Senate debates

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2011 [2012]; Second Reading

11:56 am

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

In the few minutes I have left to speak today on the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2011 I note that all we have heard this week with regard to any legislation we have put up is the antiworker and anti-union comments from those on the other side. We have heard about the union thugs and the union bullies but I have not ever heard from that side of the employers who hold the power as being employer thugs or employer bullies, and as most of us know there are certainly a lot of them out there. Their comments on the union movement throughout the week have been very disrespectful and a gross injustice to all those many fine men and women who are out there every day—union delegates, union officials and the ACTU—working to improve the rights of everyday Australians in the workforce.

I offer my congratulations and commen­dations to the TCFUA and the ACTU for succeeding in helping us get this bill to this place today. It has been a long struggle. They have been working on it for over 15 years; there have been a number of Senate inquiries and the Brotherhood of St Laurence has done reports. All those reports show that out­workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry are vulnerable and do not get paid the right amount of wages. Some of them work for as low as $2 or $3 an hour and they work really long hours just to try to make ends meet. They are often non-English-speaking migrants and so are a vulnerable group in our community that is taken advantage of.

It does not matter how many people on the other side stand up, as a number of senators opposite have done, and say that this is not going to improve anything—this will im­prove the working rights for people. To be quite honest, if it improves the working rights for one person then I think that lot should be supporting it! But oh, no! They come in and say: 'No, no, no, no. We're not going to support this because the unions are behind it. We hate the unions. The only people we like are those rich mining people.' They have no logical arguments. I listened to those arguments and I did not think the previous speaker was talking about the same bill for half of his contribution.


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