Tony Abbott has committed the Liberal Party to bringing back WorkChoices by winding back unfair dismissal protection and reintroducing individual contracts.
In his Budget reply speech last night, Mr Abbott shamelessly vowed to resurrect the core elements of WorkChoices, the policy that was so resoundingly rejected by Australian voters less than three years ago, said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
She said Mr Abbott’s plan would remove protection from unfair dismissal for millions of employees and once again allow employers to dictate pay and conditions on a take it or leave it basis with individual contracts.
Ms Burrow said Mr Abbott was also putting at risk improved superannuation for all working Australians with the reckless promise in his speech to oppose the Resources Super Profits Tax.
“The Liberals are siding with big multinational companies against the retirement security of working Australians,” she said.
“By opposing a tax on miners’ super profits and promising to bring back WorkChoices, Tony Abbott shows he cares more about defending the profits of big business than he does about working Australians.”
“Tony Abbott’s speech in Parliament last night is the clearest sign yet that the Liberals will bring back WorkChoices if they win the federal election due later this year,” Ms Burrow said.
“He has brazenly committed the Liberal Party to giving back to employers the power to sack workers unfairly. He has also promised the widescale reintroduction of individual employment agreements and other measures to give employers more ‘flexibility’ in the workplace.
“But what is most damning is what Mr Abbott didn’t say. He didn’t tell Australians about the damage caused by WorkChoices’ AWAs which cut pay and conditions, and removed job security.
“And he hid the truth that WorkChoices cut the real wages of well over a million low-paid workers by as much as $97.75 because of changes to the way minimum wages were set.”
In his Budget reply, Mr Abbott said:
“We’ll seek to take the unfair dismissal monkey off the back of small businesses which are more like families than institutions. We’ll make Labor’s transitional employment agreements less transitional and Labor’s individual flexibility agreements more flexible.”
Ms Burrow said that under the Rudd Labor Government’s Fair Work laws, all Australians including those working in small businesses now have protection from unfair dismissal and new individual contracts have been banned.