States - IR activity as federal changes approach


States - IR activity as federal changes approach

Recent IR news covers - WA Govt says AWAs will hit low paid workers; NSW Govt backs ACTU national wage claim; and SA doubles its IR inspection forces.


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Recent IR news covers - WA Govt says AWAs will hit low paid workers; NSW Govt backs ACTU national wage claim; and SA doubles its IR inspection forces.  

WA Govt says AWAs will hit low paid workers  

The Gallop Government has warned a Senate inquiry that widespread use of workplace agreements will lead to lower wages for Australia’s low-paid workers.

It has used its submission to the inquiry into the agreements to detail how WA’s minimum wage dropped to $50 a week lower than the rest of the country under the previous Court government’s workplace agreement system. 

Women and young workers in particular

Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke said the State’s submission also warned the agreements had been a particular disaster for women and young workers, who had their wages and conditions of employment slashed.

‘The Senate inquiry is a chance for us to show the rest of Australia just how bad things will be if the Howard Government manages to force Australian Workplace Agreements on the country,’ he said.

‘John Howard’s industrial relations changes are modelled on the Court-Kierath changes which saw shocking conditions for workers and helped cost the Liberals government.’

The Minister said the State’s submission included findings of the independent report produced by the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training which showed, of the WA workplace agreements surveyed in 2001-2:

  • 74% provided no weekend penalty rates of pay;
  • 67% provided no overtimes rates of pay;
  • 56% provided an ordinary rate of pay below the award rate;
  • 49% of full-time, part-time and fixed term agreements absorbed annual leave into the ordinary hourly rate of pay; and
  • 75% of all agreements analysed were without a pay increase provision.

NSW Govt backs ACTU national wage claim 

The NSW State Government will support the ACTU’s new 4% national wage claim, Premier Morris Iemma has told State Parliament. 

The ACTU surprised the Federal Government with its new claim this week. The next national wage case was due to be heard by the new Fair Pay Commission which the Federal Government plans to set up later this year. 


'Fair and reasonable'

Premier Iemma told Parliament the ACTU is proposing an increase of $19.38 a week for the lowest paid workers in this nation.  

‘That is a fair and reasonable request when they have been treated so badly by the Commonwealth Government,’ he said.  

‘The NSW Government will support the ACTU’s claim for workers on minimum pay, not just because it is fair and decent but because it is probably going to be the last pay rise delivered by a Federal independent umpire, the AIRC, before the Commonwealth replaces it with its so-called fair pay commission.  

‘The Commonwealth has let the cat out of the bag there by stating it does not expect workers to receive a pay increase until at least late 2006. That is its commitment to low-paid workers.

‘The Commonwealth [has] confirmed its low pay commission would not issue a wage increase for 18 months. Some fair pay deal that is for low-paid workers! It is an absolute disgrace.’

Iemma said the proposal would not impact on New South Wales public servants as ‘all their awards offer wages above the paltry minimum rate of pay.'

SA doubles its IR inspection forces  

Nineteen new industrial relations inspectors have been taken on at SA Workplace Services, doubling the size of the Industrial Relations Inspectorate.

Industrial Relations Minister Michael Wright said the new inspectors will help employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities as they relate to industrial laws and regulations.

Wright said SA has the lowest number of working days lost through industrial action of any state – 1.3 days per thousand employees compared to the national average of 5.9 days.

Four of the new recruits will be based across the regional centres of Port Pirie, Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Mount Gambier.

The new inspectors are undergoing an extensive training program covering industrial legislation, investigation techniques, mediation, compliance and enforcement.  


State Governments' reaction to Federal IR agenda 


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