Award review will cut wages says Labor, but bosses  		welcome it

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Award review will cut wages says Labor, but bosses welcome it

The Federal Opposition says the Howard Government's Award Review will result in Australian employees having their take home pay reduced because conditions and entitlements will be stripped away.

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The Federal Opposition says the Howard Government's Award Review will result in Australian employees having their take home pay reduced because conditions and entitlements will be stripped away.

However the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called on employers and employees to use its findings to move from reliance on industry-wide awards to workplace agreements with wage structures specific to their business and employee skills.

Opposition IR spokesman Stephen Smith said the Award Review Taskforce has recommended that the Fair Pay Commission use the pre-existing Award classifications when making its minimum wage rulings.

'However, the Chair of the Commission, Professor Ian Harper, has to date refused to guarantee that minimum wage increases will apply to all Award classifications bottom to top,' Smith said.

Reduce take home pay

'The Government's streamlining of Awards will reduce the take home pay for skilled workers, as their experience, responsibilities and qualifications will no longer be recognised.'

Smith said the Award Review Taskforce has also recommended that the Government amend its industrial relations legislation to do away with its minimum wage guarantee for casual loadings.

'Labor supports making Awards simpler and clearer, but this Award simplification and review process is being used by John Howard to slash conditions and entitlements of Australian employees,' Smith said.

Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of ACCI, welcomed the report.

Dysfunctional

'The Taskforce Report highlights that the dysfunctional wage system makes industrial relations rollback no option,' Hendy said. 'It is a long overdue stock-take of the complex and unworkable regulation imposed by the old arbitration system and its multiple wage tribunals.'

He said its findings are a major set-back for those who 'defend or seek to return to the old arbitration system that created this mess'.

'Tearing up WorkChoices and forcing employers back into a dysfunctional award system is absolutely unacceptable to business and would institutionalise unfairness to employees,' Hendy said.

Wrong change makes it worse

He said the Report reveals that after 100 years of regulating minimum wage and classification structures, the arbitration system left tens of thousands of ill-defined classifications, no consistency in minimum wages for like work, no certainty in work descriptions, no equity across states or regions and limited scope for the labour market to operate effectively.

'Given that WorkChoices inherits this dysfunctional system, the wrong type of change could make it worse,' Hendy said. 'The Taskforce Report has wisely not recommended one model for change, nor instant change without testing its impact. The Fair Pay Commission should heed this warning.'

ACCI called on governments, the Fair Pay Commission and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to take a cautious approach to avoid making changes which impose unfair cost increases on employers, which would be bad for jobs.

Grossly unfair

'Employers will consider it grossly unfair and bad for jobs if wages or labour costs are increased simply because of a strategy to rationalise wages, classifications or loadings,' Hendy said.

'The solution that should be pursued is to increase the take-up of enterprise-based negotiated workplace agreements to replace dependency on traditional award arrangements.

'The Classification and Wage Scales to be adopted by the Fair Pay Commission must be flexible, and any general wage increases ordered must be modest enough to allow wages actually paid by employers to move ahead of regulated minima and be less reliant on its unfair and unworkable classification system.'

Workplace Research Centre - upcoming events

The Workplace Research Centre (formerly acirrt) has organised a number of upcoming events and courses in Sydney - designed to address current IR issues. These events and cover a range of topics including:

  • Essential Employee Relations Course
  • Introduction to HR Practices and Principles Course
  • Unfair Dismissals
  • WorkChoices: navigating the transition in NSW

Details

Details of these upcoming events are at the Centre's website.

Related

Award Review Taskforce Report - released September 2006
 


  

 

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