Greens Leader Adam Bandt has expressed deep reservations about any weakening of the Better Off Overall Test, in light of demands by the Business Council of Australia.
Excerpts from Greens Leader Adam Bandt’s address to a pre-Jobs Summit event hosted by law firm Kingston Reid on Wednesday 31 August:
“With the Liberals sitting this one out, whatever deal is reached at the Summit needs the Greens support or it won’t pass the Parliament. The Greens hold the balance of power, and we stand ready to amend whatever comes across our desk so it lifts wages, improves rights at work, and reduces cost of living.
“The Greens are also very worried about recent calls to weaken the ‘better off overall test’, because this will lead to workers being worse off.
“The test protects workers, especially young and casual workers, from getting even less than the already low award minimum wages and conditions.
“Major supermarkets and fast food chains stole hundreds of millions of dollars from workers through agreements that left these workers worse off.
“These dodgy agreements saw already low-paid workers receive less than the award, and now the big corporations want to make this rip-off legal.
“It is deeply distressing to see even the Labor government now open to changing the Fair Work Act to endorse this illegal behaviour.
“The Greens cannot back the Summit striking deals that leave young and low paid workers worse off.
“The Greens want the Summit to agree on three fundamental areas of reform.
Take back some of the power of big corporations, and give it to everyday people. This starts by rebuilding union membership, removing the restrictions on bargaining and axing the unfair restrictions on industrial action. As we rebalance the relationship between work and care, we must also give people greater control over their own working hours and arrangements;
Government must lift wages. The floor of our wage system has rotted. We need to increase wages from the bottom up, and start re-regulating the wages of the lowest paid and women-dominated professions by requiring their wages grow faster than inflation. And we need to lift income support to $88 a day;
Government must reduce the costs of essentials. Make childcare free, put dental and mental health into Medicare, cap rents and build affordable homes, all funded by axing the Stage 3 tax cuts for billionaires and the very wealthy.”