Workplace Authority helps Hockey in election campaign

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Workplace Authority helps Hockey in election campaign

Despite being in 'caretaker' mode during the election, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey has used the Workplace Authority to provide material for the Government's political campaign.

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Despite being in 'caretaker' mode during the election, Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey has used the Workplace Authority to provide material for the Government's political campaign.

Hockey said he had used the authority 'in the public interest' to reply to a TV ad being run by the ACTU on the dispute last month at the Lobethal Abattoir. The ad has workers from the abattoir saying they had been offered an agreement that would pay less than the award.

The head of the Workplace Authority, Barbara Bennett appeared in pre-election, taxpayer funded TV ads promoting the virtues of WorkChoices.

Hockey quotes the authority as saying it was satisfied that the Lobethal Abattoir collective agreement did not pay less than the Award.

Ruling based on 'facts available'

He says the agreement was never presented to the Authority for vetting under the fairness test, but says 'on the information available' it made an assessment based on a 'pre-lodgement' review.

However, last month the ACTU released copies of a letter from the Authority to the abattoir management, and a letter from management to the employees, which indicated that the agreement had in fact passed the fairness test.

Hockey said the fairness test ensures that workers cannot be paid less than the award and that entitlements such as penalty rates and holiday pay are 'protected'.

The ACTU argue that that penalty rates and holidays can quite legally be traded away for such things as office car park spaces (though generally there is a monetary consideration).

Hockey said all collective agreements must be voted on and accepted by employees before they are lodged with the Workplace Authority, and that only once an agreement is lodged, will the Workplace Authority apply the fairness test.

Can pre-lodge agreement

However, the Authority itself says that employers can pre-lodge an agreement before it is accepted by the employees for an assessment as to whether it would then pass the fairness test.

'The sole purpose of the ACTU advertisement is to scare people,' Hockey said.

Related

Abattoir agreement passed fairness test, but Hockey says it didn't

Fairness test approves big cuts for meatworkers - ACTU
 

 

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