Labor won't be pushed on WorkChoices demolition

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Labor won't be pushed on WorkChoices demolition

The Federal Labor Government will not speed up its demolition of the WorkChoices IR system despite being urged to do so by a major education union.

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The Federal Labor Government will not speed up its demolition of the WorkChoices IR system despite being urged to do so by a major education union.

Grahame McCulloch, national secretary of the 30,000-strong National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), is quoted in today’s Australian newspaper as saying he is ‘disappointed’ the ACTU has not taken a stronger position in pushing for changes to WorkChoices.

'We will continue to support the ACTU campaign to the hilt, but the unions need to have a partnership with the Labor Government, while retaining their own independent stance,’ he said.

The NTEU has been at the forefront of the battle against WorkChoices because the previous Howard Government made the offering of AWAs conditional on universities qualifying for federal funding.

In fact former Education Minister Julie Bishop was toying with forcing universities to offer only AWAs to new staff, and some universities, such as Wollongong, are still attempting to force employees onto individual agreements.

Impatient

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said she is also impatient for change to the WorkChoices legislation, but pointed out that the Coalition will continue to control the Senate until July.

‘We all wish these laws could be gone overnight but we have to face the reality of the Government's legislative timetable and the make-up of the Senate,’ she said.

Sticking to plan

Labor plans to introduce legislation outlawing all future AWAs once Parliament convenes on 12 February, and will introduce more widespread legislation bringing in its Fair Work Australia IR scheme later in the year.

‘The Labor Party set out a very clear, sensible and measured transition to our new workplace system prior to the election and we will be sticking to it,’ a spokeswoman for IR Minister Julia Gillard said.

The new IR system is aimed at being in operation by January 2010.

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