Showing posts with label industrial relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label industrial relations. Show all posts

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

FAIR GO 101: It's Time To Change The Rules

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Turnbull Government's Australian Building and Construction Commissioner resigns ahead of court sentancing contravening the Fair Work Act

It appears that the Abbott and Turnbull federal governments’ chosen anti-union attack dog has feet of clay…………………….
This is what the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has to say about its agency head as late as 12 September 2017:
Nigel Hadgkiss, APM, became the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner on 2 December 2016 with the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).  Nigel has held a number of high-profile roles in both state and federal government agencies with a focus on both law enforcement and construction industry regulation, including:
Director Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC);
Director, Construction Code Compliance, Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance;
Executive Director, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions NSW;
Deputy Commissioner, ABCC;
Director, Building Industry Taskforce;
National Director of Intelligence, Australian Crime Commission; and
Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police
In 2007, while Deputy Commissioner of the ABCC, Nigel was credited with bringing a remarkable era of peace and productivity to the nation's building sites.[i]
Nigel commenced his career with the Hong Kong Police Force. During his career he has led many high profile investigations and inquiries, and served on three Australian Royal Commissions. Between 1972 and 1998, he received 15 commendations, including two from District Court Judges, three from Supreme Court Judges, and one from a Chief Justice. Between 1994 and 1996, he was the Director of Operations at the Wood Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Force.  During that secondment, Nigel was awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) for distinguished service in the 1995 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Later that year, the Australian Federal Police promoted him to Assistant Commissioner. In 1997 Nigel was invited to Toronto to appear before a Royal Commission examining the wrongful conviction of a man for first degree murder. He assisted the Commissioner in formulating recommendations to improve the administration of criminal justice in Ontario.
Nigel holds Bachelor of Laws and Masters of Commerce degrees from the University of New South Wales.  As a Winston Churchill Fellow, in 1989 he spent five months in Northern Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, England, the USA and Canada studying Comparative Methods for Combating Organised Crime.  In 1998 Nigel was invited to York University, Toronto, as a Visiting Fellow to Canada’s largest law school, Osgoode Hall, for their 1999 winter semester. Later that year he presented seminars at All Souls College, Oxford University, and at the Inner Temple Hall of the Inner Temple Inn of Court, London.
Since 1996 Nigel has been: a member of the RMIT University’s Business Management Course Advisory Committee; a Board Member of the Australian Institute of Criminology; Chair of the Commonwealth’s Executive Leadership Group Victoria; a Board Member of the Industry Advisory Board for the Centre of Business Forensics at the University of Queensland; an Adjunct Professor with the University of Queensland’s Business School; and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Australian Institute of Criminology.

[i] The Australian Financial Review Magazine, October 2007 p.121.

