Productivity and Labour Relations Minister Yvonne Henderson today warned Western Australian workers that there were many similarities between the industrial relations policies of Victoria's Liberal Government and WA's Liberal Party.
Mrs Henderson said, although the WA Opposition was trying to distance itself from the Kennett Government's actions, the two policies had much in common.
"Both policies state they will maintain workers' minimum conditions and that workers will suffer no loss of award wages and conditions - without offering any real protection," Mrs Henderson said.
"We are now seeing, within just weeks of Mr Kennett taking office, how highhandedly he is breaking that pledge."
Mrs Henderson pointed to other similarities between the two policies:
· both reduce the role and independence of the Industrial Relations Tribunal;
· both remove unions' legitimate role of representing workers' interests at the workplace;
· both introduce individual and collective employment agreements - without unions' representation;
· both claim to introduce `choice' into the employment relationship, wrongly assuming employees have the same negotiating power as employers;
· both introduce a greater role for the common law in industrial and employment matters;
· both leave individual employees to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment.
"Despite the Victorian Liberals' pre-election promises not to lower wages and conditions, they have abolished leave-loading for 800,000 workers under State awards; abolished weekend penalty rates; frozen superannuation benefits; abolished permanency in the public sector and imposed heavy penalties for industrial action," Mrs Henderson said.
"Even Federal Liberal John Howard has publicly recognised that the Kennett team had not warned the public before the election that it would attack penalty rates and annual leave-loading.
"Just how much can WA workers trust the WA Liberals' policy?
"Liberal spokesman Mr Kierath is quoted today as saying everything the Liberals plan to do is in their policy.
"But in fact the policy leaves more questions than answers.
"It is a lightweight document full of holes that does not even disclose what the minimum wage will be.
"We can only assume that they are leaving themselves the escape plan to reduce employment conditions in the same way as has been done in Victoria.
"Will electorate officers be sacked to pay for Liberal ministers' pay increases?
"WA electors must demand to know exactly what the WA Liberals plan for them and how their working conditions will be affected by a future Liberal Government.
"The Liberals' actions in Victoria is a warning to make WA workers ensure it does not happen here."