||Issue No. 327||06 October 2006|
The Road to Bangalore
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
AWAs – Thanks a Million
By remarkable coincidence, the Adelaide disability services provider, Comrec - one of the businesses recruited to promote the individual contracts that are slashing pay and conditions- was recognised as registering the millionth document.
Howard and his WorkChoices Minister Kevin Andrews were lucky not to turn up to another well-known community service in Adelaide in the process of implementing individual agreements.
Staff at the Cancer Council of South Australia have been asked to sign individual agreements which significantly reduce their employment conditions and lock them into low wages for five years, said SA Unions Secretary Janet Giles.
The AWAs presented to Cancer Council staff include a 3.4% increase in working hours; a reduction of shift penalties, higher duty entitlements and sick leave; a pay rise of only one percent a year for five years; and requirements for employees to agree to do any work at any site and submit to a full medical examination at any time for any reason.
"When Prime Minister Howard promotes his Government's push to individual contracts, he won't be talking about the disadvantages workers at Cancer Council now face through the introduction of AWAs" said Giles.
Cancer Council workers are not exception to the AWA rule.
Conditions included in AWAs have been slashed since the introduction of Howard's new IR laws, which overturned the previous requirement that workers not be disadvantaged by an individual agreement.
According to its own AWA umpire, the Office of the Employment Advocate, two thirds of AWAs signed under WorkChoices have cut penalty rates, a third have cut overtime pay, half have ditched shift penalties and one-fifth have provided for no pay rise for workers - some for five years.
While one million AWA's have been lodged in the past decade, around one-third of those have expired or become otherwise invalid, says the OEA.
Only a few months ago, the OEA told Workers Online it had no idea how many AWAs were still in operation.
Unions estimate less than 500,000 are operative, less than five percent of the workforce, although WorkChoices changes mean they can now be force on all new starters.
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