NT - Canberra admits pay rise delays

NT Public Employment Minister, Dr Chris Burns, said in a statement 18/05/2006 that the Commonwealth Government has revealed that low-paid private sector employees in the Northern Territory face a six-month delay in receiving pay rises.

Dr Burns said the delay was due to the handover of powers from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to the Commonwealth Government’s Fair Pay Commission.

“This is another example of how the ill-conceived 'Work Choices' legislation had been rushed through both houses of Australia’s parliament,” Dr Burns said. “We have already begun to see the erosion of employees’ pay and conditions. The Federal Government’s latest admission means that low-paid workers cannot expect an increase in their wages at least until September. That means there will have been 18 months between pay rises. Under the old system, increases were every 12 months."

Speaking from the 73rd Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council meeting in Sydney, Dr Burns said this will have a knock-on effect for all workers. Dr Burns added that State and Territory ministers at the meeting had also expressed concern at the possibility of the Federal Government overriding occupational health and safety and workers compensation legislation.

Dr Burns said: "The concern is that the Federal Government will instead implement its 'Comcare' system, which is currently responsible for workplace safety, rehabilitation and compensation in the Commonwealth jurisdiction. This is a return to the lowest common denominator, and will leave Territory workers worse off".

He concluded by saying the federal system has minimal enforcement and reduced coverage, illustrated by its removal from compensation cover of injuries that occur during the journey to and from work”.

19 May, 2006

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