Bosses hammer administration of WorkChoices

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Bosses hammer administration of WorkChoices

Employer organisations which were strongly supportive of the Howard Government's WorkChoices laws have attacked the administration of them now that the election is over.

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Employer organisations which were strongly supportive of the Howard Government's WorkChoices laws have attacked the administration of them now that the election is over.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) told The Australian that many companies had been frustrated with WorkChoices because the process to gain approval for agreements was complicated.

ACCI Chief Executive, Peter Hendy said the administration of the fairness test had caused widespread disenchantment among employers. They also found the huge backlog of AWAs (140,000 at last report) awaiting approval by the Workplace Authority was also a problem.

'Systemic problem'

'If it was just a few hundred (in the) backlog you would say it is the individual employer's problem, but when it involves thousands, that is systemic,' Hendy said.

National Retail Association Chief Executive, Patrick McKendry said WorkChoices had become a major negative for the Howard Government by the election. He said there was employee concern about the laws and employer frustration with the legislation's complexity, making it virtually impossible to sell to the electorate.

'WorkChoices was undoubtedly a negative for the Government,' McKendry said.

Significant administration

He said the ACTU campaign against the laws succeeded in creating significant apprehension among employees, especially over AWAs.

'Employers were behind the eight ball at the start because they had to do a lot of explaining as to what the nature of the agreements were about,' he said. 'There was an initial and sometimes irreversible apprehension on the part of a lot of staff when the suggestion was first initiated that they strike an AWA bargain. This was a new world and a lot of employers got to the point where they said, "we haven't got the time to do this".

'They'd ring the (Government's workplace) hotline and get conflicting advice between calls. So there was a lot of mystery associated with it at the end that people couldn't be bothered with.'

Too complex

Australian Industry Group Chief Executive, Heather Ridout said the whole problem was with the way that WorkChoices was drafted.

'The original no-disadvantage test was about half a page in the metal industry award,' she said. 'In the current one, it's 75 pages plus. The nature of the law itself made it more complex.'

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