salt into the wound.

Anecdotally I've met quite a lot of people who are doing their best to make the best of a bad situation.

Many couples with children, for instance, have decided to work nine-day fortnights. That means mum or dad takes one day off each week. That day's devoted to running errands, and, of course, child care... and cooking.

I spoke to a single mum last month who told me she felt quite isolated. She said she spends all of her waking hours working and looking after her child, with no time left over for friends, because the bills keep piling up (child care and rent being the ones that hurt).

While many Australians are working out how to get by, too many are really struggling.

I spoke to a few people last week who told me the decision by the Fair Work Commission to scrap Sunday penalty rate had been a kick in guts.

Mandy Carr, for example, a retail worker on Queensland's Gold Coast, had decided to return to work (post maternity leave) on the Sunday shift so her and her husband could get ahead financially.

She says the decision will cost her $100 each and every week.

There are too many Australians though that are angry... really angry.

They're upset because they'd desperately like to make a go of life. They want a home, and enough money on the side to give their kids opportunities in life. But they're being held back by a job that doesn't offer them enough in terms of hours and/or pay, and the cost of living keeps rising.

There's also the emotional toll that workers face with heightened job insecurity, combined with ever-increasing debt repayments.

The Reserve Bank governor told a Parliamentary Committee last week that the situation households face (having to cut back on spending because of rising costs and low wages) is "sobering".

The recognition of the problem is heartening. At this very moment though, recognising the problem is all we seem to be doing.

Low wages growth is at record breaking level and underemployment is endemic in Australia in this second decade of the 21st Century.

By December 2016 seasonally adjusted wages growth was 1.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016, with growth in the private sector being lower still at 1.8 per cent.

Trend percentages are even more dismal.

In December 2016 the Cost Price Index (CPI) showed rises in the cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, footwear, housing, furnishings, household equipment & services, recreation & culture, education, insurance and financial services – with CPI rises ranging from 1.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016.

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Statistics in  December 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an:

est. 739,600 people who were unemployed and looking for full-time work – an est. 18,100 more individuals than in December 2015;

est. 3,814,200 people who were working part-time but would prefer to be working full-time – an est. 126,600 more individuals than in December 2015; and

est. 212,500 unemployed people who were exclusively looking for part-time work in December 2016 – an fall of est. 1,100 individuals since December 2015.

In November 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an est. 1,099,400 underemployed individuals - usually working less than 35 hours per week for a wage which does not meet economic needs. That represents an underemployment rate of 8.6 per cent.

In January 2017 there were around 129,800 more people working part-time than there were a year ago and around 40,100 fewer people working full-time and, despite an alleged small growth in full-time jobs in December 2016, the trend unemployment rate still stood at 5.7 per cent for the ninth consecutive month.


Affecting the take home pay of more than 700,000 workers, with those who regularly work Sunday shifts being left between $29 and over $80 worse off every week.

Many of these workers are already employed in industry sectors and regions which often allow only limited opportunity for changing employers.

According to the Internet Vacancy Index (based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on three main job boards SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch) in January 2017 job vacancies decreased in the Northern Territory, south west Western Australia, western Victoria and regional New South Wales - with the NSW North Coast showing a twelve month decline of -2.6 per cent and three month moving average of 1,700 job on offer to suitable applicants.



The effect of statistics such as this on individuals, families and communities are amplified across rural and regional Australia where the job market is usually tighter than in metropolitan areas and, I suspect that many of us living in the NSW Northern Rivers region have friends or family members struggling with poverty-level incomes due to unemployment or underemployment.

* The saying A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work appears to have entered the public arena in or about 1839.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Will cuts to Sunday penalty rates become a textbook example of unintended consequences?


ABC News, 23 February 2017:

Let's start by calling a spade a spade. Sunday penalty rates have been cut by the Fair Work Commission. Not "equalised" or "brought in line" with Saturday rates. Cut.

Business, big and small, has been seeking this cut for years, saying Sunday penalties are a legacy of a bygone era where families went to church — one that's costing them a tidy sum.

They also argue it's a legacy that's been costing jobs, with many employers choosing not to open on Sundays, or to maintain just a skeleton staff (although ask yourself, just how many retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars are actually shut on Sunday?).

But the cuts to Sunday penalty rates could become a textbook example of unintended consequences, where a move supposed to increase employment instead hurts the economy and increases business failures and job losses.

Why? Because the hundreds of thousands of retail and hospitality workers affected by this decision are also customers.

