Yesterday, Australia's high court ruled that the federal government's 'Work Choices' legislation is constitutionally valid and as such, now stands as the framework for employment conditions across the country.
How has this legislation affected our jobseekers?
Truth is we've placed more people into work in the last few months than at any time in NOVA's history. It's a boom time for work and workers in which hard-working competent, honest employees are now able to negotiate with their employers for possibly much improved conditions.
No longer are workers held back in a convoy, only able to go as fast as the slowest and least able.
Sounds good, but let’s have a look at why we had convoys.
Convoys were a means of ensuring that every boat was safe in a time of war. You didn't need those (convoys) in peace time because there was no threat and for most workers in Australia today there's no threat either. No boss or business can afford to drastically reduce working conditions because there's a shortage of labour.
But what if there wasn't?
Australia is traditionally (and sadly perhaps) a boom and bust economy. We're in a boom and inevitably we must come to a slow down. No matter how softly the economy lands in our next 'bust' workers will be exposed to the downsides of competing with each other for work, and the only negotiating piece the majority will
enjoy is price - the price of their labour.
NOVA works with people who have a disability - the majority have an intellectual disability. These individuals aren't always the best negotiators nor always the most valued employees - their place on the margins of employment and society was one of the factors behind the original legislation that set NOVA up - the Disability Services Act (1986)
Since then we've worked hard to ensure the maximum wages, participation and security in employment we could find for every person who came to us.
The combination of 'Work Choices' and 'Welfare to Work' reforms have the potential (in an economic downturn) to expose our jobseekers and workers to the very worst of all situations - compulsory participation, reduced wages and insecurity in a time when the income for this organisation (dependent upon placements, wages, and hours worked for success) would be static or declining.
I read today a News Corp executive was paid $57m last year.
Just so you know: that'd find work for 8142 people who have an intellectual disability.
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Famous last words!
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