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New workplace law attacks long-held protections for employees

Anthony Forsythe (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Just under a year ago, following the first COVID-19 lockdowns, Australians were celebrating the feats of our “essential workers”.

Highway billboards lauded the courage and resilience of teachers; supermarket, transport and warehouse workers; aged care and child care staff; cleaners; and of course those on the front line in health care.

As the pandemic wore on, we came to see more clearly that many of these workers are the lowest-paid in our community – and the most likely to be engaged in insecure work.

The Workplace Relations Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill emerged from a six-month government-union-employer taskforce that produced little consensus.

Advertisement The underlying premise of the bill is simple, but wrong: that the pandemic has delivered such a shock to the Australian economy, the only way out is to remove workplace rules seen as limiting managerial decision-making.


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