In stark contrast to the Howard Government, the ALP is dealing with the tough
realities facing working Australians – work and family balance, casualisation
and the protection of employee entitlements – in a constructive and positive
way, says the ACTU.

Labor’s industrial relations policy, passed at the ALP’s conference on Saturday, is
a framework for decent workplace relations under a future Latham Labor
Government, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said.

‘Labor is putting forward constructive proposals to help solve the problems
facing working Australians every day at work and which the Howard Government has
failed to act on – finding a balance between work and family, the insecurity of
casual employment and protection for workers’ hard earned entitlements if a
company goes broke.’

Sharan Burrow says the ACTU believes Labor is on the right path with its
policies to give workers more flexibility and choice so they can balance work
and family commitments.

‘Standards at work have been eroding under the Howard Government. Flexibility
has to be underpinned by standards and fairness, and allow workers to balance
their work and family lives,’ Sharan Burrow said.

Sharan Burrow says protection of employee entitlements in Australia is far
from adequate. It is believed that around 19,000 employees lose up to $500
million each year in unpaid entitlements.

‘We welcome Labor’s commitment to improving job security, in particular by
protecting 100 per cent of employee entitlements. Over the last few years too
many employees have been badly burnt when the companies they work for have gone
broke and been unable to meet their entitlements,’ she said.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says Labor’s approach to workplace issues
highlights a critical difference between the two main parties.

‘If any Australian wants to see the difference in values and culture between
Labor and the Coalition they should look at their approaches to workplace
relations,’ she said.

‘Labor’s policy seeks productive, fair and harmonious workplaces in stark
contrast to the destructive, divisive, dog-eat-dog culture driven by the Howard

Sharan Burrow says ALP policy recognises that the current bargaining
relationship in the workplace under the Howard Government is unequal and

‘Labor’s strong support of collective bargaining and the rights of unions,
and its rejection of individual contracts will lead to more productive and
cohesive workplaces,’ she said.

‘The ACTU welcomes Labor’s pledge to abolish the Office of the Employment
Advocate and its support for an independent Industrial Relations Commission and
a system of awards that underpin bargaining. These measures will allow workers
to assert their rights to a decent wage and fair working conditions.’

Sharan Burrow says what unions are looking for from political parties is a
fair go for Australian workers.