Give unfair AWAs the BOOT if they fail test: ACTU

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Give unfair AWAs the BOOT if they fail test: ACTU

The ACTU wants existing AWAs to be terminated if they fail the Fair Work ‘better off overall test’ (BOOT), and The Greens are preparing Senate amendments to allow that to happen.

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The ACTU wants existing AWAs to be terminated if they fail the Fair Work ‘better off overall test’ (BOOT), and The Greens are preparing Senate amendments to allow that to happen.
 
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the new independent umpire, Fair Work Australia, should be given the power to axe AWAs that fail to meet the BOOT test.
 
The Greens’ IR spokeswoman, Senator Rachel Siewert, said they will put forward a ‘simple and sensible’ amendment that will allow a worker on an existing AWA to ask Fair Work Australia to test it against the BOOT and to be allowed to terminate an agreement that is proven to be unfair.
 
Equal unfair dismissal protection
 
The Greens also expect to move amendments to provide equal unfair dismissal protections for all workers, strengthen the safety net, expand the matters that can be contained in collective agreements, provide workers with internationally recognised rights to freedom of association (including the right to take industrial action), and to increase the powers of Fair Work Australia.
 
Burrow said unions are concerned there is a concerted attempt by some in the business community and the Coalition to water down the changes in the Senate.
 
Bill does ‘not go far enough
 
‘There are also areas where the proposed legislation does not go far enough in restoring the rights of workers and establishing a fairer and more efficient IR system,’ Burrow said.
 
These areas included:
  • where existing AWAs are retained beyond their expiry date, the new umpire, Fair Work Australia, should be able to terminate unfair AWAs prior to their expiry if they would not pass the BOOT test
  • uwarranted restrictions on the subject matter of agreements remain. The unnecessary limits on what can be included in collective agreements will have the absurd effect of preventing small business employers from agreeing to have a shorter qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal.
 
‘We don’t think workers in small businesses should have to wait 12 months to get protection from unfair dismissal when their counterparts have to wait only six months,’ Burrow said.
 
‘Unions are planning a vigorous defence of the right of workers to access union advice and support in their workplace.'
 
Checking records is vital
 
‘Unions need to be able to represent their members and prevent them from being exploited or discriminated against. Being able to check pay and personnel records of all employees in a workplace is vital.’
 
The ACTU eecutive, which will meet in Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday, will consider a number of areas of unfinished business arising out of the Fair Work Bill as well as the fall out from the global financial crisis and the importance of maintaining jobs and income security over the coming year.
 
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