Your staff: wages up, hours down

Employees on Australian Workplace Agreements have enjoyed strong pay rises between 2004 and 2006, with small businesses accounting for an increasing take-up of individual agreements, according to a government report tabled in parliament yesterday.

The reportDepartment of Employment and Workplace relations report, Agreement making in Australia under the Workplace Relations Act 2004 to 2006 found more small business employees came under AWAs, with the proportion of approved agreements coming from businesses with fewer than 100 employees rising to 43% from 32% in 2002-03

Workers are working slightly fewer hours, with the average falling from 37.4 to 37.3 hours a week.

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey has claimed the statistics as proof of the benefits of the Government’s workplace reforms. But Labor has pointed out that almost all of the data predates the introduction of WorkChoices early last year.

Hockey was on the back foot yesterday after Spotlight announced it was giving up on AWAs. The retailer’s AWAs – which attempted to exchange workers’ penalty rates and overtime in return for a 2¢ hourly rise – failed the fairness test.

Spotlight told the media that AWAs are unworkable it is going back to seek a union agreement.

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