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ASU welcomes changes to bullying laws and increased worker protections

12 February 2013 By ASU

ACTU president Ged Kearney said intimidation, harassment and oppressive behaviours in the work place were unacceptable and Government changes that make bullying policy part of the federal workplace system will go a long way towards shifting negative culture.

Ms Kearney said, "We welcome any laws that lead to further protections for workers. There have been horrendous stories in the past about bullying and the impacts, especially on young workers."

She said the Productivity Commission had costed losses in productivity stemming from bullying in the billions of dollars.

"There are many reasons why bullying results in a massive loss in productivity including people calling in sick, feeling very stressed or even leaving their jobs. This is an important and costly issue."

"Workers who are being bullied need quick access to processes that can deal effectively with the problem."

"The proposed changes would make it much easier for employees to access an independent umpire in the form of the Fair Work Commission to resolve the issue. This may lead to swift conflict resolution instead of allowing the issue to fester and possibly lead to unfortunate or tragic circumstances."

The ASU had lodged a submission to the Inquiry calling for amendments to the Fair Work Act recognising workplace bullying and allowing access to Fair Work Australia (now Commission) (download the ASU submission here).

The ASU supports the view that no matter what the laws, employers must be accountable for providing safe workplaces in which bullying does not occur in the first place.

Ms Kearney said: "Every workplace should have policies and procedures to deal with bullying and harassment, as it's essential for employers to provide a safe and harassment-free environment for all their workers."

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Name: John Nucifora
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