||Issue No. 179||23 May 2003|
The Game’s Up
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Modern Management Theory
Off the Rails
Abbott: Unions are Winning
In a 20-page submission to Cabinet colleagues, Abbott confirms public servants are turning their backs on AWAs and non-union agreements in massive numbers and, as a result, are winning higher wages than Government would like.
Abbott highlights the success of public sector unions and the failure of his policy in a front page executive summary that bemoans the ...
- "low use by agencies of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs)"
- "declining level of non-union collective agreements, and
- "continuing trend for agreements to provide pay increases which exceed the average level of pay increases in the private sector ..."
The leaked document concedes the take-up level for AWAs is "minimal" below senior executive level and outlines a remedial strategy that jettisons all pretence of genuine choice.
Abbott recommends a revised policy framework that will force all new Australian Government employees and successful applicants for advertised vacancies to take up AWAs.
In a bid to force down union-negotiated wage increases future certified agreements will have to "reflect the Government's commitment to wage restraint" and be signed off on by relevant ministers, rather than departmental heads.
Further, Government will continue its policy of requiring that any increases be funded from existing budget allocations.
The Minister blames public service unions, the AIRC and secret ballots for his failure to lure significant numbers onto individual contracts.
"Unions are making the form of agreement a threshold issue in negotiations," Abbott tells colleagues. "The strategy invariably involves unions conducting a ballot of employees as to their preferred form of agreement prior to negotations commencing and seeking the assistance of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) where the form of agreement remains an issue.
"Unions have on a number of occasions successfully asked the AIRC to recommend a secret ballot of employees on their preferred form of agreement. This culture of collective decision making does not easily co-exist with the mainenance of professional standards and responsibility."
Abbott draws attention to "several" union negotiated settlements returning members increases of more than five percent, against the September quarter average of 4.3 percent.
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell says most public sector workers are facing their third round of bargaining since legislation changed in 1996.
"They know what works for them and what doesn't," O'Connell said. "People stick with collective agreement because they work and produce fair outcomes for all parties."
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