Defend young workers' rights


With the Howard government gone, now is the time to remove Work Choices once and for all. Unfortunately, the new Rudd government has decided to maintain key sections of the laws, such as maintaining Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) and limiting unfair dismissal laws.

This is particularly bad for young workers who often don't know their rights and are often in casual jobs where they have few rights anyway.

On July 3, the NSW Teachers Federation released a report about secondary school students at work. Entitled You're Gold if You're 15 Years Old, the report showed that since Work Choices was introduced the pressure is on for students to work longer and later hours, and this can affect their performance at school. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that 53.17% of all full-time high school students work.

Young people in the hospitality industry are often victims of unscrupulous bosses. At a restaurant where I once worked, workers were expected be at work to wait up to an hour until the shop was busy, and were only paid from then! This is apparently a common occurrence in the industry.

In 2006, it was revealed that 500 young people had been killed at work in the last decade. Without unfair dismissal laws, young people can be sacked for complaining about unsafe workplaces.

The Your Rights at Work campaign won an important victory in throwing out the rotten Howard government. For young workers' sake, the campaign now needs to focus on removing all of Howard's rotten laws.