1. Penalty rates and award conditions under threat.
Tony Abbott and Coalition MPs are on the record supporting cuts to penalty rates and award conditions. Big business has a list of your rights at work they want targeted, it is no co-incidence their issues align. Abbott has announced that if elected he will launch a review of the whole Fair Work Act by the Productivity Commission. This is the way he can deliver for big business on their wish list without taking the plans to an election. On the top of their list are cutting penalty rates, award minimums and public holidays.
2. Individual contracts that cut take-home pay
Individual contracts were at the heart of WorkChoices. Abbott’s IR policy is to allow individual contracts to cut take home pay, make it harder for workers to cancel these contracts and make them compulsory in all Awards and collective agreements. This is Abbott’s attempts to undermine collective bargaining and to leave workers vulnerable. We all know that individual workers do not have equal bargaining power one-on-one with their employer.
3. Swing more power back in favour of employers
An Abbott Government will seek to make it harder to bargain collectively, and harder to take industrial action to advocate for your rights at work. Abbotts policy will reward employers who refuse to bargain and give employers the ability to take their employees to the Commission where they will need to prove their claims are “sensible” or “realistic” and to require them to prove they have considered the employers claims for “productivity”. These legal options can be used by aggressive employers as a means to stop legal industrial action.
4. Make it harder to be represented at work
Abbott’s IR policy brings back WorkChoices laws to make it harder for unions to protect workers’ rights in their workplace. They will weaken protections for workers who are discriminated against for standing up for their rights at work. He will also bring back the hated special police force for construction workers. Finally, he will bring in laws to tie unions up in red tape. This is part of Abbott’s plan to try and weaken unions so taking away rights at work is easier.
5. A weakened independent umpire
Abbott wants to establish a new appeals court that can overturn Fair Work Commission decisions. This would allow him to stack the court with friends of business, taking away the strength and independence of the Commission.