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Clay Lucas
May 15, 2012

Incoming ACTU secretary Dave Oliver is expected to lead an aggressive campaign.Incoming ACTU secretary Dave Oliver is expected to lead an aggressive campaign. Photo: Peter Rae

EMPLOYER groups say a plan to be released by unions tomorrow to ensure Australia’s labour laws provide better protections for casual and temporary workers would damage the nation’s interests.

Almost 1000 union leaders from across Australia will converge this morning at the Sydney Convention Centre, for the first day of the ACTU’s three-day congress, the union movement’s triennial call to arms.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will address the gathering this afternoon, and Dave Oliver will be formally installed as ACTU secretary in the place of outgoing chief Jeff Lawrence.

With business groups pushing the Coalition to adopt a hard-line industrial relations policy, Mr Oliver is expected to lead a more aggressive campaign by the union movement.

And amid the continuing fallout from the Craig Thomson and Health Services Union saga, ACTU members are also expected to debate new governance standards for unions, to ensure zero tolerance for corruption is enforced.

The ACTU will also formally release its report on ”insecure” workers – people in casual work, working for labour hire firms, or on a contract – who now make up 40 per cent of the Australian workforce.

The report recommends that casual work be allowed only for ”irregular, intermittent or very short-term work”. And, under the union’s plan, the creation of jobs deemed temporary would be outlawed ”where there are reasonable grounds to expect that the work will be ongoing”.

Employer groups said most of these ideas would dangerously shift the balance of power from employers to employees.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Peter Anderson said business would resist most of the proposed ”solutions” ”because they are based on the creation of new rights that the economy would not be able to support”.

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