Eric Abetz has confirmed today that an Abbott Government will try to stop workers getting pay rises above inflation unless they give up conditions.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said Mr Abetz's comments in The Australian this morning that the Coalition would demand "excessive" wage rises include productivity reforms should ring alarm bells for workers, particularly given his comments on penalty rates.
"It is unbelievable that a Coalition Government would try and tear up agreements negotiated freely between workers and employers if they do not meet their version of what is an acceptable pay rise,' Mr Oliver said.
"This is an attack on enterprise bargaining, on workers' rights to negotiate a fair pay deal and another layer of the red tape that the Coalition claims to oppose."
"What should really concern workers is what exactly does Mr Abetz mean by the "productivity trade-offs" that workers will have to make in order to get decent pay rises?
"The answer is loss of penalty rates and other conditions, which will leave workers worse off."
"This is not a productivity improvement – it is simply taking money from the pockets of low-paid workers. "
"The Coalition voted against enshrining penalty rates in legislation, and Mr Abetz would not defend them today. He says he'll leave it up to Fair Work Australia to decide on penalty rates but won't say which side a Coalition Government would back."
"We know that business groups have already tried to use Fair Work Australia to reduce penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of workers, and that they will try again if a Coalition Government is elected.
"Workers need a government that is committed to protecting penalty rates."
"Tony Abbott is doing his best not to talk about IR during this election campaign – he won't even tell us what the terms of reference will be for his Productivity Commission inquiry into the IR system.
"It must be very concerning for the Coalition that Eric Abetz's honesty is undermining Tony Abbott's attempts to hide his IR agenda from workers.
"I expect Mr Abbott's spin doctors will be having a quiet word with Mr Abetz this morning, before putting him back in hiding for the rest of the election campaign."
Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0409 510 879 or Eleni Hale 0418 793 885