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News News Fairness test agreements published next week; DEWR two months late releasing bargaining wages data
The Workplace Authority will from next week begin publishing on its database the collective agreements that have been lodged with it since the fairness test was introduced on May 7.

A spokesperson for the Authority told Workplace Express this afternoon that: "The Workplace Authority has been delayed in publishing collective agreements due to IT infrastructure issues that have arisen as a new agency is being established. The Workplace Authority is committed to resolving this issue as a priority and is confident that collective agreements will be published late next week."

The Authority has been under fire for the delay, which has meant there has been no pre-election scrutiny of how the new fairness test is operating for non-union deals.

It has also refused to provide academics with research access to AWAs.

Assistant national secretary of the LHMU, Tim Ferrari, told Workplace Express earlier that it was hard to believe that more that millions could be found to spend on advertising the fairness test, but the Authority's IT problems took six months to sort out.

Workplace Authority head Barbara Bennett said on October 11 that the agreements should be published on the database late that month or early this month (see Related Article).

Meanwhile, the DEWR is running two months late in releasing its June quarter data on wage movements in enterprise bargaining.

The department's media manager, Zoran Jovanovic, told Workplace Express the delay was due to "quality assurance" and "data collation" issues and that the June quarter Trends in Enterprise Bargaining report should be released sometime in the next couple of weeks.

DEWR's March quarter data on bargaining wages movements showed that in the first year of Work Choices wage rises under agreements had dropped to 3.5%, despite unemployment reaching near-record lows, labour shortages and a booming economy.

The Department usually releases the data two to three months after the quarter ends. It released the December quarter 2006 figures on March 12 this year and the March quarter figures on June 12.

On that timetable, the data should have been released on September 12, so it is almost two months late.

Asked about the delay in releasing the figures this morning, Shadow IR Minister Julia Gillard this morning told journalists that it was always hard to know what was at play with Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey - whether it was "sheer incompetence or cover-up or a mixture or both".

"But those statistics are due and they should be released," she said.

And Prime Minister John Howard yesterday replied, "Well, we certainly we wouldn't be weakening it", when asked by journalists if the fairness test would remain in its current form.

He said the Government had "absolutely no proposals at all to in any way affect the existing protections under the law for workers."

On award rationalisation, he said the Government would continue with its already announced policy, "but in the process, we won't be in any way weakening the protections and if any of that involves weakening protections, we won't be doing it."

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