Until the dramatic events of Friday night, the Baiada Poultry dispute in suburban Melbourne had not had the publicity of Qantas. That’s a shame because the gutsy fight by low-paid Baiada workers is just as important in the fight for fair treatment at work.
Media coverage has focused on the clashes between police and workers, but has ignored the basic issues at stake. A couple of hundred low-paid workers have been forced to take legal industrial action because their employer has refused to bargain with them.
They are taking collective action in an attempt to stop the spread of insecure work – and ensure that Baiada workers on low wages have some certainty around their jobs and basic rights to sick leave and holiday pay.
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With consumers already being let down so badly on grocery issues by Mr Rudd and his Competition Minister Craig Emerson, you’d think that they would do better on basic consumer law issues. Well, you’d be very disappointed as Minister Emerson has presided over a continual watering down of consumer rights in the vital area of unfair contract terms.
Unfair contract terms may prevent the sale of items like this
We know or should know about unfair contract terms. We more commonly know them as the “fine print” in consumer contracts. These are the nasty terms of the contract that stack the contract well and truly in favour of the larger party, commonly a big business. Banks use unfair contract terms as do mobile phone companies. Car hire companies and your local gym also try to stack the contract terms in their favour.
Unfair contract terms are also found in contracts that small businesses may have with larger businesses. Small businesses also deal with banks, mobile phone companies and car hire companies. In this regard, small businesses are also consumers of basic goods and services. Sadly, small businesses can also get hit with unfair contract terms in franchise agreements, retail leases and supply agreements.
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