ACTU: Senate Rejects Abbott Government Attacks on Workers

The Abbott Government’s brazenly ideological attacks on workers suffered a humiliating setback today when the Senate voted down the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill.

ACTU President Ged Kearney thanked cross bench Senators Lambie, Lazarus, Muir and Wang as well as Labor and the Greens for supporting workers around the country by standing up for their rights at work.

Ms Kearney also paid tribute to the thousands of union members and activists around Australia who have participated in the campaign against the Bill.

“Without ordinary working people telling their stories to MPs and Senators, this result would not have been possible – I’m proud that they stood up to the bullies in the Abbott Government and won a great victory,” Ms Kearney said.

“At the last election, Australian workers did not vote for cuts to their rights at work.

“The biggest impact of this Bill was on volunteers – teachers, nurses, construction workers and firefighters who want to have a say in their workplaces.

“This Bill would have applied the same penalties and requirements that exist for CEOs of multi-billion organisations to ordinary people who choose to volunteer their time to their union or employer association.

“It should also be noted that despite being obsessed with ‘cutting red tape’ this Government was happy to massively increase red tape and duplication for Unions and employer organisations to further their political objectives.”

Ms Kearney said that following the defeat in the Senate the Abbott Government should expect renewed pressure from the business lobby to deliver on their promises to cut wages, conditions and rights at work regardless of the political cost.

“Despite the Liberal parties’ internal problems since the start of this year, we’ve still seen the business lobby out pressuring the Government to cut weekend penalty rates despite the electorate resoundingly rejecting this move.”

Ms Kearney said that Australians won’t sit back while the Liberals keep attacking living standards - hiking up the costs to see a doctor, $100,000 university degrees, cuts to wages and conditions and ripping out the minimum wage safety net.

“The Liberal Government would be better off if it listened to the concerns of ordinary working people who want better living standards and the right to defend their working conditions by joining and participating in a union.”