‘I don’t believe Abbott on WorkChoices’: Gillard

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‘I don’t believe Abbott on WorkChoices’: Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today insisted that a Coalition Government would bring back WorkChoices in some form, given the record of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard today insisted that a Coalition Government would bring back WorkChoices in some form, given the record of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
 
Gillard said she did not believe Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s assurances that WorkChoices was dead.
 
‘If Abbott had said the day after the 2007 election, if he’d said then, ‘I get it now, the Australian people have voted against Work Choices, I’ll never do that again’, then I’d accept his assurances now,’ she told Fairfax Radio.
 
Lauded WorkChoices
 
‘But what he did after the 2007 election, was he wrote a book which lauded WorkChoices.’
 
‘He stood up in the parliament this year in May ... and he spoke about reintroducing elements of WorkChoices.’
 
‘The only time he has not talked about reintroducing WorkChoices is cynically during the days of the election campaign.’
 
Unions are holding a rally in the western suburbs of Sydney today in a final protest over the threat to workers’ pay and condition if the Coalition wins tomorrow’s federal election.
 
Lunchtime rally
 
The lunchtime rally is being held at the Mt Druitt Workers’ Club, and workers will be told by the ACTU and union officials that the key issues in the election are protecting workers’ rights and jobs, better superannuation, and securing employee entitlements.
 
It is the final event in the ‘WorkChoices — Whatever the name, Never Again’ union and community campaign that has taken place across Australia since the election was called.
 
ACTU president Ged Kearney said this election is about jobs for working people and the protection of workers’ rights.
 
‘It is about recognising that during the GFC the Labor Government saved hundreds of thousands of jobs — including thousands of jobs in western Sydney,’ Ms Kearney said.
 
Give Gillard credit: ACTU
 
‘And it is about giving Julia Gillard credit for safeguarding workers’ rights with the Fair Work laws that got rid of WorkChoices.’
 
‘If the Liberals are elected, there will be no increase in national superannuation which would increase the average 30-year-old’s retirement savings by up to $150,000.’
 
‘And there will no improved protection of employee entitlements, nor two weeks’ paid paternity leave for working dads.’
 
Attack on universities
 
Unions are also concerned that a Coalition Government will again use Commonwealth funding of universities to pursue individual contracts in the tertiary education sector.
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said unions were concerned that a Coalition Government could seek to blackmail universities into using individual contracts with the threat of with-holding funding.
 
Lawrence said the last time the Coalition was in power, it used Commonwealth funding to drive an extremist industrial relations agenda in the tertiary sector.
 
This week he addressed a stopwork meeting by University of Queensland academic and general staff who are seeking a new collective agreement.
 
Staff began a series of rolling stoppages in pursuit of an improved pay offer from the university, which had a surplus of $128 million in 2009.
 
Average pay for senior lecturers and for general staff at the University of Queensland are the second lowest of 17 tertiary institutions, despite the university’s status as one of Australia’s Group of Eight.
 
Claw back lost pay
 
‘Staff are using the Fair Work Act to attempt to claw back pay they lost under the Coalition Government,’ Lawrence said.
 
‘After refusing to meet with staff and their union for many months, the university began negotiations last year shortly before the Fair Work Act began operation. The Act encourages collective bargaining which is the best way to secure good pay and conditions for workers.’
 
‘This is in contrast with the last Coalition Government’s Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements, which made increased funding for universities conditional on institutions rolling out Australian Workplace Agreements to their staff.’
 
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