||Issue No. 329||20 October 2006|
Sucking the Oranges
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
Collective Contracts Still Rule
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews spruiked the figures as a victory for 'freedom of choice' for workers to enter into the full range of agreements.
But Professor David Peetz, industrial relations expert at Griffith University, disagreed - saying only workers in unionised workplaces had any choice over the kind of agreement they sign.
Of almost 440,000 employees covered by agreements registered since March, 30% are on Australian Workplace Agreements, 58% are on union collective agreements and 12% are on non-union collective agreements.
The rise in non-union agreements is significant because it offers employers a way around union involvement in negotiation and doesn't require all workers' agreement, said Peetz,
"Before WorkChoices was introduced an average of 18,000 employees a quarter were covered by these agreements. This has risen to 33,000 in the quarter to September," he said.
"They're a means by which unions can be bypassed. You don't have to agree to be covered by it... you can vote no but if 50% plus one of people in your workplace vote for it you're covered."
Workers in unionised workplaces had the most choice in the kind of agreement they entered into - with most choosing unionised collective agreements.
"Employers realise that there's not much sense in offering AWAs to a unionised workforce, in most cases if workers have got union coverage they'll get a collective agreement, so will the non-union members in that workplace," said Peetz.
ABS figures showed that while 23% of Australian members were unionised, 38% are covered by union agreements.
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