Abbott votes against workers’ rights

Abbott shows true colours on workers’ rights by voting against securing entitlements

31 October, 2012

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has shown the Coalition’s true colours on workers’ rights by voting against legislation increasing the protection for workers who lose their entitlements when companies go under.

The bill, which passed through the House of Representatives yesterday despite opposition from the Coalition, expanded the coverage of government-backed schemes which ensure workers do not lose redundancy pay, long-service leave or holiday pay if their employers go bankrupt.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said unions had been campaigning for greater protection of these entitlements and the legislative changes should have had bi-partisan support.

“The Coalition’s refusal to support this bill is a major concern for workers who will be worried that any future Abbott government would take this protection away,” Mr Oliver said.

“After a year or more of dragging a fluoro vest and hard hat into every workplace he could find to talk about how he cares for workers jobs, he has failed in a real test of whether he would take care of workers’ interests, by voting down this law.

“This is a law which protects workers and their families at a time of need, yet the Coalition can not bring themselves to support it, because they do not understand how important it is for workers.”

“When companies go bust, many workers miss out on payments they are legally entitled to, on top of losing their jobs.

“Workers often have little or no say during bankruptcy proceedings, and end up losing their entitlements through no fault of their own.

“This bill closes the gaps and ensures that redundancy entitlements are paid up to four weeks per year of service.

Under the new legislation, employees will be protected if their employer is subject to deed of company arrangements, or equivalent bankruptcy proceedings.

Mr Oliver said the bill contained safeguards which ensure the system can only be used in cases of genuine insolvency, and not as a way for employers to avoid their obligations.

“This is a balanced and sensible piece of legislation. The Coalition should be ashamed that they did not support it.”

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