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News News Tony Abbott promises to bring back individual contracts

Tony Abbott tells Australians he supports bringing back individual contracts [and WorkChoices under another name]

 Opposition leader Tony Abbott has given a clear signal as to the direction he wishes to take on industrial relations and perhaps unsurprisingly, it isn’t worker friendly.

 On the ABC’s Monday night Q & A program Abbott confirmed the Coalition will reintroduce statutory individual contracts if they are elected. He told the Q & A audience: "The policies that we take to the next election will provide for individual agreements.’ But he tried to soften the blow by saying: ‘There will be a strong no disadvantage test and no one will be able to be forced to leave their current arrangements to go onto different ones.’

The ‘No Disadvantage Test’ (NDT) was used by the Howard Government to regulate individual contracts before WorkChoices was introduced. While ‘No Disadvantage’ sounds good an Industrial Relations Victoria report into the NDT concluded that it was not effective in protecting employees’ conditions stating that the NDT was ‘failing adequately to protect employees…from a deterioration in relation to their terms and conditions of employment.’ Who was Industrial Relations Minister at the time? Tony Abbott!

Abbott also expressed his support for abolishing unfair dismissal laws for small businesses and for maintaining the ABCC in its current form saying: "If we have reasonable individual agreement arrangements, if we keep the unfair dismissal monkey off the back of very small business, if we have a strong cop on the beat, like the ABCC, I think we’ll have a productive, a fair and a free workplace," he said.

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk stated that Abbott’s definition of what constituted a ‘fair and free’ workplace appeared to be in stark contrast to what most WA workers would consider to be fair employment conditions. “Mr Abbott has given voters a clear indication of his intention to return Australia to a similar system of WorkChoices style employment conditions that we had under Howard. Individual contracts, abolishing unfair dismissal laws, retaining the ABCC – these things all favour big business at the expense of workers and their families.”

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