1 March 2012

Tony Abbott Says 'No' to protecting workers' entitlements

Last night Tony Abbott and the Coalition announced that they will say 'no' to legislation that would ensure workers are able to access their entitlements where directors have abandoned a company, said Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury.

The Corporations Amendment (Phoenixing and Other Measures) Bill 2012 gives the corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the power to order the winding up of abandoned companies.

Directors may try to avoid having to pay employee entitlements by simply walking away from their company and leaving employees in limbo, without work and unable to be paid salaries or access redundancy and other entitlements. Workers can access the Government's General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS), which ensures that workers can receive their entitlements even if a failed company cannot meet its obligations, but only if a company has been placed into liquidation.

"Some directors choose to abandon their companies without placing them into liquidation, leaving workers stranded and unable to access their entitlements under GEERS," said Mr Bradbury.

"This Bill gives the corporate watchdog the power to step in and wind up a company so that workers are not dudded out of their entitlements where directors have walked out on their business.

"The Coalition, however, has announced that they will oppose this Bill.

"This is a massive slap in the face to workers who cannot access their entitlements because they have been stranded by directors who abandon their companies.

"Under the current law, the only way that workers can access their entitlements under GEERS in this situation is to take costly court action - action that workers can hardly afford when they are being denied their entitlements by dodgy directors.

"Tony Abbott and the Coalition are more concerned with protecting directors who abandon their companies than protecting the ability of employees to access their entitlements.

"We know that the Coalition doesn't care about the rights of employees - it is the Party of WorkChoices - and opposing this Bill is just further evidence of the assault on workers' rights we would see under a Tony Abbott-led Government.

"Tony Abbott and the Coalition should stop saying 'no' and back this legislation so that workers are not left out in the cold."

1 March 2012