An article in The Australian reports on the ridiculous consequences of the Fair Work Act requirements for minimum hours of work. Here are some of the victims of this outrageous policy:
But Matthew and five other youths, all aged between 16 and 18, have been sacked from the Terang and District Co-operative, 210km southwest of Melbourne, because the Rudd government’s Fair Work Act won’t let them work less than three hours a day.
Both the youths and their employer had wanted to continue their longstanding arrangement and are furious the new law does not allow for the flexibility needed to keep them employed. Co-operative general manager Mr Duynhoven said those of his employees still at school could only get to work by 4pm, after school finished, and the store closed at 5.30pm, so there was only 1.5 hours of work available.
Julia Gillard has defended the system:
A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said the new system was fairer.
“The government does not think it’s unreasonable to have a set of minimum standards for employees, including the minimum number of hours they can work across Australia, as has been brought in under the simplified modern system.”
It’s always about the fairness. How could anybody think this is a fairer system? For that matter, how could anyone think such a system is simpler? News.com.au has some further comments in defense of this assault on workers from Kevin Rudd:
Asked why the youths couldn’t be allowed to work for 1.5 hours, Mr Rudd continued to defend the system.
“One of our concerns is you can have an employer who says, ‘Come in for half an hour a day here and a half an hour a day there’ … very unsuitable for young workers often,” he told Fairfax Radio today.
Very unsuitable for young workers? It’s extremely suitable for young workers – especially those studying – but that’s not the point. This policy kills jobs, hurts business, and deprives youth of a very good way of gaining work experience.
“We’ve got to be very careful about industrial relations systems which enables people, incrementally, to be exploited,” he said.
In what possible way could offering someone a couple hours work be exploitative?
Fair Work Australia would speak to the employer concerned today, Mr Rudd said.
I’m sure he can’t wait.
UPDATE: Reading through the comments of the news.com.au article can be quite depressing 😦