An incoming Labor government will be ‘absolutely’ held to account for promises the party has made about increasing wages and helping workers.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus says she also expects to see action on multi-employer bargaining, which Labor has promised for some low-wage industries.

In a speech to the Melbourne Press Club on Friday, Ms McManus said Australians realise the balance has tilted too strongly in favour of employers.

‘We are ready to work with those businesses and business leaders who also want a fair and equal country, instead of one driven with suspicion, division, inequality and anger,’ she said.

Ms McManus said Australia’s enterprise bargaining system is broken and declining, as wages were flatlining.

She said multi-employer bargaining, and the power to strike, needed to be part of Australia’s industrial relations landscape.

‘The option to take industrial action in last resort absolutely has to be available for multi-employer bargaining just as it is for enterprise bargaining,’ Ms McManus said.

‘It’s not that anyone wants to take strike action, but if you don’t have that as part of your bargaining tools … then you’re in a much weaker bargaining position.

‘So we would see that it’s absolutely necessary and right that whenever you’re bargaining that you should have that right as a last resort to withdraw your labour.’

Ms McManus said she had spoken to virtually every party about the ACTU’s Change The Rules campaign, and said Labor seemed prepared to listen.

But she said if Labor wins the next election the ACTU will ‘absolutely’ hold them to account on the party’s commitments to improving conditions for working people.

‘We’re not putting all this effort into this because of any other reason than wanting the actual laws changed,’ she said.