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Labor will create new statutory authority

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REGIONAL Development Minister Jaala Pulford was on doorstop visit to the Ballarat Trades Hall on Monday to announcement a new state government scheme that will ensure labour hire workers are treated fairly. “The government will create a new statutory authority; it will be at arm’s length from government and will have the job of monitoring the scheme and enforcing the way it operates,” Ms Pulford explained. “The labour hire companies who wish to participate in it will be required to apply and it will be quite straightforward on-line process.”

Ms Pulford said the state government was interested in creating new and different standards and not interested in unnecessary red tape.

“It will be quite a simple process to register, then businesses who have changes in their needs, during the course of the year or day to day, who are looking to do some third party contracting of employees, will then be able to, on line, look up the labour hire companies operating in their area in the industry and know that they are using somebody who is operating within the law,” Ms Pulford explained. “This has been very carefully designed and we plan to have the legislation in parliament by the end of the year, so a lot of consultation with industry, labour hire industry, employers that use labour hire, the union movement, as well, to make sure we get all of those features right but we are certainly confident that a registration of labour hire will mean there will no longer be able to be those dodgy operators that come and go.”

One of the key requirements to be a part of the scheme, to be issued a licence, is that the person running the labour hire needs to satisfy a fit and proper person test. That would include being able to demonstrate to meet all legal standards. “In some respects this will make next to no difference to any business that is doing the right thing,” Ms Pulford said.

“If people are being employed legally, if health and safety standards are being met, if the immigration laws are applied in the way they are supposed to, then no one has anything to fear from this scheme.” Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council Secretary Brett Edgington said the Trades and Labour Council are welcoming of this scheme and is appreciative that the government has listened.

“A really common misconception is that exploitation labour hire is mainly confined to some agriculture and poultry processing,” Mr Edgington said. “We are seeing it more and more into manufacturing, we are seeing labour hire now coming into industries like IT and accounting receptionists and what we would regards as the traditional white collar sectors and we are seeing exploitation right across the board. “One of the wonderful things us that this will be headed be an independent commissioner. The key to success of this will be detection and compliance and at least now, from a worker point of view, there is now somewhere to go and report non-compliance.”

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