Easier for employers to “steal” super under choice changes: ACTU

The government’s planned changes to expand choice of super fund to employees under workplace agreements will make it easier for employers to “steal” workers’ superannuation, says the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The ACTU points to recent research indicating $5.6 billion in super is unpaid each year, and warns “that this will increase with the government’s changes, as it will make it harder for unions to ensure employers are paying workers’ super”.

A Bill before Parliament would expand the super choice provisions, preventing future workplace agreements and industrial awards from setting a super fund.

“Ensuring workers super is paid to the default industry fund is a difficult job for workers and their unions. Too many employers are trying to get away with avoiding their obligations already. Opening this up to allow in the banks will make it harder to ensure workers are paid properly,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

“By removing single fund provisions from bargaining arrangements, the government is attacking people’s chance of a dignified retirement, by making it harder for unions to ensure that workers are being paid what they’re meant to be paid.

“When workplaces have a single fund, super funds work with employers to ensure they are paying their workers the right amount of super, and on time. If the government gets its way good employers will find it harder, and unscrupulous employers will abuse the confusion and steal workers’ retirement incomes.

Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, said the ACTU was deliberately setting out to mislead MPs over the changes to super. The ACTU announced it will send a dossier to all members of Parliament, urging them to vote against Government superannuation Bills which will “big banks more power to access workers’ superannuation”.

“The dossier, ‘Banks Aren’t Super’, details more than a hundred scandals, controversies and excesses of the big banks, including situations where customers had their superannuation ripped-off, and staff were harassed and underpaid,” said the ACTU.

Minister O’Dwyer said that the “so-called” dossier is unrelated to the Government’s proposed superannuation reforms.

“These reforms are designed to lift all super funds to a minimum standard of independent oversight, they apply across the board to all funds and do not benefit one sector of the industry over another,” said Minister O’Dwyer.

“The ACTU and affiliated unions have, according to documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, received at least $53 million from super funds over the past decade, much of which is from ‘sponsorships’ and directors fees which are often paid directly to trade unions, and are clearly seeking to protect their own financial interests.”

Minister O’Dwyer did not directly mention the changes to super choice provisions, instead focusing on governance, transparency, fees and insurance.

“I urge MPs not to be distracted by this deliberately misleading and self-interested campaign,” said Minister O’Dwyer.

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