I have received a range of correspondence over recent months about the so-called ‘workchoices’ issue. This issue is shaping up as a crucial electoral issue – not just in regards to who ends up in government, but what the consequences of the various possible Senate outcomes might be.
There’s plenty of different aspects to it I could go into – and probably will a bit later – but I thought I’d mention a direct personal example I received from a Queensland constituent a week or two ago.
Hi I just thought I would let you know what has happened to me with regards the new workchoices legislation. I was sacked from my casual position for refusing to use a vacuum cleaner with a worn electrical cable.
I am taking the matter before the AIRC but the advice I have had from Workchoices is that it is illegal for me to use any electrical equipment that is in a dangerous condition but it is not illegal for my boss to sack me for refusing to use such equipment.
I have the support of my local Liberal MP and he will accompany me to a mediation meeting but the process and lack of support assistance and information available to workers is appalling.
The workplace was abusive, bulling and threats were made to get staff to perform.
No one other than the boss was allowed to have any ideas or suggestion and we had approximately a 150% staff turnover in the previous 12 months.
While I am delighted with the support of my Liberal member I feel workchoices is flawed legislation and we have only just begun to feel the effects of it on our workforce.
If you want to improve productivity then a happy supportive workforce is essential, treating people like work-units is counterproductive and does not make for an efficient and productive workforce.
To me this touches on one of the more important, but less tangible issues of the major law changes made by the Coalition government once they got control of the Senate – not just the specifics of what is and isn’t legal, but the impact it has on culture and attitudes in the workplace.