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Subsequent AWAs stipulated that the employer had to abide by fundamental regulations dealing with occupational health and safety, workers' compensation or training arrangements. However, the AWA had to adhere to (and was not expected to exceed) the most minimal Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard neither did it take dispute resolution procedures into equation. Even though the AWA has been reformed in parts by consequent Acts, the essence remains unchanged and critics condemn it as endeavour on the behalf of powerful corporation to inhibit the growing influence of trade unions.
In 2006, it was discovered that from a sample of 4% of 6,263 AWAs made during that year, 100% of AWAs removed at least one protected Award condition; 64% of AWAs eliminated annual leave; 63% of AWAs have removed penalty rights; 40% of AWAs cut out leave of public holidays; 16% of AWAs removed all bonus and promotional conditions and only the Government's five minimum conditions were contained in all (Burgess, (8 April 2005 ). According to the Australian newspaper in March 2007, approximate 52% in W. Australia received AWAs, whist in the whole of Australia about 32 per cent of miners are employed on AWAs ( Norington & Trounson, 31 March 2007). That so many miners receive it indicates, as critics assess, employers fears of the power of the Union.
Fair Work Australia Act (2009)
The AWA was superseded by the Fair Work Australia Act (2009) (http://www.fwa.gov.au/) that insisted on reform in the following:
Minimum wages and employment conditions
Termination of employment
Perusal of the three acts in context of their different years of authorship shows us a steady incline in quality of workplace environment, conditions, and safety as well as in endeavors to satisfy the Australian worker.
3. Analyse the role of key factors in driving these changes
As the Acts show, the force of the labor union has become increasingly powerful during the last few years. It is for these reasons that such a policy as the AWA has been able to come into effect, stimulated, many argue due to fears of the Union's power. Indeed, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) wants the AWA to be abolished and is striving for collective bargaining rights between employer and worker (ACTU, 2003) .
Although AWAs are still made in certain parts of the region (Baird & Williamson, 2009), a bill passed in 2008 forbade new AWAs to be made and stated that provisions for workers were to be made into intermediate agreements. The Fair Workers Act of 2009 reinforced this transformation. The Queensland Govt. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland of 2011 demonstrates this new stance and, indeed, indicates the almost omnipotent power of the trade union.
The power of the ACTU is also evidenced by ceaseless bills that try to cut down on it (Cooper, 2009; Cooper & Ellem, 2009)). These include the WorkChoices issued by the government in 2005 which was then superseded by the Fair Work Act 2009. A prize for union workers, the FWA was criticized by the Australian Greens Party and other organized labor, such as the Victorian Branch of the Electrical Trades Union ( Wyner, 2003)). Apparently, the rivalry goes on between employer and worker with employer becoming increasingly intimidated by the punch and mass influence amassed behind the worker.
In 2002, Callus and Lansbury could write that:
Over the past few decades, both the nature of work and employment relations have undergone significant change in Australia. Employees are expected to work harder and for longer hours, employment is less secure for many workers, and part-time and casual work have increased significantly. In addition, the ways in which wages and working conditions are determined have also changed. Industrial relations have become decentralised and union coverage of the workforce has declined (p.256).
In 2011, however, the Union Labor has achieved the level where it is able to assert its own wishes in almost all domains. As reflected by the three Acts -- the QLD Health & Safety Acts 2011, the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety Act 2004) and the Western Australian Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 - tremendous changes have occurred in the worker-employer domain in the last few years.
ACTU (2003) Future of Work: Industrial Legislation Policy http://www.actu.org.au/congress2003/finalpolicies/irlegislation_final.html
Baird, M. & Williamson, S., (2009) 'Women, Work and Industrial Relations in 2008', Journal of Industrial Relations, 51(3).
Burgess, V., (8 April 2005 ) Percentage of Union and Non-union Certified Agreements in the Federal Public Service Australian Financial Review, CPSU bulletin
Callus, D & Lansbury, L (2002) Working futures: the changing nature of work and employment relations in Australia University of Sydney. Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training (ACIRRT) )
Cooper, R. (2009). The 'New' Industrial Relations and International Economic Crisis: Australia in 2009. Journal of Industrial Relations. Vol. 52, 261-274.
Cooper, R. And Ellem, B. (2009), 'Fair Work and the Re-regulation of Collective Bargaining', Australian Journal of Labour Law, 22 (3), pp. 284-305.
Green, D. & Cromwell, L (1984) Mutual Aid or Welfare State. Australia's Friendly Societies,
Fair Work Australia Act (2009)
McKinley, B. (1979) a Documentary History of the Australian Labor Movement 1850-1975, McRogers: AU
Queensland Govt. (2011 ) Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/resources/pdfs/implementation-national-whs-laws.pdf
Mines safety and inspection laws in W. Australia.
Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act, 2004, Queensland, http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/P/PetrolmGasA04.pdf
Norington, B. & Trounson, a. (31 March 2007), Employers Defend Howard's AWAs Despite Slow Take-Up B, the Australian, p.33.
Sheldon, P. (2008). What collective bargaining future…[continue]
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