Fairness test will miss 2.5m workers: ACTU

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Fairness test will miss 2.5m workers: ACTU

About 2.5 million Australian workers will not be covered by the Federal Government's new AWA 'fairness test', according to the ACTU.

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About 2.5 million Australian workers will not be covered by the Federal Government's new AWA 'fairness test', according to the ACTU.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, also said workers will not be guaranteed full financial compensation for award conditions lost, according to the details of the fairness test amendments introduced into Parliament on Monday.

She said the 2.5 million workers who will not be covered by the test were those who are on already-registered AWAs and Agreements, earn more than $75,000 a year, or are award-free.

Family responsibilities

'The legislation also shows that workers with family responsibilities are particularly at risk,' she said. 'Employees whose availability to work is restricted due to family responsibilities or other personal circumstances may be deemed to have no entitlement to penalty rates or shift pay under the WorkChoices changes.'

Burrow said the changes do not restore the rights that working Australians have lost under the Howard Government's IR laws, and fail to guarantee that workers who lose conditions under AWAs will receive full financial compensation for that loss.

Simple principle

'There is a very simple principle here,' she said. 'Where workers put in extra — by working overtime or at night, on weekends or on public holidays — they should be properly compensated. No ifs and no buts about it.

'What any reasonable set of industrial relations laws must ensure is that where workers give up conditions like overtime, penalty rates, shift allowances or weekend rates, they should receive full financial compensation which ensures they are the same or better off than they would be under their award.

'These changes have not restored workers' right to protection from unfair dismissal, they do not guarantee any negotiation over work conditions will result in employees being financially better off than they would have been under their award, they do not ensure workers have a right to collectively bargain where that is what the majority in a workplace want, and they do not address the fundamental power imbalance between large corporations and an individual employee when negotiating AWA individual contracts.'

'Farcical' to scrutinise 31,000 AWAs a month

Burrow said it is also farcical for the Government to suggest that it will individually scrutinise the 31,000 AWA individual contracts that are being lodged every month to check they are 'fair.'

'Why do we need 600 new WorkChoices policemen if IR laws are "fair"?' she said. 'If the Government's industrial relations laws were really "fair" to working families why does the Howard Government need to employ the 600 new WorkChoices policemen it announced in Federal Parliament yesterday?'

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