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News News Liberal Party Silent on Job Security and Rights at Work

UnionsWA has today launched its TV Advertisement for the 2008 WA State Election. The Ad alerts voters to the silence of the Liberal Party on job security and rights at work.

"During this campaign there has been a deafening silence on what work laws would look like under a Colin Barnett State Government," UnionsWA Secretary, Dave Robinson said today.

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"The last time Mr Barnett spoke on this matter, he said he "totally supports" John Howard's WorkChoices laws. Does that mean we can we expect individual contracts, privatisation and no independent umpire if the Liberals are elected?" Dave Robinson said.

"We also know what the Liberal Party's track record is in WA. Last time they were in government, they launched an all-out assault on WA workers:

  • The Liberal Party pushed workers on to individual contracts that slashed wages and conditions
  • The Liberal Party consistently delayed wage increases for public sector workers
  • The Liberal Party privatised government services like school cleaning and prison management."

UnionsWA estimates up to 200,000 WA workers could be covered by state work laws  - people in the state public sector, small businesses and local government.

"WA workers must not be kept in the dark about Liberal Party plans for their job security and rights at work", said Mr Robinson.

Directly after Colin Barnett was elected as leader of the Liberal Party, Secretary of UnionsWA Dave Robinson wrote asking Mr Barnett to clarify his policy on work laws.

To date there has been no response.

Here is an excerpt from that letter from Dave Robinson to Colin Barnett, dated 8 August 2008:

I write to you on behalf of UnionsWA's affiliates seeking your response to a number of IR related matters now that the State election has been called.

In doing so, I note the comments that you made in the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3 & 4) 2005.

Hansard (24 November 2005) reports you as saying that:

"The Australian Labor Party, particularly in this Parliament, continues to whinge about the changes to the industrial relations system. I agree with the broad direction of those changes; I think they are being done the wrong way, but I support the industrial relations reform."

Of course, the "wrong way" referred to the exercise of Corporations Powers by the then federal government to override the State's jurisdiction. My questions to you relate (as you would expect) substantially to this matter.

  1. Is it still yours and the Liberal Party's position that you support the "broad direction" of the industrial relations reforms promulgated by the Federal Liberal Party in its last term of government?
  2. If so, exactly what elements/policy?
  3. If not, what do you believe should be different in terms of that policy?
  4. What is your specific IR policy for WA and who is your IR spokesperson (I note that there is no shadow allocated to IR)?
  5. Is it still your view that the state should retain control of its IR through the WA Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC)?
  6. Do you intend to try and keep Public Sector workforce issues within the state rather than transferring to Commonwealth jurisdiction? And how do you define the Public Sector, for instance, does it include the Trading Entities such as Western Power, Gold Corporation etc?
  7. You and your party have made a number of comments in relation to contracting out of government services and functions and a more rigorous adoption of PPP's. Can you outline in what areas and the extent to which you would see this occurring?
  8. You have made comments with respect to restructuring the Public Sector and ensuring that the sector is returned to an "apolitical" position. Can you advise what this might mean? I note also your comments in regard to a Public Sector Commissioner or Commissioner for Public Sector Employment role (which, if implemented properly, could be a positive step) and ask if this is a matter that you intend to implement if you win Government?
  9. What is your position with respect to the ongoing functions of the Office of Shared Services?
  10. What is your policy with respect to State Government employees in Regional WA, particularly as it relates to attraction and retention and improved District Allowances payments?

As you can imagine, these are matters of vital concern to working people in WA and I would appreciate your early response.

When you  vote on September 6.
we urge you to consider the Liberal's track record on work laws.

Alex Falconer 
UnionsWA Campaign Organiser   
0438 000 566

Media comment: Dave Robinson 0417 060 360

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