The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, introduced a Private Member’s Bill this morning that would prevent the Fair Work Commission from agreeing to employer requests to terminate expired enterprise agreements when it would result in workers being worse off.

“The current Fair Work Act is not sufficient to protect workers from having their terms and conditions pulled out from under them,” Mr Wilkie said.

“There are many Australians, often on very modest pay and conditions, working under expired agreements and all too often employers use this as an excuse to force workers back on to award conditions. The workers at Aurizon and just recently Murdoch University know how the current laws give employers too much power.

“No wonder there is unease among staff at the University of Tasmania where their enterprise agreement has also expired. They would be well aware of the National Tertiary Education Union’s prediction of what could happen at Murdoch University, including cuts to salaries of between 20 and 39 per cent; cuts to superannuation contributions of up to 17 per cent; reductions of redundancy payments of up to 80 per cent; the withdrawal of paid parental leave; and the loss of two days of personal leave.

“This bill would mean that when an employer applies to the Fair Work Commission to terminate an agreement, the Commission must not do so if it would result in less favourable conditions for any of the employees.

“I urge the Government to get behind this bill and act decisively to protect the thousands of Australian workers on expired agreements.”
Mr Wilkie’s speech is available at http://andrewwilkie.org/fair-work-amendment-terminating-enterprise-agreements-bill-2017/.

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