Senator Steve Fielding must decide this week whose side he is on: Family First or Business First, say unions.

Amendments to new industrial relations laws proposed by the Family First Senator would mean fewer rights for more than 3 million workers.

They would mean more than a third of the workforce (36%) would have:

  • Less protection from being unfairly sacked
  • No right to union support in the workplace
  • No help from the independent umpire to get better wages

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Senator Fielding’s amendments to exempt small business from parts of the new laws would also mean that low paid workers would be unable to make use of collective bargaining to lift themselves above the minimum wage.

“Senator Fielding has been a vocal critic of WorkChoices, and was one of the first to warn about the damage it would wreak on working families,” Ms Burrow said.

“But the changes he is proposing would be worse than the restrictions on union advice and help under WorkChoices, and betrays a lack of understanding of what unions do to help workers who believe their rights have been breached.

“Workers in small business are more vulnerable to exploitation and rip-offs than employees in big businesses.

“We urge Senator Fielding not to pursue these amendments, which would leave working families worse off at a time when they can least afford it.

“Senator Fielding also needs to be reminded that Australians voted to restore their rights at work at the last election, and don’t want to see greater fairness in workplaces hijacked at the eleventh hour.”

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