Rudd Outcome Still a Puzzle



Australian Financial Review

29th May 2007


In Therese Rein's decision to sell her Australian job placement business I am puzzled by the different explanations of how the 45 cent gap occurred between the award and the contract entitlements of staff employed by Work Directions, not to mention what terms have actually been offered to actual and prospective employees.  


We were told, first, that Rein  " inherited "  the contracts from the company she purchased but rectified the situation as soon as she discovered (some months later) the gap: an honest mistake. 


A second version is that the seller of the company, a  former unionist, claims he handed over contracts with payments above the award: but as a  " good "  Labor man does not want to say more. 


A third version is that a Work Directions spokeswoman and Rein herself acknowledged that new contracts were set after the takeover but asserted the entitlements mirrored or exceeded the award: so why the 45 cent gap? 


Finally, is it correct that Australian Workplace Agreement contracts were being offered to some prospective employees from overseas? 


The apparent failure of the media to get to the bottom of this situation is worrying at a time of debate about the workability of proposals by Labor for a major addition to existing workplace regulations. 


If the wife of a possible new prime minister can make apparent serious mistakes under existing arrangements, even to the point of feeling forced to sell the Australian arm of her business, how will other businesses fare under a new government  with much greater workplace regulations ? 


Would employers then be more reluctant to take on new employees?