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Closing loopholes or creating new ones?

Written by: Ned K. on 27 December 2023


The federal government's Closing Loopholes Act Part 1 was passed on 14 December 2023. This Act covers industrial issues raised by workers through their Unions as part of the latter's financial and voting support for the election of the Albanese led Labor Government in 2022. 

The Closing Loopholes Act main inclusions are -
Same Job, Same Pay labor hire provisions
Wage theft laws which criminalize wage theft
Recognition and rights of workers’ elected or appointed Union Delegates 
Industrial manslaughter penalties against employers
The time frame for actual operation of the new laws provides plenty of time for the capitalist class to organize themselves to minimize the impact of the laws.
The new Wage Theft laws which criminalize the swindling of workers, by paying them less than minimum entitlements in an Award or an Enterprise Agreement, operates from 1 January 2025.
The Same Job Same Pay labour hire arrangement orders operate from 1 November 2024.
The Delegate Rights clauses in Awards operate on or after 1 July 2024.
The main part of the Closing Loopholes Act is the Same Job, Same Pay labour hire provisions.
In a nutshell the new labour hire provision will enable a Union to apply for a " regulated labour hire arrangement order" which will require a labour hire employer to pay its employees the "protected rate of pay" regarding work done for the host employer.
The protected rate of pay is the full rate of pay including penalty rates, any bonuses, allowances and overtime rates that would be paid to a direct employee of the host employer.
For decades mining companies have increased their profits by using labour hire workers with disregard for what the labour hire company paid its workers. Competition between labour hire companies ensured a race to the bottom on labour hire worker wages and a race to the top for the mining companies for their profits.
Labour hire use spread across most industries in blue- and white-collar jobs.
With rising cost of living in the last few years in particular, the demand by workers to eliminate wage swindles through labour hire usage has grown.
The problem with the new labour hire provisions of the Closing Loopholes Act is that it creates new loopholes!
The new labour hire provisions do not apply to "specialist or expert services". Nobody knows what a "specialized service" or "expert service" is? 
Nor is it clear to what extent the work performed by labour hire workers is controlled by the host employer in determining whether Same Job, Same Pay will apply.
The operation date of 1 November 2024 will give host employers who currently use labour hire plenty of time to "restructure" their directly employed workforce, creating more "specialized services" being outsourced completely.
The Same Job, Same Pay provisions only apply when a Union successfully applies for a "regulated labour hire arrangement order "
Employers will be able to oppose such an Order to delay or defeat attempts by a Union to win the same pay for labour hire workers it represented.
Where workers are organized and take action, they will be able to make use of the new provisions to protect and extend their interests.
At the moment only about 10% of the private sector workers are members of a Union and among labour hire firms, the percentage of workers in a Union is even less.
The new laws may see more workers deciding to get organized and the new laws may also see a spurt in the "de-unionization" industry within the capitalist class. 
Class struggle will intensify as a result and more workers will join the working class movement for fundamental social change.


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