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Tasmanian liberal premier rejects Hewson/Howard ir agenda

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Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Ray Groom, has soundly rejected the Federal Opposition's hard line industrial relations policies outlined in Fightback.

Speaking on ABC Radio, Hobart, Mr Groom dismissed as unjust and unfair the key plank of the Hewson/Howard IR policy, direct bargaining between employers and employees without the involvement of third parties.

Mr Groom said that employees had to be properly and effectively represented in their workplaces and this was the role of unions.

In direct contrast to Messrs Hewson and Howard, he acknowledged that: " Many employees, say on the shop floor, would feel quite ill-equipped to negotiate arrangements with employers. So it is only a matter of fairness and justice that

they have someone to represent them."

Earlier, Mr Groom dismissed suggestions that Tasmania should become a testing ground for the Federal Opposition1s right wing industrial policies. Specifically, he repudiated the New Zealand approach to industrial relations which so attracts Dr Hewson.

Speaking last week in New Zealand, Mr Hewson indicated that the Opposition will force workers out of the protection of the award system and into individual employment contracts with their employers.

Mr Howard's attempts to soften Mr Hewson's remarks were unconvincing.

The fact remains that under the Opposition's policies, employers have the right and power to force workers out of the award system and into private employment contracts.

Messrs Hewson and Howard would do well to note Mr Groom when he noted: " An effective and successful politician must be in tune with the community at large. And those who follow a strict ideology tend not to succeed in politics."



Mr Groom recognises that the Hewson/Howard workplace scenario is one of conflict, lack of job security, lower wages for vulnerable workers and longer working hours - the New Zealand road.

If the Federal Coalition's policies are ever implemented vulnerable workers in Australia will end up in the same position as those in New Zealand.

An analysis of the first 190 employment contracts by the New Zealand Department of Labour show that over half of the employees covered under such contracts had their wages frozen or reduced.

The picture is actually worse than that suggested by these statistics because contracts that cover less than 20 workers were not included in the analysis.

There is strong case-study evidence to suggest that a far higher proportion of workers employed in small businesses have suffered pay reductions.

28/4/92 Contact: Don Mackay 06 2777320 wk

06 2314462 hm