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Employment Advocate's credibility problem on AWAs.

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Robert McClelland MP

Federal Member for Barton Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations

10 June 2003

Employment Advocate’s credibility problem on AWAs

The Howard Government’s Employment Advocate has privately admitted he has a credibility problem when talking about the benefits of AWAs, Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations Robert McClelland said today.

The admission is contained in an internal document (attached) disclosed to a Senate Estimates Committee, in which the Employment Advocate explains why he has to recruit employers to spruik AWAs on his behalf:

“Favourable comments from people who are not connected with the promotion of the AWAs will often be more credible than self-promotion by the OEA [Office of the Employment Advocate]”

Mr McClelland said the Employment Advocate’s admitted credibility problem undermined the Howard Government’s claims that its AWAs are good for employees, especially when it comes to the work-life balance.

“For example, the Employment Advocate openly promotes AWAs which omit the right to refuse unreasonable overtime due to family responsibilities established last year by the AIRC in the Reasonable Working Hours Test Case,” said Mr McClelland.

“Many AWAs also deny employees vital benefits like paid annual leave, sick leave, and family leave. This puts even more pressure on working Australians who are already struggling with the work-life balance,” said Mr McClelland.

“The last thing Australian families need is to have working parents pushed onto AWAs and seeing less and less of their kids as they lose the work-family benefits that collectively and openly negotiated agreements afford,” said Mr McClelland.

A recent authoritative study by Melbourne University’s Centre for Employment Labour Relations Law found AWAs are mostly used by employers for the purposes of cost-cutting rather than to introduce innovative work practices that benefit employees.

For further information: Robert McClelland 0408 118 995 Jonathan Kirkwood 0425 231 690