||Issue No. 311||16 June 2006|
Interview: Rock Solid
Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Politics: The Johnnie Code
Energy: Fission Fantasies
History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
International: Closer to Home
Economics: Taking the Fizz
Unions: Stronger Together
Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Poetry: Fair Go Gone
The Locker Room
A Nuclear Error
Unions Deliver: Freehills
Freehills, the largest beneficiary of Canberra's workplace legal crusade, has revealed that union agreements contain 4.3 percent average annual wage movements, against 2.5 percent for non-negotiated, individual contracts.
The fact, contained in a hush-hush presentation prepared by the Melbourne law firm, undermines government claims that workers are better off on AWAs.
The timing is significant because it fills a vacuum created when the Australian Bureau of Statistics decided it would no longer measure relative movements in different types of agreement.
That decision was taken after surveys consistently showed employees on union-negotiated contracts earned higher hourly rates than those on AWAs.
The latest completed survey, in 2004, showed non-managerial workers on registered individual contracts earned two percent less than those on registered collective agreements.
In the subsequent silence, Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, have loudly claimed better outcomes for Australians on AWAs.
Andrews started claiming that AWA workers were "on average" 29 percent better off but he has reduced that to the Prime Minister's figure of 13 percent.
Industrial Relations professor, David Peetz, insists both figures are based on "bodgy statistics".
Peetz says both men refer only to "weekly earnings" which are skewed towards AWAs because a large number of those on collective contracts are casual or part-time.
There are also a preponderance of AWAs covering senior managers in the public service where Canberra has made them a condition of employment.
Peetz says the latest available hourly comparisons, from the ABS, show, across the whole workforce, people on collective agreements earn two percent more.
He said the survey showed that women on AWAs earned 11 percent less, per hour, than those on collective contracts.
"For casual workers, AWAs paid 15 percent less. For part time workers, AWAs paid 25 percent less. Indeed, amongst permanent part-time employees, even those on the award minimum, earned an average eight percent more than those on AWAs," Peetz said.
The Freehills document, dated 22 February, 2006, warns employers with enterprise agreements of the 'potential threats" posed by competitors who use AWAs to eliminate overtime, penalty payments and loadings.
It suggests one sentence for AWAs that can be used to eliminate entitlements to all six conditions the federal government claims are "protected by law".
Freehills has been sucking heavily on the public teat since Canberra diverted millions of taxpayer dollars to its campaign against trade union members.
Only, last month, Senate Estimates heard Freehills had pocketed $791,000 in the 11 months to May 8 by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
It also works for Andrews' Department of Workplace Relations and was one of the key firms involved in writing the WorkChoices legislation.
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