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Friday, November 04, 2005

Jailed for Fairness

Although I first heard of the following element of the IR legislation several days ago, I hadn't actually blogged it until now because when I DID hear it, I literally couldn't believe my ears and was afraid of blogging it in case I had it wrong. In the meantime, I haven't been able to download WorkNoChoices to confirm or deny.

Unfortunately, it appears it IS true.

It was first mentioned on ABC 702 by an Opposition MP on Tuesday, who had just received the WorkChoices tome. It's quite astounding that it's taken so long to find its way into print, but here it is, in black and white, on News.com.au:
THE past practice of unions highlighting unfair Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) will now result in a jail sentence, the union movement says.

Section 83BS of the Federal Government's contentious new Work Choices Bill states that it is an offence, punishable by six months' jail, if a person discloses information relating to an AWA – the government's favoured individual contact.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said he had received legal advice that section 83B would provide for the jailing of people who disclose the parties to an AWA.

"In the past, unions have highlighted unfair AWAs in the media, disclosing details such as the forced cashing in of sick pay, annual leave and penalty rates," Mr Robertson said.

He said it appeared that under the new laws such disclosure would be illegal, opening the way for those disclosing the information to be jailed.

Essentially, if I reveal details of another person's AWA to a third party - I potentially go to jail.

WTF ???

What if Mrs Jones says to Mrs Smith, perfectly innocently, `Mr Jones lost his extra weekend pay under his new contract!' and Mrs Smith, just as innocently, told this to Mr Smith, who was under a better contract but worked at the same workplace and said `That doesn't seem fair, does it?' And Mr Smith went to his boss or union and said `Jones isn't getting a fair go - what can we do about it?'. And Kevin Andrews just happened to be waiting around the corner listening to all of this?

Poor old Mrs Smith, eh?

But seriously ... six months jail ???

Interestingly enough, in his interview with Lateline last night, Andrews actually appeared to concede that people in a vulnerable bargaining position will prefer to operate via a union. (It was odd and frightening to hear the word `union' coming out of Andrews' mouth without a tunnel of spittle following).

Bit late for that, Kev!

7 Comments:

At 12:36 pm, Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

I've had a big week at work so have missed most of the hoo-hah about this, and haven't yet seen the legislation, so thanks for the update.

This is incredible. I reckon this bill was drafted slowly across a number of years, tweaked and amended here and there to fit in as much anti-worker shit as possible, and then left in the bottom drawer until now, when the bastards control the senate. What an outrageous attack on workers' rights. And it is just going to happen. Just like that.

 
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