There are disturbing reports today of employers moving to unfairly sack employees and lock workers onto lower-paid AWAs for five years prior to the incoming Labor Govt scrapping AWAS and restoring protection from unfair dismissal said the ACTU.

At the same time, Liberal leadership contender Brendan Nelson has opposed moves to reinstate protections for workers from unfair dismissal and his rival Malcolm Turnbull has equivocated over whether he would use the Coalition’s Senate numbers to defend Work Choices.

This shows that sections of the business community and the Liberals still haven’t heard the message from voters that the Liberals should abandon Work Choices and abandon their disgraceful fear campaign against unions,” said Ms Burrow.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“The Liberals joined with sections of big business to wage a despicable and dishonest campaign to defend Work Choices and demonise Australia’s trade union movement.

“But today’s news reports show that business and the contenders for the Coalition leadership ballot still haven’t heard the message that voters shouted loud and clear last Saturday — they want their rights at work protected & they support the role of unions.

“An exit poll of voters taken on Saturday afternoon by the ACTU found almost nine in ten voters (88%) said the Liberal’s anti-union advertising campaign either made them more likely to vote Labor or made no difference.

“Senior Liberals, including former Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey have acknowledged they went too far with Work Choices, but have so far failed to admit they were wrong to attack the role of unions.

“In the early days of the election campaign Mr Hockey went so far as to say the role of unions in Australia was ‘essentially over’ and the Liberal Party went on to run a $20 million advertising campaign against unions during the election that clearly did not succeed.

“Research by the ACTU also shows that the Liberals are wrong to oppose the restoration of unfair dismissal protection — the power to sack employees without giving a reason under WorkChoices was by far the biggest concern among working Australians about the IR laws,” said Ms Burrow.

What is your biggest concern about the impact of the new IR laws?

  • Power to sack employees without giving a reason    28%
  • The fact that they give employers more power to dictate working hours    15%
  • The potential impact on my wages and conditions or those of family members    13%
  • The fact that if the laws stay my kids will have less rights when they start work    12%
  • That they could lead to a reduction in family and leisure time    10%
  • Source: National telephone survey of 1,000 respondents by Essential Research, March 2007.