The ACTU has called on Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott to apologise for saying that bad bosses are like bad fathers because they “do more good than harm”.

Mr Abbott yesterday told a conference in Sydney that:

“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband – not withstanding all of his faults you find he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss.”

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Mr Abbott’s comments were offensive to the victims of abuse and mistreatment in both the home and the workplace.

“Government Ministers should not make excuses for unacceptable behaviour by people in positions of authority, either in the home or in the workplace,” Ms Burrow said.

“Is Mr Abbott suggesting that bosses who sexually harass their staff, dud employees of their entitlements and ignore health and safety laws are really doing more good than harm?

“There is no excuse for misbehaviour by people in positions of authority when their victims’ lives and careers can be ruined.

“Mr Abbott has gone too far. His comments are irresponsible and insulting, and he should apologise,” said Ms Burrow.