WorkChoices — fairness scrutinised

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WorkChoices — fairness scrutinised

A university industrial relations expert has asked why, if the previous no-disadvantage test for AWAs was 'complex and subjective', the new fairness test isn't also 'complex and subjective'.

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A university industrial relations expert has asked why, if the previous no disadvantage test for AWAs was 'complex and subjective', the new fairness test isn't also 'complex and subjective'. Meanwhile South Australian unions are claiming WorkChoices has reduced employment and wages in the State, and will run a hotline and survey to collect workers' experiences of the new IR laws.

Fairness test is 'back to the future', says uni expert

A university industrial relations expert has asked why, if the previous no disadvantage test for AWAs was 'complex and subjective', the new fairness test isn't also 'complex and subjective'.

Dr Michael Lyons, from the UWS School of Management, has researched Australian workplaces ranging from government departments to small enterprises and is the author of several books on industrial relations.

He questions why the Government is adopting the so-called 'fairness test' as part of its legislation when it discontinued a similar test [the 'no disadvantage test'] 18 months ago calling it 'complex and subjective'.

Bureaucratic disincentive

'If the pre-WorkChoices no disadvantage test was complex, bureaucratic, subjective and arbitrary, and a disincentive to agreement making, then why isn't the new fairness test also complex, bureaucratic, subjective and arbitrary, and a disincentive to agreement making?' asked Dr Lyons.

He said that a Government policy statement issued earlier this month claims the new fairness test 'will be conducted similar to the old no-disadvantage test.'

Yet he says the Government still hasn't explained the differences in approaches and outcomes between the two tests.

No more than 'window dressing'?

'If the new fairness test is not to have the same shortcomings of the no disadvantage test, as claimed by the Government in 2005, it is possible it is nothing more than window dressing with no real substance,' he said.

Dr Lyons challenged the Government to explain how the removal of 'protected' award conditions without proper compensation was never the original intention of the government.

Incompetent legislative drafting

According to Dr Lyons, either it was the government's intention that protected award conditions could be removed without proper compensation, or it was a result of incompetent legislative drafting.

'Now that the Government has conceded that the removal of the no disadvantage test was a mistake, one can only speculate on the other features of WorkChoices legislation that were also mistakes, which the Government will belatedly acknowledge as we get closer to the Federal election,' he said.

Related

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Your 'fairness test' unfair? Head for the High Court

SA unions blame WorkChoices for workers' decline

South Australian unions are claiming WorkChoices has reduced employment and wages in the State, and will run a hotline and survey to collect workers' experiences of the new IR laws.

In a preliminary submission to the State Industrial Relations Commission inquiry into the Federal Government's WorkChoices laws, SA Unions Secretary, Janet Giles, says the statistics show the unemployment rate has worsened and wages have been eroded.

Accelerating inequality

'In 10 of the 12 months prior to the introduction of WorkChoices, South Australia's unemployment rate was equal to or better than the Australian average,' Giles said. 'In the 15 months since the laws were brought in, the unemployment rate was worse during 12 months, equal only twice, and on just one occasion was it better than the Australian average (source: ABS).

'It's clear that the laws are accelerating inequality in South Australia.  The cost of living is rising but compared to the rate of inflation total average earnings for full-time adult workers dropped by 0.6% during the first 12 months of the new laws.'

'Dreadful human impact'

Giles said the statistics 'don't convey the dreadful human impact of the new laws'.

'That's why SA Unions is conducting a telephone hotline from June 12 to 16 (1800 677 687) and an on-line survey,' she said. 'We are urging workers and their families to tell us their experiences under the new laws.

'The findings will become part of our evidence contained in our final submission to the inquiry.  It means the real effects on real people will be taken into account.'

Related

Federal IR changes - WorkChoices

Hockey will decide what is 'fair' in AWAs

Your 'fairness test' unfair? Head for the High Court

  

 

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