Unions have warned employer groups could hunt permanent cuts to pay and conditions under the federal coalition’s overhaul of workplace laws.
Attorney-General Christian Porter is working on legislation after industrial relations talks between business and worker representatives wrapped up four weeks ago.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus accused some employer organisations of acting in bad faith without a “team Australia” attitude.
“Unfortunately, some employers are using the pandemic to want to bring about permanent changes, like permanent cuts that would pass on to the next generation,” she told ABC radio on Tuesday.
Unions are most concerned about a push to simplify awards, which outline minimum pay and conditions, and changes to bargaining laws allowing below par deals.
“Both those proposals, the net result is workers would have pay cuts, permanent pay cuts,” Ms McManus said.
“That’s not something we think is right, certainly for working people, but we think it would be a terrible thing for the economy as well.”
The working groups looked at casual employment, greenfields agreements, enterprise agreements, award simplification and compliance and enforcement.
The ACTU secretary described the group looking at casuals as a big missed opportunity to provide a clearer path to workers having increased job security.
Ms McManus is worried employer groups are now directly lobbying the government to secure industrial relations changes favourable to business.
“Any message to working people that ‘your wages might be cut, you’re going to lose rights’ is going to cause damage to consumer confidence,” she said.
There were areas of agreement between unions and some employer groups, which angered other business lobbies.