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Government culpable in pilots' dispute



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MEDIA RELEASESENATOR FRED CHANEY DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS -- COMMONW6ALTH 114/89

GOVERNMENT CULPABLE IN PILOTS' DISPUTE

"Thousands of people are going broke around the country because of the Hawke Government's crazy industrial relations system and its gross bungling of the pilots' dispute", the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Fred Chaney, said today.

"There is no doubt that the much-vaunted Accord between Labor and the ACTU has actually caused one of the worst industrial disputes in Australia's history", he said.

"Its crippling prolongation has been orchestrated by a government which, while obsessed with the destruction of one particular industrial organisation, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, is overwhelmingly motivated by the defence of union power in general.

"Suggestions that the government is being 'tough' in its handling of this dispute by opposing the AFAP, ignore its wider agenda of the preservation of the privileged position of the organised union movement in the running of

the country."

Senator Chaney was speaking at a business breakfast on the Queensland Gold Coast.

"The Liberal and National Parties have condemned the AFAP's original, non-negotiable 30 per cent claim and the intolerable, gun-at-the-head tactics it used in support of that claim", he said.

"But the fact is that this dispute has grown out of the Government's industrial relations system, it is a creature of the Accord.

"That system and that Accord prevent employers and employees engaging in mutually profitable discussions aimed at increasing productivity and personal reward.

"The Government's system encourages and promotes mediocrity and the lowest common denominator approach at a time when Australia desperately needs exactly the reverse.

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"The Government won't let individuals and enterprises come to economically sensible agreements outside the strait-jacket imposed by the Accord for fear of undermining the power of the ACTU.

"It fails to understand that unless you get such agreements and unless you get them in thousands of Australian workplaces, the country will continue to wallow in a mire of stagnant productivity, declining living standards and massive foreign debt.

"The Government's conduct in the pilots' dispute has been centrally motivated by a desire to protect the Accord, to protect the institutionalised trade union movement and to buttress union power in general.

"In the process it has devastated thousands of Australian small businesses such as taxis, hire cars, tour operators and hotels and other providers of accommodation and has caused personal and financial suffering to many other thousands of individuals whose travel plans have been disrupted.

"There is no question of surrender to the pilots' original demands.

"But weeks ago the pilots claimed they were prepared to negotiate on pay, productivity, hours and conditions.

"That claim should have been tested by the Government instructing its own airline, Australian Airlines, to sit down with the pilots, the vast majority of whom obviously still want to be represented by the AFAP.

"Its refusal to do this, combined with its selective compensation of the airlines, has extended the suffering."

GOLD COAST 18 October 1989 Contact: Keith Kessell (062) 77 3170