Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spotlight on Workchoices

Fabric retailer Spotlight, at the centre of a national controversy last year for slashing staff pay under Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), has abandoned the agreements altogether.

The announcement followed the rejection of 460 Spotlight AWAs by the federal Workplace Authority after they failed the government's fairness test.

The test ensures workers are compensated for the loss of any penalty rates and other benefits.

Spotlight chief executive Stephen Carter said the company would return to union collective agreements because it wanted to concentrate on its business.



So, the "fairness test" does work. It makes companies revert back to collective agreements because the employer isn't being fair.

Who would have thought it?

In May last year, Labor raised in parliament the case of a 57-year-old Spotlight employee who lost penalty payments, overtime and other benefits in exchange for a pay rise of just two cents an hour under an AWA.

The embarrassment to the government from that episode was followed by a string of cases in which alleged rip-offs were occurring under AWAs.

Of course it is embarrassing. Because who said that employees would be better off under AWAs?

The government.

Hockey is spinning this (of course), saying that it proves that the "fairness test" works. What about the fact that they shouldn't need to use a fairness test because employees should be guaranteed fair working conditions and payment?

"This is an example of a strong and independent umpire doing its job and that is great for working Australians,'' Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey said.

"The Workplace Authority is more than happy to work with employers, but the bottom line is they must pay their employees properly.''

Mr Hockey said the government supported the company's attempt to reach a union collective agreement because the government's system allowed employers to choose between all types of agreements.

But I thought unions were in cahoots with the ALP out to screw over the employers? To ensure that fewer people were employed?


Somehow I don't think this will be used as an example of "successful" outcome for the IR legislation in the election lead up.

Magic Bellybutton