06 Sep 2017

‪Labor has successfully strengthened protections for workers through amendments to the Vulnerable Workers Bill that has now passed the Senate.
The legislation is far weaker than Labor would have delivered, but we're dealing with an anti-worker Government with a history of callous disregard for working people.
Labor moved a series of amendments that were essential to strengthening the Bill.
While we are pleased two tranches of our amendments were passed and go some way to protecting workers from being ripped off, unfortunately, this Government isn’t interested in the wellbeing or safety of workers, they are only interested in quick political wins.
The two tranches of Labor amendments that passed the Senate are a win for vulnerable workers.
Labor successfully tightened coercive questioning powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman, confining them to investigations of underpayment and exploitation of vulnerable workers, and only with proper oversight. The powers will now not be used to interrogate workers.
Labor also passed an amendment to reverse the onus of proof in claims for unpaid wages where the employer has not produced wage slips or employment records.
Labor’s other amendments to strengthen the Bill and make it easier to prosecute franchisors and companies for exploitation by labour hire and along the supply chain, were opposed by the Turnbull Government, meaning many other business models engaging in intentional underpayments will continue to be able to escape any ramifications.
This Government's commitment to workers is paper thin. They wouldn't support Labor's amendments to strengthen the Bill - but were more than happy to support Senator’s Leyonhjelm and Bernardi in their efforts to weaken it.
The Minister's support for the Bernardi/Leyonhjelm amendments showed perhaps just how successful former Liberal Minister Bruce Billson was with his lobbying efforts to dilute the Bill.
This is the same politician that failed to notify the register of interests of his compromised position, working for the Franchise Council Of Australia (FCA) at the same time as being a member of parliament. This is a lobby group that wanted the legislation defeated.
In the absence of leadership from this Government, Federal Labor will continue to lead the way to stamp out underpayment and exploitation.

We'll Put People First.