ACT Labor’s commitment to fairer, safer workplaces

ACT Labor is building a better community, one which has a strong local economy. We want to create more jobs than ever before.  Canberrans enjoy a high standard of living, with record levels of investment in infrastructure which means our city is thriving.  We are well prepared to meet the needs of all Canberrans by investing now in what we will need tomorrow.

We have a proven record of seeking to protect and to extend the rights, benefits and entitlements of public and private sector workers.  That includes salaries, working conditions, leave entitlements, occupational health and safety, and workers compensation.

We have fostered an industrial relations system in the ACT which encourages employers and employees to work together for safety and fairness so that workers and employers can share in the returns of our strong economy.

Providing a safe environment for workers remains a priority for ACT Labor.

ACT Labor has already announced a major inquiry into ACT health and safety laws in the local construction industry to look at how we can better protect building workers. We have also committed  to  establishing  an  Industrial  Magistrate’s  Court  and  will  appoint  a  dedicated industrial magistrates.

But there is more to do.

ACT  Labor  and  organised  labour  work  together  in  the  knowledge  that  the  only  asset possessed by workers is their labour and that the wage they derive from that labour is the income of working families.

It is important, therefore, not only that income be protected but also that workers be protected in their workplaces from danger and injury.

 

If re-elected in 2012, ACT Labor will continue to protect workers’ rights and entitlements and work to strengthen our economy and drive growth to create local jobs.

We will continue to ensure our workplace safety laws are the best in the country, improve our procurement processes, expand and develop trades skills, continue to campaign on asbestos, and extend long service leave to aged care workers and waste workers.

We will also fight to protect local jobs and diversify our economy to ensure we are less vulnerable to Liberal job cuts in Canberra.

 

Workplace health and safety

Safeguarding the welfare of workers and working families is a priority for ACT Labor.  Disruption to the income earning capacity of working family members can be a serious blow to the economic stability of households.  ACT Labor has worked hard to make our workplace safety laws amongst the best in the country but there is more to do.

ACT Labor will:

•    Strengthen  the  current  arrangements  for  workplace  inspection  between  the  ESDD Construction Services, the ACT Long Service Leave Authority and WorkSafe ACT in order to maximise the resources available for ensuring compliance and enforcement of workplace industrial relations and safety laws;

•    Establish  a  statutory  obligation  on  private  and  public  sector  employers  to  provide rehabilitation and return to work coordinators to ensure that all measures possible are dedicated to supporting injured workers in their rehabilitation and return to productive work; and

•    Implement Construction Safety Inquiry recommendations that strengthen workplace safety.

Procurement

The ACT Government is a significant purchaser of services and a major source of capital works construction in Canberra. As such, its procurement processes play an important role in determining how work is done and to the financial viability of many small to medium size businesses.

ACT Labor will:

•    Ensure there is a dedicated unit for contract compliance and enforcement of statutory industrial relations and OH&S obligations amongst ACT Government contractors in Shared Services Procurement; and

•    Vigorously audit contracts in order to minimise sham contracting amongst contractors on ACT Government projects.

ACT Public Service

ACT Labor values the dedicated work and active role of the ACT Public Service in the provision of policy and services to the Government and the Canberra community.  ACT Labor acknowledges that the bargaining periods for the negotiating of ACT Public Sector EBAs have been lengthening and that this has resulted in long waits by employees for the outcomes of these agreements.

ACT Labor will:

•    Commence negotiations for the next ACTPS EBA as soon as practicable after the ACT Election;

•    Commit to good faith bargaining as the preferred means for reaching agreement on the ACTPS Enterprise Agreement rather than resort to legislating for public sector pay increases.

Expansion of trades traineeship and apprenticeships in ACT Public Service

The expansion and development of trades skills in the ACT is a major contributor to the deepening and broadening of the ACT economy.  As a significant public sector employer and source of much work for the private sector in the ACT, an ACT Labor Government sees itself as having a strong role to play in building economic growth into the future.

ACT Labor will:

•    Work to reduce the outsourcing of entry level jobs in maintenance, horticulture, cleaning, waste management and security in order to increase opportunities for directly employed trainees and apprentices in the ACT Public Sector;

•    Work to ensure there are agreed minimum levels of trainees and apprentices employed by contractors on large scale capital works projects funded by the ACT Government in order to increase the numbers of qualified trades people in the ACT.

Asbestos

Asbestos has been a matter of growing concern particularly amongst renovating trades people and ‘do it yourself’ householders.  There are small but persistent numbers of Canberrans presenting with asbestos related illnesses.  The ACT Labor Government has been very active in the area for much of the last decade with legislation and enforcement.

ACT Labor will:

•    Seek affiliation with NSW Dust Diseases Board to provide ongoing expertise for victims of asbestos related illnesses;

•    Provide  continuous  Asbestos  Awareness  campaigning  amongst  trades  people  and householders.

Long Service Leave (LSL)

ACT Labor has pioneered, and leads the country in, the extension of portable long service leave in the building and construction industry, the contract cleaning industry, the community sector and most recently, the contract security industry.

Around 25% of the ACT private sector workforce now enjoys portability within their industry of their LSL.  There are still workers whose LSL is at risk due to the precarious nature of their employment.

ACT Labor will:

•    Move to provide the same conditions to other workforces and extend the Community Sector Portable Long Service Leave (PLSL) Scheme to aged care workers.

•    Move to extend the Contract Cleaning PLSL Scheme to waste workers.