In recent weeks John Howard has announced that even apprentices and trainees will not be exempt from the attacks on workers through his new industrial relations laws.
Australia currently has 390,000 apprentices and trainees that are largely covered by existing awards and State laws. Howard’s plan is to remove these protections taking the wage fixing of apprentices away from the Arbitration Commission and moving it to his proposed ‘Fair Pay’ Commission.
UNITE has referred to this commission as the ‘Low Pay’ commission. This commission will definitely be aiming to lower the current $242 per week rate for first year apprentices.
Howard also wants to remove any time limits on apprenticeships and traineeships. This means that training providers will be encouraged to push people through the program in order to make a quick buck from government subsides. We will see more dodgy traineeships and trades people with a low skills base.
Howard claims that by removing the quality guarantees for apprentices he would create more opportunities for young people. This is a lie.
UNITE says that putting young people onto very low wages and making it easier for bosses to train people in narrow aspects of the job rather than the trade as a whole, is not the way forward for young workers or any solution to the skills shortage.
The current drop out rate for apprentices is over 44%. UNITE believes that further cutting the wages of apprentices will do nothing but increase this figure.