WorkChoices report 'torpedoes Howard's credibility,' says ACTU

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WorkChoices report 'torpedoes Howard's credibility,' says ACTU

The ACTU has jumped on a new report criticising WorkChoices, saying it 'torpedoes the Howard Government's credibility' on industrial relations.

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The ACTU has jumped on a new report criticising WorkChoices, saying it 'torpedoes the Howard Government's credibility' on industrial relations.

The report, by Griffith University Professor, David Peetz, claims that since WorkChoices, workers wages and productivity are down, and women are the wost affected.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said Peetz's research shows that almost 20,000 employees are losing award coverage every month under the new IR laws and that pay for female workers is falling.

'This new research torpedoes the Howard Government's credibility,' Burrow said.

No economic benefit

'It shows that the new IR laws have had no discernible economic benefit and that women workers and the low paid are being badly affected by the loss of pay and conditions.'

The ACTU says the key findings of the research by Professor Peetz are:

  • Women's pay has dropped significantly under the new IR laws with real average earnings for women in the private sector falling by 2.0%, and a majority of award workers suffering a real wage cut averaging almost 1% under the new minimum wage setting process.
  • Almost 20,000 workers are losing award coverage every month and are being put onto AWAs or other non-union 'agreements' that remove formerly protected award conditions including overtime, penalty rates, rest breaks and other important job conditions.
  • The rate at which overtime is being removed by AWA individual contracts has doubled under the new IR laws, and 82% of AWAs have reduced or abolished overtime pay.
  • The research shows that 63% of AWAs are abolishing penalty rates, 64% axeing annual leave loading, 69% abolishing or reducing rest breaks, 73% reducing or abolishing public holiday payments, and 52% abolishing shift work loading.

Burrow said that while there are approximately 400,000 AWA individual contracts in use — less than half the one million the Federal Government claims — the effect of the new IR laws have been keenly felt with up to 41% of workers saying they know of someone affected by the new laws and 39% of clerical and administrative workers reporting they feel more scared about their jobs now than before the laws came in.

'The research also shows that the Federal Government has exaggerated the employment effects of the new IR laws and that jobs growth was higher in 1994 when protection from unfair dismissal was actually introduced, than in the post-WorkChoices period,' she said.  

Effect on women 'shocking', says Combet

'Professor Peetz finds that there is no evidence of significant economic benefits of new IR laws and, in fact, labour productivity has so far declined.'

ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, said the fall in real wages — with women in particular being hurt — during an economic boom was a 'shocking statistic' for working people.

Democrats spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewart said she was 'extremely concerned' to see that the move to individual workplace agreements is already resulting in significant widening of the gender pay gap.

'After many years of hard work to move us towards a situation where all Australians receive the same money for doing the same work, I am distressed to see that our equality is being eroded and women are going backwards in the workplace,' she said.

Related

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WorkChoices study by Peetz

  

 

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