WorkChoices did ‘dud’ workers, admits Abbott


WorkChoices did ‘dud’ workers, admits Abbott

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has finally admitted that under WorkChoices some workers were ‘dudded’.


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Opposition leader Tony Abbott has admitted that under WorkChoices some workers were ‘dudded’.
However, Abbott indicated that under his government the minimum hours shift provision could be abolished, meaning employees could be called in for only an hour or so to work.
In a Melbourne radio interview, Abbott was asked whether WorkChoices had dudded some workers.
‘We will never do it again’
‘A few were in that brief period when the no-disadvantage test was scrapped,’ he said.
‘That should never have happened. It was wrong. We went way further than we ever had a mandate for and we will never do that again.’
Asked whether under his IR policy — which the interviewer called ‘son of WorkChoices’ — he could guarantee no worker will be worse off, Abbott said:
‘Yep, absolutely, because there will always be a strong, enforced no-disadvantage test and no-one can be moved from their existing arrangements to new arrangements unless they agree to do so.’
He also said it was not the Opposition’s ‘intention’ that individual workers be put in a position where they are forced to negotiate individually with their employer for a contract.
‘Political answer’
Interviewer: ‘That sounds like a political answer.’
Abbott: ‘Well, I’m a politician, but the point I’m trying to make, is that what we don’t want to see are the sorts of situations which are now developing under Labor — aged care nurses $300 a week worse off, some hospitality workers $3 an hour worse off, kids who’ve got jobs after school being sacked because of the inflexibility, the one-size-fits-all arrangements that are built into Labor’s system.’
Interviewer: ‘So those kids would have their jobs under you, would they?’
Abbott: ‘If it suits the worker and it suits the boss, why not have it? No-one’s being coerced. It’s a win–win for everyone. Why should the system not allow it?’
Interviewer: ‘Fair enough if they can work out a flexible situation, but how do you guarantee that they’re not screwed at the same time? Because they are kids, they want to work, small town, only a few jobs …’
Abbott: ‘Because there’ll be minimum rates that they can’t be paid below …’
No minimum hours
Interviewer: ‘But no minimum hours?’
Abbott: ‘Well, I mean if it suits them and it suits the boss, why shouldn’t it be able to happen?’
Abbott said under Labor’s IR system union militancy in places like the North West Shelf were potentially jeopardising vital export deals.
Asked how he would ‘take on’ these unions, Abbott said:
‘Well if you look at that strike recently with the Pluto project, it was an illegal strike. Sanctions could and should have been invoked and Julia Gillard just washed her hands of the whole business.’
(The ABCC yesterday launched prosecutions against the CFMEU over the Pluto dispute.)
Collective bargaining
Asked whether he would do away with the collective bargaining system, which gives workers ‘more power and a better deal’, Abbott avoided the question and said:
‘There’s nothing to stop workers from joining a union and from getting the union involved on their behalf and there will never be anything in our policy that will make it hard for people to join unions if that’s their choice.’
Abbott also called the ACTU a ‘dinosaur’ for living in the past and said it was the union movement and the government who were talking about WorkChoices, not him.
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