The Liberal Party’s unshakeable addiction to WorkChoices has been exposed again today with another influential Liberal calling for a return to the workplace laws so resoundingly rejected by Australian voters.
Peter Reith’s call for Tony Abbott to re-embrace Australian Workplace Agreements is further proof that WorkChoices is embedded in the Liberals’ DNA, said ACTU President Ged Kearney.
“Tony Abbott’s claims during last year’s election that the Liberals would never go back to WorkChoices are a sham,” Ms Kearney said.
“Behind the scenes, the Liberals are rallying support from self-interested business organisations and rolling out a series of relics from the Howard era to champion WorkChoices Mark II.
“WorkChoices was resoundingly rejected by the Australian electorate, and belongs to the past, as do the views of Peter Reith, who masterminded the most bitter and divisive attack on Australian workers in recent history.
“Under the Liberals, individual Australian Workplace Agreements were used to cut the pay and conditions of hundreds of thousands of workers.
“The Liberals have a policy agenda to attack collective bargaining, strip away the safety net of minimum standards and independent industrial umpire, and undermine the job security of the 10 million working Australians.
“This is a core Liberal belief, and it is unsurprising that the Liberals would return to it.
“It is about time the Liberals and their business friends produced some evidence for their hysterical claims about the Australian industrial relations system. Once again, it is truth overboard from Peter Reith.
“Rather than AWAs lifting economic productivity, it actually fell during the years when the Liberals were in power.
“There is no evidence of a wages break-out in Australia. Wage growth is a manageable 3.8%, which reflects some share of improved economic conditions flowing through to workers. And industrial disputes remain historically low.
“Since the Fair Work Act began operation, more Australians are seeing the benefits of collective bargaining, which has spread to 43% of the workforce. Workers on collective agreements receive higher wages and there is a smaller gender pay gap for collective agreements.
“But importantly, co-operation in workplaces through collective bargaining is an important driver of productivity. All Australian workers have a stake in a more productive economy, but that will not be achieved by going back to WorkChoices.”