The Australian Industry Group’s refusal to support the ACTU’s maternity leave test case was holding up an historic agreement to benefit Australia’s 2 million casual workers, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said today.

“Despite the agreement of the Federal and State Governments and every other major employer organisation, the Australian Industry Group is refusing to come to the party,” ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said today.

Mr Combet was speaking after a hearing on the ACTU’s Parental Leave test case before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, where the Australian Industry Group sought to limit planned maternity leave rights to casual workers on fixed rosters only.

“The restrictions proposed by the Australian Industry Group are unfair and discriminatory and would render the agreement next to useless for many women workers,” Mr Combet said.

“People should not have to fear for their jobs just because they have a family, regardless of whether they’re casual, on fixed rosters or otherwise,” Mr Combet said.

The ACTU application has the broad support of the Federal, Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian governments as well as major employer groups including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Hotels Association.

If successful, the ACTU application would give unpaid maternity leave rights to all casual workers who have 12 months regular and systematic employment with the same employer. Under the Federal Government’s workplace laws casual workers are specifically excluded from accessing maternity leave despite the fact that 60% of casual workers have worked for the same employer for more than a year.