The ACTU Executive has endorsed a national campaign to protect and promote the interests of Australian working families against the Federal Government’s plans to radically change Australia’s workplace laws.

Speaking at the conclusion of a two day meeting of the ACTU Executive in
Melbourne ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“For more than 100 years Australia has had a system of workplace laws that
has kept our workplaces decent, safe and fair. It has made sure that working
families are not left behind. This is the system the Federal Government now
wants to get rid of.

“The Federal Government’s plans are about taking Australia down the path to
an American style system where minimum wages are just $5.15 an hour.”

ACTU Executive has authorised the ACTU and State Trades and Labour Councils
to coordinate a national campaign in opposition to the Federal Government’s
plans to:

  • Change the way the minimum wages in Australia are determined to make it
    harder for award wage workers to get decent pay increases.
  • Abolish higher award rates of pay for more skilled workers taking Australia
    down the path towards a US style system with a single minimum wage of just $5.15
    and hour.
  • Reduce the guaranteed minimum conditions available to all Australian workers
    through our unique system of awards.
  • Reduce the role of the independent Industrial Relations Commission in
    settling disputes and setting fair and balanced minimum standards in the
  • Remove unfair dismissal protections for employees working in businesses that
    employ less than 20 people.
  • Force more Australian workers onto individual contracts.
  • Make it harder for employees to bargain collectively with their employer to
    get fair wages and conditions.
  • Make it harder for workers to access the protection and support of unions in
    their workplace.
  • Increase the opportunities for employers to sue or fine workers who take
    industrial action.
  • These changes, if enacted, will impact harshly upon millions of Australians,
    forcing down living standards and diminishing job security and workplace safety.
    They will destroy the balance in Australia’s workplaces and put unfair powers in
    the hands of employers.

    The ACTU has been authorised to establish a national campaign committee and
    campaign fund to coordinate campaign activity to inform the public about the
    Government’s proposed changes and to build public support for:

  • A fair and decent safety net comprising a skills-based classification
    structure of minimum wages, comprehensive employment conditions, and protection
    against unfair treatment.
  • An independent tribunal and fair procedures for the resolution of disputes,
    the evaluation of changes to the safety net, and oversight of the bargaining
  • The right for all working Australians to organize in a union, to
    collectively bargain, and take industrial action to protect and advance their
    interests at work.
  • The ACTU campaign will emphasise providing information in workplaces and to
    the public to ensure as many working Australians as possible are aware of the
    Government’s plans.

    “The Federal Government is intent on destroying a system that has delivered
    safety, fairness, decent standards and balance in Australian workplaces. Unions
    have always been about ensuring fairness and balance in the workplace and that
    is what this campaign is about.”