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Retail up, down or steady: no reason for pay cut
Media Release       9 January 2013
Retail up, down or steady: no reason for pay cut
UnionsWA has commented on today’s release by the ABS of retail figures for WA and issued related data from the ABS on the seasonal fall in earnings for private sector workers.  UnionsWA has called on employers to cancel their campaign for pay cuts for retail and hospitality workers.
Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:
“Today’s ABS data on the retail sector in WA shows that after more than three years of continuous growth, the sector is stable.  Retailers have won Sunday trading yet continue to campaign to cut the wages of low paid retail and hospitality workers by seeking to abolish penalty rates.
“This week the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA released its Survey of Business Expectations predicting harsh economic times in the future and reporting that employers nominate wages costs and staff turnover as their first and fourth greatest pressures.
“Employer groups seem to want to cut pay whether the economy is good or bad, and wish for a magic pudding where they can cut pay while improving staff retention!
“Now is a good time to take a reality-check on the employer campaign to abolish penalty rates.
“The extra income from penalty rates earned during the pre-Christmas rush and New Year sales are, right now, important for low paid retail and hospitality workers so they can get through January when there is less work.
“Many workers are casual and don’t get holiday pay.
“ABS data shows that WA private sector employee earnings declined on average by $107 per month from November 2011 to February 2012.  During other times of the year earnings typically rise slightly to keep pace with costs of living.
“Of course it’s hard for businesses to meet some challenges such as online retail.
“A focus on higher skills and more secure work and pay are likely to deliver a workforce that has strong customer services skills.
“But it’s hard to have confidence if the only response from some employer groups is to cut wages for the low paid at a time of rising costs of living in WA.”
Meredith Hammat is available for comment.
For more information contact: Philip O’Donoghue 0417 923 029 or podonoghue@unionswa.com.au
Sources:
Australian Bureau of Statistics (8501.0 Retail Trade, Australia, November 2012) http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8501.0?OpenDocument
Australian Bureau of Statistics (6302.0 Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, May 2012) for full time, adult; total earnings (i.e. including any paid overtime) in WA for private sector employees.
Survey of Business Expectations, December 2012, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA  http://www.cciwa.com/docs/economics/sbe-survey-december-2012.pdf

UnionsWA has commented on today’s release by the ABS of retail figures for WA and issued related data from the ABS on the seasonal fall in earnings for private sector workers.  UnionsWA has called on employers to cancel their campaign for pay cuts for retail and hospitality workers.

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Illegal child work fine not enough
Illegal child work fine not enough
UnionsWA today responded to a statement from the WA Department of Commerce regarding a $30,000 fine imposed on Kentucky Fried Chicken Pty Ltd for illegal work of children aged less than 15 years.
Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:
“On 153 separate occasions KFC Pty Ltd in outlets in Ellenbrook, Rockingham and Forrestfield worked children aged under 15 on shifts after 10.00 pm.
“This included a 14-year-old finishing at 1.17 am.
“This is dangerous exploitation.
“There were 21 unlawful shifts worked on school nights.
“So child education was also compromised.
“This case is the worst kind of introduction to work for young people.
“We are at the start of the school holidays and many young people are looking to do some paid work to get valuable experience and help the family budget.
“If the current laws result in a fine of only $30,000 in such a case then those laws need to be made stronger.
“The laws also need to be policed and I urge young people and parents to report such cases.
“This case shows the importance of maintaining public services that monitor and respond to illegal work.
“Minister O’Brien should give a commitment that the public sector staffing cut backs won’t affect the ability of the Department of Commerce to protect children from such exploitation.”

UnionsWA today responded to a statement from the WA Department of Commerce regarding a $30,000 fine imposed on Kentucky Fried Chicken Pty Ltd for illegal work of children aged less than 15 years.

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Australia and Asia’s asbestos epidemic

Marking the beginning of Asbestos Awareness Week, UnionsWA today welcomed to WA an international anti-asbestos delegation of health and safety union advocates and warned that the epidemic of asbestos relates diseases in Asia also poses a risk to growing numbers of Australians and West Australians who visit the region.

