Eric Abetz has been given a very important responsibility with the employment portfolio and owes it to Australian workers to act in support of their jobs, wages and work rights, says the ACTU.

“We are concerned about some of his intentions for workplace relations previewed during the election campaign, like having the Fair Work Commission police enterprise agreements for pay rises without trade-offs and backing employers’ push to cut penalty rates,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney following today’s announcement about new Cabinet portfolios.

“We are concerned about where his flagged Productivity Commission review of work laws could lead.”

Ms Kearney said unions were willing to work co-operatively with Senator Abetz to improve the lives of Australian working people, but we will vigorously oppose any attempts to wind back work rights and conditions.  

She said that in his role overseeing the public service, Senator Abetz must show restraint in regard to job cuts.

“There are many public sector workers very worried about their jobs and the scale of cuts ahead,” she said.

“We’re very concerned about the 12,000 to 20,000 job cuts already announced but we’re even more concerned about what hasn’t been announced and what could come out of the Abbott Government’s commission of audit.

“We know Tony Abbott commended Campbell Newman’s commission of audit in Queensland that led to 14,000 job cuts.

“When public sector jobs are cut, we lose services and communities suffer.”

Ms Kearney called on Senator Abetz to consult with unions and employer groups about both the terms of the Productivity Commission Review and the proposed Commission of Audit.