Business outrage over scrapping AWAs is 'self interest', says ACTU

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Business outrage over scrapping AWAs is 'self interest', says ACTU

The outrage by employer groups over ALP Leader Kim Beazley's decision to scrap AWAs is being driven by 'big business self interest', according to the ACTU.

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The outrage by employer groups over ALP Leader Kim Beazley's decision to scrap AWAs is being driven by 'big business self interest', according to the ACTU.

'The Government's new IR laws are a huge free kick for big business,' ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said. 'It should not surprise anyone that business lobby groups like the ACCI and the BCA are out there doing everything they can to support John Howard and the Liberal Party on these issues.

'The recent claim of these groups that wages will fall if AWAs are abolished is a ridiculous farce and political posturing of the lowest grade.'

Removing conditions

Combet said the Government's own data shows that every AWA that has been signed since the new IR laws were introduced has removed at least one protected Award condition.

'In fact 64% of new AWAs have abolished annual leave loading, 63% have scrapped penalty rates, 52% have removed shift work loadings, 41% have got rid of Public Holidays and 31% have cut overtime pay,' he said. 'These are the things working families rely on to maintain their living standards and keep up with rising costs.'

Combet said big business law firm Freehills, which helped the Government write its new IR laws, has revealed that average pay rises for workers on AWAs is just 2.5% a year compared with 4.3% every year for workers on union collective agreements.

No credibility

'Business groups like ACCI and the BCA have no credibility at all when it comes to the interests of working people,' he said.

'Since leaving his job as a Liberal Party staffer in Peter Reith's office and taking over as CEO of the ACCI, Peter Hendy has consistently argued that the real values of minimum wages for Australian workers should be cut.

'BCA head Michael Chaney said last year that he believes that any workplace regulation "in the name of fairness is misconceived".'

At a press conference, ALP Shadow IR Minister Stephen Smith said if ACCI had had its way at Minimum Wage Cases the minimum wage now would be $20,000, not $25,000.

'ACCI knows all about lower pay,' he said.

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