Unions will seek FWA orders to stop cuts in pay

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Unions will seek FWA orders to stop cuts in pay

The ACTU has stated unions will take advantage of the new ‘take home pay orders’ available under Fair Work Australia to ensure workers don’t lose any of their current income under modern awards.

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The ACTU has stated unions will take advantage of the new ‘take home pay orders’ available under Fair Work Australia (FWA) to ensure workers don’t lose any of their current income under modern awards.
 
The AIRC referred to these orders in its decision on the transition to modern awards handed down on Wednesday.
 
The Commission specifically stated that no modern award or transitional arrangement was intended to reduce workers take home pay, and that if this occurred FWA could make an order to remedy the situation.
 
Legal avenue
 
ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said unions will make use of this new legal avenue and continue to push for better pay and conditions for all workers as award modernisation continues.
 
‘It is disappointing that thousands of low-paid workers will have to endure a five- year transition period before they see the full benefit of a lift in their award wages and penalty rates,’ he said.
 
‘Unions are concerned that the transition provisions are limited to wages and some penalty rates and will not apply workers' allowances and other job conditions.'
 
‘This means that many workers will see cuts to their take home pay through these award modernisation changes.’
 
Immediate losses
 
Lawrence said the reductions in allowances and changes to job conditions will come into effect from 1 January 2010 and result in immediate losses for workers.
 
‘This unfairly contrasts with the five- year phase-in for rises in wages and penalty rates,’ he said.
 
‘The current process of award modernisation has not met all the objectives that unions would have liked. We do remain concerned that workers in some industries risk losing take home pay and conditions.'
 
‘We acknowledge that the Government has established a process for hearing claims of disadvantage and can make “take home pay orders” if necessary. This will help guarantee wages and penalties, especially for new employees.'
 
‘Unions will pursue this avenue and will continue to work hard to represent workers and prevent them from being disadvantaged.’
 
New life in awards
 
Lawrence said award modernisation will breathe new life into this aspect of Australia’s industrial relations system.
 
‘It ensures that awards will provide a minimum safety net of wages and conditions that is simpler and more effective for both employers and employees,’ he said.
 
‘Awards will protect important matters like minimum wages and penalties for working unsociable hours, overtime for working past normal working hours and so on.'
 
‘They also enable bargaining at the enterprise level for employers, workers and unions to develop conditions above this safety net that meet the specific needs of the business.
 
‘Scurrilous campaign’
 
‘Several employer lobby groups have run a scurrilous campaign that overstates the true impact of award changes.'
 
’For many years employers have sought a single industrial relations system and have claimed that the operation of multiple awards across multiple states was costly and inefficient for large businesses.'
 
‘Now we are well on the way to achieving the rationalisation of awards within a single national industrial relations system, [and] employers are still complaining.'
 
’It is time for the employer lobby groups to accept the new ground rules of the Federal Government’s Fair Work industrial relations system, including the need for a fair safety net of awards that are simple for both workers and employers.’
 
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