Uni report shows workers 'suffering' under WorkChoices

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Uni report shows workers 'suffering' under WorkChoices

The publication of a Sydney University report on collective agreements in the retail and hospitality sectors 'clearly demonstrates' the low paid workers in those areas are suffering under WorkChoices, says NSW IR Minister, John Della Bosca.

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The publication of a Sydney University report on collective agreements in the retail and hospitality sectors 'clearly demonstrates' the low paid workers in those areas are suffering under WorkChoices, says NSW IR Minister, John Della Bosca.

The report, Lowering Standards, prepared by the University's highly respected Workplace Research Centre, compares 339 agreements established during the first nine months of WorkChoices with 70 workplace agreements and awards that were in place immediately prior to its introduction.

Evidence 'irrefutable'

'The evidence is irrefutable,' Della Bosca said. 'Retail workers, on average, were shown to have lost up to 18% of earnings whilst hospitality workers on average lost up to 12% of earnings.

'Unfortunately some workers fared even worse:

  • In liquor stores: earnings lost ranged between 11.9% and 31.1%
  • In fast food outlets: earnings lost ranged between 12.5% and 21.3%
  • In bakeries: earnings lost ranged between 17.9% and 24.5%

'These are real and significant losses by anyone's standard.'

'Farcical nature' of fairness test

Della Bosca said the results of the study brought to the surface 'the farcical nature of the so-called "fairness test" to adequately protect employees losing long standing entitlements'.

'These included severance pay, notice provisions for roster changes, rights covering part-time work and time off after working extended hours. No matter how tricky the Howard Government tries to be, its fairness test simply cannot compensate for these types of losses.

'It's not just about the money, it's also about the detrimental impact unplanned hours have on working families and communities.'

Report 'biased and unfair'

However, both Joe Hockey, Federal Minister for Workplace Relations, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), attacked the report as biased and unfair.

ACCI Director of Workplace Policy, Peter Anderson, said the report is outdated because it does not take into account changes to the law in May 2007, when the Fairness Test was introduced (the report points out that no post-fairness test agreements have been released to compare with).

'This is a fundamental flaw,' he said. 'It is also not a fair portrayal of working arrangements because:

  • No existing employees were (even before the fairness test) able to be forced onto an agreement, or to lose entitlements to penalties or payments
  • Employees, particularly those in the retail and hospitality industries have benefited from substantial minimum wage increases to all wage classifications during 2006 and 2007. In fact, WorkChoices, for the first time, extended minimum wage increases to workers under agreements
  • No account is taken of increased employment in the hospitality and retail sectors since WorkChoices commenced, and
  • No account is taken of payments made beyond the legal requirements of agreements.'

Hockey dismissed it as a 'biased' report by a 'left leaning academic'.

He said over the last 12 months wages have increased in retail and hospitality by 3.2% and 3.1% respectively.

Govt 'did it on purpose' - Gillard

Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said it was time Hockey, Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello admitted: 'We support these laws, we support Australian working families being ripped off, we purpose-designed these laws so they could be ripped off.'

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WorkChoices collective agreements hit workers hard: study


 

 

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