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Wednesday 21 November – Go home on time Day
Media Release  20 November 2012
Wednesday 21 November –
Go home on time Day
Staff at UnionsWA today waved placards at homeward-bound traffic on the Narrows Bridge to urge West Australians to go home on time.  Go home on time Day is an annual event co-ordinated by The Australia Institute and supported by the ACTU and beyondblue, with the aim of starting a national conversation about work-life balance.
Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:
“I’m going home on time tomorrow to spend more time with my husband and children.”
Tim Dymond, UnionsWA Research and Industrial Officer said:
“I’m going to use the time to catalogue my comic collection.”
Madeleine Holme, Campaign Office said:
“I’m going to put my new running shoes to use at the gym then catch up with some mates at the pub.”
UnionsWA Media Officer, Philip O’Donoghue said:
“It’s takeaway and TV for me.”
Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:
“OK there is a serious side to this.
“Each year, Australians work more than 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime, which is the equivalent of a $72 billion ‘gift’ to employers.
“Recent research by The Australia Institute has found that working hours are often unpredictable with around one in five Australians reporting that they have little or no idea what time they will finish work on any particular day.
“Mental Ill-health is a growing problem, made worse by untaken annual leave, insecure and unpredictable work and very long hours of work on average compared with other OECD countries.
“Frankly, we should get a life.”
Meredith Hammat is available for comment.
For more information contact: Philip O’Donoghue 0417 923 029 or podonoghue@unionswa.com.au
Key Facts:
• Compared with other OECD countries, Australia has the highest average full-time working hours for employees at 44 hours per week. (Source: Workplace Research Centre at The University of Sydney, October 2008. http://www.workplace.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/7FD73B96-DFDA-42B8-A563-9968EC1E55D3/0/111WanrooyBuchananCampbell.pdf)
• Australian workers have about 129 million days of untaken annual leave (Source: Roy Morgan Research http://info.noleavenolife.com).
• Workplace stress is costing the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year with a direct cost to employers of $10.11 billion a year.  3.2 days per worker are lost each year through workplace stress.  (Source: Medibank  http://www.medibank.com.au/client/documents/pdfs/the-cost-of-workplace-stress.pdf)
• Comparing suicide rates from 2001-2005 with 2006-2010, the ABS has found that Australia-wide these have fallen, however rates have increased in WA. 3309.0 - Suicides, Australia, 2010 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/latestProducts/3309.0Media%20Release12010
Find out more about Go Home On Time Day 2012 at http://www.gohomeontimeday.org.au, and download and print a poster for your workplace.

Staff at UnionsWA today waved placards at homeward-bound traffic on the Narrows Bridge to urge West Australians to go home on time.  Go home on time Day is an annual event co-ordinated by The Australia Institute and supported by the ACTU and beyondblue, with the aim of starting a national conversation about work-life balance.

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Premier’s new office opens:“Let them eat cake”
Premier’s new office opens:
“Let them eat cake”
Representatives from public sector unions today attended the opening of Premier Barnett’s new office to question the priorities of his Government.
Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:
“Premier Barnett’s attitude towards ordinary West Australians seem to be “let them eat cake” so we’re presenting him with a gift for his new office, a cake in the shape of a Perth rail car.
“This is to remind him that for the estimated $26 million spent on this new office it would have been possible to purchase two three car rail sets.
“That would have meant less congestion on trains, taken cars off our roads and reduced Perth’s chronic traffic jams.
“There is a long list of other priorities that better reflect the needs of Western Australia.
“Our hospitals have been privatised, there are not enough child protection workers, housing and electricity costs have soared.
“Premier Barnett has just cut the public sector by a further one and a half thousand staff while our population has grown by seventy-three thousand in the past year.
“Yet he finds plenty of public money for building projects in the inner city including $400 million towards the Elizabeth Quay and $1.2 billion on the Burswood stadium as well his new office.
“The priorities of the Barnett Government are wrong.”

Representatives from public sector unions today attended the opening of Premier Barnett’s new office to question the priorities of his Government.

