AWAs surge on the back of WA

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AWAs surge on the back of WA

The first quarter of 2003 has seen an 81% increase in the number of Australian Workplace Agreements filed nationally, largely due to a 420% increase in the AWA filing rate in Western Australia, according to the latest figures compiled by the Office of the Employment Advocate.

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The first quarter of 2003 has seen an 81% increase in the number of Australian Workplace Agreements filed nationally, largely due to a 420% increase in the AWA filing rate in Western Australia, according to the latest figures compiled by the Office of the Employment Advocate.
 
Federal Employment Advocate Jonathon Hamberger told WorkplaceInfo AWA filing rates were up all over Australia on the same time last year, with the biggest surge in WA.
 
He said AWAs were flowing in from WA at 4,000 a month. The trend had been occurring for the past 10 to 11 months.
 
Changes to industrial relations laws in WA were probably the reason behind the surge in AWAs, he said. Prior to the introduction of the new IR laws WA lacked a 'no disadvantage test', and employers just had to meet a minimum wage test.
 
Employers were probably leaving the tougher state system thinking they would get a better deal with AWAs, he said. But employers who lodged AWAs were probably a little shocked when they lodged AWAs and found a 'no disadvantage test' was awaiting them under the federal system.
 
WA employers who failed the 'no disadvantage test' could withdraw from the AWA process, but then they would have to meet the provisions of the relevant state award.
 
Another factor relating to the increase in AWAs may be the presence of OEA industry partners who provide advice to WA employers on AWAs. The OEA has a specified partner program that helps employers lodge AWAs. The partner checks to ensure the AWA will pass the 'no disadvantage test'.
 
However, Hamberger said, he could not find a relationship between specific partners and the growth in AWAs. He added that AWAs lodged by partners were put to the same test as those not lodged by partners. Any that failed were returned to the employer.
 
Victoria and AWAs
 
Although the increase in AWAs in Victoria was only 36% on the same quarter last year, it was significant, Hamberger said, because the lodgement of Victorian AWAs had in the past trailed away but was now on the increase.
 
The AWA surge in Victoria is put down to possible upcoming changes to the IR laws affecting the state's 350,000 lowest-paid workers currently covered by schedule 1A of the Workplace Relations Act. Hamberger said he believed employers were getting in early to avoid complications when the law did eventually change.
 
AWAs in other states and territories
 
In Tasmania the increase in AWAs lodged for the first quarter of this year was 110% followed by Queensland at 76%, Australian Capital Territory at 74%, South Australia at 29% and New South Wales and the Northern Territory both at 8%.
 
Hamberger estimated that AWAs covered approximately 155,600 people nationally.
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