Labor Pledge On Workers' Rights

PM Julia Gillard got a standing ovation at last night's farewell dinner for Sharan Burrow, the outgoing ACTU president, after pledging her ongoing support for workers' rights.

The dinner to farewell Sharan Burrow and celebrate her election as  general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation in Brussels was well attended by the MUA, led by Paddy Crumlin, national secretary and vice president of the International Transport Workers Federation.

"If I had a teacher like Sharan at school I probably wouldn't have left," he said straight from the heart.  "She is a great friend of mine, my union and all working women and men and their families"Julia Gillard told the Melbourne audience that Mr Abbott remained a strong advocate for stripping workers of their rights.

She said nothing has given her more satisfaction in public life than repealing the Howard Government's WorkChoices laws.

"Tony Abbott needs to explain to the Australian people without resorting to legal niceties and weasel words, his plans," she said.

"The real reason that Tony Abbott can't get his words out clearly, the real reason he can't keep a straight face when he pledges to not bring back WorkChoices, is because he absolutely believes in it.

"And because he absolutely believes in it, it shows.

"We cannot go back to WorkChoices and its ruthless undercutting of working conditions that left Australian families with less money, less opportunity and less security."

After the Coalition committed to making no changes to Labor's Fair Work Act for at least three years, Mr Swan told AM that Labor would not be making any changes either.

"No, we've made our commitment to a fair and balanced system. We don't believe that the way ahead for Australia is to slash wages and working conditions," he said.

The MUA booked two tables for the night for national officials Mick Doleman, Warren Smith, Ian Bray, Rod Pickette, Mich-Elle Myers, Dean Summers and Joanne White alongside the national secretary and branch officials Garry Keane, Port Kembla Glen Wood, Sydney Dave Schleibs, Dave Cushion, Kevin Bracken, Melbourne, Trevor Munday QLD, Jamie Newlyn SA, Glen Williams and Thomas Mayor MUA Organisers and Jan Thompson and Steve Groves, AMOU.