No more new AWAs — new IR laws proclaimed

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No more new AWAs — new IR laws proclaimed

The Federal Government’s transitional IR laws, which end the making of new AWAs, were proclaimed this morning after Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard visited the Governor-General.

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The Federal Government’s transitional IR laws, which end the making of new AWAs, were proclaimed this morning after Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard visited the Governor-General.

Governor-General Michael Jeffery formally made the proclamation of the laws at 10.45 am at Admiralty House in Sydney.

Today is the second anniversary of the introduction of WorkChoices, so the proclamation date is symbolic.

No more new AWAs after midnight

The proclamation means that no new AWAs can be made after midnight tonight. The new laws also set up interim individual agreements (known as ITEAs), which expire on 31 December 2009 and are subject to a no-disadvantage test. They also formally start the award modernisation process.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said the proclamation was the beginning of the end of WorkChoices.

‘It’s getting rid of a very hated bit of WorkChoices because there are too many working families that lost basic pay and conditions because of these AWAs,’ she said.

‘From midnight tonight, there won’t be any new AWAs. They’ll be gone.’

However, former workplace relations minister and Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey says the idea of AWAs will continue under the new Government.

‘The Australian people have made their decision [regarding the abolition of WorkChoices],’ he said. ‘I welcome the fact that the Government has introduced legislation that actually continues AWAs in a different name and in a different form for the next few years.’

Existing AWAs

Gillard said that under the new laws, after the nominal expiry date of an AWA made under WorkChoices, it may be terminated unilaterally by either the employer or employee on 90 days notice. The employee would then be entitled to the benefit of the whole of an applicable collective agreement or award in the workplace.

She said that as requested by employer and employee representatives, the Act will allow parties to retain pre-WorkChoices certified agreements and to extend or vary those agreements in limited circumstances to avoid a double transition prior to the commencement of the Government’s new workplace relations system in 2010.

Gillard said the Government will introduce its substantive workplace relations reforms into Parliament later this year after extensive consultation.

The legislation

The Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward With Fairness) Act 2008 C2008A00008 (No 8, 2008) is now available from the COMLAW website.


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