Miners switching from AWAs to non-union agreements

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Miners switching from AWAs to non-union agreements

Mining companies are switching their employees onto non-union collective agreements that mirror the previous AWAs in an attempt to keep unions out if Labor wins the Federal election on 24 November.

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Mining companies are switching their employees onto non-union collective agreements that mirror the previous AWAs in an attempt to keep unions out if Labor wins the Federal election on 24 November.

Opinion polls have had Labor consistently well ahead of the Coalition all year.

The Financial Review reports today that a number of mining and related companies, including Newcrest and Monadelphous, have negotiated non-union collective agreements, and other companies are considering similar arrangements.

The paper says the collective agreements mirror the preceding AWAs and the mining companies are hoping for a clause in Labor’s policy that will allow for employees to move from AWAs to identical agreements should the AWA be terminated.

Virtually identical

The effect would be that employees' wages and conditions would be virtually identical but there would be less opportunity for unions to recruit amongst the workforce and re-establish a presence on site.

Some of the agreements are for five years due to concerns about Labor’s proposal that employees who are union members have the right for the union to represent them in negotiations.

However, the companies have given themselves an escape route should the Coalition win the election.

The agreements contain a clause that allows a new AWA to override the agreement before expiry date - even though this can already happen under the existing WorkChoices laws.

Phased out

Under Labor AWAs will be phased out when they expire, which could take up to five years.

Other large companies with a heavy reliance on AWAs, such as Telstra, are also believed to be investigating arrangements similar to those being followed in the mining industry.

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