AWAs - Just Say No!

So what's the deal here? Is the ALP gonna come clean on its industrial policy so that the unions won't have to threat about it? And Beazley's been saying he is going to tear up Work Choices...! So we have to ask -- does the ALP reckon contracts are OK so long as it isn't Howard way of bringing them in?

An AWA, for those who don't know, refers to Australian Workplace Agreement which is an individual written agreement on terms and conditions of employment between an employerAustralia, under the Workplace Relations Act 1996. An AWA can override employment conditions in state or territory laws, except for occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation or training arrangements. An AWA must meet the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard. Agreements must include a dispute resolution procedure, and may not include prohibited content. Agreements are for a maximum of five years; approved, promoted and registered by the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA); operate to the exclusion of any award; prohibit industrial action regarding details in the agreement for the life of the agreement; and need to pass a no disadvantage test.

AWAs are in fact an early version of Work Choices minus the bullshit. It lives in the same ballpark, so to speak.

NSW unions will begin the push to enshrine the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements in ALP Policy at the June state party conference.

The motion, to be endorsed across factional lines, is a response to a push to soften Labor's policy on AWAs being promoted by some in the political wing.

Workers Online understands sections of the party want to allow a stream of individual contracts to continue and would honour the existing policy to abolish AWAs only to the extent of a name change.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says the abolition of contracts designed to undermine the right to collectively bargain must be a cornerstone of ALP policy.

"AWAs are a cancer for workers rights' to organise - the option of modifying them to make them 'less bad' is simply delusional," he says.

The abolition on AWAs and rebuilding of a system of industrial awards are at the top of the list of issues that unions will bring to the State Conference.

Other key items for the conference include returning powers to the Industrial Relations Commission, improved right of access to the workplace for unions to recruit and a simplification of unfair dismissal laws with a focus on reinstatement as the primary remedy.

Source: Workers Online #307 19 May 2006

That the ALP may also debate its three mines uranium policy at this self same confest should make for a fun time...

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