||Issue No. 324||15 September 2006|
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Youth Workers Beat AWAs
But joy was in short supply the day she received an AWA from her boss at Impact Services - a group home for high-needs kids in Blacktown - with directions to sign and return it.
"There was no mention of any sort of negotiation, it was just handed out to all the staff," she says. "I read through it and tried to compare it to the SACS (Social and Community Services) Award but it didn't stack up."
Large contacted the Australian Services Union in July to help decipher the document.
The AWA offered by Impact significantly undercut award conditions in several areas, says ASU secretary Sally McManus.
It offered no provision for annual incremental wage increases - unlike the award, which provides for increases over the next three years - and there was a complete reworking of shift penalties and annual leave loadings.
"It would have meant significant reductions in people's take-home wages," McManus said.
After discussions with Impact employees, union representatives held a meeting with management during which they agreed to withdraw the AWA.
"Nobody wanted to sign an agreement which undercut their conditions, they were quite happy with the award. But our members didn't feel the situation would be resolved by simply refusing to sign, they wanted the AWA withdrawn," McManus said.
Large, who attended the meeting with management to represent staff, is proud of her role in beating the AWA.
"It was very messy but everyone stuck together and we had a big win. I want to let other people know they can be supported by the union and they don't have to put up with this."
But victory came at a cost to Large. Employed as a casual, she had regularly been working 76 hours a fortnight.
After she involved the union in the AWA dispute her hours were gradually cut back to just two per fortnight, forcing her to find a new job.
"I can't afford to be without a job, but I've found new employment and I'm very happy where I am."
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