What do you think happens when you cut someone's pay packet by as much as 25 per cent for their Sunday shifts?

(For a typical permanent retail worker on the award who always works Sunday shifts this will cut their annual pay by about $3,500).

They either have to work more, or they have to cut their spending to match their new, lower wage.

Given that unemployment is stubbornly high at 5.7 per cent, and underemployment is near record levels, it seems unlikely they'll actually be able to get more work to make up the lost pay — and, remember, these staff already work Sundays, so it's not like they'll benefit from any increase in jobs on that day.

According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) an est. 850,300 people were employed in the accommodation and food industry sector in November 2016 as their main job and another est. 1.25 million people have their main job in the retail sector [ABS 6291.0.55.003 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Nov 2016].

An est. 54.7 percent of female employees in the accommodation/food industry work part-time and an est. 45.3 per cent males do likewise. While in retail an est. 54.6 per cent of females and 45.3 per cent of males work part-time.

In accommodation/food businesses part time employees work for an average of 16.1 hours while in the retail trade part-time employees work for an average of 16.7 hours.

Underemployment appears to be highest in the food and hospitality sector, third highest in the retail sector and females highest in both sectors. [Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Gender composition of the workforce: by industry, April 2016]

Females with only one job were more likely to work on weekends - 73% compared to 68% for males.

These statistics tend to confirm that “hundreds of thousands” of single person and family households will be hit by cuts to Sunday penalty rates as set out in the Fair Work Commission’s 4 yearly review of modern awards – Penalty Rates Decision covering Hospitality, Fast Food, Retail and Pharmacy Awards and, I have no doubt that their loss of income will affect local economies to a significant degree.


Award Sunday Penalty Rate

Hospitality Award full-time and part-time employees: (no change for casuals) 175 per cent -> 150 per cent

Fast Food Award (Level 1 employees only)
Full-time and part-time employees: 150 per cent ->125 per cent
Casual employees: 175 per cent ->150 per cent

Retail Award Full-time and part-time employees: 200 per cent ->150 per cent
Casual employees: 200 per cent ->175 per cent

Pharmacy Award
(7.00 am – 9.00 pm only)
Full-time and part-time employees: 200 per cent ->150 per cent
Casual employees: 200 per cent ->175 per cent

Local and regional economies on the NSW North Coast - where often low levels of employment opportunity combined with the fact that few hospitality/food outlets in tourism-orientated towns and none of the big retail stores currently close on a Sunday anyway - suggest that this wages cut will be nothing more than a straight forward cost saving for local businesses, with no or very little additional full-time, part-time or casual employment eventuating.

That a backlash to the Fair Work Commission decision appears inevitable is indicated by this online poll active on the day the decision was published:



Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A university education and a highly paid job the road to home ownership in Australia for the masses?


The Turnbull Government’s tin ear was on full display in The Sydney Morning  Herald on 21 February 2017:

The Coalition MP tasked with tackling Australia's housing affordability problems has said a "highly paid job" is the "first step" to owning a home.

The federal Victorian MP Michael Sukkar, who is the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and has been charged with finding solutions to the country's housing affordability woes, also pointed to his own experience in purchasing two properties by the age of 35 as an example to struggling homebuyers. 

"We're also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs which is the first step to buying a house, it's not the only answer but it's the first step," Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Monday night.

"I want to see young people like me, leave university, I was a terrible university student but I left university because the economy was so good, I got a great start and I was able to forge a career," he said.

The Liberal MP for Deakin since September 2013 and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, 35 year-old Michael Sven Sukkar LLB, BComm (Deakin), LLM (Melb), who apparently walked straight into well-paying employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers after leaving university and eleven years later owns his own home in Blackburn and a residence in Canberra after selling a second investment property in Fitzroy.

Conveniently the Australian taxpayer is assisting Mr. Sukkar with the mortgage on the possibly negatively geared Canberra property by supplying him with $273.00 for every night he stays in his own residence while parliament is sitting – an est. $11,466 for the 2017 calendar year alone.

Even at a stretch, married to a professionally qualified wife with a business partnership in a multinational firm, Michael Sukkar’s economic progress though life is hardly typical of a couple seeking to buy their first home.

However, typically of a member of the Liberal Party he assumes almost everyone can be fortunate enough to have small business owners as parents, a good education and a well-paying job before securing a parliamentary seat with an excellent superannuation plan.

According to They Vote For You during his almost three and a half years in the Australian Parliament Michael Sukkar has voted for:


And voted against:


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Looking for work in 2017? Some advice on your rights from the experts


By and large businesses in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales are fair to their employees.

