“It’s disappointing that the Workplace Relations Minister’s Christmas message to Australian workers is a threat to send them to jail,” ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today.
“Mr Abbott’s workplace system is based on conflict and biased against employees and their elected representatives; threatening to fine and jail workers will only generate more conflict and division.
“Most of the cases highlighted by Mr Abbott today involve employees trying to save their jobs or unpaid entitlements.
“Mr Abbott makes no mention of breaches of the law by employers resulting in workers’ deaths or injuries and the non-payment of billions of dollars each year in wages, overtime and accrued entitlements,” Ms Burrow said.
“Mr Abbott opposes the use of criminal sanctions in relation to negligence by employers occasioning the death of employees but wants criminal sanctions against people attending picket lines.”
Mr Abbott’s comments about the rule of law were incongruent with his support for paying $96,000 of taxpayers’ money to two Government witnesses who deliberately lied in court in a failed attempt to frame a union delegate two years ago.
Earlier this month Mr Abbott defended the payment of taxpayers’ money for fabricated evidence against unions, telling Federal Parliament that: “People who give evidence on behalf of the Commonwealth should be supported.”