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Canberra: transcript of doorstop interview: car industry dispute, AIRC decision to terminate the bargaining period at Tri Star.

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Car Industry Dispute; AIRC decision to terminate the bargaining period at Tri Star Doorstop Interview, Canberra, 8:30am Tuesday 7 August 2001

ABBOTT: The umpire has given his decision in the Tri Star dispute and I imagine everyone will respect that verdict. And, everyone from Kim Beazley down will try to facilitate an orderly return to work. This has been a long and difficult dispute. It’s had most unfortunate consequences for the 12,000 stood down workers in the car industry. I think now it should be put behind us and people should get back to work as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST: Is there a danger that the union may (inaudible) on in other employers say Qantas?

ABBOTT: I think it’s important that we don’t speculate on the future. We simply get behind the umpire and ensure that the umpire’s decision is respected. As I said, it’s been a difficult dispute for everyone. Let’s hope that it’s now behind us.

JOURNALIST: Are you hopeful after the Prime Minister announcement yesterday of the South Australian Government coming on board with the taxpayer funded scheme will entice them back to work and satisfy them?

ABBOTT: Certainly I think that should help because South Australia’s joining the scheme ought to be an object lesson for the other states to join the scheme now.

Yes, worker’s entitlements do deserve protection and that’s why the Federal Government has put the safety net scheme in place. So, let’s hope that this strike can end and people can get back to work and those 12,000 stood down workers can go back to work because, that’s what they want and that’s what they are entitled to.

JOURNALIST: But your scheme offers only about 70 per cent protection though doesn’t it?

ABBOTT: Well, it depends very much on what sort of entitlements people have run up. If people have very generous redundancy arrangements for instance it’s possible that the scheme won’t offer full cover. But, for people who have reasonable entitlements, who are on low to middle incomes yes, our scheme offers pretty good cover.

It offers up to four weeks annual leave, up to four weeks unpaid wages, up to four weeks redundancy, up to five weeks pay in lieu of notice, up to 12 long service leave, up to a cap of $20,000. So it’s 27 weeks pay up to a cap of $20,000. It’s a reasonable safety net scheme. It’s affordable, it doesn’t cost jobs and now that the South Australian Government has come on board, I hope that the other state government’s can come on board.

JOURNALIST: Can you understand though why the workers at Tri Star aren’t happy with this because they want 100 per cent entitlements protected not just a cap for so many weeks?

ABBOTT: Well, my understanding is the company was quite prepared to enter into private arrangements to do that. The company was quite prepared to offer an insurance bond to cover 100 per cent of entitlements for those particular workers at that particular company. Unfortunately, the union wasn’t satisfied with that and the union was holding out for Manusafe.

But, look I really don’t want to trawl over that ground. This has been a difficult dispute, the umpire has given his verdict and let’s now have an orderly return to work and let’s have everyone from Kim Beazley down supporting the umpire and encouraging an orderly and speedy return to work.

JOURNALIST: (..inaudible)

ABBOTT: Well, I imagine everyone from Kim Beazley down will be supporting an orderly return to work. And, I’m sure that Kim Beazley’s message this morning would have been respect the umpires decision….

JOURNALIST: (..inaudible)

ABBOTT: Well, good on him because the umpire has given a verdict and let’s now have a speedy end to this dispute so that the 12,000 stood down workers in the motor industry can get back to work and the motor industry can get on with its job.

JOURNALIST: Does the government scheme require all states to join before this scheme actually operates?

ABBOTT: No, no, no. The government scheme has been operational since the start of January last year. Under the government scheme already some 5000 workers have had nearly $10 million in entitlements paid out. But, it would have been double that had the states joined in and I’m very hopeful that South Australia’s move to join the scheme will provide the encouragement that the other state government’s need.



For further information contact:

Simone Holzapfel 0417 656 668