The release of the draft Productivity Commission report today represents the beginning of a renewed attack on the working conditions of all Australians, according to the Electrical Trades Union.
ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said that the report, which recommends the introduction of a two-tiered penalty rates system, is the beginning of a process that will leave working Australians worse off.
“Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz know Australians won’t accept a head-on attack on their rights at work, so they’ve decided to go in by stealth,” Mr Hicks said.
“We’ve seen that in the shipping industry, we’ve seen it with the exploitation of migrant workers to erode across-the-board working conditions, and we’re seeing it here.”
Mr Hicks said that one of the most alarming aspects of the reports was the recommendation to introduce non-negotiable employer-written ‘enterprise contracts’ that override awards and enterprise agreements.
“These are unfair ‘like it or lump it’ deals that rob workers of any bargaining power or ability to improve their conditions at work,” he said.
The report recommends the removal of provisions that prevent employers engaging labour hire companies, leading to a race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions. It also seeks to gut the Fair Work Commission of its core functions, increases fines for unions, and prevents union officials from accessing workplaces.
“Despite the report admitting that the workplace relations system isn’t dysfunctional, it tries to ‘fix’ it anyway,” Mr Hicks said.
“Some of the suggestions are simply outrageous, such as the recommendation that companies be able to dock workers’ pay and stand them down for an unspecified period if they decide not to take industrial action.
“The idea that the boss can fine you for refusing to strike is just absurd.
“I’ve got a word of warning for Australian workers – hang on to your wallets.
“This government wants to rip the guts out of the employment system that protects us all.”
Media contact: Lachlan Williams — 0447 682 027 — firstname.lastname@example.org