Work Choices Goes West

Sweeping changes to the WA IR system are in the pipeline as unions gear up for WorkChoices WA.

The Barnett Government looks set to try and re-introduce WorkChoices in WA

 On the 6th of December the State Government released a long awaited review of WA workplace laws. The 400 page review was written by John Howard's WorkChoices architect, lawyer Steven Amendola, and contains 193 recommendations that, if implemented, will result in WA's own version of WorkChoices.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Forcing new employees to sign individual contracts;
  • Removing protection from unfair dismissal for employees in small business;
  • Stripping the Award system by abolishing many existing conditions provided for in Awards;
  • Gutting the independent umpire making it harder and more expensive for employees to access a weakened Industrial Relations Commission;
  • Changes that would intimidate workers into not raising issues, including those relating to workplace safety, with their union.

Despite having the report for 14 months the Government has not yet said which of the recommendations they will be adopting, but statements by Commerce Minister Marmion, and previous actions and statements from Premier Barnett in support of WorkChoices, indicate that they are looking to introduce the vast majority.

This would mean a return to the days of individual agreements, no protection from unfair dismissal, reductions in penalty rates and loss of conditions.

If introduced, the changes will affect workers in the WA public sector and employees of small businesses - up to 30% of the WA workforce, or 300,000 workers.

WA unions will work together to campaign hard against these radical changes and will be asking for the support of union members to campaign in the New Year.

In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, please go to the No WorkChoices in WA website to sign the petition and email Premier Barnett telling him you don't want WorkChoices in WA

It's deceitful for Colin Barnett to release the report in December when people are distracted in the lead up to Christmas and Parliament has finished sitting for the year.

They are trying to bring WorkChoices in through the back door when they think people aren't looking. The more people you can tell about the campaign the better our chances are of stopping these changes before it's too late for 300,000 WA workers.

See here for the full report or visit the No WorkChoices in WA campaign website for more information. 

Review of the Western Australian Industrial Relations System by Blake Dawson partner Steven Amendola, 2009 

WA Government response