Abbott IR overreach is aimed at workers’ rights: Bandt

The Greens have accused Tony Abbott of gearing up to attack people’s rights at work and Minister Eric Abetz of encouraging employers to flout the law.

“The witch-hunt is starting. First Tony Abbott will go after unions, and then he’ll come for people’s rights at work,” Greens Deputy Leader and workplace spokesperson Adam Bandt MP said today.

“Isolated allegations of wrongdoing in one industry should be investigated by the police but should not be used to justify a full scale assault on the union movement.”

“If law enforcement agencies need more resources to investigate and prosecute bribery, let’s provide them with it instead of setting up a Royal Commission.”

“Overblown warnings of a wage explosion are all part of a softening up process to justify this assault.”

“Eric Abetz belled the cat yesterday by calling for employers to work together against workers’ legitimate enterprise bargaining.”

“The Minister for Workplace Relations is encouraging employers to flout the law.”

“Under the Fair Work Act, employers and employees must bargain in good faith. If an employer just says an outright ‘no’ to its workers simply because it has conspired with other employers and agreed on a common course of action, the employer probably isn’t bargaining in good faith.”

“The Liberals may not like the Fair Work Act, but they shouldn’t be out encouraging people to flout it.”

“If workers and unions did what Eric Abetz is suggesting, employers would scream ‘pattern bargaining’ and the employees would be hauled before the court in a flash.”

Senator Abetz said in a recent speech “To borrow a union slogan – there really is strength in unity. Instead of agitating for reform to outlaw certain tactics, why can’t employers band together and just say ‘no’?”

The Fair Work Commission has said that “if an employer simply listens and says ‘no’ (with reasons) that is conduct which is contrary to s228 [of the Act, which sets out the ‘good faith’ bargaining obligations]” Endeavour Coal Pty Ltd v Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (Collieries’ Staff Division) [2012] FWAFB 1891.

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