IFJ Protests Government Proposal For Workplace Reform
Friday, 29 July 2005
The International Federation of Journalists has written to John Howard, protesting the Government's proposals to undermine existing levels of employment protection. IFJ general secretary Aidan White said plans to abolish unfair dismissal laws and the proliferation of individual agreements within media organisations will ?reduce morale within the media industry and compromise the atmosphere of professionalism on which independent journalism thrives.?
Dear Prime Minister,
Proposed workplace legislation changes
The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists group, wishes to put on record our concern over the proposals of your government to undermine existing levels of employment protection which will, we believe, have a distressing impact on many thousands of people who work in journalism and the media industry in Australia.
We support the views expressed by out colleagues within the wider international union movement, particularly the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), who warn that these changes will do significant harm to Australia's reputation and standing in the international community.
We are particularly alarmed at plans to abolish protection from unfair dismissal for some 4 million workers employed in companies with less than 100 staff. Many media workers and journalists will be affected by this policy which will be discriminatory and will encourage companies re-structure operations in order to escape legal obligations.
Your government's plan to keep unions out of workplaces would further undermine the right of workers to bargain collectively with their employer and is in clear contravention of ILO Convention 98. Australia already stands in breach of this fundamental Convention, and the planned new legislation will increase the gap between Australian law and the country's international obligations.
In addition, we are concerned that by ensuring that more workers are forced onto individual contracts, workers who do not wish to sign such contracts will be intimidated through fear of dismissal. The changing of journalistic employment in this negative way will have an effect on the quality of media and journalistic standards by reducing morale within the industry and compromising the atmosphere of professionalism on which independent journalism thrives.
These proposals not only would leave Australia at the bottom of OECD countries with respect to protection of basic workers? rights, they are detrimental to the conditions necessary for the exercise of professional journalism and will discourage creativity and innovation within the media sector.
We know that in recent weeks, the Australian people, including members of our affiliated organisation the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, have shown great popular opposition to these proposals.
We urge you to respond to their concerns, and abandon these proposal. We pledge our full support to the MEAA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and their members in opposing these plans.