The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) this week launched a new TV advertising campaign calling for another wave of industrial relations reform if the Howard Government is re-elected.
The NFF’s Federal Election Policy Platform calls for the scrapping of the ‘fairness test’ that was introduced in May this year by the Howard Government after more than a hundred thousand workers lost penalty rates, overtime pay, holiday pay and other award conditions under Work Choices:
… the NFF seeks the removal of the fairness test and opposes any introduction of a test that requires a comparison between the agreement to all of the conditions contained in an industrial award that would otherwise apply at the workplace. (NFF Election Policy, p22)
The NFF is also lobbying to get rid of the award safety net and to allow rural employers to strip workers’ pay down to just the Federal Minimum Wage, currently less than $14 an hour, and reduce job entitlements to just five minimum legal standards.
That Government only regulate in respect to a federal minimum wage with other wages being determined at the individual workplace. (NFF Election Policy, p22)
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:
“Thousands of working families in rural and regional Australia will be worse off under the NFF’s push to make the Howard Government go further on Work Choices.
“Workers could see their pay drop to just $13.50 an hour — this is the current minimum wage for workers in drought-affected regional areas.
“The NFF is a major employer group with historically close links to the Liberal and National Parties. It is one of a chorus of big business groups pushing for a re-elected Howard Government to go further on Work Choices.
“John Howard cannot be trusted on industrial relations.
“At the last election John Howard did not tell the Australian public he would introduce Work Choices and now he is trying to hide his agenda to go further on IR if he is re-elected,” said Ms Burrow.
The NFF received more than $1 million from the Howard Government to help implement WorkChoices.