Hockey attacks another IR messenger with bad news


Hockey attacks another IR messenger with bad news

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has attacked another academic for producing a report which criticises the Federal Government's WorkChoices laws.


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Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has attacked another academic for producing a report which criticises the Federal Government's WorkChoices laws.

Last week Hockey described Griffith University Professors David Peetz as the 'poet laureate of the trade union movement' after he reported that workers on AWAs earned less than those on a collective agreement.

Spin doctor

He also called Dr Peetz the 'headline act of the unions' all star list of spin doctors'.

Yesterday Hockey described Professor Barbara Pocock, from UniSA's Centre for Work + Life, as 'doing a Chicken Little impression' over a report which says that WorkChoices has had a damaging effect on some workers which the new AWA fairness test could not resolve.

The report, Not fair, No choice: the impact of WorkChoices on twenty South Australian workers and their households, says WorkChoices has 'created a climate where some employers feel licensed to act with unilateral disdain for workers and their rights in many cases'.

Direct cuts

It says WorkChoices has resulted in direct cuts in workers' conditions - cuts which have not been compensated for by other positive changes in wages or conditions.

'The Federal Government's Stronger Safety Net Amendments of June 2007 [which include the fairness test] will make little difference to most of the accounts set out in this report, especially those related to dismissal, control over working time, and work and family flexibility,' the report says.

The research shows the effects of changes in unfair dismissal are 'casting a long shadow across the parts of the labour market in which vulnerable workers are concentrated'.

Won't speak up

'This is having significant effects on their voice at work, their willingness to speak up for themselves or colleagues, their capacity to act collectively or to involve unions, and their access to timely and clear information about rights and obligations,' the authors say. 'The findings of this study contradict the assertion that WorkChoices is resulting in more flexibility, certainty and productivity - from the point of view of these employees.'

Flawed analysis, says Hockey

Hockey said Professor Pocock had added to 'a long list of Labor and union funded research that provides another grossly flawed analysis of the workplace relations system'.

'Professor Pocock spoke to a total of 20 people to inform her recommendations to the South Australian Government,' he said. 'All of the people were considered vulnerable and all of them claim to have been negatively affected by their employment conditions.'

Hockey said some of the 20 responded to advertisements targeting people who had been affected by changes in their working conditions, while others were referred to Professor Pocock by 'service providers' and even a trade union.

'The sample and methodology alone rule out any possibility of credible results,' Hockey said.

'Tainted' with union money

'Professor Pocock's union ties taint the results even further. While she has failed to declare her conflict of interest in the report, a cursory glance of the professor's curriculum vitae reveals that she has accepted in excess of $165,000 in direct funding from the unions and an additional half a million dollars from the unions and other sources for similar studies.'

Hockey said Professor Pocock has also worked as a political adviser to the Democrats and occupied a position in the Hawke Government's Employment Advisory Group.

'Not fair, No Choice completely disregards the introduction of the fairness test,' he said. 'It was obviously more convenient to ignore the new test so as not to slow down the release of the report.'


Report shows workers on AWAs earn less

Fairness test won't soften WorkChoices blow, say academics



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