Criminals starred in business IR ad

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Criminals starred in business IR ad

Two actors hired to portray union officials as criminals and thugs in TV ads funded by big business have turned out to be ... criminals and thugs - but not union officials.

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Two actors hired to portray union officials as criminals and thugs in TV ads funded by big business have turned out to be ... criminals and thugs - but not union officials.

The men, who play union 'heavies' barging into a dress-making business, have turned out to have criminal histories (a third man in the ad does not).

However, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, took the opportunity to attack all trade union officials, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that it was no coincidence the actors were playing union officials, many of whom he said had criminal histories.

'Method acting'

'Perhaps,' he said, 'it's a case of method acting.'

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said the ad, funded and organised by the Business Coalition for Workplace Reform, demeans the work of unions, and portrays officials as thugs. She says the business community should also be condemned for supporting it.

'It's always intriguing to me to know that on a regular basis employers will ring and ask for assistance in sorting out problems, yet they're prepared to have their collective voice raised against unions to try to demean unions,' Burrow said.

Hockey 'humiliated' says Gillard

Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said Hockey had earlier been humiliated when it was revealed that the father in one of the Government-funded commercials was actually someone who had underpaid workers, including his own son.

'Now, of course, we have got the some what ironic twist that two of the men engaged to look like union thugs if I can use that terminology in the business coalition for workplace reform ads, actually have criminal histories,' she said. 'Whatever one thinks of all of this I think the simple message is a lot of the advertising people are seeing on their TV screens isn't to be believed.'

Casting sublet

The Herald quotes a source familiar with the advertising campaign as saying the casting had been sublet by the Liberal strategists Crosby Textor, who believed appropriate checks had been done.

'There's not a lot of blokes who look like that on the agency's books,' the source said. 'They wouldn't sell a lot of breakfast cereal.'

More criticism from ACTU

The ACTU has also criticised a new WorkChoices ad as being 'blatantly political'.

The new ad that feature two men talking about an AWA signed by one of them after the Workplace Authority forced the boss to make it 'fairer'.

The ACTU says the ad promotes the ability of workers to individually negotiate new workplace agreements and downplays the loss of unfair dismissal protections for workers under WorkChoices.

'The ads are also dishonest because they invite people to contact the Workplace Authority for advice on their workplace agreement when the official data shows there is a backlog of more 110,000 agreements yet to be checked,' said Burrow.

'All the signs are that the election won't be held until the Prime Minister has wasted more taxpayer money on blatantly political IR ads,' she said. 'Last week he refused to deny reports the Government has booked television air-time for a new WorkChoices advertising blitz starting later this month.'

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