Unions today welcomed the ban on new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) which passed through Parliament today.

The law to ban new AWAs is an important first step in restoring the rights of Australian workers that were taken away by the former Liberal Government’s Work Choices IR laws.

Unions now call on employers to respect the will of the Australian people and allow workers to get off a lower paid or substandard Work Choices AWA and go onto a union collective agreement that properly protects their wages, conditions and rights.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

“For more than ten years the Liberals and Nationals promoted AWAs as a means to attack workers’ rights and drive down their pay and conditions.

“The Senate Report that was tabled this week confirmed that thousands of Australian workers lost pay and conditions under Work Choices AWAs through the loss of public holiday pay, annual leave loading, shift allowances, overtime pay, penalty rates, redundancy pay & other conditions. Official figures show:

  • Nine in ten workers (89%) lost at least one formerly protected award condition under Work Choices AWAs.
  • Three quarters of AWAs (75%) did not provide workers a guaranteed wage increase over the life of the agreement, some for up to five years. 
  • Almost one in three workers (31%) that were put onto AWAs lost their rest break entitlements.  
  • AWAs led to a wider pay gap between male and female workers.
  • AWAs were inherently inefficient for businesses and provided no flexibility for employees.
  • “The Australian people voted overwhelmingly to get rid of Work Choices and to get rid of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) at the last election.

    “The passage of the Rudd Labor Govt’s legislation today is an historic first step towards burying WorkChoices but the job is not over yet.

    “Unions will continue to campaign for the complete dismantling of WorkChoices and for the establishment of a fair and balanced IR system that fully protects workers’ rights.

    “Unions are determined to achieve laws that provide workers with protection from unfair dismissal, the right to union membership and representation, collective bargaining rights, a strong safety net and access to a genuinely independent workplace umpire,” said Mr Lawrence.