The ACTU said today that union members would shed no tears over Peter Reith’s resignation from politics, describing him as one of the most divisive and extremist industrial relations ministers in Australian history.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said Mr Reith had led the attack on job security and employee entitlements over the past five years, and would be forever tarnished by the image of balaclavas and dogs on the waterfront.

“Peter Reith has been the bovver boy of the Howard Government. He has become an electoral liability because of the unpopularity of this Government’s attack on the living standards of working families,” Mr Combet said.

“Mr Reith will be remembered for his failed attack on union members in the waterfront dispute, and for his hypocrisy during the telecard scandal that destroyed his career.

“Mr Reith is probably resigning because he knows that John Howard is unlikely to win the coming election, and because he knows that he would not win his seat of Flinders. He is also a political liability for the Government,” said Mr Combet.

“Mr Reith was a divisive figure, and a biased Minister. He always sided with employers, even berating them at times to be tougher on their workforce. For these reasons workers will shed no tears at his departure.”