Signs of a slowdown in the economy underline the need for the urgent scrapping of Work Choices and restoration of a strong safety net of rights and entitlements for Australian workers.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said it was wrong that business groups were now using the economy as an excuse to further postpone the Rudd Government’s new laws.
“It’s mischievous for business groups to link the slowdown in economic conditions with the restoration of rights at work,” Ms Burrow said.
“On the contrary, concern about job losses underlines the importance of having strong protections for workers entitlements and a good faith bargaining system that provides both certainty and injects shared growth into the economy.
“Any businessperson worth their salt should recognise that the best way of achieving high productivity and profits is through a co-operative relationship with your workforce, not the nasty, hostile approach of Work Choices.”
Ms Burrow said big business was simply trying to hold onto Work Choices for as long as possible. This follows a concerted lobbying campaign by business to water down key elements of the Labor Government’s policy to restore workers rights to collective bargaining, protection from unfair dismissal, and an independent industrial umpire.
Ms Burrow said despite the business push back, working Australians who voted to restore rights at work expect to see the new laws through Parliament before the end of the year.
“It’s time for all politicians to deliver on last year’s election mandate given to the government to demolish Work Choices,” Ms Burrow said.
“We understand the necessity to get the detail right for laws that will provide the safety net for working families for decades to come, but this can be achieved in this parliamentary year.
“Business must accept that most Australians have rejected the harsh, confrontational approach of Work Choices and stop pressuring the government to weaken its laws.
“The Rudd Government’s proposed new laws must stop companies like Telstra from refusing to bargain in good faith and refusing to accept the choice of their workers to be represented collectively by a union.”
Ms Burrow said Telstra should take heed of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s warning that it was not in any company’s interests to be continuously associated with Work Choices.
Ms Burrow said any signs of an economic slowdown that could lead to job losses was concerning. Earlier this year the ACTU repeatedly warned the Reserve Bank to be cautious because lifting interest rates too sharply could set back the economy.
Attached for your information and urgent comment is a proposed allocation of industries by the AIRC to each of the next 3 stages (Stages 2-4) of award modernisation. In their decision of 20 June 2008 the Full Bench of the Commission indicated
a number of industries they saw as probably being in Stage 2 of award modernisation [at para 97].
The Commission has now decided however to publish a full list of industries for each of these stages. The publication of this list will not alter the formal commencement or completion dates for each of those stages, nor will the publication of the list mean it is immutable.
A draft of the proposed allocation of industries to each stage is attached. Any comments about the stages industries have been allocated to or views about any industries that should be considered concurrently would be appreciated. Unfortunately the time line is very tight with comment required by close of business Monday 18 August 2008.
Comments or queries should be sent to
. Some unions have provided some preliminary feedback already but if this could be included in your final feedback that would be useful.