On 12 September 2017 The Australian revealed another side to this gentleman:
Nigel Hadgkiss appearing at a hearing into the Fair Work Building and Construction at Parliament House in Canberra
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss has admitted to contravening the Fair Work Act, sparking fresh calls by the construction union for him to resign.
In an embarrassment to the Coalition, Mr Hadgkiss will face a civil penalty hearing in the Federal Court on Friday.
In an agreed statement of facts tendered in court today, Mr Hadgkiss admitted that in December 2013 he directed that looming changes to right of entry laws — that were beneficial to unions and workers — not be published by the agency.
The Coalition won the federal election in September 2013 but the previous Labor government had passed changes to the right of entry laws that came into operation on January 1, 2014.
Before the amendments, a union official had to follow a reasonable request by an employer about where they could hold site discussions with workers.
Under the ALP changes, the employer was no longer authorised to give such a request. If no agreement could be reached, the union official could meet workers in their regular meal room for discussion.
According to the statement of agreed facts, Mr Hadgkiss met two senior agency staff on December 19, 2013 and directed that no changes be made to agency educational material to reflect the new law.
A senior agency staffer said he told another senior employee that there was a political and legal risk associated with withholding the information. The employee agreed, saying he raised his concerns with Mr Hadgkiss but he was adamant “he didn’t want us to change anything”.
Mr Hadgkiss argued the then Employment Minister Eric Abetz has promised to repeal the amendments when federal parliament resumed in 2014. He believed the amendments would be repealed and changes to the educational material would have to be reversed.
But the amendments have not been repealed and remain the law.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national construction secretary, Dave Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss should resign or be sacked by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.
“It’s a very serious matter when the regulator breaks the same laws they are supposed to be enforcing,’’ he said. “Can you imagine if the head of the ACCC admitted to breaching the Corporations Act?
According to the Remuneration Tribunal, Mr Hadgkiss receives a taxpayer-funded salary of $426,160 a year.
Asked if Senator Cash still had confidence in Mr Hadgkiss, her spokesman said “the matter is still being determined by the court and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment at this stage”.
Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Senator Cash had “allowed her regulator to intentionally operate in breach of the very legislation which he is authorised to enforce”.
“Unless and until the Minister publicly denounces Commissioner Hadgkiss and takes appropriate action, any comments she makes about upholding the rule of law are hollow and insincere,’’ he said.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said Senator Cash must sack Mr Hadgkiss.
“Surely the person who has the highest responsibility, a greater responsibility, to abide by industrial laws is the person in charge of upholding them,’’ she said.
“If a police chief recklessly broke the law, which Nigel Hadgkiss has admitted to, their position would in untenable and there would be consequences. If a worker fails to follow workplace laws they can be sacked.
“Michaelia Cash is calling for the sacking of union leaders — what standard will she apply to her own employee who is in charge of upholding her laws?”
Mr Hadgkiss admitted to contravening section 503 (1) of the Fair Work Act which says a person must not take action with the intention of giving the impression, “or reckless as to whether the impression is given that the doing of a thing is authorised when it is not.
Mr Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss admitted “his conduct was reckless”.
“We believe the result of that recklessness is that the industry was misled on a key issue affecting workers’ rights,” he said.
“He has taken great care to bring multiple prosecutions against unions and workers over right of entry breaches, but has failed to conduct himself with reasonable care in relation to these same laws, and in particular those parts of the laws which extend some benefit or protection to workers.
“Mr Hadgkiss’s position as a regulator is compromised and untenable, and he should resign immediately,’
The consequence of the direction by Mr Hadgkiss was that a fact sheet, poster and pocket guide available for download on the agency website was not changed until July last year.
An article detailing the right of entry changes was published on the agency intranet for staff on January 9 2014.
It said given the changes will be “rolled back in the future”, staff should only provide advice about them if specifically asked, and presentation should not include slides about the new provisions.
On January 9 2014, Jeff Radisich, executive director of northwest operations, asked Adam Copp, the agency director of stakeholder engagement, whether the roll back would occur.
“I thought we would be stuck with these provisions until the Senate change over in July,’’ he wrote. “If that’s the case we are running something of a political and industrial risk by withholding info on the law as it currently stands.”
Mr Copp replied “to be honest, I do share your concerns and talked to Nigel about it last year”.
“However, he was absolutely adamant that he didn’t want us to change anything as the government intention is to change the legislation. He said he was extremely comfortable handling it in (Senate) estimates or the media or wherever. He felt pretty strongly about it.”
Mr Hadgkiss eventually directed the fact sheet, poster and pocket guide be withdrawn last year after Mr Noonan wrote to him in July last year, saying they misrepresented the requirements of the Fair Work Act.
A spokesman for Mr Hadgkiss said he would not comment as the matter was before the courts.
In the statement of agreed facts, Mr Hadgkiss admitted he had not read the fact sheet, poster or pocket guide prior to reviewing for the purpose of the current court case. Nor was he aware of their specific content.
He admitted he had not studied the right of entry amendments or the amending act but relied on media reports and commentary at the time to get an understanding of the broad nature of the amendments.
He said he “did not intend, believe or advert to the possibility” that an impression would be given that something was authorised by the Fair Work Act when it was not authorised.
However he accepted that he could reasonably have been expected to have foreseen the continued availability of the fact sheet, poster and pocket guide could give the impression the pre-2014 legal position remained.
Mr Noonan said the CFMEU has raised objections about the ABCC materials since 2014.
“For over two years, from 2014 until the CFMEU complained to the ABCC in 2016, multiple ABCC publications on right of entry laws did not accurately describe this provision, and incorrectly asserted that union officials had to comply with the employer’s wishes on the location of meetings,’’ he said.
“While the ABCC had ensured the correct legal position was known internally to its own staff, it disseminated incorrect information to the public and across the industry.”
The maximum fine faced by Mr Hadgkiss for the breach is $12,600.

