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AWU condemns Morrison Government’s disgraceful attack on pay and conditions

April 20, 2020

The AWU condemns the Federal Government’s changes to the pre-approval steps of enterprise agreement variations which will allow businesses to slash pay and change working conditions with little to no consultation.

Employees covered by enterprise agreements can now be given just 24 hours before voting on changes that their employer wishes to make to their enterprise agreements, a significant reduction from the previous period of 7 days. The change means employees will be left with no time to examine the changes in detail.

While the power to make changes will last for six months, any changes made to wages and conditions in agreements will be permanent.

The AWU is calling on members to immediately contact their union representative if their employer attempts to make changes to their enterprise agreement. The AWU reminds members that if they are in doubt of the effects of the changes vote ‘NO’.

The changes to the process for variations to enterprise agreements were announced by Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter and will last for six months. The Federal Government claims it will allow businesses to be able to operate flexibly during the COVID-19 crisis.

Any enterprise agreement variation will still need to be determined by the Fair Work Commission and the AWU will represent the interests of our members in the Commission in any application for an enterprise agreement variation.

The AWU says reducing the access period for enterprise agreement variations from seven days to just one will prevent its members from having enough time to look over changes proposed by the employer and thoroughly discuss them with their union representatives and officials. The AWU has a proud track record of working with businesses that are in financial trouble to secure the interests of working people and these changes are simply unnecessary and extremely one-sided.

Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU, said:

“This is a shocking decision by the Morrison Government and one that prioritises big business interests over Australian workers who are already doing it tough during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The AWU has always worked with businesses that are doing it tough to keep them open and our members working. The truth is that this new process will be cynically exploited by businesses who will seek to reduce pay and change working conditions that will benefit them and cause immense harm to AWU members.

“Allowing people just one day to look over details which could make a massive difference to their lives is disgraceful, especially at a time when the workforce is so fragmented, people are off sick or working different hours already. It’s also unnecessary – the power to consult is already there.

Walton reminded AWU members that the power to stop any changes to conditions was still in their hands and that unity amongst working people was now more important than ever before.

“We will be calling on the Government to urgently reverse this decision and do the right thing by Australian workers. But, in the meantime we are also calling on our members to talk to us, tell us about any concerns they might have and just vote no if in doubt. If we stick together, we can stand up to any bullying from businesses.”

You can find out more about what these changes mean here.

If you have questions or concerns – contact your union delegate or organiser urgently. 

There has never been a more important time to be a member of a union – join today!

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