A media release issued today from Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten has advised: "The Australian Government will urgently introduce an amendment to the Fair Work Act to protect the entitlements of tens of thousands of state public servants threatened by job cuts announced by state governments."
Minister Bill Shorten said the amendment, to be introduced in the next sitting of Federal Parliament, will change the transfer of business provisions in the Act to protect entitlements of former state public service employees where a state government outsources work or sells assets to private sector employers.
The ASU has hailed the Federal Government announcement to amend the FWA Act to provide for decency at times of public service reform as an important step forward for employees, the government and the public who rely on these important public services.
Minister Shorten has also advised the ASU that the amendment will include local government and state owned corporations. The ASU has met with the Minister and received this commitment.
ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean said, "This is a great outcome for employees and ASU members but it's also a win for employers as it will be seen as an improved opportunity of staff retention, increased outcomes from skills and training through both interest and less staff turnover, plus an increased focus on workplace change and reform."
The ASU believes the proposed amendment is an important step forward to creating a modern workforce that is built on skills and training plus treats employees with dignity at the time of change. It will also encourage public services managers, including those in local government and state owned corporations, to look at better management, improved outcome and commitments to the national training agenda, rather just contracting or privatisation of areas they manage.
It reflects many rights that are held by workers in many OECD countries, including those we trade with and negotiate trade agreements with.
It's also a fantastic opportunity to encourage our best and brightest to remain in the public services provision, and not be forced out by salary and conditions cuts, with their knowledge used for the benefit of all society, not just those that are shareholders in business where the drive is profit for the shareholders not those receiving the services. In this case it's a real win for those members of the public that receive services from all levels of government.
This is a win that is good for communities, good for governments that invest in training their staff, good for any business that picks up a contracted out or privatised service and good for those that work providing public services at all levels of government and their families who know if the job changes, their families are protected.
"This is the starkest example I have seen between the Labor and Liberal/National agenda," said Greg McLean.
Government full press release below
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten
Action to protect outsourced state public servants
Friday 21 September 2012
The Australian Government will urgently introduce an amendment to the Fair Work Act to protect the entitlements of tens of thousands of state public servants threatened by job cuts announced by state governments.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said the amendment, to be introduced in the next sitting of Federal Parliament, will change the transfer of business provisions in the Act to protect entitlements of former state public service employees where a state government outsources work or sells assets to private sector employers.
"I am deeply concerned about recent announcements by state governments to cut tens of thousands of public service jobs. The Commonwealth will do what it can to protect the terms and conditions of these workers. There is potential for state governments who outsource arrangements or asset sales to put at risk the pay and conditions of these employees," Mr Shorten said.
"This is of particular concern in Queensland with the Newman Government's announcement that it will cut the jobs of 14,000 public sector workers.
"The Newman Government has already legislated to override employment security provisions and limitations on the use of contractors in state public sector agreements, paving the way for outsourcing of public sector jobs.
"The Gillard Government will not stand idly by and let the Liberal State Governments cut wages and conditions by stealth.
"The attack on public sector entitlements is not confined to Queensland.
"We've seen 15,000 public sector workers in New South Wales who have been cut in two budgets, including the 800 workers in the TAFE sector who have fallen victim to the O'Farrell Government's $1.7 billion education cuts. There are also some 5,500 public sector workers in Victoria who are facing the axe."
The Fair Work Act's transfer of business provisions protect employee entitlements where a business changes hands and the new employer employs the old employer's workers to do the same job.
These provisions currently only operate where both the old and new employers are covered by the national workplace relations system.
The amendments would ensure that where there is a transfer of business from a state public sector employer to a new employer in the national workplace relations system, the former public sector employees will see their existing terms and conditions and accrued entitlements protected, and have their prior service recognised.
"State public sector workers should not be worse off as a result of state governments outsourcing their jobs," Mr Shorten said.
"Today I have written to my State and Territory colleagues seeking their feedback on this proposal. I respect the rights of state and territory governments to conduct their own administrations, but my strong view is the Commonwealth must ensure these employees are not disadvantaged.
"I am more than happy to work with my State and Territory colleagues to get these protections right.
"The Commonwealth believes that protecting former state public sector employees in these circumstances is the right thing to do".
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