6a should go

Stuff reports:

Cleaners converged on Parliament this afternoon to protest against proposed employment law changes. 

Beating red buckets with wooden spoons, they chanted “Hands off 6a”.

The Government wants to scrap the clause, which protects low-paid workers when their job is restructured.

The demonstrators, mostly from the Service and Food Workers Union, handed over more than 2000 submissions to the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee on the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Parliamentary cleaner Mareta Sinoti told the crowd of around 50 that scrapping the clause would cause “suffering”.

“We are cleaners, we work hard at a time when most people are at home with our families,” she said. “Few people ever see us at work, but when you come in the morning your offices are clean.

“We work hard on low wages … part 6a is the only job security we have.”

Part 6A ensures the jobs of vulnerable workers – like cleaners and caretakers, laundry staff, or hospital orderlies – are transferred to a new contractor on the same terms if a firm is restructured.

The current 6A is almost unworkable, and the Govt’s changes to it are fairly minor. What they should be doing is scrapping the clause alltogether.

If a company wins a contract through offering a better service or lower price, then they should not have any obligations to the staff of the company that lost the contract. That is how competition works. It also gives staff an incentive to make sure their employer stays competitive and quality.

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