Employment and Workplace Relations

Principles

The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. All people must have the right to pursue their well-being in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity.
  2. Australia must have a fair and equitable industrial relations system for all workers.
  3. Job insecurity, unemployment and underemployment further entrenches inequality in our society.
  4. Government has a responsibility to ensure the right to meaningful work, especially in the context of economic disruption from automation, digitalisation and market failures.
  5. 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.
  6. Working people should receive full and just remuneration for their work, proportionate to their labour's value.
  7. Workers and their representatives are entitled to democratic participation in deciding the future direction and development of the organisation for which they work and should be able to do so without intimidation from employers.
  8. 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.
  9. Free, independent and democratic unions are an essential pillar of a civil society.
  10. Every Australian worker has the right to work in a safe and harassment-free environment.
  11. People have the right to a safe workplace free from occupational hazards.
  12. Industrial manslaughter is a crime.
  13. The objectives of profitability and efficiency should not override social and ecological objectives.
  14. 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.
  15. Workplace laws should provide better work-life balance, with people having more control over their working arrangements and enforceable rights to flexible working practices. People should also have legal protection against working excessive hours.
  16. There must be equal pay for equal work.
  17. The industrial relations framework and government policies should promote full employment and job security.
  18. 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.
  19. Everyone should have access to ongoing learning and training opportunities.
  20. Work must be safe, meaningful and socially useful - these criteria are more important than profitability.
  21. Unpaid community, volunteer and unpaid domestic work should all be recognised and valued as no less than other forms of work.
  22. Sex work should be recognised and valued as no less than other forms of work.
  23. As technology and more efficient work practices reduce the need for specific types of labour, it is necessary for our society to examine ways of sharing paid work on a more equitable basis and explore new opportunities for work and community ventures.
  24. The key purpose of an industrial relations system must be to protect the interests of working people from the disproportionate power of employers, chief contractors and monopolies.
  25. Union membership should democratically decide how their union functions.
  26. Workers and their representatives should have a role in determining increased uses of new technologies in their workplace.
  27. The growing gap between the lowest and highest paid, both in individual organisations and businesses and in society as a whole, is detrimental to the long-term wellbeing of the workforce and the economy.

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, penalty rates, annual leave and hours of work that protects all employees and workers;
    2. expanding the national employment standards to include foster carer leave, surrogacy leave and domestic violence leave;
    3. promoting meaningful work and secure employment;
    4. 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;
    5. facilitating collective agreements that are union negotiated and exceed the Award standards;
    6. ensuring individual arrangements cannot be sub-standard compared with awards or collective agreements; and
    7. 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, social, and environmental interests.
  4. Workers and their unions to determine for themselves how industrial action is to be approved.
  5. Workers and their unions to be protected against sanctions under non-industrial laws (such as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) or common law actions when undertaking industrial activity.
  6. Abolition of impediments to the right to strike, allowing for multi-enterprise industrial action, the provision of guarantee social security to striking workers, and the end of fining unions for exercising the right to strike.
  7. Full protection of the rights of workers to join a union and of unions to protect and enhance the rights of their members.
  8. Unhindered right of entry provisions, subject to immediate and verified safety concerns, for unions to recruit members, inspect for and remedy breaches of workplace 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.
  9. Full protection of accrued entitlements of employees.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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, sex work history, lawful sexual activity, or religion.
  13. The elimination of the gender pay gap.
  14. The removal of religious exemptions from employment laws, which allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBT people in employment.
  15. Protection for transgender and intersex people against employment discrimination.
  16. A fairer sharing of paid work, including:
    1. a transition toward a four-day or equivalent standard working week, with no reduction in overall pay, and all additional hours to be awarded penalty rates; 
    2. the elimination of imposed and unrewarded overtime, and 
    3. a reversal of current trends towards increased unpaid overtime.
  17. Equal pay for equal work, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or ethnicity.
  18. 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.
  19. Increased penalty rates and, as applicable, overtime for workers working unsociable hours or on weekends.
  20. To repeal any independent contractors legislation that strips employment rights from individuals.
  21. Restriction of independent contractor arrangements to individuals who are genuinely running their own business.
  22. Elimination of sham contracts, enhanced protection for individuals who are currently engaged under sham contractor arrangements, and greater resources for prosecution of entities that engage sham contractors.
  23. Training and skills development available to all workers, including apprentices, trainees, part-time and casual employees, without loss of pay.
  24. Improved minimum employment standards for trainees and apprentices.
  25. Measures to address the lack of employee benefits associated with precarious or “gig economy” work.
  26. Incentives for businesses to create ongoing employment positions rather than relying upon precarious forms of employment.
  27. 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.
  28. Publication by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) of meaningful monthly measures of underemployment and unemployment, with broader definitions of unemployment.
  29. To reinstitute a publicly owned employment service.
  30. 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.
  31. Incentives for workplace childcare facilities, and mandatory implementation of family-friendly workplace policies for all large employers.
  32. An enhanced national paid parental leave scheme with a minimum shared total leave entitlement period.
  33. A legislated minimum of five weeks annual leave for all employees.
  34. The introduction of strong, nationally consistent industrial manslaughter laws.
  35. The introduction of strong, nationally consistent workplace health and safety laws.
  36. 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.
  37. Increasing casual loadings to seek to reverse the trend towards casual labour, and the enforceable ability for casual employees to convert to permanent work after 6 months with appropriate exemptions for seasonal workers.
  38. A legislated minimum wage of no less than 60% of the median Australian full-time wage.
  39. Recognition of interns as workers, and fair workplace conditions for student intern work undertaken in the course of an internship or work placement as part of their studies or professional accreditation.
  40. The addition of no fewer than four additional national public holidays, with the aim of ensuring at least one public holiday per calendar month.
  41. The full decriminalisation of sex work, and legislated anti-discrimination provisions to limit discrimination against sex workers.
  42. Improvements to the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to cover all unpaid wages and entitlements for workers when their employers go into liquidation or bankruptcy.
  43. Legislation to require publicly listed companies to have workers’ representatives on the companies’ Board of Management.
  44. Implement executive salary capping, starting with the public service, with salary savings to be directly passed onto lowest paid employees in that organisation.

[Policy endorsed: May 2018]