Women and WorkChoices from a Western Australian perspective

21 Sep 2007

In 1993 the Western Australia and Federal Governments both introduced new industrial relations reforms aimed at enhancing flexibility. At the time of introduction the WA reforms were far more radical than those in the Federal system, particularly with regard to individual bargaining and the marginalisation of third parties. The system adopted in WA in 1993, together with subsequent waves, lasted until 2003. The WA reforms served as a model for the radical reforms introduced at the Federal level in 1996, although there were some differences. Whereas the federal legislation incorporated a range of safeguards to ensure bargaining did not reduce the relative standards for vulnerable workers, the WA legislation did not. The latter only provided for a set of minimum standards allowing parties to individual agreements scope to negotiate away accepted community standards. In 2006 the Federal system moved to a limited (five) minimum standards model and curtailed the influence of institutions which traditionally maintained community standards (eg. unions and industrial tribunals). This report documents the findings from interview-based research with twenty-two low paid workers in Western Australia.

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