UnionsWA has today welcomed the introduction by the WA Government of its Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 that will modernise these laws and readdress historic injustices.
Owen Whittle, Secretary UnionsWA said:
“Following electoral reform of the Legislative Council that will put every West Australia voter on an equal footing, it is fitting that a Bill to reform WA’s antiquated workplace legislation should follow.
“When, over a hundred years ago, a Labor Government sought to provide basic workplace protections, the landed interests that undemocratically dominated our Legislative Council imposed amendments that removed any minimum wage and other protections for harvest and domestic workers.
“At that time farm and station owners didn’t want to have to pay their Aboriginal workforce minimum wages or legislate other basic rights.
“As recently as 2020, the undemocratic conservative majority in WA’s Legislate Council frustrated an attempted reform.
“Quite rightly, it has been these laws on WA’s statute books that have prevented Australia from ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on Modern Slavery.
“At last, this gross injustice will be undone.
“In other important ways this Bill will bring workplace protections up to date.
“Reflecting recent federal workplace law reforms and the Respect@Work report into sexual harassment, working people under West Australia laws will be protected through a Stop Bullying Order and a Stop Sexual Harassment Order.
“For too long employers have either turned away from or themselves been the perpetrators of workplace bullying or sexual harassment.
“Everyone deserves to be safe at work.
“It is also important that the horse and buggy era in local government will end, with those working for our local governments no longer mixed between federal or state workplace laws.
“This Bill proposes that our local government workforce be clearly protected under WA laws.”