IR laws a vote turner

A union members’ survey conducted in August and September by the ACTU has found that around two thirds (66%) of workers who supported the Coalition at the last federal election are now considering voting against the Liberal and National Parties as a result of the federal government’s IR laws.

The ACTU argues the next election is winnable for Labor, which has promised to scrap the federal government’s IR laws, because each federal seat has an average of 12,000 union members and many of them voted Coalition at the last election.

‘In 16 seats, less than a few thousand votes changing hands will change the election. Our members have the power to decide the next election,’ ACTU Assistant Secretary Chris Walton told the ACTU Congress.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said recent ABS data shows average earnings for full-time workers dropped in real terms by 1% in the last year and official government figures show more than one in five new individual contracts (22%) contain no pay increases over the life of the agreement.

‘Things are going to get much worse for working people as the full effects of the new IR laws take hold,’ she said.

Government hides an inconvenient truth

The Howard government has been accused of a cover up after the Office of the Employment Advocate admitted it no longer analysed how many award conditions were being left out of AWAs. This decision follows revelations in May that in a sample of AWAs at least one award condition had been lost from all of the AWAs: 64% removed leave loadings, 63% abolished penalty rates and 52% eliminated shift work loadings. Stephen Smith, Labor’s IR spokesman, accused the government of orchestrating the move to prevent further embarrassment over its IR laws.

AWAs target kids

Official government figures show that thousands of young Australians are now signing individual contracts that are no longer subject to a ‘no disadvantage test’.

598 AWA individual contracts were signed by children under the age of 15 from July last year until May 2006, including many under the new  IR laws.

Another 7,779 individual contracts were signed by children aged between 15 and 18 years old and a further 13,269 individual contracts were signed by young workers aged 18 to 21 over the same period.

Allowances slashed in new enterprise agreements

A survey by the University of Sydney’s Workplace Centre has found that employers have slashed the number of allowances paid to workers in enterprise agreements since the federal government’s IR laws were introduced. The survey found that for ‘many of these agreements the primary focus is on reducing the number of allowances that workers receive.’

The survey also found that other award provisions such as rest breaks, bonus payments, overtime and annual leave loading had also been excluded.