AWA stats too difficult to compile, says Hockey


AWA stats too difficult to compile, says Hockey

The Federal Government is continuing to refuse to release statistics on the content of AWAs, with new Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey saying there are too many of them.


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The Federal Government is continuing to refuse to release statistics on the content of AWAs, with new Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey saying there are too many of them.

Hockey, who in his previous portfolio was responsible for developing the Australia Card, which will contain data on all 20 million Australians, said the job couldn't be done because '25,000 new AWAs are being signed each month'.

In a debate with Labor's IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, Hockey was asked by ABC interviewer, Kerry O'Brien, 'why won't you encourage the Office of Employment Advocate to provide for scrutiny a proper analysis of a large range of these AWAs?'

Hockey: 'Because 25,000 new AWAs are being signed each month.'

O'Brien: 'Well, why don't you just operate on the first 100,000?'

One size doesn't fit all

Hockey: 'Because it comes back to the concept that one size doesn't fit all. People are trading a whole lot of different entitlements in order to get a better outcome for them and their families. Of course, there are some people who are trading off penalties, but in lieu of that they are getting either higher wages or they are getting more time at home. That's the flexibility we want to see in the system which will, over time, help to improve productivity.'

Gillard said the Government had only released statistics about AWAs once, last May.

'They showed that in 100% of those agreements, one protected award condition was gone,' she said. 'In more than 60% of them, penalty rates were gone. In more than 50% of them, shift loadings were gone, and in 16% of them there was no wage increase for the life of the agreement.

'Now, interestingly, the Government's never done those statistics again, and refuses to. We think that's because they would show that they were being bad for individuals.'

False assumptions

Hockey said Gillard was making 'false assumptions'.

'Firstly, the statistics that were released weren't the full statistics,' he said. 'They didn't reveal the trade-off for increased wages that comes with penalties going.

'Over the last few years with the development of new technology, with flexibility in the workplace, we've seen a massive growth, particularly in women going into the workplace, and they're looking for more flexible arrangements, including working from home or working odd hours, maybe while the kids are at school, and they are using the new arrangements that we've put in place in bucket loads to be able to give them the flexibility to have job security.'

Gillard disputed that there is 'bucket loads of evidence that AWAs are giving people flexibility'.

'In order for us to have that evidence, the government would have to release a whole lot of details about AWAs that it doesn't release, that it covers up, despite us asking for it in Senate Estimates and other places. If the Government was so proud of these AWAs it would be releasing that information.'

Won't release details

Hockey said the Government would not release the details of individual contracts.

'I don't want to look at individuals' contracts,' said Gillard. 'But you could get an independent analysis of the whole of the contracts, the whole of the AWAs, to say how many had uniquely negotiated family-friendly provisions.

'The Government doesn't let out information like that, because it's very fearful about what that would show. Most AWAs are not individually negotiated on the basis of how can we structure it for you. They are given to workers. You want the job, sign the AWA. You want the promotion, sign the AWA. You want to keep your job, sign the AWA.'

She said there was a process of 'pattern bargaining' with AWAs by employers, with the same AWA being offered to '100, 1,000, 10,000 employees and basically saying “It's a take it or leave it deal”.'

Mowing the lawn

Hockey said he knew of individual cases where AWAs where offering flexibility, including a worker who mowed the lawns at a Bundaberg sugar mill and could now start at 6am 'so he'd be able to get home and meet the kids'.

Full debate

The full debate.


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