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AWAs here to stay.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/943 WEDNESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW MURRAY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS WORKPLACE RELATIONS SPOKESPERSON AWAs HERE TO STAY Visiting Kalgoorlie today, Australian Democrats Workplace Relations spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, announced that the Democrats will resist any move to abolish AWAs by future governments. "There is no more appropriate seat in Australia than Kalgoorlie for the Democrats to announce that AWAs, which are heavily used in the mining and resources sector, are here to stay," said Senator Murray, who was campaigning with Don Hoddy, the experienced small business Democrats candidate for the giant seat of Kalgoorlie. "Kalgoorlie is by far the federal constituency that dominates Australia's amazing mining and resources sector. AWAs are heavily used in the mining and resources sector. "However, there is room for improvement. Employer organisations and unions have a case for improvements to process and equity. We are particularly keen to see effective remedies for reported use of duress in AWA signings," "The Australian Democrats are strongly committed to a range of statutory workplace relations instruments to satisfy the varied needs of employers and employees • Industry-wide awards • Enterprise based collective union agreements • Enterprise based collective non-union agreements • Individual agreements (AWAs) "If elected the Labor Party intend to abolish AWAs and will also attempt to restrict the number of non-union collective agreements. "This is a country where 4 out of 5 employees are not members of unions. "Union movements quite naturally promote the interests of their members. While we support the role of unions, their interests do not always coincide with the interests of Australia as a whole. "Labor are hostage to the union movement for campaign money and preselections. No Labor member of parliament can survive preselection or mount an election campaign without union support.

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"As Labor President Carmen Lawrence said on 17 August 2000: 'Unions- honourable contributors to Labor history and policy -exercise disproportionate influence through the 60:40 rule and through their affiliated membership, many of whom have no direct connection to the Party'."

Apart from 60:40 now being 50:50, little has changed. 'No direct connection' is right. The vast majority of members of unions are not members of Labor, but still exercise commanding power over this national political party.

"This fact alone makes it vital that the Senate balance of power role is held on IR matters by the Democrats, a Party with proven courage and independence and with a proud three decade record of being beholden neither to business or unions.

"The Democrats have no intention whatsoever of allowing union private interest to prevail over the national interest. Statutory individual agreements are in the national interest because they are an important contributor to flexibility, competitiveness, employment, productivity, and high real wages. AWAs only number a few hundred thousand, but are vital sectorally," concluded Senator Murray.

Media Contact for Senator Murray - 0419 958 038