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What does the union movement want from negotiations with the Treasurer, Paul Keating?

PETER THOMPSON: Well, what does the union movement want from its negotiations with the Treasurer? We've been joined, now, by Martin Ferguson, the President-elect of the ACTU, and to talk to him, Peter Martin.

PETER MARTIN: Mr Ferguson, what does the ACTU mean by enterprise bargaining?

MARTIN FERGUSON: The main thrust of the ACTU's agenda is to put in place a new wages system which guarantees lower paid workers an outcome so as to maintain their standard of living. And also in accord with the thrust of employers' demands over recent years, further to develop such capacity for enterprise bargaining, aimed at increasing productivity, ensuring that workers get a fair share of improvements in profitability which have come to the fore over the last couple of years.

PETER MARTIN: What do you mean by enterprise bargaining?

MARTIN FERGUSON: Enterprise bargaining is about direct negotiations with employers about wages and conditions of employment. It is not new to Australia. Many of us are very experienced at that type of bargaining.

PETER MARTIN: How is your enterprise bargaining different to that being proposed by the Liberal Party?

MARTIN FERGUSON: Well, the Liberal Party propositions were clear - open slather negotiations, winner take all, dog eat dog negotiations. The thrust of the ACTU negotiations is about establishing proper parameters which lay down guidelines on the basis of which negotiations should occur, with the assistance of the Industrial Relations Commission. It is no different to that which occurred with the Australian trade union movement in 1987 under the second tier system and that which is currently occurring under the structural efficiency principle.

PETER MARTIN: What sort of wage increase are you looking for, for the next year, for workers in general?

MARTIN FERGUSON: I question determining that appropriate demand at this particular time. We've laid out our parameters for discussions for the Australian Government, in the same manner in which the Australian Government has now put out in the market-place its parameters for discussion. It's this issue of the parties now sitting down and negotiating an appropriate package.

PETER MARTIN: Will that package include things such as child care?

MARTIN FERGUSON: The ACTU parameters provide for negotiations to the Australian Government on a range of issues. They include wages, taxation, the social wage - which includes such issues as child care - and maintenance improvements to families through such issues as the family supplement, the improvements in family allowances, and the question of child care.

PETER MARTIN: Mr Ferguson, thank you very much.

PETER THOMPSON: Martin Ferguson, the President-elect of the ACTU, with Peter Martin.