Workers don't even know what agreement they are on: Hockey

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Workers don't even know what agreement they are on: Hockey

Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has undermined the Federal Government's claim that WorkChoices is responsible for the current economic prosperity by saying that 'most people don't even know what agreement they have with their employer at work'.

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Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, has undermined the Federal Government's claim that WorkChoices is responsible for the current economic prosperity by saying that 'most people don't even know what agreement they have with their employer at work'.

The Federal Government has long argued that it is the individual flexibilities allowable under WorkChoices that is the basis for the economic benefits it claims are flowing from its IR laws. These can hardly be occurring if workers don't even know they are on that kind of agreement.

'We didn't explain WorkChoices properly'

Speaking on Channel 10's Meet The Press, Hockey also put the blame for the current unpopularity of WorkChoices onto former Minister, Kevin Andrews, saying at the time it was introduced 'we didn't properly explain to people why the reforms were necessary'.

Hockey said the Government is committed absolutely to the fundamentals of its workplace relations laws.

No desire for more reform

'We're not going to change them,' he said. But while there might be "tweaking" of the IR laws 'I have no desire, I promise you, no desire to undertake further structural reform to the workplace relations system for the next three years.'

Journalist: 'Because it will just confuse people more?'

Hockey: 'I think it would create - if you were to undertake further change, it would confuse people. I think most people don't even know what agreement they have with their employer at work. And I think we've got a lot of work to do to bed it down in terms of getting information to individuals.'

Mistrust of WorkChoices

Hockey was asked whether the Government's problem is 'the fundamental mistrust of WorkChoices and the fact that nothing you've said has actually altered that?'

'Well, the $100m scare campaign launched by the unions and the State Labor Governments has been effective,' he said. 'We recognise that. But what we ask people to do is to look at the facts and the facts are that since the introduction of WorkChoices, we've had increased real wages, we've had more jobs created, and of those 417,000 jobs created, over 85% are full-time jobs.'

Got the politics wrong

Journalist: 'Minister, you say that the $100m campaign the Labor and the unions have run has worked. Is that an admission you've got the politics wrong and if that is the case and if it is one of the key reasons why the Government is still trailing so badly [in the polls], are you happy to be the fall guy if the Government loses the election and this is one of the key reasons?'

Hockey: 'Let me point out this - that I think that we introduced the reforms but we didn't properly explain to people why the reforms were necessary. When we introduced tax reform, we obviously explained carefully to the Australian electorate why tax reform was necessary and then we introduced the reforms.

'So, I think what we failed to do was to properly tend the soil before we planted the seeds and grew the crop, and unfortunately, with an incredibly well-funded union campaign, and a Labor Party that is going to deliver in full what the union bosses want, we've faced a challenge over the last 18 months.

'Why did you do it?'

'No doubt, people will say, "Why did you do it?" We did it because today there are 417,000 new jobs created, 85% full-time, wages are up by more than 3% in real terms, and we've got the lowest level of strikes since 1913 and it's not an accident.'

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