Liberals still wedded to WorkChoices

Fair workplace laws restored despite Liberal Party resistance.

New workplace laws that strengthen the rights of employees and restore a balance of power in the workplace have finally been passed by the Senate, despite the resistance and obstruction from the Liberal party and independents who hold the balance of power.

At the last election Australian voters gave the Rudd Government an emphatic mandate to introduce its IR policy into law – a policy that was thoroughly publicised and debated before the federal election.

Malcolm Turnbull, aided until the last minute by Family First Senator Steve Fielding, insisted the definition of a small business be expanded to 20 in the protections for unfair dismissal. This would have reduced the rights of three million working people. Thousands of nurses, especially in aged care, would have been adversely affected. Labor had clearly defined a small business as one with less than 15 employees in its election policy.

The eventual law passed sets the definition at 15 FTE until 2011 and 15 headcount employees thereafter.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the eventual passage of the Fair Work Law marked an historic moment in restoring workers’ rights.

‘After a decade of attacks on working people by the Liberal and National Parties the tide has turned,’ she said.

‘While the Liberal Party remains hopelessly devoted to WorkChoices, the Australian people want workers’ rights restored.

‘Everyone involved in the Your Rights at Work campaign and all those who voted against WorkChoices will be relieved to see the laws pass through Parliament.

‘We can take pride in what we have achieved,’ said Sharan.

Poll shows clear support for better workplace laws

A national poll conducted by the ACTU in March showed the Liberal and National Party as way out of step with public opinion:

  • Almost seven in ten Australians (67%) wanted the Rudd Government to keep its election promise to get rid of WorkChoices and pass new, fairer IR laws as soon as possible.
  • 77% of Australians supported restoring unfair dismissal protections for all workers.
  • 74% supported collective bargaining rights for all workers.
  • Eight out of 10 Australians (80%) agreed that workers should have the right to be represented by the union of their choice, not a union selected by their employer.