Unions start campaign to save paid parental leave agreements

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Queensland unions have vowed to fight budget changes that undermine paid parental leave agreements and attack Australian working families.

More than 16,000 Queensland mothers will lose up to $11,500 each through an Abbott-Hockey budget principally designed to re-elect the LNP.

Queensland Council of Unions Assistant General Secretary Ros McLennan said Tony Abbott, self-designated Minister for Women, was playing politics with the future of working families.

“Many hard-working parents have already bargained in good faith with their employer to reach agreements that will ensure those parents can care for their young family, both emotionally and financially.

“The suggestion that women are ‘double dipping’ is an insult to working mothers and completely misrepresents the nature and design of the scheme,” Ms McLennan said.

“Now Abbott and Hockey are holding those agreements to ransom as part of their budget con job on paid parental leave.”

The current universal Paid Parental Leave scheme introduced by the previous government was designed as a basic scheme for parents that would be complemented by more generous employer schemes taking women’s wages up to their full salary.

Complementing employer agreements with the government scheme could give new mothers 26 weeks of parental leave, which the World Health Organisation recommends to promote well-being for child and mother.

Ms McLennan doubted that Abbott and Hockey would manage to claw back their anticipated $1 billion from the PPL changes.

“The Chamber of Commerce has already said that business are likely to abandon enterprise agreements containing parental leave, which will put the federal budget back exactly where it started,” she said.

Unions say the teaching and nursing professions will be most affected.

“We will start campaigning in workplaces immediately, with information sessions and campaign material distributed to keep workers up to date on how the government is undermining the future of Australian families,” said Ms McLennan.

“Abbott and Hockey are out of touch with the pressures that Australian families face dealing with their attack on living standards,” she said.

The Coalition also announced it would stop paying Family Tax Benefit Part B to households when the youngest child turns six, down from the current cut-off age of 18 as long as the child is in school.

“These Budget measures continue the Coalition’s disappointing performance on any constructive policy regarding women and families. For every supposed piece of good news, there’s two pieces of bad news.”

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