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our rights at work

Employer group wants awards gutted

The employer group that represent small business in Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) wants to reduce awards to their bare minimum. It also wants to see individual contracts like AWAs reintroduced. 

Never shy about putting forward its anti-worker agenda, ACCI has issued a policy paper calling for awards to contain nothing other than minimum wage rates. 

These would be supplemented by legislated minimum standards (like the current National Employment Standards) to form a safety net for working conditions and entitlements. 

The rest would be left to bargaining. 

This is obviously a recipe for falling living standards for Australian working people. Only in areas where workers were well organised would there be any chance of maintaining conditions now specified in awards. Elsewhere, workers would quickly find themselves driven towards the safety net minimum. 

But then, that’s the idea. 

ACCI says it’s all about national competitiveness which is code for lower pay and conditions. But with low wage growth currently acting as a drag on the Australian economy you have to wonder just how ACCI thinks ever lower wages will be of benefit nationally. 

But perhaps it’s not really the national interest that concerns ACCI as much as the fortunes of its small business constituency. ACCI also wants to reduce company tax below 25%,  exempt small businesses (under 20 people) from unfair dismissal laws and impose further restrictions on union right of entry. 

This wish list is likely to prove too much for Turnbull while in election mode. But should the Coalition be returned to office we will no doubt be hearing more about it.

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