The Rudd Government's plans for industrial relations reform are nothing more than Work Choices Lite, the Australian Greens said today.
"In rejecting arbitration Gillard is giving up not just on over 100 years of Australian history but also on the ability of many workers to continue to receive fair wages and conditions," said Australian Greens spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
"We expect most employers and employees will reach agreement through the good faith bargaining process but in those situations where employers simply refuse to reach agreement, employees need access to an independent umpire to resolve the dispute."
"Without last resort arbitration employers can continue to deprive workers of wage increases. They will be stuck on old agreements until a new one is finalised. Many employees, particularly the low paid, cannot afford to go without a pay rise or to take industrial action to reach an agreement. They will be forced to accept unfair agreements."
"This Government has obviously not thought through their approach to industrial relations - yesterday, Julia Gillard spent 1½ hours trying to convince the Labor caucus on her Fair Work Bill. If she can't convince her own colleagues of the proposed system, why should the Australian public believe any of the rhetoric either?"
"Arbitration is essential to recognising the inherent power imbalance between employers and employees. Without it vulnerable workers are even more vulnerable, and for the ALP to abandon them in a time of financial crisis is unacceptable," said Senator Siewert.
"This is the clearest evidence that the Rudd Government is keeping more of Work Choices than it is getting rid of. It is a betrayal of those people who voted to abolish this unfair style of workplace relations," she concluded.
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