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Skilled jobs at risk warn TAFE lecturers and manufacturing workers
Skilled jobs at risk warn TAFE lecturers and manufacturing workers
Unions representing TAFE lecturers and manufacturing workers have jointly called for urgent action to ensure that the loss of quality skills training and skilled jobs is reversed.  They have called on the WA Parliament to support the passage of the Skilled Jobs (Benefits from the Boom) Bill 2012, speeches for which commenced in the WA Parliament today.
Anne Gisborne, President, State School Teachers’ Union of WA said:
“The need to act on up-skilling the workforce in WA while supporting the expansion of quality TAFE training is now urgent.
“The WA Government is getting around $4billion a year in mining royalties, more than twice what it was getting when it came to office. But that opportunity is being squandered.
“In the past week we’ve seen rorts in the privatised health sector and school building sub-contractors ripped-off.
“When are we going to learn that public provision of many core services, and skills training among these, is better off in public hands?
“Frankly, when you put a profit motive on many services the outcome is a loss of quality and rip-offs.
“That is what is happening in TAFE in Victoria, and the Government in WA is considering similar measures here but won’t come clean.  The fear is that this is because of the looming State election.
“We need Government action on both sides of the equation – delivery of skilled jobs and quality skills training in WA.
Steve McCartney, Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union said:
“We want Parliament to pass this Bill so we can ensure that major resource projects are held to account for their use of local fabricators and taking on apprentices and trainees.
“It’s about being transparent about how those profiting from publicly owned resources ensure a lasting benefit to WA’s economy and community.
“Too often resource companies source from overseas what can be manufactured here. They turn first to overseas labour when they should be training more locals.
“According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research we now have in WA 2,300 fewer apprentices in training in engineering, automotive and construction trades than we did four years ago.
“With all the construction work as well as the machinery and vehicles that need to be maintained you’d expect more training in those critical areas. But in fact we are going backwards.”
Steve McCartney, Secretary of the Australian Metal Workers Union and Anne Gisborne, President, State School Teachers’ Union of WA, are available for comment.

Unions representing TAFE lecturers and manufacturing workers have jointly called for urgent action to ensure that the loss of quality skills training and skilled jobs is reversed.  They have called on the WA Parliament to support the passage of the Skilled Jobs (Benefits from the Boom) Bill 2012, speeches for which commenced in the WA Parliament today.

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Swan brewery closure and redundancies

On behalf of affected workers and their unions, UnionsWA today commented on the announced closure of the Swan Brewery.

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Campaign targets Barnett’s Bad Decisions
Media Release       14 October 2012
Campaign targets Barnett’s Bad Decisions
The Save Our Services campaign today launched new TV advertisements that target the bad decisions and wrong priorities of the Barnett Government.
Meredith Hammat, President UnionsWA said:
“Frankly the Barnett Government has got its priorities wrong and has made one bad decision after another.
“Premier Barnett finds big money for building projects in the inner city while failing to invest in suburban transport.
“He’s getting around $4 billion a year from mining royalties while increasing electricity prices by more than 62%.
“Premier Barnett has just cut the public sector by a further one and a half thousand staff while our population has grown by seventy-three thousand in the past year.
“And the list goes on, our hospitals have been privatised, there are not enough child protection workers, rents and housing costs have soured.
“Resource booms come and go, the important questions are: where has all the money gone? What have we gotten from the boom?
“We’ve certainly been left with big buildings, big traffic jams and high costs of living.
“These advertisements are a message to Premier Barnett: change your priorities, overturn your bad decisions.
“In the past Premier Barnett has arrogantly dismiss campaigns on behalf of working people by unions.
“Working people deserve to be heard about the decisions that affect them – their costs of living and the services they and their families need.  Government-paid and corporate advertising shouldn’t be the only voices in public debate.”
Low resolution downloads of the advertisements and further information are available from www.saveourservices.com.au.  High resolution versions are available upon request.
On twitter see also #barnettbads and @SaveWAServcies.
Meredith Hammat is available for comment.
For more information contact: Philip O’Donoghue 0417 923 029 or podonoghue@unionswa.com.au
The Save Our Services campaign today launched new TV advertisements that target the bad decisions and wrong priorities of the Barnett Government.
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