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Lufthansa/Global's AWA.

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Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

71/06 10 August



In vainly attempting to defend the AWA offered by Lufthansa subsidiary, Global Tele Sales, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has pointed to the report by the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate.

Mr Andrews states in his press statement:

The Advocate reports that there has been a reduction in the base pay offered in the AWA of between 3% to 10%.

More critically he found a bonus system has been introduced that offers up to 16% per annum - enabling employee to earn up to a net 13% increase in wages.

What Mr Andrews didn’t acknowledge is that the report by the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate, states:

…these bonuses are discretionary as far as GTS is concerned and are not guaranteed. I also have concerns about the legality, fairness and appropriateness of other aspects of this performance bonus scheme.

…the structure, operational requirements and criteria of the performance bonus scheme do not actually form part of the AWA.

In my view this does not provide employees with the certainty they should expect especially in circumstances where their base rates of pay are being reduced and penalty rates are being reduced and/or abolished.

The company’s own documents acknowledge the performance bonus system is based on unreliable statistics. The documents state: “we are the first to admit that the current reporting is unreliable”.

Mr Andrews also claimed that there was “choice” for Global employees, saying in Question Time today:

“What this company has offered is a choice between an AWA or a collective agreement.”

However internal Global documents associated with the AWA and presented to employees make crystal clear:

• the AWA is not subject to negotiation;

• if staff do not sign the AWA access to staff benefits will be lost - a matter which the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate identified as possible duress; and

• Global has less than 100 employees and is therefore exempt from any unfair dismissal claims.

The AWA offered by GTS was a take it or leave it agreement. The only choice was to take the AWA and lose pay and benefits or lose your job because there is no unfair dismissal remedy.

The Minister has also repeatedly cited legal advice. But he has failed to disclose that the source of the legal advice - Blake Dawson Waldron - is the employer’s legal advisers.

Further, in Question Time, Mr Andrews referred to two collective union agreements in an attempt to demonstrate there is nothing new about performance bonus schemes.

There are some things the Minister should remind himself about the agreements he cited:

• The agreements are not Work Choices agreements - the Dunlop Bedding (Victoria) Enterprise Agreement 2005 came into effect on 2 April 2005. The TNT Pallecon Logistics and CFMEU FFPD Division (Sydney and Melbourne) Enterprise Agreement came into effect on 20 December 2005;

• When they were negotiated, the agreements had to comply with the then no disadvantage test, so if penalty rates were traded, the employees needed to get some compensation in return.

The Global AWA again shows that John Howard’s extreme industrial relations changes constitute nothing more than a wages race to the bottom.

Contact: Tom Cameron on 0417 147 932