Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin has today hit out at the announcement that union access to workplaces could be wound back under a Coalition government, as nothing more than Tony Abbott planning a return to Work Choices.
As the Liberal Party faces increasing calls from business to take a detailed alternative industrial relations policy to this year's election, coalition sources said the opposition was "seriously considering" reversing changes made under the Fair Work Act to the rules governing entry by union representatives into workplaces.
"What they're talking about is a return to Work Choices and blatant union busting,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.
“It is a basic right of a union to walk into a workplace, investigate safety and health breaches and represent its members.
"We all know that Tony Abbott wants to reduce union representation of its members, which will leave workers in the lurch when it comes to disputes with powerful bosses,” added Mr Crumlin.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver also accused the Coalition of wanting to reimplement Work Choices if it won the next election.
Mr Oliver said unions should have adequate rights to enter workplaces to represent the industrial interests of members.
He said the nature of resource projects presented difficulties for officials trying to properly represent employees and the rise in right-of-entry visits in the 12 months to September last year could have been the result of more enterprise agreements being up for renegotiation.
Figures show there were 1659 right-of-entry visits for the 12 months to September 30 last year, compared with 1343 in the previous 12 months.
Mr Oliver is among those due to attend the first meeting of the government's National Panel for Economic Reform in Canberra tomorrow.
The Prime Minister and Wayne Swan will sit on the panel.