Making workplaces life and family friendly
We work to live, not live to work, so ensuring that workplaces don't adversely affect our private lives and actually support better communities, is something unions have fought for over generations. Even the introduction of the Minimum Wage in Australia was based on supporting family needs with a living wage.
In more recent years, campaigns have focussed on paid parental leave, the right to access flexible work arrangments and special provisions for workers experiencing violence at home. Each of these campaigns, and others, are driven by a vision of Australian communities that are inclusive and that foster our future generations.
Australian workers are not units of labour to be exploited by industry for every iota of productivity they can extract. Australian workers are people, with lives outside the workplace.
The ASU has be been a leader in making workplaces better for those who experience violence in the home. We have argued successfully that a system of support for those workers would be a win-win, benefiting both the worker and the employer.
We are now part of the national campaign called We Won't Wait to bring family and domestic violence leave to all workers via the National Employment Standards, not just those with employers who understand what is at stake.
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The following infographic also gives some background:
Despite a proud history of workplace advances in Australia, we were up until 2010 one of the few developed countries in the world that did not have a national paid parental leave system.
This, of course, did not prevent unions from negotiating paid parental leave in numerous agreements all over the country. But unions have always argued that a basic provision of paid leave for parents should be something all workers are entitled to, and that workers in individual workplaces can then negotiate to top up those basic entitlements in local agreements.
Since 2013, the current LNP Federal Government has led Australians on a wild ride in relation to the government funded PPL scheme introduced by the previous Labor Government. From making wild promises to gold plate the scheme to stripping back the existing modest scheme, it's hard to know what the Government will do next.
In May 2017, the Turnbull Federal Govt took changes to PPL off the table, for now, a win we should enjoy while it lasts: ASU members win: paid parental leave cuts abandoned
Contact your ASU Branch for details of what your PPL benefits are and whether you have locally negotiated additional benefits to draw on.
More about the struggle
When workers become carers, either of children, people with disabilities, elderly relatives or seriously sick family members, access to flexible work arrangements makes a huge difference to ongoing quality of life for those carers.
Unions have negotiated rights in individual agreements for workers to access flexibilities - please contact your ASU Branch to find out if you have access to these additional rights. If you don't the minimum National Employment Standards (NES) make allowance for the "right to request". The following excerpt is from the "Fair Work Information Statement" that all new employees must be presented with by their employers (click on the image to see a larger version):