Workers on ACTU TV ads 'did not lie', says Combet

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Workers on ACTU TV ads 'did not lie', says Combet

The ACTU has denied that workers who appear in their anti-WorkChoices TV ads have lied, and has accused the Office of Workplace Services (OWS) of invading their privacy for political reasons.

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The ACTU has denied that workers who appear in their anti-WorkChoices TV ads have lied, and has accused the Office of Workplace Services (OWS) of invading their privacy for political reasons.

ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, said he has written to the Office of Workplace Services asking for an explanation as to why it investigated the workers, and how its report was leaked to the media.

'We don't know where the investigations were leaked from, but it's clear they were used for political purposes and in the process people's personal information has been put into the public realm and we're very angry about it,' Combet told the ABC.

He said the publication of the people's personal information may have damaged their reputation and breached privacy laws.

Personal information

'In particular, we are concerned about the apparent distribution of personal information of people who have been subject to some of these OWS investigations,' he said. 'The OWS, as I understand it, has an obligation to respect the Privacy Act 1988 and it appears that personal information has been released, which we have a lot of concern about.'

Combet said that despite what the investigations may claim, the ACTU is standing by the TV ads.

'People have had the courage to come forth and tell their story of how they have been treated under the new laws ... But what they don't deserve to be subjected to is unfair and flawed investigation ... the leaking of personal information to the media and then the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the Treasurer and everyone else jumping on the bandwagon and asserting these people are telling lies,' he said.

Stands by claim

'They have not lied. The ACTU stands by the ads and stands by the claims that have been made.'

Combet said he was confident that the claims people made in the TV ads are true.

'Well I'm very confident that what the people are doing in the ads that we've put to air are telling their story about how they were treated once the new laws came in and I am completely confident in what they are saying,' he said.

'We, of course, did our work before we put them to air, but what these people do not deserve to have happen to them is the OWS to do some dodgy investigation, base their alleged findings on what the employer says and what media reports say and then if this information was provided to ministers or however else it happened, have this personal information leaked and misrepresented in media commentary.

'I think the whole stinks of dirty tricks, a political attack by the Government on the integrity of ordinary working people.'

Negotiate more leisure, says top lawyer

Meanwhile Australia's chief law reform officer says people should use the Federal Government's industrial laws to create more leisure time and reverse a long term trend of working harder and longer.

The president of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Professor David Weisbrot, said he is concerned a reduction in leisure time is leading to increased stress, mental illness and family breakdown. He said the flexibility in the new laws meant people could negotiate working from home, or working longer on some days and then taking time off.

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