Labor's IR and WorkChoices overhang

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Labor's IR and WorkChoices overhang

Labor has admitted that when faced with a choice between AWA fairness for employees and certainty for employers, it chose to look after the bosses. Meanwhile the Liberal Party should accept that Australians have rejected their WorkChoices laws and back Labor’s plan to abolish AWAs and restore protection from unfair dismissal, the ACTU says.

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Labor has admitted that when faced with a choice between AWA fairness for employees and certainty for employers, it chose to look after the bosses. Meanwhile the Liberal Party should accept that Australians have rejected their WorkChoices laws and back Labor’s plan to abolish AWAs and restore protection from unfair dismissal, the ACTU says.

On balance, Labor looks after the bosses

Labor has admitted that when faced with a choice between AWA fairness for employees and certainty for employers, it chose to look after the bosses.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard told Sydney’s radio 2UE that Labor’s IR policy was based on a balance between certainty and fairness.

Concerned

Gillard was asked if she could understand why people would be concerned that they are being offered AWAs right now that will be illegal within a few months, and pressed on why there was no retrospectivity in the proposed legislation to abolish AWAs.

‘Now I understand that there is balance here between certainty and fairness,’ Gillard said.

‘We had to weigh that in the balance but we thought it would cause too much disruption to have retrospective legislation. It would cause too much uncertainty for employers and employees for agreements that were lawful, somehow then be taken away or disrupted.’

Both perspectives

Gillard said she could understand both perspectives.

‘I can understand the perspective of the employee who is being offered an agreement today,’ she said.

‘I can also understand the perspective of the employer who says: “well I am trying to make an agreement that is perfectly lawful today, what’s going to happen to that agreement?”

‘And when we designed our policy we had to weigh those considerations in the balance and we thought the best approach was to say agreements that were perfectly legal on the day on which they were made continue.

Don’t disturb contracts

‘When we change the law, then after the law is changed there will be no new Australian Workplace Agreements. And that’s kind of in keeping with the convention that incoming governments have, that they don’t disturb contractual and legal arrangements which are on foot.’


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Liberals should accept WorkChoices is dead: ACTU

The Liberal Party should accept that Australians have rejected their WorkChoices laws and back Labor’s plan to abolish AWAs and restore protection from unfair dismissal, the ACTU says.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the refusal today of Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations and Deputy Liberal leader, Julie Bishop, to back Labor’s new IR laws confirms that the Liberal Party is still defending WorkChoices.

Delay

She said unions are concerned that the Liberals’ delay to Labor’s new IR laws and will mean more than four million Australian workers will continue to be at risk of being sacked unfairly.

‘The Liberals’ stance will mean many more working families facing the same hardship as retail worker Andrew Cruickshank who was sacked unfairly for ‘operational reasons’ under WorkChoices,’ she said.

The ACTU also welcomed to commitment from Deputy Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard that unfair dismissal legislation is being drafted for tabling in the Parliament next year along with other legislation that will scrap WorkChoices and establish ‘a fair and balanced IR system’.

Unfair dismissal laws ‘vital’

‘Unfair dismissal laws are vital for a fair and decent workplace,’ Burrow said.

‘Under the Coalition Government’s WorkChoices laws job security went out the window and we all know they had plans to go further and get rid of all unfair dismissal laws.

‘It is clear from what the Liberals are saying today that they are still a party of workplace extremism.

‘Research shows that the vast majority of Australians want legal protection from unfair dismissal and that the lack of protection was as a major concern with WorkChoices.’

Consultation

Burrow said the ACTU backs the decision of the Gillard to consult with unions and businesses and make sure they get the new laws right.

‘The last Government hastily pushed WorkChoices through Parliament and created and unfair system for both employees and employers,’ she said.

‘The Australian public completely and utterly rejected WorkChoices at the election a few weeks ago and want a fair and balanced IR system put in place as soon as possible.

‘The Liberals need to change their tune and get the message that Australians want decent rights and fairness to return to our workplaces.’


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