ACTU calls on Turnbull to protect workers’ rights

UNIONS have roundly rejected a raft of draft proposals for workplace reforms, calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do the same.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions released its submission to the Productivity Commission's industrial relations inquiry on Monday.

It rejected out of hand several proposals including cutting Sunday penalty rates for workers and changes to help limit unfair dismissal appeals.

The inquiry is expected to release a final report in November and will help shape the industrial relations debate before the 2016 Federal Election.

While Mr Turnbull has said the government would not threaten workers' conditions, questions to Mr Turnbull's office on Monday went unanswered.

The union peak body has claimed the commission's draft proposals would shift the "balance of power" in favour of employers instead of workers.

However, several business and economics groups have backed some changes, including changing weekend penalty rates to help small businesses operate during the prime sales time.

But ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the draft proposals "ticked every box for unfairness".

He argued the proposals included cuts to the minimum wage, a "two-tiered system for penalty rates" and "making it easier to sack people".

"Wage growth in Australia is already low and the national minimum wage is just 43.3% of average weekly ordinary time earnings - the lowest proportion on record - yet the Productivity Commission wants to drop it even further," he said.

"This is Mr Turnbull's opportunity to show he's not in the pocket of employers and will stand by his word that his government won't attack workers' conditions."

Mr Turnbull has not yet laid out detailed plans for workplace reform under his leadership and it is understood any such major policy changes would be considered by the Cabinet.

The Tony Abbott-led government had promised to take any proposed industrial relations reforms to the people at the next election.


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