Labor promises to protect 38-hour week

Labor’s new workplace relations spokesperson Julia Gillard has flagged better protections from Labor to protect the 38-hour week, which commentators are interpreting as a policy that would force employers to restore penalty rates.

Gillard also confirmed that Labor policy remains to scrap AWAs and unwind the Howard government’s IR laws.

Gillard also indicated that Labor would be expanding the number of minimum standards which the Liberals have reduced to a bare five. The ACTU wants to double the number of minimum standards to 10 including a limit on overtime for workers, no cashing out of annual leave and a minimum of 11 public holidays a year.

She also promised to restore the no-disadvantage test for common law individual contracts, which would remain as an alternative for high income earners to negotiate individual contracts.

Big business will bat for Howard over IR

Australia’s biggest business group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has promised to help the Howard government resist any roll back of its IR laws.

ACCI CEO Peter Hendy, a former Liberal staffer for former Howard minister Peter Reith, promised the organisation would do everything to counter union opposition to the laws.

‘It is our number one priority over the coming year to entrench the implementations of workplace relations reform,’ he told The Australian.

The issue ranks above the ACCI’s priorities for addressing the skills shortage, which The Australian said ‘has put a cap on economic growth and stifled exports at a time of heady demand for raw resources’.

It also ranked above climate change issues.

Poll shows voters want Federal government to stand up for Australian jobs

80% of marginal seat voters say the federal government isn’t doing enough to stop Australian businesses being sold overseas and jobs being lost offshore, according to an ACTU poll.

Polling of voters in Coalition-held marginal seats shows strong public opposition to the proposed sale of Qantas to local and foreign private equity interests.

The polling shows that high levels of community concern over the impact of the sale on Australian jobs, rural and regional airline services and safety standards mean that 79% of voters say they oppose the sale of Qantas.

66% of voters do not think the Qantas sale is in Australia’s national interest, 67% believe it will not be in the interest of ordinary travellers, 81% say it will be bad for people living in regional areas and 80% say it will be bad for Australian jobs.

Eight out of 10 people surveyed (80%) also believe the federal government was not doing enough to prevent Australian business being sold overseas and jobs lost offshore while fewer than one in 10 (8%) thought the Coalition was doing enough.