AMWU concerned ‘flexibility’ clause a de facto AWA

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AMWU concerned ‘flexibility’ clause a de facto AWA

The major manufacturing union is fighting to stop the ‘flexibility’ clause to be inserted in the forthcoming modernised awards from turning them into de facto AWAs.

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The major manufacturing union is fighting to stop the ‘flexibility’ clause to be inserted in the forthcoming modernised awards from turning them into de facto AWAs.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) president Julius Roe said the union is pushing for safeguards for workers so that they are not disadvantaged by flexibility clauses in employment agreements.

He said that flexibility clauses should not be allowed to ride roughshod over Award conditions.

‘We don’t want a situation where workers are worse off than what they would be under an AWA,’ Roe said. ‘And if you had a flexibility clause that says you can agree to change anything in the award, that would be worse than an AWA.’

No change

Roe said there are some things that employers should not be able to change by individual agreement.

‘Working hours and overtime are issues that shouldn’t be up for grabs,’ Roe said. ‘It’s easy to imagine a situation where a boss could find a vulnerable worker who will agree to work on Saturday.'

‘If none of the other workers wants to work on Saturday, that flexibility disadvantages them because it undermines the collective view.’

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, has asked the Industrial Relations Commission to prepare a model flexibility clause to be included in the new modernised and simplified federal awards.

She said that the clause should enable employers and employees to reach agreements to meet genuine individual needs but to ensure that workers are not disadvantaged.

Roe said the AMWU will submit its concerns with the IRC and the Government to include protections in the legislation.

Abuse

‘Flexibility can and does lead to abuse of workers by bosses and workers are often not in a powerful enough position to argue against what is being asked of them,’ Roe said.

‘Flexible work arrangements are more precarious and insecure and undermine health and safety in the workplace.’

Roe said unions all over the world were fighting against the increase in ‘flexible’ work arrangements because of the many problems they created for working people.

He said the International Metalworkers Federation has declared 7 October 2008 as Precarious Employment Day in order to highlight the issues faced by workers bound by insecure work arrangements around the world.


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