However, there is no denying that there is an element amongst employers which attempts to take advantage of people desperate to find paid work and, under award rates, no payslips, wages not paid on time, deductions from wages for a little as dropping one small bottle of soft drink, unfair dismissal, are not unknown.

So it pays to know your rights upfront and this may help…….

Fair Work Ombudsman, media release, February 2017:
Fair Work Ombudsman out to smash myths relating to young workers
13 February 2017
The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking to educate employees and business on the myths that are contributing to a concerning number of young workers being underpaid around Australia.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says too many people mistakenly believe that a range of workplace practices relating to young workers are OK when they are in fact unlawful.
“It’s time to address the myths that have achieved widespread levels of acceptance and are resulting in employers short-changing young workers around the country,” Ms James said. 
“Young workers make up about 16 per cent of the Australian workforce but account for a disproportionately high 25 per cent of requests for assistance to the agency. Last year 44% of the litigations we filed in court involved young workers.” 
“It is critical to raise awareness among employees and employers that they may be involved in serious contraventions of workplace laws by unwittingly continuing with practices that they believe are acceptable. 
“Young workers can be vulnerable in the workplace as they are often not fully aware of their rights or reluctant to complain if they think something is wrong. 
“We also come across too many employers who are short-changing young workers and when we contact them they say, ‘I just assumed what I was doing was OK’,” Ms James said. 
Ten common young worker myths the Fair Work Ombudsman encounters are:
MYTH 1: Paying low, flat rates of pay for all hours worked is OK if the worker agrees. 
FACT: Minimum lawful pay rates are mandatory. In many jobs, penalty rates must be paid for evening, weekend, public holiday and overtime work.

MYTH 2: Lengthy unpaid work trials are OK.
FACT: Unpaid trials are only OK for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job. Depending on the nature of the work, this could range from an hour to one shift.

MYTH 3: Employees don’t need to be paid for time spent opening and closing a store or for time spent attending meetings or training outside their paid work hours.
FACT: If a meeting or training is compulsory, then it is work. Employees must be paid for all hours they dedicate to work and this includes time spent opening or closing a store. For example, if an employee is required to be at work at 7.45am to prepare for an 8am store opening, they need to be paid from 7.45am.

MYTH 4: Employers can make deductions from an employee’s wages to cover losses arising from cash register discrepancies, breakages and customers who don’t pay.
FACT: Unauthorised deductions from an employee’s pay are unlawful. Deductions can be made only in very limited circumstances. 

MYTH 5: Employees are obliged to buy store produce such as clothing or food.
FACT: Employers cannot require staff to purchase store produce. This includes any items for which the worker may receive a staff discount. For example, an employer cannot require workers to purchase the particular clothing stocked in a retail outlet. 

MYTH 6: Unpaid internships are OK for all inexperienced young workers looking to get a foot in the door.
FACT: Internships can only be lawfully unpaid when they are a requirement of a course at an authorised educational or training institution.

MYTH 7: Employers can pay young workers as ‘trainees’ or ‘apprentices’ without lodging any formal paperwork.
FACT: Employers must negotiate and lodge a registered training contract for an employee in order to lawfully be able to pay trainee or apprentice rates. An employer cannot pay an employee trainee rates just because they are young or new to the job. 

MYTH 8: Paying employees with goods such as food or drink is OK.
FACT: Payment-in-kind is unlawful. Employees must be paid wages for all work performed.

MYTH 9: If a worker has an Australian Business Number (ABN) they are an independent contractor and minimum pay rates don’t apply.
FACT: Having an ABN does not automatically make a worker an independent contractor. Fair Work inspectors apply tests of fact and law to determine whether a worker’s correct classification is as an independent contractor or an employee. Whether an employer has labelled a worker as a contractor and required them to obtain an ABN may not be relevant.

MYTH 10: Pay slips aren’t mandatory – employers only need to give employees pay slips if they ask for them.
FACT: Employers must give all employees a pay slip within one working day of pay-day. Employers can give employees paper or electronic pay slips, such as a link sent via email. 

