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ACTU treats businesses and workers as social engineering cannon fodder

"Today's announcements from the ACTU show yet again that the union movement has given up on decades of community consensus that Australia needs to have a strong economy and a workplace relations system that does not impose major barriers on job growth. The ACTU's latest proposals would destroy jobs and the competitiveness of Australian businesses. The proposals would also destroy workplace flexibility which is highly valued by employers and employees," Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"The ACTU wants the right to bargain across whole industries and supply chains, including the right to take industrial action.

"If the ACTU got its way, unions would be able to make unreasonable claims and cripple whole industries and supply chains until employers capitulated. The ACTU wants us all to trust that militant unions would only very rarely use the new powers that they want, and that their proposals would be good for the economy. What a joke. Australian businesses and workers would become cannon fodder for the ACTU's social engineering.

"We would see a return to the bad old days of the 1960s and 70s when industrial action was rife and Australia had a reputation internationally as an unreliable supplier of goods and services. Australian industry was propped up by high tariffs, which protected some inefficient businesses, together with absurdly rigid and highly centralised industrial relations arrangements. We were as far from a 21st Century globally competitive economy as it was possible to be. Importantly, though, unlike the 60s and 70s, Australia now has a very open economy, the world has become far more connected, and global supply chains are the norm. Gaining a reputation as an unreliable supplier would be a blueprint for multinational companies stopping their investment in Australia with consequent job losses and economic hardship.

"The right to strike at the industry or supply chain levels has never been part of the Australian system, and it must never become part of it. Since 1993 when enterprise bargaining was first introduced by the Keating Labor Government, the federal workplace relations legislation has recognised the importance of bargaining taking place at the enterprise level and of the economic problems that flow from centralised outcomes.

"The only beneficiaries of the ACTU's self-serving proposals would be militant unions who no doubt think that all of their Christmases have come at once with the ACTU's recent major change in direction. Those that would suffer most if the ACTU's proposals ever saw the light of day would be workers, particularly those that value flexible work arrangements, and low paid workers whose jobs would be most at threat. All political parties need to act in the national interest and condemn the ACTU's proposals without delay," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347