New work laws provide three boosts to workers

Published: 08/12/2022
Category: Industrial Relations
Published: 08/12/2022
Category: Industrial Relations

A change in work laws means you might be about to get a well-deserved pay rise.  

Senator David Pocock voted with the Government, the Greens and some crossbench MPs to vote in favour of wage growth for working people. After almost a decade of little to no real wage growth, new IR laws have come when they are most needed.  

The new work laws didn’t appear from nowhere. Australian unions have pushed for these reforms for years.  

Just the last few weeks alone have showed us the power of collective actions.  

We saw flight attendants sing outside Senator Pocock’s office and skeletons ‘waiting for a pay rise’ sit in spots across Tasmania. Union members travelled to parliament to present a long list of items workers have cut from their holiday’s budgets.  

We heard heartbreaking stories. And workers fended off a fierce scare campaign from big business who have a track record of supressing wage growth.   

We finally made it. The Secure Jobs Better Pay bill passed and will now become law. Here is what that means for workers.  

You finally have a decent shot at a pay rise

Workers across the country will be in a more powerful position when it comes to bargaining with their employers. A stronger bargaining mechanism in the laws means workers can negotiate pay rises through a fairer and more equitable system. 

The more numbers of workers who negotiate, the better your enterprise agreement will be.  

With multi-employer bargaining embedded in the new laws, all workers now have a pathway to better wage growth.  

Pay secrecy is gone

Pay secrecy clauses prohibited workers from discussing their wage with co-workers and perpetuated pay inequity. 

Working women lost the most with these clauses because of how they exacerbated the gender pay gap. It was through union organising that many workplaces made sure they never saw them again.  

But these clauses that have long plagued certain workplaces in industries will not appear in any new contracts thanks to the passing of the bill.  

Not only is the ban on the clauses good news for women but also for all workers. Experts have found that workers who are free to discuss their pay are more likely to perform better at work and have better job satisfaction

When you know what wage levels look like across your workplace, it means you and your co-workers are in a lot stronger place to bargain workplace-wide improvements to wages and conditions. 

A chance to enjoy real flexibility

And we mean flexibility in the worker-friendly sense of the word, not the ‘unreliable shifts and eternally on-call’ sense of the word.  

Until now, people juggling care and work, had no meaningful right to require their employer to help them balance those responsibilities. 

The new laws address this by requiring employers to try to reach agreement with workers, and by giving workers a right of review in the Fair Work Commission when requests are refused. 

What’s next for you?

The reforms mark a step forward for working people in many years, but there is more to do.  

Union members have long been campaigning to regulate the gig economy, to end rorting of labour hire and casual employment, and end systemic wage theft. We look forward to the Albanese Government delivering on these commitments. 

We know those next steps are achievable. Why? Because the passing of these new laws have shown us the power of working people coming together to improve workers’ rights. 

What makes collective bargaining so effective for workers is the same thing that strengthened bargaining laws: collective action.   

That means building organised workplaces where workers in unions stand with each other. It’s why union members earn, on average, $312 more per week than non-union members.  

Earn higher wages as a union member

New work laws provide three boosts to workers

New work laws provide three boosts to workers