Business attack on AWA plan is 'politics', claims ACTU

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Business attack on AWA plan is 'politics', claims ACTU

The ACTU has described business attacks on Labor's plan to abolish AWAs as 'political' rather than based on facts.

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The ACTU has described business attacks on Labor's plan to abolish AWAs as 'political' rather than based on facts.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said the outcry of business groups ACCI and BCA against the plan 'shows some business leaders are more interested in playing politics than responding to genuine community concern over the Federal Government's IR laws'.

'It is not surprising that some business groups are speaking out in favour of the Howard Government's IR laws,' Burrow said. 'The laws have given many employers the power to unilaterally dictate the terms and conditions of workers' wages and conditions.'

Burrow said the IR laws allow employers to insist workers sign an AWA individual contract that cuts their wages and conditions as a condition of getting a job.

'Take it or leave it'

'Not all employers are doing this, but many are taking advantage of the new IR laws to simply say "take it or leave it",' she said. 'We have even seen some businesses using the new IR laws to sack workers unfairly and to employ people in the same jobs at lower wages.'

She said responsible businesses should be opposing this sort of behaviour and the laws that allow it to happen.

Burrow said ABS data shows that wages for full-time workers have dropped in real terms in the 12 months since the WorkChoices IR laws were introduced.

Not everything unions wanted

'Labor's alternative IR plans are not everything unions would have wanted, but they do get rid of the Howard Government's IR laws and restore balance and fairness to Australian workplaces,' she said.

Burrow said it is 'disappointing' that some business groups would try to exaggerate the impact of Labor's IR plan on the mining industry.

She said official Government data shows that nine out of 10 AWA individual contracts do not relate to mining at all and that most AWAs are in fact being registered in the retail, hospitality and manufacturing areas 'where award conditions like penalty rates, overtime, and leave loading are being slashed at an alarming rate'.

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