Mr Hadgkiss will face a civil penalty hearing in the Federal Court tomorrow, Friday 15 September 2017.
Readers may remember that this is not the first time Mr. Hadgkiss has exceeded his brief.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2014:
ABCC deputy commissioner at the time, Hadgkiss summoned Tribe to a compulsory interrogation, which Tribe refused to attend. He risked six months in prison but a magistrate ruled that only the ABCC commissioner had the power to issue the summons and he had not lawfully delegated that power to Hadgkiss. The ruling effectively ended the ABCC's widespread use of coercive powers.

Then there is Hadgkiss’ penchant for selectively relying on the Murdoch media for his erroneous information.

By 13 September 2017 it became obvious that the Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia Michaelia Cash had decided to put a lid on the situation - possibly in the hope that nothing more concerning the ABCC entered the public domain - applied something like the 'three strikes' rule and announced that Nigel Hadgkiss was no longer employed:

Mr Nigel Hadgkiss APM has today tendered his resignation as Commissioner of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which has been accepted by the Government..............Mr Hagdkiss will serve a two week transition period to facilitate a handover of his responsibilities to an acting Commissioner.

Closing the stable door after the horse hand bolted did not save the minister from her own folly however.

It seems Senator Cash had been aware of Hadgkiss' breach of industrial relations law since October 2016 ans sat on this information.
Apparently the national electorate is to believe that she was so disinterested in her portfolio that she missed this media report published almost two month earlier.

The Australian, 22 August 2016:

The construction union claims taxpayer-funded information being handed out by the building industry watchdog is reckless and illegal.

The CFMEU on Monday began action seeking penalties in the Federal Court in Sydney against Nigel Hadgkiss, the director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

The union says pocket guides and posters misrepresent the right to entry provisions of the Fair Work Act, which stipulate union officials are permitted to meet with employees in lunch sheds where other arrangements are not mutually agreed to.

Mr Hadgkiss told AAP in a statement: “It is inappropriate to comment on an action of this nature whilst the matter is before the court.”

CFMEU national construction division secretary Dave Noonan said Mr Hadgkiss should know better.

“It’s galling to think that Mr Hadgkiss, whose organisation have charged themselves with solely and doggedly policing right of entry disputes between the union and employers, would have promoted and distributed such critically false information,” Mr Noonan said in a statement.


The Guardian, 13 September 2017:

The government confirmed on Wednesday night that legal assistance would be provided to Nigel Hadgkiss in accordance with normal practice.
While the legal costs will be covered, a spokesman for the employment minister Michaelia Cash said Hadgkiss had “neither sought nor received any indemnification against any penalty that may be ordered by the court”.
It is possible he could apply for indemnification once the court proceedings move forward.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Clarence Valley councillors bite the bullet in order to save the local government area from threat of a state government-imposed administrator

Mayor: Jim Simmons    
A/General Manager: Ashley Lindsay                                                                                                                           
Telephone: (02) 6643 0200
Fax: (02) 6642 7647


April 19, 2017

Making the Clarence Valley Council financially sustainable

CLARENCE Valley Council has voted to introduce a range of measures to improve its long-term financial position and help it meet the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future benchmarks.

The measures include applying for a special rates variation of 8% each year for three years, including an estimated rate pegged limit of 2%. The cumulative impact would be a rise in the  general rate of 25.9%, which would be retained permanently in council’s rate base. Council will also implement a host of savings measures totalling more than $8 million over four years.

Acting general manager, Ashley Lindsay, said a special rates variation, if approved, would raise an additional $7.08 million over three years.

“These measures will improve our financial position by more than $15 million over four years,” he said.

“None of this will be easy. No-one wants to pay more rates and we don’t want to charge them, but the harsh reality is the only alternative to a special rates variation is deep cuts to, or the elimination of, many of the services council provides and the community expects.

“We have been told by the Office of Local Government we need to have a balanced operating result by 2021.

“The cost-cutting measures we will introduce result in the loss of the equivalent of 24.5 full time staff positions, cuts to a range of services and better cost recovery on others. We have done everything possible to keep rate rises to a minimum.”

At the council meeting on Tuesday night, Cr Andrew Baker said that in 2012 the NSW Government’s TCorp identified the need for council to make efficiency savings and introduce a special rates variation.

He said that since then he and fellow councillors had tried to find ways to make the council financially sustainable without the need for a rates variation.

