Employment and Workplace Relations

Workers deserve work laws which provide them with the protections, rights and responsibilities that come with a just and sustainable society.

Principles

The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. Australia must have a fair and equitable industrial relations system for all workers
  2. All people must have the right to pursue their wellbeing in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity
  3. Australia’s workforce must possess a range of skills, be highly trained and well-paid, with working conditions underpinned by a strong, comprehensive safety net and the right to collectively bargain.
  4. Working people must receive fair and equitable remuneration for their work.
  5. Working people, including their representatives, have the right to be involved in decisions about their work, free of intimidation.
  6. The right to be a member of a union, to collectively bargain, to collectively withhold labour and collectively organise in the workplace are essential to achieving a sustainable and democratic future.
  7. Free, independent and democratic unions are an essential pillar of a civil society.
  8. Every Australian worker has the right to work in a safe and harassment-free environment.
  9. People have the right to a safe workplace free from occupational hazards.
  10. Industrial manslaughter is a crime.
  11. The objectives of profitability and efficiency should not override social and ecological objectives.
  12. Effective processes of dispute resolution, including conciliation and arbitration before an independent tribunal, are a necessary element in any fair and effective industrial relations system.
  13. Workplace laws should provide better work-life balance, with people having more control over their working arrangements and enforceable rights to flexible working practices, balanced against the legitimate operational needs of the employer. People should also have legal protection against working excessive hours.
  14. There must be equal pay for equal work.
  15. The industrial relations framework and government policies should promote full employment and job security.
  16. Workplace safety should have an overriding importance over all other aspects of work and workers’ compensation schemes should prioritise rehabilitation at no charge to the injured worker and full compensation.
  17. Everyone should have access to ongoing learning and training opportunities.

Aims

The Australian Greens want:

  1. An industrial relations system that protects and enhances the rights of employees and workers by:
    1. maintaining a legislated minimum standard for pay, annual leave and hours of work that protects all employees and workers;
    2. providing comprehensive industry-wide awards that give rights and entitlements in excess of the legislative minima and which are determined by conciliation and arbitration before an effective and independent industrial tribunal;
    3. facilitating collective agreements that are union negotiated and exceed the Award standards;
    4. ensuring no workers are subject to laws and regulations detrimental to their interests on the basis of the industry in which they work;
    5. ensuring individual arrangements cannot be sub-standard compared with awards or collective agreements; and
    6. conforming with international law, especially ILO conventions no. 87 on freedom of association and the right to organise (1948) and no. 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining (1949).
  2. New and existing employees to be informed that they are entitled to join a union, and enable the provision of information about the unions responsible for the sector and industry.
  3. Recognition of the rights of workers to take industrial action, including the right to strike, and to advance their economic and social and environmental interests. Workers themselves are best placed to determine how such industrial action is to be approved. Workers and their unions should be protected against sanctions under non-industrial laws (such as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) or common law actions when undertaking legitimate industrial activity.
  4. Full protection of the rights of workers to join a union and of unions to protect and enhance the rights of their members.
  5. Stronger right of entry provisions for unions to recruit members, inspect for and remedy breaches of occupational health and safety provisions, breaches of the Fair Work Act and relevant awards or agreements, consult with workers and their representatives, and undertake other activities relating to strengthening workers’ organisations.
  6. Full protection of accrued entitlements of employees.
  7. Greater protection for casual, fixed-term and probationary workers and employees of small businesses, including full rights to challenge termination of employment where it is unfair. Except in exceptional circumstances, reinstatement to the original or comparable position by the employer to be the preferred remedy where desired by an employee who has been unfairly dismissed.
  8. Reform of industrial laws and the portability of entitlements (such as long service leave) to reflect the growth in insecure employment and the fact that people are more likely to work for multiple employers during their working lives.
  9. Equal access to paid work based on ability and irrespective of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, marital or civil status, family responsibilities, political affiliation, union membership, disability or religion.
  10. The elimination of the gender pay gap.
  11. A fairer sharing of paid work, including through mandated shorter standard working hours, and a reversal of current trends towards increased unpaid overtime.
  12. Greater control for employees over their workplace arrangements to allow for a better balance between work and family, social and community involvement. Workplace practices must be family and carer friendly.
  13. To repeal any independent contractors legislation that strips employment rights from individuals.
  14. Restriction of independent contractor arrangements to individuals who are genuinely running their own business and enhanced protection for individuals who are engaged under sham contractor arrangements and greater resources for prosecution of entities that engage sham contractors.
  15. Training and skills development available to all workers, including apprentices, trainees, part-time and casual employees, without loss of pay.
  16. Improved minimum employment standards for trainees and apprentices.
  17. Enacted and enforced industrial and immigration laws that stop the exploitation of foreign workers, by ensuring they receive the same pay, entitlements and conditions of employment as a local worker doing the same job.
  18. Publication by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) of meaningful monthly measures of underemployment and unemployment, with broader definitions of unemployment.
  19. To reinstitute a publicly owned employment service.
  20. To abolish and oppose any building and construction industry laws or codes that undermine working people's collective and human rights, and the complete removal of any coercive powers over workers. One set of laws should apply equally to all workers.
  21. Incentives for workplace childcare facilities.
  22. An enhanced national paid parental leave scheme.
  23. A legislated minimum of five weeks annual leave for all employees.
  24. The introduction of strong, nationally consistent industrial manslaughter laws.
  25. The introduction of strong, nationally consistent workplace health and safety laws.
  26. All government programs, investments, resource allocation and procurement to include a jobs impact assessment to ensure that the community is getting the maximum number of jobs from public investments.