Labor slams work laws
LUKE Hartsuyker now knows at least 250 votes won't be going his way at next year's federal poll.
That's how many people attended a community forum in Coffs Harbour yesterday to denounce the Howard Government's deeply unpopular industrial relations regime.
Labor frontbencher Wayne Swan preached to a mostly sympathetic audience at the Coffs Ex-Services Club about the 'vicious legislation', and urged the crowd to dump Mr Hartsuyker, the National Party's member for Cowper, at the election.
"Luke Hartsuyker is a closet Liberal who does what John Howard tells him," Mr Swan said.
"He ought to be dealt with at the next election."
Labor was 'absolutely committed to ripping up these laws' which had the capacity to 'rip away' working conditions.
"They are bad for the economy," Mr Swan said.
The government's vision was for a low wage future, instead of creating wealth by investing in the skills of the workforce and lifting productivity.
"The Howard Government wants to take us backwards to the 19th Century. Labor says we must go forward into the 21st Century by respecting the dignity of work and rewarding work.
"This legislation gets rid of unfair dismissal protection for four million workers ... and essentially allows employers to strip away essential working conditions and award protection."
Mr Swan said under Work Choices, Australia was headed down a 'low wage road to a growing army of working poor', and that young people in service industries would be the first to feel the impact of the measures.
"We have the fight of our lives on our hands. If we want our Australia to be the place of the fair go, with a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, we have to defeat this legislation at the next election.
"We have to win 15 seats in the House of Representatives. It has been done before and it can be done again."
Transport Workers' Union organiser Mick Forbes cited the case of a worker who had been sacked for being by the bedside of his sick girlfriend instead of being at work, despite having tried to contact his boss about the emergency.
"These laws are absolutely bloody disgusting. They're anti-Australian," Mr Forbes said.
During his Coffs Harbour visit, Mr Swan, who is the Opposition's treasury spokesman, met Pacific Highway activists and was guest speaker at yesterday's Kevin O'Gorman Memorial Lunch at the Catholic Club.