Most workers still depend on awards: report

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Most workers still depend on awards: report

NSW Minister for Industrial Relations John Hatzistergos said a report being launched last week has found that awards still play a significant role in determining pay and conditions for the majority of Australian workers.

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NSW Minister for Industrial Relations John Hatzistergos said a report being launched last week has found that awards still play a significant role in determining pay and conditions for the majority of Australian workers.
 
And the report suggests that collective bargaining may have to struggle to become the dominant method of setting workers conditions.
 
The report, Who Bargains, published by the University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre, found that the overwhelming majority of businesses refer to an award when determining pay and conditions.
 
Pivotal role
 
‘The report found that awards play a pivotal role, either directly or indirectly, as a reference point for determining fair pay and conditions,’ Hatzistergos said.
 
Co-author Dr Brigid van Wanrooy said the research shows that almost three million employees report that they do not negotiate their pay and conditions. Instead, they rely on awards to determine their pay and conditions.
 
‘The employees who do not participate in bargaining tend to be low-paid, low-skilled, in part-time and casual employment, and women,’ she said.
 
’Where collective bargaining does take place, awards still have a central role, with 90% of employers referring to the awards in their collective agreements.'
 
‘Therefore, it is essential that awards are recognised for the vital role they play in the setting of employees’ pay and conditions and continue to be maintained.’
 
The report revealed that collective bargaining has been largely confined to the public sector, with just 21% of private sector employees bargaining.
 
Tests assumptions
 
Hatzistergos said the findings test the assumption that collective bargaining is a widespread activity that employers and employees are ready to undertake.
 
‘The report provides a useful insight into the strengths of the award system in NSW and will inform our ongoing negotiations with the Federal Government concerning the national industrial relations system,’ he said.
 
‘It may be that small businesses and marginalised workers such as the low-paid, low-skilled, casuals, migrants and women may need special assistance to access collective bargaining.’
 
A full copy of the report will be available online.
 
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