MEDIA RELEASE: Friday 20 April, 2018
The Turnbull Government is engaging in a disgraceful act of trying to blame Labor for problems of its own making after backing employers that knowingly and illegally ripped off some Australia’s lowest paid workers.
Workplace Minister Craig Laundy is shamelessly trying to deflect blame from the Turnbull Government’s flagrant disregard for workers after its disgraceful defence of employers that were stripping thousands of dollars in wages from Queensland apprentices.
Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks said Mr Laundy’s call for the Queensland Government to bail-out these bosses for their illegal actions shows how the Turnbull Government will always back business over workers – even when they have acted unlawfully.
“For Minister Laundy to call on the Queensland Government to help cover the Liberals’ business mates who have been ripping off young apprentices is obscene,” he said.
“It’s disgusting behaviour from Minister Laundy and once again it shows the rotten Turnbull Government doesn’t care about working Australians.”
Despite his political puffery, Minister Laundy has been thrown in the deep end by the MIA Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who the Electrical Trades Union has been warning for over a year that she was wrong to back the disgraceful employers who were ripping off young apprentices.
“Instead of political grandstanding the minister should be proactively ensuring that these young male and female apprentices, some of which are the lowest paid workers, get what they are lawfully entitled,” Mr Hicks said.
“But once again this antiworker government is more interested in supporting employers who have blatantly broken the law than doing what’s right for the future tradespersons of this country.”
Mr Hicks added when Liberal Party ministers back employers who rip-off low-paid workers it’s easy to see why apprenticeships numbers have dropped by more than 150,000 places since the Abbott-Turnbull Government came to power.
“No wonder fewer people are taking up trades when Turnbull Government ministers like Cash and Laundy throw their support behind companies that rip off apprentices,” Mr Hicks said.
The ETU National Secretary said that despite the full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) finding the Queensland apprentices had been under paid, these Turnbull Government ministers hoped the Federal Court would side with All Trades Queensland (ATQ), Queensland Master Builders Association (QMBA) and the Housing Industry Association (HIA).
“ATQ, QMBA and HIA spent endless thousands of dollars on a team of lawyers to fight to pay apprentices less than what is required under the Award,” Mr Hicks said.
“That money would have been better spent going to the apprentices that they were ripping off in the first place.
“They seem to have bottomless pockets when it comes to lawyers, but when it comes to paying apprentices their minimum entitlements they go missing,” Mr Hicks said.
The Queensland apprentices are owed approximately $12,000 each.
Despite the full bench of the FWC rejecting ATQ’s appeal in February 2017, and later upheld in the Federal Court last November, some of these employers continued to underpay their apprentices, which Mr Hicks said was disgusting behaviour condoned by the Federal Liberal Party.
“Is Minister Laundy now going to penalise employers that were doing the right thing, by bailing out the dodgy ones that were doing the wrong thing?” Mr Hicks said.
ETU National Secretary – Allen Hicks
0419 721 037, firstname.lastname@example.org
ETU National Apprenticeship Officer – Mark Burgess
0438 732 301, email@example.com