“I’m certain that each councillor that is here today was elected with an ambition to not increase the rates, to not cut services, to not cut employment, to not reduce facilities and amenities, to not increase debt and to provide responsible governance,” he said.

“Council has individually and collectively examined, debated, challenged and examined again every suggestion in every possible way to deliver on those noble aspirations of no rates increases, no service cuts, no employment reductions, no reduced facilities and amenities, and no more debt.

“While I can’t see how we can avoid a rates increase, I can say we have all made a big attempt to do just that.

“We’ve exhausted the discovery of all options and examined the possibilities and variations; we’ve called for and listened to expert advice, numerous reports and finance models. Some advice we have accepted and some we haven’t.

“We’ve looked for the best outcomes and least pain for our residents and ratepayers.”

Cr Peter Ellem said councillors had no choice but to put their hard hats on and make unpopular decisions to meet the State Government's Fit for The Future benchmarks to become financially sustainable by the end of the current four-year term, and indeed, for the decade thereafter.

“It is the shared responsibility of the nine duly-elected councillors, and not that of a financial controller or administrator, to adopt a draft package of job cuts, to be made in full consultation with the United Services Union, efficiency savings, and regrettably rate increases, to be put up for community consultation,” he said.

Mr Lindsay said council would seek the views of the community before reaching a final decision on a special rates variation application and some of the efficiency measures, and would consider a report at its May meeting on a schedule for community engagement.

Release ends. 

The Daily Examiner, 20 April 2017:

A pre-election survey by The DEX pinned four councillors against the SRV and only two, Cr Debrah Novak and Cr Greg Clancy, remained true to their word……

Cr Toms said voting for the SRV was a hard pill to swallow.

"I made declarations that I wanted better financial management and I wouldn't support the SRV and I wouldn't support excessive rate increase," she said.

"But I've had to change that position.

"When I had that position, I truly meant it... but now I have a lot more information and after a full day with the Office of Local Government (I have changed my mind)."

Cr Toms said despite the community backlash, the councillors had to make the decision.

"It's easy to criticise, people think we do the wrong thing, but the reality is that the councillors make the best decisions they can," Cr Toms said.

"I did change my mind over the SRV and that was also a very difficult decision to make, but I have to make it and I do believe I didn't have a choice."

The adopted recommendation included a detailed report which outlined that from 2017/18 to 2019/20, the council would make $15,566,987, which is more than the council's total debt of $15,343,127. The rates rise is to be rolled out 8% each year over three years which will amount to an expected total of $7.8million in revenue to come from the SRV.

Seven of the nine councillors voted for the SRV recommendation.
It will go to community consultation at the May council meeting……..

Cr Peter Ellem said the council had no choice but to make the unpopular decision.
"I believe that it is the shared responsibility of the nine duly-elected councillors, and not that of a financial controller or administrator, to adopt a draft package of job cuts, to be made in full consultation with the United Services Union, efficiency savings, and regrettably rate increases, to be put up for community consultation," Cr Ellem said.

"As a new councillor I am wiser because we have demanded and recently received more detailed information on the operational side of things, and greater clarity from the Office of Local Government."

Cr Ellem said fixing the $15million "black hole" which the new council has inherited from a "clunky forced amalgamation" needed addressing.

"My personal preference would be for the SRV component of this suite of measures to be lower than the 8% per year, but when we consult with ratepayers and residents in coming months it will become clear that a lower SRV will mean deeper cuts to local jobs and valued, if not cherished, services," he said.

Echoes of the unfortunate term of a contentious general manager linger

On 22 May 2014 North Coast Voices posted mention of Clarence Valley Council's refusal to follow the Information Commissioner's recommendation to allow a staff member access to information in a report on his conduct (which found no corrupt conduct), when in February 2014 at Item 14.005/14 they unanimously agreed to change the wording of the existing April 2013 Privacy Management Plan so that it appears to significantly depart from the Model Plan supplied by the NSW Division of Local Government.

This week the NSW Court List contained mention of this case before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission on 3 May 2017:

Yes, the allegedly destabilizing element may have been removed from Clarence Valley Council but the ripple effect flows on.

On the Australian Waterfront Everything Old Is New Again In 2017

Chris Corrigan has returned to his old stomping ground.

Swap April 2017 for April 1998, Malcolm Turnbull for John Howard, Sally McManus for Greg Combet and Paddy Crumlin for John Coombs and what have you got?

