Rally 1st September 2009

HARMONISATION OF OHS LAWS ??
harmony: agreement, accord, a consistent, orderly and pleasing arrangement
harmonisation (of standards): a process of developing and agreeing upon technical standards to establish a uniform or technical specification. We’re not pleased about the OHS Arrangements and we haven’t agreed.

State and Federal Governments haven’t checked their dictionaries, so why should we trust them to draft ‘pleasing’ and ‘agreed’ legislation that will maintain or enhance safety in the workplace?

HARMONISATION = ROTTEN OHS LAWS

The History:
In May 2009 all state and federal governments agreed on the framework for model OHS laws. Prior to this they said “no reduction or compromise in standards for legitimate safety concerns” and we’ll “ensure protections are not reduced”. The Victorian government said ‘there will be no reduction in standards’ but they’ve agreed to weaken training rights, place restrictions on issuing PINS and directing a cease work, removal of your right to seek assistance and advice, broaden the reasons under which you can be disqualified - the list goes on and on.

The employers said: “it is often suggested that OHS should be the top priority. While this is a worthy ideal... the reality is that making a profit will always be the highest priority of a business” (Australian Industry Group, Workplace Health and Safety Autumn 2008).

Who benefits from the proposed OHS Laws – the employer, or the OHS reps and the working people?

Some facts about proposed OHS Laws:
You’ll have to negotiate with your employer to access training, which training you attend and payment of costs. Restrictions on issuing PINs or directing a ceasework (i.e. you won’t be able to do these things until after the employer has released you to go on training). You’ll have no rights to ask for assistance (e.g. from another OHS rep, a tradie, the union or whoever you want) - the employer will decide who you can contact. Very broad circumstances under which you can be disqualified (an employer or just 1 dissatisfied worker will be able to start court proceedings to get rid of you). You’ll only be involved in issue resolution of OHS issues as a last option. You won’t be fully protected from legal action when performing OHS duties.

Where we’re at:
On 19/8/09 a VTHC meeting of OHS reps passed the following 2 resolutions 1 - “This meeting of OHS reps, delegates and activists calls on the Victorian Workcover Minister Tim Holding to:

  1. Affirm the Victorian Government commitment that there be no reduction in Victorian standards arising from the development of the national Model Law and
  2. Ensure that the rights and protections for workers and OHS reps will not decrease, as currently will be the case if the May 2009 agreement on the framework for a Model Law is continued with. In support of these goals, and in support of the rights and protections of Victorian workers and OHS reps, this meeting endorses the Rally and March to be held on Tuesday, 1 September 2009 as part of the National Day of Action. This meeting of OHS Reps, delegates and activists is standing up against the watering down of Victorian OHS Laws”.

“This meeting requests VTHC to invite Ark Tribe, or his representative, to address this rally as a part of improving OHS law”. (Ark Tribe is a rigger and CFMEU construction brother who raised a safety issue, and is now facing 6 months in prison because he refused to speak with the ABCC).

What we all need to do:

  • Attend the rally at 10am 1/9/09 at Victorian Trades Hall Council - meet at AMIEU at 9.00am
  • Pass a workplace resolution, and send a copy to your union
  • Contact your local State & Federal Members of Parliament
  • Contact Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard
  • Collect signatures for the petition
  • Contact your union for further details, information and regular updates

Further information:
www.vic.amieu.net www.vthc.org.au www.ohsrep.org.au or contact your union

ALL DELEGATES, OHS REPS, DEPUTY REPS AND WORKERS ARE URGED TO ATTEND THE RALLY

10.00am Tuesday
1st September 2009
Meet at AMIEU at 9.00am
62 Lygon Street
Carlton South