Abbott’s ‘silence’ can only mean a return to ‘WorkChoices’, ACTU suggests

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Abbott’s ‘silence’ can only mean a return to ‘WorkChoices’, ACTU suggests

Tony Abbott has kept his ‘silence’ on the Coalition’s industrial relations agenda during the election campaign, but public statements made by employers and business groups have ‘spoken volumes’ about the party’s plans to reduce workers’ rights if elected, the ACTU has argued.

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Tony Abbott has kept his ‘silence’ on the Coalition’s industrial relations agenda during the election campaign, but public statements made by employers and business groups have ‘spoken volumes’ about the party’s plans to reduce workers’ rights if elected, the ACTU has argued.
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said that the union’s analysis of hundreds of pages of employer submissions, public statements, media reports and other documents have revealed an ‘agenda to strip unfair dismissal rights from workers, cut minimum standards, remove redundancy protections, and reintroduce individual contracts’.
 
‘Right-wing lobby group the HR Nicholls Society have confirmed union concerns that these recently won rights for workers can be wound back through changes to regulations and Ministerial powers, without altering legislation,’ Lawrence said.
 
Business ‘wooed’ with Fair Work changes
 
Lawrence said that voters have been given ‘no good reason’ to believe that the Coalition won’t bring back WorkChoices, given Abbott’s statements before the election and the agenda of business.
 
‘It’s all there in black and white. They want changes that would restore many of the worse aspects of WorkChoices.’
 
‘Before they adopted a small target strategy for the election campaign, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Julie Bishop spent months wooing business with promises they would make changes to the Fair Work laws if elected. They have explicitly promised to wind back protections from unfair dismissal, reintroduce individual contracts, and reduce minimum standards in awards.’
 
Coalition’s silence is ‘deafening’
 
Lawrence said that the coalition’s silence on whether or not it would return WorkChoices was ‘deafening’.
 
‘The ACTU has twice written to the Liberals and they have failed to guarantee they won’t return to WorkChoices through changes to regulations. They have never said these things are off the agenda, and big business is already gearing up to push for these changes after 21 August.’
 
‘Who knows what secret promises and deals have been made, but no doubt big business is expecting a pay back from the Liberals if they gain power. In the last couple of days, some business groups have broken cover — perhaps sniffing a Liberal victory in the wind — and begun openly pressuring for changes to the Fair Work laws.’
 
Workers ‘being deceived’
 
‘Through his refusal to release his industrial relations policy for public scrutiny, Tony Abbott is deceiving working Australians — just as John Howard did before the 2004 election, when he never sought a mandate for WorkChoices,’ Lawrence said.
 
‘Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz are treating voters with contempt by refusing to answer basic questions about what they would do if they gained power. Given their track record, working Australians can have absolutely no trust in the Liberals.’
 
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