Ms James says that in 2017 her Agency will have a particular focus on proactively checking that employers of young workers are doing the right thing. 
“Young workers can be vulnerable, so we place high importance on checking and treat cases of their rights being contravened more seriously, which means we are more likely to pursue enforcement action,” Ms James said. 
Between July 2011 and June 2016, the Fair Work Ombudsman received more than 27,000 requests for assistance from young workers and recovered over $18 million for young workers who had been short-changed.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 27 different languages.
Resources available on the website include the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT), which provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements and an employer’s guide to employing young workers.
Online resources available for young workers include a guide for young workers, the ‘starting a new job’ online learning course and a range of helpful tips.
Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO , the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au  or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au .
Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at www.fairwork.gov.au/mediareleases.


Awards

If you are not covered by an agreement, your minimum wages and conditions are likely to be set by a modern award

The modern award will deal with:

minimum wage rates
annual leave, and annual leave loading
other types of leave
hours of work
penalty rates, overtime and casual rates
allowances
consultation, and
many other minimum conditions.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Doogan Report recommends the Federal Coalition Government compensate nine Save the Children Australia workers for expulsion from its Nauru detention centre in 2014


On 26 June 2015 Adj. Prof. Christopher M. Doogan submitted a report, Review Of Recommendation Nine From The Moss Review, to the Abbott Government  which stated at pages 22 and 23:


Given the Moss Report was submitted to the Abbott Government on 6 February 2014, the subsequent Doogan Report was conducted and concluded in a relatively timely fashion.

However, public knowledge of the text this report did not surface until almost seven months later on Friday 17 January 2016 when it was released by government with no ministerial comment.

In effect, those nine Save the Children Australia workers were forced to wait the better part of fifteen months for final vindication.

Even then mainstream media reported that neither Save The Children Australia nor the nine expelled workers have received an apology from either the Abbott or Turnbull federal governments and, none presumably have received any form of compensation.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and former immigration minister Treasurer Scott Morrison are acting churlishly by not following Recommendation 61 of the Doogan Report.

But what can one expect from a federal government heavily infested with right-wing ideologues, more intent on ensuring the continuation of their own lucrative parliamentary positions rather than in governing the nation effectively and fairly.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Industrial Relations: if you thought Tony Abbott could not sink much lower....


Australian Government Productivity Commission media release, 22 January 2015:


The Productivity Commission has today released a suite of five issues papers relating to its current public inquiry into the performance of the Australian workplace relations framework.

The issues papers are intended to canvas all the big questions about Australia's workplace system. The Commission has asked Australians — employees, employers, unions, people not in work and others — to give their views about the best system for the future. While the Commission seeks detailed responses from key stakeholders, people can also make brief comments and can do so by going to its web page.

The Australian Government asked the Commission to undertake the wide-ranging inquiry into Australia's workplace relations system in late December 2014.

The chair of the Commission, Peter Harris, said: 'We know people hold passionate views about workplace relations. I'd like to emphasise that the Commission is open-minded, and our approach will be evidence-based and impartial. We know that a workplace relations system goes beyond its important economic impacts, and will take account of the human and social elements of what is at stake. We are required by our legislation to account of benefits to the community as a whole, and not any particular interest group'.

The Commission's five issues papers cover all the key aspects of the system: its objectives; the safety net provided by minimum wages, awards and the national employment standards; how people bargain in the system, the protections it provides employees, its compliance costs and its institutions.

Peter Harris said that 'The system is complex and interlinked, so the inquiry must be broad ranging. But just because we raise an issue does not mean we will recommend change in that area. We plan to undertake the analysis and hear what people think, and based on that we will reach conclusions. There will be substantial opportunity for public comment on any proposals'.

The Commission has indicated that it will entertain fresh ideas. The first issues paper says that the Commission 'is open to lateral suggestions so long as they are practical, beneficial and backed by solid evidence and argument'. It also asks for lessons from other countries' workplace relations systems.

The Commission is due to report by the end of November 2015, and will produce a draft report midyear, hold hearings after the draft and seek two rounds of submissions over the course of the inquiry. It is also looking at ways to make it easier for regional Australia to participate in this process.

The Commission is seeking initial public feedback on its issues papers by 13 March 2015.

Background information
Ralph Lattimore (Assistant Commissioner) 02 6240 3242
Requests for comment / other
Leonora Nicol (Media and Publications) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

It takes minimal research to realise that the Abbott Government hopes to use The Workplace Relations Framework: The Inquiry In Context: Issues Paper 1, January 2015 as a first step in introducing Work Choices Mark II, because none of those in the ranks of neo-conservative politics or self-interested business can wrap their minds around the fact that it is the effort of workers (more than average annual investment in a business) which sees owners garner both business and personal wealth.

