New business owner puts existing workers on AWAs, says Labor

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New business owner puts existing workers on AWAs, says Labor

Employees at a Perth supermarket are being 'sold with the business', with their new employer putting them on AWAs, that cut rest breaks and pay increases, according to Labor.

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Employees at a Perth supermarket are being 'sold with the business', with their new employer putting them on AWAs, that cut rest breaks and pay increases, according to Labor.

ALP IR spokesman Stephen Smith says the deal at the Hilton IGA supermarket 'sends a clear warning to employees that the Howard Government's workplace protections during a transmission of business are either "meaningless" or are not working in practice'.

Smith said the Perth supermarket is being sold by Metcash to Ten Talents Pty Ltd with effect from today, Monday, 25 September. He said the more than 60 staff who work at Hilton IGA have been required to sign AWAs by the incoming owner as a condition of their employment.

Take it or leave it

'It's a strictly take it or leave it deal,' Smith said. 'The AWAs offered by Ten Talents reduce or remove entitlements like rest breaks and future pay increases, which were covered by the Metcash collective agreement.'

Smith said that under the Government's WorkChoices laws a signed AWA overrides the employees' previously existing entitlements as set out in the collective agreement.

He said one employee, 25 year old Michael King who has worked at the Hilton IGA for seven years, has taken the decision not to sign the new individual agreement.

'I was advised by Michael when we met on the weekend that it's just too unfair for him to sign,' Smith said. 'Michael calculates he will lose anywhere between $700 and $1,000 a year if he signed up.'

Protections are meaningless

However Smith said about 60 other people who work at the Hilton IGA did sign, as they also faced the prospect of not having a job if they didn't sign the AWA.

'If what Ten Talents is doing is lawful, the Government's so-called protections for employees in transmission of business circumstances are meaningless,' he said.

Smith said the Minister for Workplace Relations Kevin Andrews was reported over the weekend as saying that Metcash employees at the Hilton IGA were entitled to keep their existing pay and conditions for 12 months.

'The problem for Andrews, and more importantly the Hilton IGA employees, is that that is not happening on the ground,' he said.


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