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  Issue No 95 Official Organ of LaborNet 11 May 2001  




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Trades Hall

Neale Towart's Labour Review

The man for whom Style is a communicable disease is back for his own zany take on that crazy world of IR.



Australian Exceptionalism: The role of Trade Unions in the Emergence of Enterprise Bargaining by Chris Briggs

The shift to enterprise bargaining in Australia in 1990-91 was to a large extent forced on the AIRC by the ACTU. The ACTU was concerned about the erosion of union solidarity under the centralized system and wanted to assert their authority as against that the AIRC. By doing this, however, the union movement created a vacuum as they did not develop an alternative wage fixing system that would protect all. This was the space that the Business Council of Australia rushed into with its low-cost flexibility plan. The BCA model has dominated ever since.

(Journal of Industrial Relations; vol, 43, no. 1, March 2001)

Recent Trends in Pay Equity: Beyond the Aggregate Statistics by Gillian Whitehouse

The earnings gap between men and women has remained comparatively stable at an aggregate level over the 1990s in Australia. Whitehouse goes deeper than the aggregate data to show that wage dispersion is on the increase and argues that the current labour market environment does not allow the issue of pay equity to be addressed effectively.

(Journal of Industrial Relations; vol, 43, no. 1, March 2001)

Scope of Collective and Individual Bargaining in Australia

AN overview of bargaining in Australia.. Over 32,000 of the almost 47,000 collective agreements registered in Australia up to September 2000 were federal agreements, representing 79% of all award based employees there. 80% of award based employees in WA are covered by some form of collective or individual agreement. In Tasmania the figure is 69%, Qld 56%, NSW 46% and SA 42%.

As at September 2000, 129,565 AWAs were approved covering 2,551 employers. Total use of AWAs covered 1.6% of the workforce.

Average wage movements for workers covered by different forms of regulation range from executive pay rises averaging 4.5% for 2000 to safety net increases for the lowest earners of as low as 1.5%. Union based certified agreements delivered better outcomes for workers than non-union agreements.

A comparison of AWAs, non-union agreements and union agreements shows union agreements delivering 3.9% wage increases, non-union agreements 3.1% and AWAs 2.5%.

(ADAM Report no. 28, March 2001)

Innovative Clauses in Recent Enterprise Agreements

There has been some movement in recent times for a greater linking of workers' pay to skill and competency [despite the insistence by the Federal govt on youth wages regardless of skill]

A recent agreement in the timber industry for example, recognizes explicitly the competency based approach and the discrimination inherent in age based wages.

Incentive schemes also feature in new clauses. In the plastics industry a clause has been introduced based on measuring performance and paying an incentive for performance based on reducing the number of labour hours needed to complete a job.

Leave arrangements have also begun to shift away from standardized measures to tailored arrangements. In the automotive industry an arrangement has been developed where leave loading will be an incentive based on years of service provided that annual leave is kept current and is taken within 6 months of it falling due. The loading ranges from the standard 17.5% for one years service to 40% for service of 4 years and more.

Parental leave in the public sector has seen some change with a 12 week paid leaver for women and 1 weeks paid leave for men. Adoption leave incorporating a 6 week paid leave component is also covered.

Flexibility is a buzz word and flexible shift work arrangements are increasing. Some innovations look at how workers are compensated for increased flexibility. In the mining industry, for example, a clause in one agreement says "an employee required to change shifts for at least 3 consecutive working days shall be paid overtime rates for the first shift so worked.

Employee assistance schemes have rarely been in agreements but this report details various types of clauses in this area giving employees time to attend counseling and rehabilitation and also a role for unions in the process.

AN agreement in the hospitality sector contains a clause aimed at limiting the outsourcing of jobs.

(ADAM Report no. 28, March 2001)

Payment in Lieu of Notice - should super be included? by Pamela McAlister

The standard legal view used to be that payments to terminated workers nee not include superannuation. This was based on the calculation of what would have been directly favourable to the employee had the employment arrangement continued. Some recent decisions have cast doubt on this with a concept of "total employment cost" emerging.

