Abbott’s IR plans attacked as ‘return of WorkChoices’

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Abbott’s IR plans attacked as ‘return of WorkChoices’

Unions and the Federal Government have attacked Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s plan to bring back individual contracts and remove unfair dismissal provisions from small business as a ‘return to WorkChoices’.

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Unions and the Federal Government have attacked Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s plan to bring back individual contracts and remove unfair dismissal provisions from small business as a ‘return to WorkChoices’.
 
Abbott also promised a two-year freeze on public service hirings, if the Coalition wins the next federal election (expected later this year).
 
In his response to the Budget, last night Abbott promised to make Labor’s transitional employment agreements less transitional and Labor’s individual flexibility agreements more flexible.
 
‘Not easily pushed around’
 
‘We have faith in Australian workers who are not as easily pushed around and exploited as the ACTU’s dishonest ad campaign is already making out,’ he said.
 
‘We’ll seek to take the unfair dismissal monkey off the back of small businesses which are more like families than institutions,’ he said.
 
Abbott said ‘everyone knows’ the Howard Government’s workplace reforms ‘went too far’, but claimed they helped to create more than two million new jobs, lift real wages by 20% and more than double net household wealth between 1996 and 2007.
 
Abbott also renewed his pledge to introduce a six-month paid parental leave scheme at the worker’s normal pay rates funded by a levy on the taxable income of companies making more than $5 million a year.
 
PS hiring freeze
 
He said the public service hiring freeze would apply to all agencies except for uniformed and frontline service positions such as federal police, customs, the defence forces and Centrelink customer service staff.
 
He said the freeze would save around $4 billion.
 
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the Abbott policies amounted to ‘bringing back WorkChoices’.
 
She said Abbott’s plan would remove protection from unfair dismissal for millions of employees and once again allow employers to dictate pay and conditions on a take-it or leave-it basis with individual contracts.
 
Burrow said Abbott was also ‘putting at risk improved superannuation for all working Australians with the reckless promise in his speech to oppose the Resources Super Profits Tax’.
 
Siding with big business
 
‘The Liberals are siding with big multinational companies against the retirement security of working Australians,’ she said.
 
‘By opposing a tax on miners’ super profits and promising to bring back WorkChoices, Tony Abbott shows he cares more about defending the profits of big business than he does about working Australians.’
 
She said Abbott’s speech is the clearest sign yet that the Liberals will bring back WorkChoices, if they win the federal election due later this year.
 
‘He has brazenly committed the Liberal Party to giving back to employers the power to sack workers unfairly,’ she said.
 
‘He has also promised the widescale reintroduction of individual employment agreements and other measures to give employers more “flexibility” in the workplace.’
 
Damage to pay and conditions
 
‘But what is most damning is what Abbott didn’t say. He didn’t tell Australians about the damage caused by WorkChoices AWAs, which cut pay and conditions, and removed job security.’
 
‘And he hid the truth that WorkChoices cut the real wages of well over a million low-paid workers by as much as $97.75 because of changes to the way minimum wages were set.’
 
IR Minister Julia Gillard said Abbott’s intentions put the wages and conditions of millions of Australians in real danger.
 
‘No Australian worker will forget the hated WorkChoices regime, which stripped away penalty rates and workers’ rights and meant that you could be sacked if you complained,’ she said.
 
‘The Opposition mantra appears to be “WorkChoices is dead” but Tony Abbott’s Budget reply has confirmed that they are desperate to reincarnate the same laws, just under a different name.’
 
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