A new ACTU analysis released today shows that low paid employees will be the worst affected by the Howard Government’s planned new workplace laws.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“The Federal Government’s new laws targeting small business employees will
affect some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable people in Australia’s
workforce and increase inequality in the labour market.

A new ACTU analysis released for discussion at today’s ACTU Executive meeting
in Melbourne shows average earnings for small business employees are now $217 a
week less than employees in larger businesses – a 36% gap in pay.

With such an enormous gap in pay already making life tough for small business
employees the Howard Government should rethink planned new laws that would
further reduce their job security and entitlements.

The Federal Government’s planned changes to unfair dismissal and redundancy
laws mean that people who work in small businesses could be sacked for no
reason, with no right of appeal and no entitlement to redundancy pay.

Many small business employees are already in low paid jobs and now the Howard
Government wants to push their working conditions down further. These are people
who cannot afford to be sacked for no reason – they are not high paid workers
with lots of savings.

If the Government succeeds in pushing the new laws through the Senate in the
final two sitting weeks of the year people working in small businesses may be
faced with the threat of losing their job without any reason or right of appeal
in the lead up to Christmas.

Depression, lack of confidence, difficulty finding new work and financial
stress are common effects of unfair dismissal or unfair treatment at work.

Unions will meet today to prepare strategies in response to the Coalition
Government’s radical industrial relations agenda that attacks the most

As a first step, unions plan to campaign vigorously for people sacked
unfairly and ensure federal parliamentarians are made aware of the human costs
of the Howard Government’s radical industrial relations agenda.

The ACTU will today set up a national free advice hotline for people who are
bullied, harassed or treated unfairly at work – call: ph 1300 362 223.”

Pay gap for 3 million small business employees
weekly earnings in main job)

Business size
Full time employees
Part time employees
Total persons
Less than 20 employees
$ 773
$ 292
$ 598
20 or more employees
$ 974
$ 361
$ 815
Pay gap for small bus. employees

Source: Based on ABS 6310.0 – Aug 2003 – Employee earnings, benefits and
trade union membership

More Information:

ACTU Media Release

launches hotline to highlight human cost of unfair dismissals [30 November