Time to stop blaming workplace laws

ACTU President Ged Kearney said unions would vigorously defend any push by employers to return to reintroduce key parts of WorkChoices, which were so overwhelmingly rejected by Australian voters in 2007.

She said the release of the review into the Fair Work Act should draw a line under the spurious arguments used by the business lobby that reducing rights at work would lift Australia's productivity growth.

"At the very start of this review process, unions set out a positive agenda for workplace laws to increase rights for Australian workers," Ms Kearney said.

"These included improvements to the safety net, rights to collective bargaining, dispute resolution and arbitration, right of entry, delegate rights and other organising rights, protection against unfair treatment, and work-life balance.

"In contrast, the vast majority of employer submissions failed to engage with the terms of reference or provide evidence in support of their policy prescriptions.

"Instead employer submissions overwhelming proposed a return to the worst elements of the WorkChoices regime.

The ACTU Executive last week passed a resolution calling on the Government to continue to reject calls from business that would:

 Restrict proper access to dispute resolution including arbitration;

 Restrict collective bargaining (including rights to take protected industrial action);

 Undermine the right to organise and be represented by a union;

 Expand the use or scope of individual flexibility arrangements;

 Promote the use or scope of unfair individual contracts; or

 Reduce unfair dismissal protections for Australian workers.

Ms Kearney said any reasonable objective review would conclude that the Fair Work Act was achieving its objective of delivering fairness in the workplace and economic growth.