Comments in relation to the Albanese Labor Government striking an agreement with Senate Crossbenchers David Pocock, Jacqui Lambie, The Greens, and Lydia Thorpe, to pass major parts of the Closing Loopholes Bill today:
Comments attributable to United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy.
“This is a monumental step forward in workers’ rights with parts of the government’s industrial relations bill set to make wage theft a crime and put same job, same pay into law.
“Our members have spoken up about the cost-of-living pressures they are facing, and the measures in this bill are welcome pre-Christmas news to get millions of workers’ wages moving again.
“Without union members advocating for these sensible changes they never would have happened – they shared their lived experiences of the cost pressures they face in their lives every day.
“The labour hire provisions mean ‘same job, same pay’ for labour-hire workers, and mean wage increases on sites for labour-hire workers where there are enterprise agreements – a fight our union has had for more than a decade.
“With our members facing repeated instances of systemic wage theft, serious wage theft will not only be a crime but civil penalties also increase dramatically.
“No one has been more relentless than our delegates, the backbone of our union – workers who stand up for their fellow worker’s rights in the workplace, and it’s great news those delegates’ rights are now being protected.
“These changes could have come sooner if Peter Dutton and the Liberals hadn’t sided with big business and voted to keep wages low and hold workers back at every opportunity.
“So we know we’re not done yet – United Workers Union is committed to fighting for all parts of the Closing the Loopholes Bill to be passed in the new year, this includes protecting against sham contracting and rights for casual workers.”
The Government has committed to finishing the job and passing the rest of the Bill early next year.
During the debate on Closing Loopholes workers stood up and made their voices heard:
Bethany, a 27-year-old hospitality employee in WA, spoke up about her hospitality business failing to pay her the right wage – then got sacked by text:
“A lot of my co-workers were visa workers and had no other choice and that’s my main reason to continue fighting on this,” she told The Australian. “I had no idea wage theft was not a criminal offence.”
Delo Be and Mayet, two ACT workers among seven who faced systemic wage theft at massage business Canberra Foot & Thai, spoke about their five-year fight for justice:
“We regained our voices, but no one should have to experience what we went through or how long we have waited for justice,” they told The Canberra Times.
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