Perhaps the start of a replay of the Patrick Corporation Pty Ltd versus Maritime Union of Australia waterfront dispute, in which then Patrick managing director Chris Corrigan and his Liberal-Nationals political allies attempted to kill off the union representing dock and maritime workers at ports around Australia.  

The Sydney Morning Herald, November 2016:

Legendary waterfront warrior Chris Corrigan has announced he will stand down as chairman of logistics giant Qube, just months after the company completed the takeover of Asciano's Patrick's container ports business.

Coal industry veteran and long-time Qube director Allan Davies will be appointed chairman after a transitional program that is expected to be completed by around June 2017.

"I could not be more proud of the achievements of the Qube management team and it has been an enormous privilege to be part of the progress of this business," Mr Corrigan told Qube's annual general meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Corrigan, who has chaired Qube since early 2011 and is a former managing director of Patrick's, said he will continue as a director of the ports group "for a more extended period" to help oversee its integration following the acquisition from Asciano.

ACTU letter to Patrick Stevedores, 11 April 2017:


1. The Maritime Workers Union of Australia (the Union) and employees of companies in the Patricks group of companies (Patricks) who are members of the Union have brought proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that Patricks and others have acted unlawfully by taking steps to replace the employees with non-Union workers.
2. An urgent situation arose on 6 April 1998, when the Union and the employees believed that Patricks were about to dismiss the entire workforce over Easter.
3. The Union and the employees applied to the Court immediately on 6 April 1998 and asked for temporary orders to keep the employees in work until the main application is heard by the Court. The Court listed that urgent matter for hearing on 8 April 1998.
4. The following night, on 7 April 1998, the Patrick companies which employed the employees (the Patrick employers) appointed administrators to companies on the ground that they were insolvent.
5. Part of the cause of the insolvency was that other Patrick companies which owned the stevedoring operation (the Patrick owners) cancelled a contract for the supply of labour by the Patrick employers to the Patrick owners. That contract was the way the Patrick employers obtained stevedoring work to employ the employees.
6. On the same night, the Patrick owners engaged contractors to provide a new workforce. Under these contracts, the Patrick owners committed themselves to substantial financial obligations……
12. The cancellation of the labour supply contract and the appointment of administrators on 7 April 1998 were made possible by a complex inter-company transaction which occurred in September 1997. By dividing the functions of employing workers and owning the business between two companies, the Patrick group put in place a structure which made it easier to dismiss the whole workforce. It is arguable, on the evidence, that this was done because the employees were members of the Union. So there is an arguable case that the Patrick employers acted in breach of s 298K(1) of the Act.
13. There is also an arguable case that these acts amounted to a breach of the employees' contracts of employment.
14. There is also evidence that the Patrick owners and other companies in the Patrick group, together with others, agreed on these unlawful acts as part of an overall plan to replace the workforce with non-Union labour. This means that there is an arguable case that the Patrick owners and Patrick employers have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy.

