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Australia: New laws will lead to exploitation

NTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS

ICFTU OnLine... 069/270505

Australia: New laws will lead to unprecedented exploitation of workers

Brussels, 27 May 2005 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU has condemned the announcement by the Australian conservative government of plans to deprive the vast majority of the country's workers of protection from unfair dismissal, and to eliminate fundamental trade union rights. Under the new centralised laws, 99% of employers will be able sack employees indiscriminately, workers will be forced onto individual employment contracts, minimum wages will be reduced over time and the rights of workers to information and assistance from their unions will be heavily restricted.

"This is one of the worst examples of an industrialised country government riding roughshod over the rights and interests of working people", said ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder, adding "Workers' incomes will fall, particularly affecting the most vulnerable, and important employment and health and safety protections will be undermined".

The Federal Government intends to centralise powers which have until now been exercised by state governments, and to dictate the scope of collective bargaining between employers and workers by reducing the country's "award" safety net to just four minimum conditions. The independent Industrial Relations Commission will, according to the ICFTU-Affiliated Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU, www.actu.asn.au), be "gutted".

"These new laws would constitute a flagrant violation of Australia's international obligations through the International Labour Organisation" said Ryder, who along with ICFTU President Sharan Burrow, who is also President of the ACTU, will be briefing trade unionists from around the world on the Australian government's moves at next week's ILO annual conference.

The ICFTU represents 145 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 154 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

ENDS

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