1 December 2023

The “Closing Loopholes Bill” passed the House of Representatives this week, marking a significant step forward in the ongoing battle against worker exploitation in Australia.

The Manufacturing Division Union applauds this legislative milestone toward addressing the concerning practices of certain employers underpaying workers, providing dismal working conditions, and compromising safety standards at workplaces.

We are with the many Australians facing financial challenges in coping with the skyrocketing cost of living, fighting every day to ensure fair pay, and we recognize the bill as a critical strategy in easing the cost-of-living burdens.

Michael O'Connor, the National Secretary of CFMEU Manufacturing Division, welcomed the bill passing the House of Representatives.

"We're well aware that inflation and higher interest rates aren't due to fair pay increases but big corporate profits," Mr. O'Connor said. 

"We're putting up a strong fight to tackle the issues driving up the cost of living.   

Michael O'connor, National Secretary for CFMEU Manufacturing Division
"Our efforts, whether at work or beyond, aim to shape a better economic scenario for workers,”Mr O'connor said.

“Fair wages, reasonable housing, accessible healthcare, and job security – those are the things that keep us pushing forward, and this bill takes us one step closer to all that." The House of Representatives voted on nearly a hundred amendments and the bill aims at improving the lives of workers by fighting wage theft, establishing fundamental standards for workers in the gig economy, and closing loopholes that allow forced permanent casual employment, labour hire exploitation, and superannuation theft.

Similar to wage theft, the failure to pay superannuation contributions is a disgrace, resulting in an estimated loss of $4.7 billion per year for approximately 2.8 million workers.

Recognizing superannuation as deferred wages and aligning its treatment with wage theft under the National Employment Standards is a step forward that can contribute to ensuring Australian worker's entitlement to a dignified retirement.

The heart of the Closing Loopholes Bill is all about creating a better life for workers dealing with the high cost of living and making sure they get what they've rightfully earned. Notable features of the Bill include:

  • Increasing the civil penalties for wage theft by six times from 1 January 2024.
  • Criminalising intentional wage theft and lifting civil penalties even higher from 1 January 2025.

These measures represent a significant stride towards reinforcing workers' financial security, ensuring their just earnings, and fortifying job stability within the workforce.

The Manufacturing Division sees the passing of the Closing Loopholes Bill as a major move in tackling worker exploitation and standing up for the rights and welfare of Aussie workers and urges its swift passage in the Senate.