In the limelight: AWAs and GEERS

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In the limelight: AWAs and GEERS

An example of an AWA explicitly included in the WorkChoices document at the request of John Howard shows the Federal Government is aiming at low wages and the elimination of award conditions.

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An example of an AWA explicitly included in the WorkChoices document at the request of  John Howard shows the Federal Government is aiming at low wages and the elimination of award conditions. Meanwhile the Government has added $62 million in funding to its scheme to pay some of workers’ entitlements when their company becomes insolvent, and has increased the areas of assistance it covers. 

PM’s ‘Billy’ example shows Govt wants low wages, says Della Bosca  

An example of an AWA explicitly included in the WorkChoices document at the request of Prime Minister John Howard shows the Federal Government is aiming at low wages and the elimination of award conditions, according to NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca. 

Example

In an attack on WorkChoices in State Parliament, Della Bosca referred to the case of ‘Billy’, whose example Howard said on the 7.30 report on Monday night was included at his insistence. 

Della Bosca said the AWA Billy is offered provides him with the relevant minimum award classification wage and explicitly removes award conditions for public holidays, rest breaks, bonuses, annual leave loadings, allowances, penalty rates and shift overtime loading. Because Billy wants to get a foothold in the job he agrees to the AWA. 

‘The Prime Minister wanted this example included because it illustrates clearly that the aim of the package is to get rid of award conditions: wages down, conditions out,’ Della Bosca said. 

‘The Prime Minister thinks that is a good example because it gets Billy a job, but at what cost? 

‘The cost to Billy is self-evident. He accepted a job at the minimum wage of $12.75 an hour before tax. He has given up his right ever to be covered by an award or a collective agreement.  

‘When working for that employer he will never have the right to a public holiday or a meal break. Billy’s hours are annualised, which means that his employer can roster him for an unlimited number of hours each week without any additional pay and without any meal breaks. 

‘If Billy is lucky, he may keep his job for 12 months and have the hours averaged out. But if he is unlucky, he will get the sack and never see a cent for any additional hours worked. He can do nothing about it. 

‘How will that affect Billy’s motivation and productivity?

‘The Prime Minister says, with complete transparency, that all this is okay because Billy was unemployed.  

‘The example provided by an arrogant and out-of-touch Prime Minister makes it clear what the Commonwealth Government aims to achieve by these changes: low wages and the elimination of award conditions.’

ACTU comment

ACTU secretary Greg Combet has pointed out that if ‘Billy’ refused the AWA he would lose his unemployment benefit. 

‘That's “welfare to work” reform right there for you,’ Combet said. ‘People are treated by this government as of lesser value if they’re unemployed.’   

Related

Federal IR changes 2005

Govt boosts scheme to pay workers’ entitlements  

The Federal Government has added $62 million in funding to its scheme to pay some of workers’ entitlements when their company becomes insolvent, and has increased the areas of assistance it covers. 

GEERS Scheme

The General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) scheme will now include:

  • assistance for underpaid wages in the three month period prior to the date of employer insolvency;

  • coverage for employees who resign or whose employment is terminated up to six months prior to the date of their employer’s insolvency;

  • assistance that recognises a claimant’s entitlement to notice of termination under their terms of employment; and

  • assistance for previously ineligible claimants by aligning the definition of ‘excluded employee’ under GEERS with the relevant definition under the Corporations Act 2001. 

Since the scheme was introduced in January 2000, more than 54,000 Australian workers have received in excess of $661 million in assistance for their entitlements lost due to the insolvency of their employer. 

The changes to GEERS will apply to insolvencies that occur on or after 1 November 2005.

Related

Redundancy entitlements - when the company liquidates  

 

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