Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
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Newman Government’s WorkChoices Mk2

24 October 2013

Last week the Newman Government introduced to parliament a Bill to amend the Industrial Relations Act which, amongst other things, removed a significant number of provisions that are allowed to be contained in Agreements and Awards.

The legislation deems provisions dealing with the following matters as not allowed and Certified Agreements (including your current Enterprise Agreement) will not be able to contain provisions which deal with:

Use of contractors
Employment security
Organisational change
Removal of your right to pay your Union subscriptions by Payroll Deduction
Incorporation of policies
Provides that policies can only be amended by agreement
Restricts the types of engagement
Restricts flexible rostering arrangements
Restricts the efficient delivery of services (this is undefined and it is unclear how far it would stretch)

It also does not allow in an Agreement redundancy provisions containing payouts beyond 16 weeks after 12 years’ service. (Though, I hasten to add, that your employer has not indicated any intention of moving away from the current Redundancy Provisions contained in policies at this point.)

These are conditions that a good number of RTBU Agreements contained. Conditions that protected you and “your rights at work”.

These amendments came out of the blue and it looks like the Government was trying to slip them under the radar by introducing them to parliament in the same week as the bikie laws and the reduction in your WorkCover rights were being rushed through parliament.

The last round of “Fair Work Act Harmonisation” amendments legislated by the Newman Government attacked your union. This time they are coming after you.

If you thought WorkChoices was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

There are also provisions in the legislation that for all intents and purposes removes your right to protected industrial action during bargaining and limits your representatives’ options during negotiations. There is also the potential of a forced wage freeze contained in this legislation.

This is quite simply extremist legislation which bears no resemblance to what your brothers and sisters covered by Federal Awards have and is far worse for workers than John Howard’s WorkChoices legislation.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union will be doing everything possible to oppose this attack on your rights and conditions. More detailed newsletters will follow as the impacts of these provisions become clearer.

How many people recall Campbell Newman or any of his followers telling you that worse than “WorkChoices” was on their agenda?

The last round of legislative amendments made payroll deduction clauses in Agreements, ineffective. This time they’re making them an offence for an employer to allow them to occur. This means that if this law passes (and we have no doubt it will) and you don’t convert to direct debit or credit card payments, your union membership will lapse. You will be receiving a personal letter within the next couple of with the alternative options for paying your Union to replace the pay roll reduction method being taken from you. It is anticipated that this legislation will be enacted before the end of next month.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
State Secretary
Qld Branch