Federal Treasurer Peter Costello has criticised a new study of WorkChoices that concluded people on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) earned on average $106 a week less than those on collective agreements.
Costello said the study, which was conducted by the University of Sydney with funding from the Federal Government’s Australian Research Council and Unions NSW, is “contaminated” and lacks credibility because it is funded by unions.
Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has also questioned the validity and intentions of the study.
But the head of the Australia at Work study, which surveyed more than 8000 workers, has defended it, saying it was also funded by the Federal Government and the research methods were scrutinised by a panel of experts.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Inside Retail found that while most retailers expect Labor to win; 78% believe that John Howard’s coalition government offers the best opportunities for their business.
The retail industry has been one of industries to embrace AWAs since WorkChoices was introduced.
Respondents to the survey nominated IR and workplace relations (17%), economic management (12%) and taxes and charges (11%) as the key business issues for the election campaign. The Australia at Work study found those on AWAs were more likely to be young workers in low-skilled jobs. Forty-six percent of those on AWAs said they did not have the opportunity to negotiate pay.