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ACTU in election mode during a health crisis


COSBOA has expressed anger and dismay with the stance of the ACTU who want to block simple IR Changes needed to make the Job Keeper payment workable for business owners of all size and for their employees. The ACTU started off so well but now are showing the same self-centred behaviour we are seeing from the biggest landlords.

COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said: “The ACTU is acting as though this is an election not a once in a century health crisis impacting millions of people. You don’t have to be a workplace professional to see there is a need for straightforward changes to the Fair Work Act (2009). Changes needed to provide the certainty for business people to either put their business into hibernation, or reinvent their business in order to survive this crisis. Either way they can offer Job Seeker payments to employees, the approach of the ACTU puts this at risk.”

“The stance of the ACTU appears to be a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters when the solution is straightforward with temporary changes to the Fair Work Act to give businesses flexibility. They need flexibility to survive this crisis, while still keeping basic safeguards in place for employees and employers”, Mr Strong said

The ACTU continually draws attention to the exclusion of casuals who have worked in a business for less than 12 months from the Job Keeper payment, but they are forgetting that the Job Seeker payment has already been introduced for this class of workers. Most casuals, those who work less than 30 hours as most do, will end up with more money from Centrelink then they receive as wages.

“While there are some eligibility requirements for employees seeking the Job Seeker payment, just as there are for businesses seeking to take advantage of the Job Keeper payment, the higher eligibility bar for the Job Seeker payment that was announced by the Federal Government means that the vast majority of casuals working less than 12 months will be able to access the Job Seeker payment - a fortnightly payment which can almost be equivalent to the Job Keeper payment after tax”, Mr Strong added

“We do agree with ACTU Secretary Sally McManus that the AMMA have over stepped the mark and we condemn them for taking industrial action in the face of this uncertainty; yet one of the ACTU’s member unions (the Qantas Alliance of Engineering Unions) has taken exactly the same action, seems the ACTU has two sets of rules? One for employers and one for unions?” said Mr Strong.

It is time for the Unions to stand up and help Australia. We have seen the banks, the electricity companies, and other big and small business take extraordinary actions for the benefit of people and the long-term health of the economy. The Federal Government and State/Territory Governments are also bending over backwards.

“We cannot simply ask COVID-19 to cease activity while the unions form committees and hold round tables. Maybe Federal Labor should step up for the good of Australia instead. It is Federal Labor that sits opposite the Coalition Government in Federal Parliament – not the ACTU”, Mr Strong concluded.

Note: There are small businesses who want to access Job Seeker for their staff and to keep their business either operating in some way or in hibernation but without changes (with sunset clauses) to the Fair Work Acxt they will simply close and wait till they can reopen. That doesn’t help anyone. There are some (a minority) workers who state that the employer has to give them the money and they can sit and home and do whatever they want. There will always be dodgy employers and workers but COVID waits for no one.

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