The Guardian December 12, 2001

Greens (WA) move Bill for workers' rights

Despite the election of a Labor State Government last February, workers 
and trade unions in Western Australia are still battling under the 
draconian, anti-union legislation of former Coalition Governments.

It took the initiative of Greens (WA) Industrial spokesperson, Dee 
Margetts, to introduce a bill to amend the Industrial Relations Act and 
repeal the Workplace Agreements Act.

Dee Margetts said that the Greens (WA) bill, the Workers Rights 
Reinstatement Bill 2001, is intended as a first step in a new direction for 
WA workers.

"This bill removes the current system of workplace agreements [individual 
work contracts] which was eroding pay and conditions for workers, and 
restores unions' right of access to workplaces", said Dee Margetts.

The bill addresses a number of important concerns that trade unions have 
with the Coalition's legislation.

It removes existing provisions for individual work contracts, with 
transitional provisions for phasing out existing contracts within 180 days 
of the legislation coming into operation.

It reinstates the right of entry for unions to workplaces and for union 
officials to inspect records and has other provisions strengthening trade 
union rights to represent and bargain on behalf of members and maintain 
safer workplaces.

"The impact of Government policies to date had been to adopt economic 
rationalist policies which focused on downsizing and deregulating the 
workforce, treating workers as if they are simply a cost of production.

"The current Government is not moving quickly enough to ensure that 
measures are taken to redress these effects", said Dee Margetts, a view 
shared by many trade unionists in that state.

The bill will be debated in the New Year.

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