New industrial relations laws, which begin today, represent an historic step forward for the rights of working Australians and their families.
The new laws mark a turning point and will provide workers with a raft of stronger rights and protections in the current economic downturn, and in better times ahead, says the ACTU.
Women, young people and low-paid workers are among those who will benefit the most from the new laws, said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
“From today, all Australian workers have a greater sense of security and more respect for their rights at work because of these landmark changes to industrial relations laws,” Ms Burrow said.
“These laws are the result of an unprecedented campaign by Australian workers based firmly on the Australian belief of a fair go, who demanded the return of their rights at work after those rights were stripped away by the Howard Government’s ‘WorkChoices’ laws.
“Under WorkChoices, there were countless cases of workers losing pay and conditions, being sacked unfairly and having their basic rights denied.
“At the last federal election, the Australian community said enough was enough.
“These new laws are the culmination of that campaign.
“They will deliver better protection and rights for workers and the ball is now in employers’ court to treat their workers with respect and operate within the spirit of the new laws.”
The new laws will deliver:
  • Genuine rights for workers to collectively bargain and be represented by their union.
  • Unfair dismissal for all workers, including about 4 million workers who had no protection under WorkChoices.
  • A robust new safety net of awards and national standards, along with a fair and transparent process for setting minimum wages.
  • An industrial umpire with teeth to safeguard workers’ rights.
  • “Unions will ensure the new laws take effect in the community quickly and effectively, and will use the Fair Work Act to continue their work representing and improving the working lives of Australians and their families,” Ms Burrow said.

    More information
    Employees enter a new era of rights
    Sharan Burrow: Fair Work Australia (FWA) Inaugural Session
    Fair Work Act factsheet