Unions take to the campaign trail

LOCAL cleaners and hospitality workers say they ‘definitely’ won’t be voting for Tony Abbott in the upcoming election.

Unions NSW started its official election campaign yesterday in Ballina, where it met members of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.

With rumours of an election being called in the next few days, Unions NSW deputy assistant secretary Mark Morey said it was important to tell workers that voting for the Opposition would be vote for hardline industrial relations policies.

“Well obviously the election is coming up and Tony Abbott has a history of making statements on the removal of WorkChoices, and we are concerned as not everything he says is the gospel truth,” he said.

“Whatever Tony Abbott calls it, he is going back to individual contracts, and that’s what brought a loss of wages and conditions.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ousting of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was backed by the unions, but Mr Morey says this has portrayed unions unfairly.

“I think it is unfair because it’s the party that elects the leader,” he said.

“It is the members and the Australian Labor Party Caucus that elect the leader, not the unions.”

The new ALP leader has not made any promises on industrial relation polices.

“Julia Gillard hasn’t come out saying she is going to change Fair Work,” Mr Morey said.

“I think there are some changes that could be made.

“At least we know there is a chance to improve it.”

Unions NSW has pinpointed the Federal seat of Page for its campaign.

The union believes the Nationals lost the seat in 2007 due to a community backlash against WorkChoices.

A local union member, who asked not to be named, believes the Fair Work changes under the Labor Government have saved his long service leave.

“With school cleaners, when Labor came in that’s when the union got with the contractors and they were honouring our long service leave and super,” the cleaner said. 

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