2018 Young Worker Safety Report - Breaking Point

UnionsACT supports ACT Govt’s anti wage-theft laws

UnionsACT has today expressed its strong support for new laws introduced by Attorney General Gordon Ramsay that will enable unions to tackle wage-theft.

The Courts (Fair Work and Work Safety) Bill 2019 clarifies existing referral powers under the Fair Work Act to allow state and territory magistrates courts to hear small-claims (wage-theft) matters. Under the Fair Work Act, unions have a major role in ensuring compliance and recovering underpayments.

Unions have long expressed concerns at the failures of the Fair Work Act in enabling workers to access justice in wage-theft cases. The existing system is time-consuming and expensive, and these failures strongly favour employers.

The biggest contributing factor to the wage-theft crisis is that unscrupulous employers know that in the unlikely event they are caught, it will be many months, even years, before they must pay back the money they stole from their workers.

The ACT Government’s Bill restores workers’ rights to access quick, simple and inexpensive justice in the specialised Industrial Magistrates Court.

The following quotes are attributable to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“UnionsACT strongly supports the Bill presented by Attorney General Gordon Ramsay today.

“Working people in the ACT are facing a wage-theft crisis, with more than 40 percent of businesses deciding to break one or more of the Fair Work Act requirements.

“The enormous expense and lengthy timeframes for workers to access justice have been abused by dodgy bosses to get away with stealing from their employees.

“Working people need a simpler, fairer and less expensive system that allows workers and their representatives to access justice and hold to account unscrupulous bosses who steal wages.

“It is very positive that the ACT Labor Government has introduced these reforms.

“Our hope is that these proposed laws are given strong and unanimous support by all members of the Assembly.”

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