The NSW Labor party promises to bring changes to the state’s Industrial Relations policies, and the Coalition pledges to boost recruits in the healthcare space.
With an estimated four million people employed in the state of New South Wales, you can bet that many eyes will be glued to the television on Saturday, awaiting the outcome of the state election and the proposed improvements for NSW workers.
The NSW Labor party has released a plan to achieve ‘secure jobs, fair conditions and safe workplaces’ for employees, which outlines details to combat wage theft and protect gig economy workers. The Coalition’s workplace focus will be on injecting more jobs into vital industries, and it plans to set aside $5.85 million to support female entrepreneurs.
HRM takes a look at the promises from both political heavy weights.
The Coalition’s promises
Small businesses are on NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian’s mind, with one of the party’s promises being to “ensure that small businesses continue to be the engine room of the economy”.
The Coalition plans to achieve this by reducing payroll tax and increasing the tax free threshold to $1 million by July 2021. They’ve also got plans to cut workers compensation premiums for ‘safe employees’ by an average of 8 per cent, which they expect will save businesses $300 million dollars over a three year period.
Women are also on the Coalition’s agenda, as they pledge $5.85 million to offer training, support and mentoring programs for women who want to start their own home business. This initiative is to be supported by the TAFE NSW Women Entrepreneur Series, which will offer:
- Free multilingual training to hone financial literacy and business skills;
- advice on how to apply for financing; and
- professional mentoring sessions to “make sure women get ahead”.
Regional workers will be pleased to hear the Coalition plans to improve on mobile black spots and regional internet speeds, with an estimated $400 million set aside to improve these services.
It’s worth noting that some have said the Coalition would have to borrow up to $7 billion in order to fund all of its election promises. According to an article from the Sydney Morning Herald, “NSW Labor will outspend the Coalition on its election promises but will save more by not building a new Sydney stadium.”
The article’s author, Alexandra Smith, goes on to say that an independent review into election costings by the Parliamentary Budget Office “show Labor’s election spending will cost the budget $2.4 billion while the Coalition’s promises will cost $1.2 billion… Labor’s surplus would increase by $1.4 billion over the four years to 2021-22 while the Coalition’s surplus would have a small reduction of $752 million over the same period.”
Click here for a look into all of the NSW Liberal party’s election promises.
The Labor party’s promises
Workers who are less skilled, or under resourced, will have the opportunity to work on 20 per cent of all major government construction projects in order to hone and polish their skills. These workers will include:
- Trainees and apprentices;
- Indigenous Australians; and
- people who’ve been out of the workforce for some time.
This approach, Labor says, will not only benefit the individual workers, but also “maximise the benefits of public infrastructure investments by creating opportunities for people to develop their skills”.
Worker exploitation, especially that of migrant workers, has been making headlines of late. HRM has reported on our fair share of cases, and the NSW Labor party plans to do something about it with a five point plan.
The plan includes:
- Creating new wage theft laws (the current Federal government also supports this);
- New laws to hold franchisors accountable for the actions of their franchisees;
- Expand on NSW workplace inspectors’ authority to conduct wage audits and recover unpaid wages and super;
- Establishing a licensing scheme for labour hire companies to ensure work conditions are up to scratch; and
- New laws to protect Sunday penalty rates.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, gave evidence to a Senate Committee in April 2017 that a minority of employers flouted the law and risked existing fines because they were not severe enough to act as a deterrent. Further, federal and state inspectorates do not have the resources to extensively audit businesses that are stealing wages, superannuation and workers’ compensation premiums,” reads the NSW Labor party’s website.
For those working in the gig economy, a new chapter in the Industrial Relations act would help to clarify confusion around the gig worker versus employee debate. This could mean gig workers have access to benefits commonly enjoyed by full-time workers, such as superannuation payments, sick leave and access to workers’ compensation.
“We will also modernise and improve the unfair contract laws in the IR Act so they are fit for purpose in the 21st century and can be used more quickly and inexpensively than at present,” the Labor NSW website reads.
Click here to read all of the NSW Labor party’s election promises.
More jobs from both parties
Increasing job numbers is on the table for both parties, with some crossover in the industries they are pledging to boost.
The Coalition has set aside $2 billion to deliver 4,600 new teachers to NSW over the next four years, in the hopes to bring the teacher talentpool to its highest point in the state’s history. They are also looking to make significant increases to NSW Health, promising 8,300 new health care professional positions. These roles will include:
- 5,000 nurses and midwives, including mental health nurses and residential care nurses;
- 1,060 medical staff including doctors, psychiatrists and specialists;
- 880 allied health staff including pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists; and
- 1,360 hospital support staff.
The Coalition has also pledged $580 million to recruit 1,500 NSW police officers over four years to focus on child and elder abuse. The Labor party says it will also hire 1,500 police officers.
Under a Labor government, 200 new firefighters would be added to the existing force over four years, with 50 allocated to West and South-West Sydney, 116 to rural and regional NSW, and 34 for any other under-resourced stations. It has also pledged to revive the former NSW Labor government’s Illawarra green jobs initiative, designed to identify jobs in sustainable industries.
While both parties seem to be offering some impressive changes for NSW workers, the Australian public are well aware that sometimes these promises can be somewhat empty. All we can do now is sit back and see what happens come Saturday. Whichever side wins, let’s hope they put their money where their mouth is.
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