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Tasmania set to be the Testing Ground for Radical Liberal Agenda to Attack Workers’ Rights

Workers around the nation will react with horror as Tasmania’s Liberal Government moves to end any semblance of workers’ rights in the Tasmanian public sector – forever. Will Hodgman’s Liberal Government yesterday tabled a Bill that leaves the setting of all wages and conditions (penalty rates, overtime, sick leave, holiday pay etc) for every public sector employee entirely to the discretion of the Treasurer.

“The Treasurer by regulation, with the mere flick of a pen, will have the power to set the wages of any individual employee, any group of employees or the entire public sector, every year, year on year, forever,” Unions Tasmania President Roz Madsen said.

“This is the stuff of a Soviet State. We are going back to the days of centralised wage fixing, except with the Government, not an Independent Commission, the sole arbiter of people’s wages.

“This Bill will form the blueprint for the Abbott Government’s overhaul of the Federal Workplace Relations system. Everything about this smacks of Eric Abetz. Thinly veiled as a budget savings measures it is a shameless attempt to drive a stake into the heart of every workplace right we take for granted in this country – bargaining for wages, penalty rates, allowances, overtime, sick leave, holiday pay, everything.

“Australian Unions will throw everything we have at defeating these Laws and if they’re passed the Hodgman Government will become a priority target for defeat by the union movement nationally.”

The Community and Public Sector Union’s Tom Lynch said the Bill had absolutely nothing to do with fixing the State Budget.

“This is a smokescreen for an attack on workers’ rights. It is the most extreme Industrial Relations change ever-proposed anywhere in Australia at least since the Second World War. It leaves WorkChoices as a mere bump in the road.

“You can bet your bottom dollar that every other Liberal Government in the nation will be looking at the progress of this Bill. If successful they will seek to emulate it in their States.”

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Acting Secretary Caroline Saint said the Bill gives the Government the right to walk away from contractual arrangements (including Workplace Agreements) it has made with staff.

“An employee who tried to do the same would be subjected to code of conduct disciplinary action, termination of employment or legal proceedings.”

Secretary of the Health and Community Services Union Tim Jacobson said the Bill was a clear breach of International Law.

“It provides no recourse for workers to do anything other than accept whatever their employer choses to give them. This is as draconian as it comes. It is an ideological attack from the Liberal Party aimed at ending the rights of all workers to decent and fair wages and conditions. Every time they say it’s about the budget or saving jobs they are lying. It’s the most disgraceful form of wedge politics I have ever seen.”

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