Make no mistake Prime Minister Tony Abbott & his merry band of fascisti are intent on attacking the basis of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay by dismantling minimum wages, the award system (which includes penalty rates) and National Employment Standards.

Monday, 24 November 2014

OVERCOMING INDIGENOUS DISADVANTAGE 2014 report released 19 November 2014


M e d i a R e l e a s e
Wednesday 19 November 2014

Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision

OVERCOMING INDIGENOUS DISADVANTAGE 2014

The 2014 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage (OID) report released today shows some positive trends in the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, with improvements in health, education
and economic outcomes. However, results in areas such as justice and mental health continue to cause concern.

The report shows that, nationally, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians:

• economic outcomes have improved over the longer term, with higher incomes, lower reliance on income support, increased home ownership, and higher rates of full time and professional employment.
However, improvements have slowed in recent years
• several health outcomes have improved, including increased life expectancy and lower child mortality.
However, rates of disability and chronic disease remain high, mental health outcomes have not improved, and hospitalisation rates for self-harm have increased
• post-secondary education outcomes have improved, but there has been virtually no change in literacy and numeracy results at school, which are particularly poor in remote areas
• justice outcomes continue to decline, with adult imprisonment rates worsening and no change in high rates of juvenile detention and family and community violence.

“It has been almost three years since the last OID report. For this report we made a concerted effort to increase the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Their input contributed to significant developments, including broadening the focus from overcoming disadvantage to improving wellbeing, and the inclusion of new indicators, such as Indigenous language revitalisation and maintenance, valuing Indigenous cultures (including experiences of racism and discrimination) and participation in decision making” said Peter Harris, chairman of the Productivity Commission and of the Steering Committee.

The OID report is the most comprehensive report on Indigenous wellbeing produced in Australia. It contains accessible data for an extensive range of wellbeing measures as well as case studies of programs that have led to improved outcomes. “This report should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians or working in service delivery or program design,” said Commissioner Patricia Scott, who convenes the expert working group that advises on the report.

The report is a product of the Review of Government Service Provision. It is overseen by a Steering Committee comprising senior officials from the Australian, State and Territory governments, and supported by a secretariat from the Productivity Commission. This report is the sixth in the series, which traces its origins to the final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 2000.

The full report can be found here.

On the same day the Productivity Commission report was released the Abbott Government walked away from another one of its 2013 election promises, according to The Australian, 20 November 2014:

THE national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services NATSILS is angry at the Abbott government for “back flipping” on a pledge to consider introducing justice targets as part of the Closing the Gap policy agenda, a move which NATSILS along with many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations have long called for.
It comes after this week’s Productivity Commission Overcoming indigenous Disadvantage report revealed a shocking increase of nearly 60 per cent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates over the last decade.
NATSILS Chairperson, Shane Duffy, said that confirmation from the Minister for indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, during question time in the Senate on Wednesday that the government would not be progressing with introducing a justice target, despite publicly supporting such in the lead up to the 2013 election, was a troubling development…..
Mr Duffy said that the development of Closing the Gap justice targets was not just about throwing more money at the issue, as the Minister had described it, but was rather about getting the policy settings right to affect real change and to make sure resources in the justice space are used most effectively.
“The high cost of incarceration combined with the fact that prisons actually offer little in terms of effective rehabilitation, means that addressing incarceration rates should be an economic priority for the Government and its budget bottom line,” Mr Duffy said.
“It is costing Australian taxpayers more than $795 million per annum just to maintain the current level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-imprisonment, so to reiterate the sentiments of the Minister in recent days, we shouldn’t just keep throwing money down the drain.”

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Beliefs versus research in mainstream media


This is where reliance on belief led one university-educated journalist and news director.

The Daily Examiner 31 July 2014:

However I believe there are people out there who are getting benefits a little too easily these days and hopefully this will weed them out.

This is where reliance on research took another journalist.


A Department of Employment official has admitted the Abbott government has not done any modelling to estimate how many job seekers will find employment within three months after completing its multibillion-dollar work-for-the-dole program.
That is despite the government's own data showing work-for-the-dole programs are the least effective way to help people find jobs.
Department of Employment data shows that - for job seekers in 2013 - only 19.8 per cent of participants in work-for-the-dole schemes found a full- or part-time job within three months.
That compares with 40.3 per cent of people who did unpaid work experience, 28.4 per cent of those who completed some form of work training, 25.7 per cent who were trained in job search techniques, and 21 per cent of those who did voluntary work….
As of March 31, there were 17,000 job seekers who were doing work for the dole.