It's WorkChoices or disaster, say employers' ads

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It's WorkChoices or disaster, say employers' ads

The first employer organisations' TV ad backing industrial relation reform and forecasting disaster if it is overturned was launched today and will be aired from tonight.

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The first employer organisations' TV ad backing industrial relation reform and forecasting disaster if it is overturned was launched today and will be aired from tonight.

The ad deals with the 'journey' of workplace reform, which it says has greatly benefited the Australian economy with lowering unemployment, greater productivity and rising wages.

'Let's keep workplace reform'

To the rising notes of a menacing music theme the ad argues that if the industrial relations reforms are overturned, Australia's economic prosperity will be hit. The slogan for the campaign is 'Let's keep workplace reform'.

One scene in the ad shows a business site 'closed due to union bosses'.

The advertising campaign has been backed by 19 business and employer organisations including ACCI, AMMA, VECCI, NSW Business Chamber, Employers First, National Retailers Association, and various State chambers of commerce.

Not 'party political'

At the launch in Sydney, Michael Chaney, head of the Business Council of Australia, said the ad was not party political and referred to the reforms begun by Hawke and Keating and carried on by the Howard administration.

He said the risk of unravelling the reforms was a return to the 'dark days' of the IR system of the 1970s and 80s.

Chaney said the ads were about 'policy, not politics' and would also be carried in newspapers and on billboards.

Liberals' campaign advisors

The Liberal Party's polling and election strategy advisers Crosby/Textor, have created the ads, but Chaney said this did not make them political as the BCA had used the company in the past for other campaigns and found them very good as 'simplifying a complex message'.

The ads are intended to counter the campaign being run by the ACTU which presents WorkChoices as an attack on the wages, conditions and the families of workers.

Pressure on Labor

They are also intended to put pressure on the ALP which is promising to 'tear up' AWAs and significantly change the WorkChoices IR system.

AWAs will be replaced by common law contracts, employers will have to collectively bargain if a majority of employees vote for it, and the unfair dismissal restrictions will be abolished. However, secret ballots for strike action will remain, and industrial action outside bargaining periods will remain illegal.

No more 'them and us'

Charlie Lenegan, President of the Minerals Council of Australia, said the IR reforms had got rid of the culture of 'them and us' and there was now mutual respect and trust between workers and employers.

He said if the mining industry was to continue to grow it must continue to have access to the full range of employment instruments, including AWAs.

Kevin Macdonald, Chief Executive of NSW Business Chamber, said that at the workplace level, the removal of inefficient work practices like the unfair dismissal regime, and the encouragement of individual contracts, has seen businesses, both large and small, employ more people, stay efficient and compete internationally.

'Now that we are seeing the benefits of these reforms, we cannot do a U-turn and go back.'

Naked self-interest, says ACTU

The ACTU today described the business organisation ads as 'just an exercise in naked self-interest'.

'Profits are at record levels, executive salaries are through the roof and it is not surprising that big business wants to hold on to what they have got from John Howard's unfair IR laws,' said ACTU President, Sharan Burrow. 'The problem for the Prime Minister is that he has listened too much to big business and has lost touch with the needs of ordinary working families.

Exploitation

'The WorkChoices IR laws have taken away people's job security, undermined their take home pay and have made young workers vulnerable to exploitation.

'Ordinary working families know this and will see though these big business ads. These ads are about nothing more than an attempt by a group of Liberal Party supporters in the big business community to help out the Howard Government by promoting its unpopular and unfair IR laws.'

Labor response

Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said the campaign was a matter for the business community.

'I haven't seen the advertisements in question but the content of the advertising and the fact the advertising is occurring is a matter for the organisations involved,' she said.

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