The Guardian 3 August, 2005

dump unfair dismissal laws for all workers

The Treasurer Peter Costello has indicated protection from unfair dismissal may eventually be removed from all working Australians. Under the current proposal the government wants to stop anyone in a business with up to 100 staff being able to take action if they are unfairly sacked.

But Mr Costello has gone further saying that "there was no magic in the number 100".

"If this were to work well and people were to say: ‘Well, in the years to come it should be extended to all companies’, I would be very open to the idea", he told a business publication.

Liquor, Hospitality and Mis­cellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) National Secretary, Jeff Lawrence, said the comments confirmed that now the government had control of the Senate it was not planning to stop after the first round of cuts to workers’ rights.

"There is no evidence that removing unfair dismissal protection from staff working in businesses with less than 100 people will create any extra jobs", he said.

"But Mr Costello obviously believes the government should go further and make sure no-one in the workforce is protected from being unfairly sacked."

The first round of the government’s proposed changes is due to go to parliament in October.

Apart from removing the rights of workers to unfair dismissal, the government plans to sideline awards and remove the guarantee that no worker can be worse off under a workplace agreement.

That will mean conditions such as penalty rates, shift allowances, meal breaks and long service leave could be cut from agreements.

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