Patricks conducted the business of stevedoring at 17 facilities around Australia. In particular, four companies in the Patricks group ("the employers”) employed the applicant employees, approximately 1,400 in number, and who were members of the MUA, to carry on the stevedoring business. The employees believed that the employers intended to dismiss their unionised workforce and replace it with non-union labour. This concern was fueled by the fact that, in January 1998, the Patricks group transferred the right to use No 5 Webb Dock in Victoria for stevedoring operations, together with cranes and equipment, to companies associated with the National Farmers Federation (NFF). The MUA employees believed that Patricks had some involvement with the NFF companies, and that the transfer of No 5 Webb Dock was part of a plan by Patricks to train an alternative workforce with which to replace the union employees.
In response, the employees filed an application on 11 February 1998, in which they alleged that the transfer of No 5 Webb Dock was part of a wrongful plan to replace the MUA employees with a non-union workforce. However, matters escalated considerably just before Easter when the employees learned that Patricks intended to dismiss the whole workforce during the Easter period. Then, on 7 April 1998, Patricks announced that it had entered into contracts "for a range of services from nine separate companies including the ... NFF backed P&C Stevedoring ..." and that Patricks had "taken steps to ensure all displaced employees ... will be eligible to receive their full leave and redundancy entitlements.
"On the evening of the 7'h of April, each of the four Patrick employer companies appointed administrators under Pt 5.3A of the Corporations Law. The court was told on 8 April that the administrators intended to dismiss the employees because the employers were insolvent. An interim injunction to restrain the employers from doing so was granted by His Honour North J on 8 April 1998, to have effect until the first hearing day after Easter, that was 15 April 1998. It is this latter hearing, and the subsequent appeals from the decision, which is the subject of this case note.
The employees sought injunctive orders which, in general terms, sought to prevent the employers, until the trial of the action, from dismissing the employees, and which required Patricks to utilise the MUA employees and no others in operating its stevedoring business. The court was also asked to restrain the employers from acting on or giving effect to the purported termination of certain labour supply agreements between the employers and another company in the Croup, Patrick Stevedores ESD Pty Ltd. That purported termination, which occurred on the evening of 7 April 1998, armed the Patricks employers with the power to claim that the MUA workforce was redundant.'' In other words, the purported termination left the employers with no work for their workforces to perform."…..
The injunctive orders granted by North J and upheld on appeal essentially had the effect of requiring Patricks as employers to retain their workforce, and compelled Patrick Stevedores Operations Pty Ltd to use that workforce for any stevedoring work. The orders amounted to the specific performance of the labour supply agreements, and required that the pre-7 April situation, whereby the Patrick operators had employed as their labour force members of the MUA, be maintained. The employees were protected against the imminent termination of their employment….
…the High Court was prepared to uphold the orders made by North J, in light of the undertakings given, on the basis that the administrators had to retain their discretion as to whether the employer companies ought to continue trading, or cease trading, and whether or not it would be feasible to retain the whole workforce. Decisions of that kind were for the administrators to make, not the court. However, if the administrators decided to continue trading, the effect was to restore the pre-7 April employment situation.

The sacked unionised Patricks workforce was finally reinstated in May 1998.

As Chairman and major shareholder in Qube Holdings Ltd Corrigan oversaw the purchase of Patricks in 2016.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Before anyone starts yelling about those big bad unions, take a look at these workplace fatality statistics

The following figures represent someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, brother or sister, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, grandparent or friend.

The numbers also make clear that, averaged out, three people were killed each week in a workplace accident between 1 January and 14 March 2017.

This is no blip in workplace fatality statistics – averaged out four workers died each week of the year in 2015 and three workers each week in 2016.

Worker fatalities

As at 14 March, 32 Australian workers have been killed at work in 2017.

The number of worker deaths listed on this page is based on initial media reports and is a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident.
Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards.

Year-to-date 2017: Preliminary worker deaths by industry of workplacea
a Ranked in descending order, and then on alphabetical order for industries with no fatalities.
b Mining fatalities include fatalities that occur in the coal mining, oil and gas extraction, metal ore mining, gravel and sand quarrying, and services to mining sectors.
c Includes notifiable fatalities that occurred overseas.
Safe Work Australia also collects and reports on a range of other work health and safety and workers compensation statistics.

These figures are still too high. 

However if it wasn’t for the efforts of unions from the 1830s onwards to have wages, hours worked, sick leave, annual leave and workplace safety included in Australian industrial law, workplace fatalities would be much higher in this country today.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Australian Fair Work Commission: Who's Who - a member cheat sheet for 2017 and other matters

The Fair Work Commission (FWC), formerly known as Fair Work Australia, is the Australian industrial relations tribunal created by the Fair Work Act 2009. It replaced the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) and a number of AIRC members became part of the FWC organisational structure.

As part of a four-yearly review of modern awards the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision on Sunday penalty rates for workers in hospitality and retail sectors on 23 February 2017.

For the purposes of this review the Full Bench was composed of:

Justice Iain Ross, President
Vice President Joseph Catanzariti
Deputy President Ingrid Asbury
Commissioner Peter Hampton
Commissioner Tim Lee

In 2016 the Queensland Labor Government made a submission to the FWC modern awards review opposing cuts to penalty rates, along with the ACT Labor Government, the Victorian Labor Government and South Australian Labor Government

As did the federal parliamentary Labor Party (The Loyal Opposition) as well as the state parliamentary Labor Party in Tasmania , New South Wales and Western Australia.

The Turnbull Federal Coalition Government was notable by its absence in the list of submissions. As was the Coalition state governments in Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia.

A full list of submissions, including those by unions and industry/employer groups can be found here.

As this probably will not be the last time the Fair Work Commission decides to extend its brief to cutting the hourly rates of ordinary workers, a closer look at who is making these decisions is merited.

