Neville dismisses rally as rhetoric

By LEE McIVORlmcivor@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE'S massive protest against the federal government's proposed industrial relations legislation was just a lot of rhetoric with little detail, according to Member for Hinkler Paul Neville.

About 5000 people, about onefifth of the region's population, turned out to the Gladstone racecourse to voice their concerns over the workplace legislation at the national day of community protest on Tuesday.

'This has been an effective scare campaign with nothing concrete offered,' Mr Neville said.

'My understanding of the proposed changes is that workers cannot be forced to take up an Australian Workplace Agreement(AWA), four weeks holiday pay is guaranteed as is maternity leave and long service.

'The trade-offs include how overtime is handled, how working hours are structured, employees have the option to cash in half their holiday pay, and leave loading can be abolished.'

Mr Neville said if a worker was already on an award then that worker can't be forced off it

'I have never ducked contact with the unions whatever the issue,' he said.

'I would be happy to meet with a deputation to discuss their concerns.''

Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham said she was concerned at the proposed legislation.

'I am particularly worried about the lack of power young people will have when they go to enter the workforce,' she said.

'I can understand changing workplace legislation if we had a 28 per cent unemployment rate but at the moment there is no need to change the legislation.'

Teachers from Tannum Sands State High School joined with nine other schools statewide to take stopwork action in protest against the proposed legislation.

Union spokesperson Danny Keenan said the staff were very passionate about taking action.



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