Plans to implement Carmichael Report
By Peter Boyle
In the lead-up to the youth jobs summit, senior ACTU officials have been working out implementation of the Carmichael Report's youth training wage proposal.
While the ACTU's official policy calls for "access to full time employment opportunities" and "adequate income levels" for youth as well as "protection from discrimination ... on the basis of age, ethnicity, colour, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, or other matters", the federal government wants to implement lower junior wages in the guise of "training wages".
According to the July 16 Financial Review, the Keating government is pushing for agreement that "trainee workers" should be paid only for productive time on the job and not the time in formal training. If the Carmichael Report's proposal that trainees should spend 50% of their time in formal training is implemented, the new trainees can expect only half award wages.
ACTU assistant secretary Bill Mansfield (who will be one of the ACTU's representatives at the youth jobs summit) told the Financial Review, "we are not prepared to agree to that". But the next day Mansfield said in an interview on Radio 3JJJ that trainees would be paid only for the time spent working.
While the Carmichael Report did not make a final recommendation on how much trainee workers should be paid, it was concerned that 15-18 year olds not have any financial incentive to give up full-time study. Unless the federal government is prepared to raise Austudy allowances to a living wage, this means that trainee wages, like student allowances, will be lower than the poverty line.
The Carmichael Report also proposes to eliminate full-time employment for young people, again contradicting ACTU policy.