The Guardian • Issue #2062


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2062

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has welcomed the passage of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting worker entitlements) Bill 2023. The Bill, which was passed by Parliament in June, includes a number of measures to strengthen worker protections, including inserting the right to superannuation in the National Employment Standards. This means that all workers will be entitled to a minimum level of superannuation contributions, regardless of their employment status or the type of work they do, and will improve unpaid parental leave rights. The number of flexible parental leave days has been increased from 30 to 100 days, and there is now more flexibility on how these days can be taken and shared between parents. Also making clear that the Fair Work Act protections apply to temporary migrant workers. This means that temporary migrant workers will have the same rights and protections as other Australian workers, including the right to minimum wages, overtime pay, and annual leave. ACTU President Michele O’Neil said that the passing of the Bill was a big step forward in protecting workers’ rights. “Australia’s workplace laws need updating to protect workers from loopholes used by some big business to drive down wages and conditions. The passing of this bill is an important step forward in that process,” said O’Neil who also welcomed the inclusion of superannuation in the National Employment Standards. “Superannuation has finally been recognised in our workplace laws as a universal workplace right. All workers, with their union, will be able to enforce their superannuation rights and recover super that has been stolen from them.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: A $54,000 “compensation” payment from mining company Idemitsu for water theft at its Boggabri Coal Mine in central west NSW during the peak of the worst drought in living memory falls far short of community expectations, and will not deter other companies from committing similar offences, says the Lock the Gate Alliance. It comes nearly two years after Lock the Gate Alliance first wrote to the regulator, raising concerns that Idemitsu was in violation of its approval because it was unlawfully collecting and using hundreds of millions of litres of clean water on-site that should have been diverted around the mine into the local creek system. Lock the Gate believes Idemitsu had been stealing the water since at least 2017. The enforceable undertaking also comes two years after Whitehaven Coal was prosecuted for a similar offence, and ordered to pay $200,000 in the Land and Environment Court. At the time, local farmers reacted angrily, saying $200,000 was just a slap on the wrist for a company like Whitehaven. Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter, whose family was forced to destock and relocate due to the impacts of the drought, said the agreement between NRAR and Idemitsu was “inadequate.” “While we and many other farmers were forced to destock or even sell up due to a lack of water, and the price of water was going through the roof, Idemitsu was syphoning hundreds of millions of litres out of this catchment illegally,” she said. “This is less than a slap on the wrist. It potentially encourages coal mining companies to commit serious crimes like water theft with effectively no serious penalty. Taking precious water unlawfully, especially during devastating times like the last drought, must be punished in a way that sends a strong signal to the rest of the mining industry.”

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