||Issue No. 240||01 October 2004|
The Premiership Quarter
Interview: The Last Bastian
Unions: High and Dry
Security: Liquid Borders
Industrial: No Bully For You
History: Radical Brisbane
International: No Vacancies
Economics: Life After Capitalism
Technology: Cyber Winners
Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Locker Room
How To Run Society
Kev Cooks the Books
It has come to light as further research has exposed employers as the industrial bully boys of the past decade, with a dramatic rise in lock-outs .
The study by Kristen van Barneveld from the University of Newcastle disputes the sweeping assertions that AWAs pay more, concluding gains for the employer come at the expense of individual employees.
Launching the Coalition IR policy this week, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews quoted ABS figures proving that workers on AWAs are paid more.
But van Barneveld has unpacked those figures, reporting on literature that highlights that - as well as the ABS figures being distorted by the high number of managerial AWA employees - collective agreement figures are also negatively distorted by a high number of part time and casual workers. In fact, the research suggests that non-managerial employees achieve better wage outcomes through collective agreements.
In fact, the research suggests that non-managerial employees, in fact, achieve better wage outcomes through collective agreements.
She also refers to research from ACIRRT showing that AWAs were less likely to contain provisions for a wage rise during the life of the agreement and, where they did, were more likely to be performance-based and at management's discretion.
More importantly, the research by van Barneveld highlights that wages are not the only factor in determining the impact of an AWA.
Looking at AWAs in the hospitality industry in detail, van Barneveld finds that "most of the benefits which had been achieved through the introduction of AWAs were one-sided, with employers achieving wages and hours of flexibility at the expense of employee entitlements."
"There is little evidence of AWAs being used for complementary purposes - to foster positive employee relations or to encourage or reward employees for excellent performance," she writes.
"Rather than use the 'carrot' approach to managing employees, it seems that hospitality employers prefer to wield the stick."
Van Barneveld's research tested these statistics by conducting case studies of four businesses in the hospitality industry using AWAs.
Among her findings:
- favouritism and division in workplaces both between AWA employees as well as non-AWA employees - in particular in relation to rostering - leading to a collapse in morale
- wages levels falling below the award during the life of the AWA
- little evidence of AWAs being used to reward good employees
- very little evidence of truly 'individual' AWAs.
"The case study findings suggest that organisational efficiencies were often gained at the expense of the individual employee," she concludes.
"This could occur not only in monetary terms but also in breaking down acceptable community standards such as the notion of a weekend ... or a substantial lunch break.
"In other words, under a system of individual contracts, inequitable outcomes for employees were often the corollary of provisions to enhance organisational efficiency."
< b>Bosses in Balaclavas
Meanwhile, a study by Chris Briggs of AC IRRT found strike action at historic low levels while employer lockouts were on the rise.
The study, which looked at the frequency of lockouts and strikes over ten years, found employer lockouts accounted for 57 per cent of all disputes between 1998 and 2003, compared with seven per cent between 1993 and 1997.
"More than half of all long disputes, which last for more than a month, are employer lockouts," Briggs says.
"Employers, not unions, are now responsible for most of the long-running disputes in Australia."
Briggs says the type of lock outs in Australia would be illegal in other countries, because they are designed to force workers to sign individual contracts.
The return of the lockout was led by the manufacturing sector in which
lockouts accounted for a quarter of disputes, the research found. About half of all lockouts took place in Victoria and in regional areas.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|