Our current system of rules at work do not provide a fair go all round.
The rules are unfair, because under the current rules:
- Penalty rates are being cut in Awards;
- It is harder to get fair pay rises through bargaining;
- Wage theft and the underpayment of superannuation is rampant; and
- Jobs have become less secure because of labour hire or casualisation.
At the same time, the tax rules seem to favour the wealthy and multi-nationals over the needs of families faced with rising cost of living pressures.
To change these rules, you need to change the federal Government.
Federal election in May
Australia goes to the polls for a Federal election in May this year.
If we want to change the rules to make work fairer, we need to change the government. But what are you changing to?
The SDA knows and respects that our members will vote for a range of candidates and parties based on what is important to them. Your vote is your choice.
However, SDA Delegates across Victoria agree that it is important to let members know where the parties stand on key issues in the workplace, like penalty rates, and on the economy/tax.
Other issues will arise as we get closer to the election, but if the issues below are important to you, please consider them when it comes time to vote.
We are focused on the Labor Party and the Liberal/National Coalition in this article, as one of them will form government after the election.
Even if you don’t vote for a major party, you need to know where they stand on these issues, so you can consider who you give your preferences to when you vote.
Labor has committed to restoring higher Sunday penalty rates within 100 days of being elected to Government.
The Liberal/Nationals do not support restoring higher Sunday penalty rates and many Liberal/National MPs were in favour of cutting penalty rates.
Fair pay rises
Labor supports fairer bargaining laws for Australians, to allow bargaining at the enterprise level or with a number of employers so that workers can get fairer pay rises.
Labor also supports fixing industry Awards to allow fairer pay rises too.
The Liberals/Nationals do not support changes to the Award system or the bargaining system that would make it easier to negotiate fairer pay rises.
Instead, the Liberal Party says that if bigger tax cuts are given to big business, they might pass some of their extra profits on to their workers!
Wage theft and making Superannuation fairer
Labor will increase the penalties for wage theft to be three times the amount the employer takes.
Labor will also make it easier for workers to get back unpaid superannuation. At the moment, you have to get into the Tax Office queue to get your unpaid super back. Labor will allow cases to be heard in the Fair Work Commission to get unpaid super fixed quickly.
Last year, the Liberals advocated reducing the penalty on employers who didn’t pay superannuation and claimed that would somehow encourage bad employers to pay up!
Making jobs more secure
Having a job you can count on is very important for members.
Labor has committed to secure jobs by:
- Requiring employers to pay labour hire workers the same pay as their own employees;
- Having a national labour hire licensing scheme;
- Stopping sham contracting with ABNs;
- Increasing the number of apprentices;
- Ending the uncapped temporary working visa system by requiring proper labour market testing of labour needs; and
- Properly defining casual work.
The Liberals/Nationals have not committed to any of these initiatives to create more secure work.
Making tax fairer for working families
In the lead up to the election, there will be a lot of discussion and misinformation on tax.
As a general rule for SDA members, changes to tax rules that require big business or wealthy individuals to pay more tax are a good thing, while tax cuts or handouts to big business or the wealthy are not.
Labor has been very open about its proposed changes to tax rules, and they are aimed at ensuring the wealthy and multi-nationals pay their fair share.
The Liberals/Nationals changes to tax rules in the last budget were skewed to helping the wealthiest (those on incomes up to $200,000) more than helping those on lower incomes.
At the same time, the Liberals have repeatedly attempted to give tax cuts to big business.
A fair set of tax rules should be progressive — the less you earn, the less tax you pay and the more you earn, the greater your capacity to pay.
Members should evaluate the Labor and Liberal tax plans against this simple test.
Have your say on Election Day
The SDA respects that members will vote for a range of candidates and parties at the next federal election.
We encourage all members to vote for fairness at work, and for a fair tax system.
If you want to change the rules, you need to change the government.
In the end, it’s up to you.
It’s your vote, it’s your choice.