The Workplace Relations Act provides that an employer must include superannuation payments in minimum notice payments. Employers have been able to exclude superannuation from any additional notice payments above these minimums. However, with the Total Employment Costs concept, employers may have to base additional notice payments on the whole package including superannuation. They should remit the superannuation to the employees super fund.

(CCH Australian Industrial Law Update; newsletter 4, April 2001)

Change in Status May Attract New Probation Period

Although there may be little change in an employee's duties, the employment conditions under a full-time contract are clearly different to the arrangements in place when the employee is engaged as a casual. Therefore, permanent employment entered into by an employee may be considered as new employment in accordance with a new contract and subject to a period of probation that is determined in advance of the new contract. In Wilkinson v Skippers Aviation Pty Ltd, Print PR903635, (30 April 2001), the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission confirmed that a pilot who was made permanent subject to a new probation period was accordingly excluded from the operation of the termination of employment provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Home Alone - Who's Protecting the Homeworker?

The definitions of employee and workplace are crucial in establishing the jurisdiction of legislation for certain forms of home-based work. Michael Quinlan and Claire Mayhew have done extensive research on the OHS problems of precarious employment and they predict that taxpayers will have a "heavy burden of support for the work-related chronic injuries and diseases of the rapidly growing precarious workforce that are without the normal protections of workers compensation. This article covers the popularity of home based work and looks at the positives and negatives for the employee and the hidden costs that can become part of it The Productivity Commission estimated in 1995 that costs of work related injuries were 30% borne by the worker, 30% by the employer and 40% by taxpayers. Quinlan and Mayhew have found that many home workers are excluded from compo cover and the costs are then more externalized to the social security system and Medicare. Quinlan and Mayhew recommend more homeworker specific OHS guidance.

(Workplace Intelligence; April 2001)


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 95 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Geek Guys
Two of the union movement�s pioneers in new technology, Peter Ross and Mark McGrath, chew the fat about wired unionism and virtual politics.
*  Compo: Costa�s Angels
Behind the spotlight of the workers comp campaign four women trade union officials have been burning the midnight oil to protect injured workers.
*  Legal: View from the Bench
Compensation Court judge and former Attorney-General, Frank Walker, argues the Della Bosca workers comp reforms are a threat to judicial independence.
*  International: Timor: Time for the Truth
HT Lee was in Dili when the militas ran rampage. Now he wants the truth to come out.
*  History: True Believers
Frank Bongiorno looks at the origins of the Australian Labor Party, which celebrated its centenary of Caucus this week.
*  Corporate: Trust Me, I�m a Multi-National!
BHP unions have united across the factions to urge �No� vote on the planned Billiton merger.
*  Unions: AWAs � A Doomed Future?
ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles plays clairvoyant and predicts a dismal future for AWAs.
*  Satire: Bush Defends One China Policy - Then Another China Policy, Then Another ....
President Bush today announced a major change to the United States� policy of �strategic ambiguity� towards the status of Taiwan and its One China policy.
*  Review: Surviving Survivor
Workers Online's Reality TV correspondent Mark Morey rakes over the coals of the Survivor II result.

»  Carr Government Avoids Own Safety Laws
»  Phantom Employers Face the Flush
»  Primus Suspect? Unions Seek Answers
»  Big Australian�s Merger Faces Rocky Road
»  Happy Hour for Heineken with a Half-Price Dollar
»  Arnotts Workers Call for Consumer Boycott
»  Asian Women at Work: Daring To Act
»  Academic Sacking Sparks Global Row
»  Labor Councillors Feel Childcare Heat
»  Rail Workers Win Maintenance Security
»  Knitwear Company Stitched Up Over AWAs
»  Three Stripes and You�re Out
»  Unions and Students Move on Harvard
»  IT Workers Alliance � Last Call for Comment
»  Our News Feed Hits 1000
»  Activist Notebook

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  The Great May Day Debate
»  Questions for Macca
»  Qantas on Impulse
»  Compo: The Great Tradition

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