This is as much as I could glean to date concerning the current makeup of the Commission in March 2017:

Fair Work Commission President

Justice Iain Ross AO  – Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2024

Vice Presidents

Joseph Catanzariti  - Labor Government appointee 2013 to 2024
Adam Hatcher SC  - Labor Government appointee 2013 to 2028

Deputy Presidents

Jennifer Acton – Labor Government appointee 1992 and then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2020
Lea Drake – Labor Government appointee 1994 and then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2018
Reginald Hamilton - Coalition Government appointee 2001 and then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2022
Matthew O'Callaghan - Coalition Government appointee 2001 and then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2021[resigned February, leaving April 2017]
Jonathan Hamberger - Coalition Government appointee 2004 then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2024
Peter Sams AM – Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2021
Anna Booth – Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2021
Ms Ingrid Asbury - Labor appointee 2013 to 2028
Ms Anne Gooley - Labor appointee 2013 to 2018
Mr Val Gostencnik – Labor appointee 2013 to 2028
Jeffery Lawrence – Labor appointee 2013 to 2017
John Kovacic – Labor Government appointee 2013 to 2022
Geoffrey Bull – Coalition Government appointee 2015 to 2022
Melanie Binet – Coalition Government appointee 2016 to 2034
W. Richard Clancy - Coalition Government appointee 2016 to 2036
Lyndall Dean - Coalition Government appointee 2016 to 2037


Paula Spencer - Coalition Government appointee 2001 then Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2029
Bruce Williams – Coalition Government appointee 2006 to 2023
Anna Cribb - Labor Government appointee 2009 to 2019
Ian Cambridge -
Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2033
John Ryan -
Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2017
Peter Hampton -
Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2025
Julian Roe -
Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2017
Michelle Bissett
– Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2022
Chris Simpson – Labor Government appointee 2010 to 2034
Tim Lee – Labor Government appointee 2011 to 2029
Susan Booth – Labor Government appointee 2011 to 2022
Donna McKenna Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2025
Bernie Riordan -
Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2027
David Gregory -
Labor Government appointee 2012 to 2019
Nickolas  Wilson - Labor Government appointee 2013 to 2025
Leigh Johns OAM - Labor Government appointee 2013 to 2034
Tony Saunders - Coalition Government appointee 2015 to 2039
Tanya Cirkovic - Coalition Government appointee 2015 to 2028
Christopher Platt - Coalition Government appointee 2015 to 2026
Katrina Harper-Greenwell - Coalition Government appointee 2016 to 2033
Jennifer Hunt - Coalition Government appointee 2016 to 2038

Additional members – can be found here.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work*: has an employment epoch finally come to an inglorious end?

Looking at the Australian employment market in 2016 and 2017 one has to ask if this country has entered the Era of Exploitation………

ABC News, 1 March 2017:

the Australian economy is currently growing at around 2 per cent per annum. That's about fast enough to keep the unemployment rate steady, but it's not fast enough to create lots of new jobs. To create jobs, it needs to grow at least 2.5 to 3 per cent per annum.

The economy isn't growing fast enough for a whole bunch of reasons, but the big picture is that we haven't been able to transition as smoothly as we would have liked from the mining boom, to an economy being driven by a number of different sectors.

The sectors of the economy that have enjoyed increased activity are healthcare, hospitality, and tourism. These sectors tend to be biased towards hiring part-time workers.

Nine2Three Employment Solutions in Sydney's Sutherland Shire specialises in placing candidates into part-time roles. Managing director, Kathryn MacMillan, say business is booming. Right now, she's placing job seekers into part-time roles including mining, tourism, retail, clerical and accounts-type roles, sales roles and business development.

Ms MacMillan explained to me that she's placing lots of mums re-entering the workforce, and people after just a few days of work a week. Part-time work can also be convenient for students, and for those returning to the workforce after an illness or injury.

You can't ignore, however, the hundreds of thousands of Australians over the past 12 months that have either lost their job, or would dearly like to work more (to help pay the mortgage, utility bills etc.).

We know, for instance, the economy shed 53,000 full-time positions in September last year. Another 44,800 full-time jobs disappeared in January.

It's really quite straight forward. The Australian economy is transitioning, and many workers are getting left behind.

Remember the kids' game, musical chairs? Everyone has a seat to start with. That was the mining boom. The music started playing during the financial crisis, and now that it's stopped, we've noticed quite a few chairs have been taken away. We're now seeing two or three people trying to squeeze onto the same chair in many cases!

