New work rights must have teeth: Bandt

Greens Deputy Leader and workplace spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP, says the government should not expect automatic support from the Greens for its flexible work changes. Mr Bandt, who has a Work / Life Balance bill before the Parliament, says the Greens want to see an enforceable right to flexibility for workers.

The government's proposed changes announced today for returning parents and roster changes are not enforceable.

"Labor will need to negotiate with the Greens to get any changes through then Parliament. We are not interested in helping Labor use parents and families as a re-election prop. The Greens want an enforceable right to flexible work for all workers, especially carers," Mr Bandt said.

"If the government was serious about tackling the problem of work / life balance they would get behind my bill, which would allow the industrial umpire to rule on requests for flexible work arrangements."

"The government say existing requests are resolved 80% of the time, but surveys show 80% of workers don't know about the existing laws and few actually make a request. The reality is that an unenforceable right to request is no right at all and workers know that."

"I am also sceptical about the government's consultation on rosters. Consultation doesn't add up to much if afterwards the employer can arbitrarily shift people's hours around without the employee having any recourse to an independent umpire."

"The Prime Minister has flagged other announcements on industrial relations next week. I released last year the ten principles that would underpin our approach to negotiations on further industrial relations changes, so the government has had plenty of notice about the Greens position. Labor will need to decide whether it wants to work with the Greens or the Coalition on industrial relation reform."

Mr Bandt's Fair Work Amendment (Better Work/Life Balance) Bill 2012 is currently before the Parliament. Fore more information on his bill go here.