Dear Squatters,

Kim Beazley is acting like a “leader”, according to the spruikers of his weekend announcement that a Labor government would abolish Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). The Opposition Leader argues that AWAs have reduced working conditions and flexibility, and increased productivity is best achieved through collective agreements.

Really? But what about people (including Labor voters) who want their own personalised industrial agreements? And what about the flexibility all companies need in a volatile and globalised economy? And in pandering to the trade union arm of the ALP is Beazley likely to attract the voters of the growing army of once-traditional Labor voters who are now contractors or members of the entrepreneurial working class?

Kim Beazley is right to attack the harsh excesses of the Work Choices laws. He’s right to argue for changes to protect workers’ basic rights and wages. But if he thinks that abolishing all AWAs is the right policy solution, which also happens to be good Labor politics, he’s likely to find himself wrong on both counts. Which will raise even more questions about his own employment arrangements and workplace conditions.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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