The ACTU has welcomed ALP leader Mark Latham’s pledge to recreate a fair industrial relations system and his commitment to finding a better balance between work and family for Australian families.

In his opening speech to the ALP National Conference today the new Labor
leader announced Labor would be putting an end to the Howard Government’s
dog-eat-dog industrial relations system, abolishing AWAs and restoring the role
of the industrial relations commission.

He also placed work and family issues at the centre of his plan for building
a fairer Australia with opportunities for all.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Mark Latham is on the right path on these
issues which are central to working Australians and their families.

‘We welcome Mark Latham’s commitment to introduce paid Maternity Leave and to
improve the rights of working parents. These are litmus test issues for working
families and we welcome the strong support they are getting from Labor’s new

‘Mark also clearly understands that the current bargaining relationship in
the workplace under the Howard Government is unequal and unfair and the ACTU
applauds his announcement that Labor will abolish AWAs and restore a role for
the Industrial Relations Commission.’

‘He has also rightly identified the explosion in casual jobs as a key issue
for Australian workers and we look forward to working with him to make sure
these workers get more rights and a sense of security in the workplace.’

Casual employment as a proportion of the total workforce has doubled in the
past two decades from 13% in 1982 to 27.3% in 2000. The great bulk of jobs
created in the 1990s were part time and casual.

This week the ACTU released research showing a family of four living on the
minimum wage is $180 a week short of having a modest but adequate standard of

‘These working poor deserve the help that Mark Latham is promising them from
a Labor government,’ said Sharan Burrow.

Sharan Burrow says the ACTU is pleased to work with a future Prime Minister
who says it is a virtue to represent working people and who cherishes Medicare
and a decent education system that gives working families the opportunities they
deserve in life.

‘It’s good to see a political leader who is willing to act, who is positive,
and who is focussed on building a better future in the workplace and in the home
for Australian families.’