Michelle Roberts

Michelle Roberts

Minister for Housing and Works; Indigenous Affairs; Heritage; Land Information

    AWAs exposed as exploiting Western Australians

    8/11/2007 11:00 AM

    A discussion paper released by the Fair Employment Advocate has shown many Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) are eroding the working conditions of ordinary Western Australians.

    The paper, launched by Employment Protection Minister Michelle Roberts today, said AWAs from a range of Western Australian industries were assessed since January 2007.

    “This is the first study in Australia to make the actual content of AWAs public, and the results were quite alarming,” Mrs Roberts said.

    “Some 64 per cent of the AWAs studied, removed or reduced every protected award condition and 30 per cent provided a wage that was less than or equal to the relevant pay scale.”

    The Minister said that many of these AWAs were lodged after the commencement of WorkChoices and also following the introduction of the Fairness Test.

    “The paper clearly highlights a significant amount of exploitation particularly in those industries where AWAs have had the greatest impact such as hospitality and retail,” she said.

    “One AWA in the retail industry completely removes all entitlements to paid public holidays and penalty rates for working on those days.

    “Another AWA stipulates that the employer will determine when the employee takes annual leave. The employee has little or no recourse should they not agree with the employer’s directive.

    “Yet another pre-ticks the ‘preferred hours of work’ to all hours meaning that if the employee did not agree to those hours, they did not get the job.”

    Mrs Roberts said that in response to this confusion about the fairness of AWAs, the State Government has introduced ‘WA Pay Checker’, a computer program to help employees check their pay, allowances and leave entitlements against the fair standard of the state award.

    “’WA Pay Checker’ allows individuals working in industries such as hospitality, retail, cleaning, security and hairdressing to compare an AWA with the relevant state award to determine whether the AWA, which may trade off award conditions such as penalty rates, provides fair financial compensation,” she said.

    “We know AWAs can be unfair, however this computer program will allow ordinary Western Australians to determine for themselves where they stand.”

    The Minister said she hoped the discussion paper would generate comments about the use of AWAs in WA.

    Minister's office: 9213 6600