Media Release: 11 April 2019
Greens spokesperson for Industrial Relations and Worker Safety Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today welcomed the release of the final report of the Ministerial Review of the State’s Industrial Relations System in tandem with the Government’s response, but says even more must be done to improve conditions for workers.
“Prioritising vulnerable workers through measures to address workplace bullying, increasing penalties for breaches of employment laws and strengthening of industrial inspector powers are long overdue,” said Ms Xamon.
“In particular the proposed changes which enable changes to the definition of “employee” in order to ensure Western Australia is compliant with our ILO obligations to prevent slavery is very welcome.”
However, Ms Xamon said while she was also pleased to see that the Government at least recognised the need to strengthen pay equity laws, their proposed approach was not sufficient.
“The Government’s reforms will only apply to groups of workers – this is too restrictive – by contrast my Industrial Relations (Equal Remuneration) Amendment Bill 2018 provides for a claim to be made by a single employee, an employer, an organisation, the Minister or even the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity.
“Pursuing legal remedy is onerous enough, we should be ensuring that as many barriers to making a case are removed as possible.
“I am also disappointed to see that the Government has not taken this opportunity to pursue industrial manslaughter laws.
“The sudden death of a loved one is absolutely devastating and changes the course of many lives,” Ms Xamon said.
“Losing a family member to a fatal accident in the workplace adds to the complexity of the grieving process so it is therefore so important that we do all we can to reduce families’ burden so far as possible.
Ms Xamon said her industrial manslaughter bill, which is currently before the Parliament awaiting debate, would make senior managers personally responsible if they made a decision, which knowingly created an unsafe workplace, and where that decision led to a death.
She said by placing the onus on companies and senior officers, workers’ safety could be improved.
“Furthermore, It is imperative that Industrial Manslaughter is contained in the Criminal Code rather than in occupational safety and health legislation. Industrial manslaughter must be treated like any other form of manslaughter.
“Workplace laws should be fair and be effective at protecting all workers from unjust treatment and unsafe conditions,” Ms Xamon said.