Before the election at the ITUC, Burrow was the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and also represented Australia at the International Labour Organisation. In 2006 Burrow was slammed publically in the Australian media for authorising leaflets which were heavily critical of incumbent Liberal Prime Minister John Howard into the letter boxes of some 200 ILO delegates. Despite criticism, Ms Burrow made the bold move again the same year, breaching the terms of the ILO constitution.
Political disputes at the domestic level are not welcome at the international organisation yet Burrow continued to make waves by applying through the ACTU to list Australia as one of the worst places to work. This would mean that Colombia would be more appealing as a place of work, even though unionists are targeted and often killed.
Understandably, John Howard´s reforms to the role and rights of worker unions went against the agenda of Ms Burrow, who sought to strengthen Howard´s political opponents. Juliana Gillard restored that influence when she was elected, in Mrs Burrow and in an attempt to thank Burrow for her support, Gillard spoke fondly of her at her farewell. The election of such an individual to the International Trade Union Confederation undermines the integrity and legitimacy of the organisation.
She was criticised for praising labour policies in Australia that helped businesses gain more access to cheap labour. She has claimed credit for the introduction of the PPL (Paid Parental Leave) policy, which she claimed was a historic win for working women and the unions as well as a significant social reform in Australia. However the PPL policy was a scheme to give people longer lasting minimum wages during their leave, a move that favoured the interests of businesses.
ITUC has a leader that undermines her own legitimacy by acting to appease those she is not mandated to represent.