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Abbott puts individual contracts back at the heart of the IR system

09 May 2013 By ACTU

The Coalition's IR policy is an attempt to return individual contracts to the heart of the IR system while trying to reassure workers that nothing will change, the ACTU said today.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the Coalition's attempt to expand the use of Individual Flexibility Agreements, and allow them to override collectively-negotiated agreements would lead to reduced pay and conditions for workers.

"Workers do not want to see a return to Workchoices-style individual agreements - regardless of what the Coalition wants to call them," Ms Kearney said.

"Allowing Individual Flexibility Agreements to over-ride negotiated agreements opens the door to employers using them to drive down conditions and entitlements that workers have fought for."

"This is an attempt to put individual contracts back at the centre of our industrial relations system and undermine the ability of workers to negotiate collectively. It will make it easier for employers to dictate terms and conditions to workers."

Ms Kearney said today's policy launch had failed to outline the Coalition's long-term agenda for Industrial Relations.

"All we know is that there will be a Productivity Commission inquiry into further changes. If Tony Abbott has changes he wants the Productivity Commission to look at, why doesn't he tell us what they are?"

"We know that prior to the 2004 election there was no mention of WorkChoices and its attack on pay and conditions,' Ms Kearney said.

"That means today's policy announcement should be treated with the same suspicion."

"We know that the Liberal Party's corporate supporters and business groups have been pushing for major changes to IR and cuts to pay and conditions, including the abolition of penalty rates."

There is nothing in this policy that will help workers balance work and family, that will improve conditions for low-paid workers or that will tackle insecure work."

"The Coalition has refused to recognise that insecure work is a major issue for Australian workers and that one-in-four workers has no access to sick leave, annual leave or carers' leave."

"Mr Abbott is still yet to commit to supporting the Government's bid to enshrine penalty rates in law. This will be a bigger test of his real views on IR than today's policy launch."

Media contact: Ben Ruse, 0409 510 879

Contact Details
Name: David Smith, ASU National Secretary
Telephone: 03 9342 1400