Employers fail in cynical attack on workers

Published: 7 Aug 2020

The full bench of the FairWork Commission has categorically rejected a cynical attempt by employers to use the pandemic crisis to cut wages and conditions and reduce the Award safety net for construction workers.

“Employers wanted to slash penalty rates and make casual work even more casual - despite the role of insecure and casual work in the disastrous health and social outcomes we’ve witnessed during the pandemic,” said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

“In rejecting the majority of variations sought by employers, the Commission did so on the basis that while the changes would benefit employers, they would be unfair to workers.”

“The Commission rejected the attacks on industry redundancy schemes and rejected the attempts to reduce the minimum engagement of casual workers. The Commission also noted there would be no 'beneficial results for employment growth, inflation, and the sustainability, performance and competitiveness of the national economy'.”

“Employers seeking to undermine workers’ wages and conditions to improve their own balance sheets is nothing new, but this attempt to weaken the minimum safety net for construction workers was uniquely and cynically audacious.”

“The Commission called the employers’ case ‘fundamentally misconceived’ and that it sought to ‘cherry-pick’ elements of the JobKeeper scheme which benefit non-eligible employers while disregarding elements which protect security of employment and support workers’ incomes.”

“Extraordinarily the full-bench of the FWC found that of the three employer groups who sought to alter the Awards - Master Builders Australia, HIA and the AI Group - the only one with legal standing to do so was the AI Group.”

“You'd think that employer groups who make such a big issue of the rule of law at other times would be more careful in their own legal representations.”

“It is disappointing to see employer groups mount this attack on workers at a time when unions and employers have been working hard to ensure we keep people in jobs and keep the industry on its feet through the covid19 crisis.”

“It's time for these employers to decide who's team they're on: Australia's or their own.”