TURNBULL GOVERNMENT SITS IDLY BY WHILE APPRENTICE RIP-OFFS CONTINUE

27 Apr 2017

While Labor welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the South Australian Department of State Development and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to ensure apprentices aren’t subjected to wage rip-offs, ad hoc MOUs are no substitute for concerted Federal government action to prevent exploitation of vulnerable, young apprentices.

While Labor welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the South Australian Department of State Development and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to ensure apprentices aren’t subjected to wage rip-offs, ad hoc MOUs are no substitute for concerted Federal government action to prevent exploitation of vulnerable, young apprentices.

FWO reports over the past three years should have set alarm bells ringing in the Abbott and Turnbull governments about the poor treatment of apprentices in the workplace. Yet they have sat on their hands while the rip-offs have continued.

The most recent audit by the FWO found that 32 per cent of the audited businesses were not paying their apprentices correctly.

Compliance rates in the automotive and hair and beauty sectors were a dismal 45 per cent. Electrical services scored only 50 per cent compliance, while manufacturing and retail were not much better with a 59% and 60% compliance rate respectively.

These businesses have to lift their game. It is not acceptable to underpay apprentices.

Poor treatment in the workplace ranks highly among the reasons apprentices don’t complete their apprenticeships. Like anyone, they prefer to work somewhere they’ll be treated with respect.

Apprentices are vulnerable, young workers who need the full protection of the law. Every employer and every government has a responsibility to make sure apprentices aren’t ripped off.

Ripping off apprentices undermines the integrity of the apprenticeship system and undermines the confidence parents should have that their kids will be treated properly if they enter an apprenticeship.

 

Instead of relying on the FWO to make ad hoc MOUs with state governments, the Turnbull government needs to provide the leadership necessary to protect young apprentices from exploitation and wage theft.

THURSDAY, 27 APRIL 2017