Darren Coppin is the chief executive of Esher House. His company spits out all sorts of interest research. He told me recently that this big economic transition has also ignited a bit of a social change.

He explained to me that 30 years ago the man did most of the paid-for work (40 hours a week). Since then millions of women have entered the workforce. During the 1980s and 1990s both men and women were working more, and earning more (excluding the recession).

Recently, however, the economy's been unable to sustain those jobs.

Now, women tend to be working 25 hours a week, while men also work 25 hours a week (in trend terms). So, overall, the household is working more, but because both jobs may not be strictly full-time, the actual combined take-home pay at the end of the day is less.

So yes, you guessed it, overall we're working more, for less pay.

Record low wages growth is also rubbing salt into the wound.

Anecdotally I've met quite a lot of people who are doing their best to make the best of a bad situation.

Many couples with children, for instance, have decided to work nine-day fortnights. That means mum or dad takes one day off each week. That day's devoted to running errands, and, of course, child care... and cooking.

I spoke to a single mum last month who told me she felt quite isolated. She said she spends all of her waking hours working and looking after her child, with no time left over for friends, because the bills keep piling up (child care and rent being the ones that hurt).

While many Australians are working out how to get by, too many are really struggling.

I spoke to a few people last week who told me the decision by the Fair Work Commission to scrap Sunday penalty rate had been a kick in guts.

Mandy Carr, for example, a retail worker on Queensland's Gold Coast, had decided to return to work (post maternity leave) on the Sunday shift so her and her husband could get ahead financially.

She says the decision will cost her $100 each and every week.

There are too many Australians though that are angry... really angry.

They're upset because they'd desperately like to make a go of life. They want a home, and enough money on the side to give their kids opportunities in life. But they're being held back by a job that doesn't offer them enough in terms of hours and/or pay, and the cost of living keeps rising.

There's also the emotional toll that workers face with heightened job insecurity, combined with ever-increasing debt repayments.

The Reserve Bank governor told a Parliamentary Committee last week that the situation households face (having to cut back on spending because of rising costs and low wages) is "sobering".

The recognition of the problem is heartening. At this very moment though, recognising the problem is all we seem to be doing.

Low wages growth is at record breaking level and underemployment is endemic in Australia in this second decade of the 21st Century.

By December 2016 seasonally adjusted wages growth was 1.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016, with growth in the private sector being lower still at 1.8 per cent.

Trend percentages are even more dismal.

In December 2016 the Cost Price Index (CPI) showed rises in the cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, footwear, housing, furnishings, household equipment & services, recreation & culture, education, insurance and financial services – with CPI rises ranging from 1.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016.

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Statistics in  December 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an:

est. 739,600 people who were unemployed and looking for full-time work – an est. 18,100 more individuals than in December 2015;

est. 3,814,200 people who were working part-time but would prefer to be working full-time – an est. 126,600 more individuals than in December 2015; and

est. 212,500 unemployed people who were exclusively looking for part-time work in December 2016 – an fall of est. 1,100 individuals since December 2015.

In November 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an est. 1,099,400 underemployed individuals - usually working less than 35 hours per week for a wage which does not meet economic needs. That represents an underemployment rate of 8.6 per cent.

In January 2017 there were around 129,800 more people working part-time than there were a year ago and around 40,100 fewer people working full-time and, despite an alleged small growth in full-time jobs in December 2016, the trend unemployment rate still stood at 5.7 per cent for the ninth consecutive month.

Affecting the take home pay of more than 700,000 workers, with those who regularly work Sunday shifts being left between $29 and over $80 worse off every week.

Many of these workers are already employed in industry sectors and regions which often allow only limited opportunity for changing employers.

According to the Internet Vacancy Index (based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on three main job boards SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch) in January 2017 job vacancies decreased in the Northern Territory, south west Western Australia, western Victoria and regional New South Wales - with the NSW North Coast showing a twelve month decline of -2.6 per cent and three month moving average of 1,700 job on offer to suitable applicants.

The effect of statistics such as this on individuals, families and communities are amplified across rural and regional Australia where the job market is usually tighter than in metropolitan areas and, I suspect that many of us living in the NSW Northern Rivers region have friends or family members struggling with poverty-level incomes due to unemployment or underemployment.

* The saying A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work appears to have entered the public arena in or about 1839.