The loss of protection from being sacked unfairly under the Howard Government’s IR laws is a key factor in the rising number of cases where young workers are abused says the ACTU.

The ACTU today welcomed a NSW State Government compliance blitz on restaurants and cafes that employ young staff, but warned that it won’t fully solve the problem when the Federal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws are the main culprit.

ACTU Secretary-elect Jeff Lawrence said today:

“The fact is that the WorkChoices IR laws have given bad employers too much power over young and vulnerable workers.

This is clearly a major factor behind the rising number of cases where young staff are exploited and exposed to dangerous working conditions such as at the Chili’s restaurant chain.

Reports that young workers at Chilli’s outlets have been illegally underpaid and that some have suffered serious injuries including electric shocks and burns but were told not to tell the doctor that they received the injury at work are very worrying.

A key problem is that under the new IR laws workers no longer have any protection from being sacked unfairly if they work in small and medium sized business such as most cafes and restaurants.

It is already hard for young workers to stand up to their boss and complain about unsafe workplaces or unfair practices.

Having no protection from being sacked on the spot because of the new IR laws makes it even harder for young people to speak up.

It is also very concerning to hear reports that a 15 year old staff member at a Chinese restaurant was threatened during an armed hold-up in Bonnyrigg (NSW) last night.
Again, this shows that young workers can be exposed to very dangerous work situations and need every available protection,” said Mr Lawrence.