House debates

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Member for Perth

3:49 pm

Photo of Stephen SmithStephen Smith (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations) Share this | Hansard source

You’ll hear about the letter, Sunshine! Don’t worry about the letter; you’ll hear about the letter, all right. The Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister the following question:

Is the Prime Minister aware that Martin Donnelly Electrical Services is contracted to help build the new Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet building? Is the Prime Minister also aware that the existing collective agreement expires in December, and that Martin Donnelly Electrical Services employees have repeatedly and unanimously expressed their wish to negotiate a new collective agreement? Isn’t it the case that the employer has unilaterally denied this and is requiring employees to sign an AWA? What does the Prime Minister say to these sparkies, who now know that the Prime Minister’s choice is no choice?

That was the first substantive point raised by the Leader of the Opposition. The real point here is that you have got sparkies—electricians—employed down on that site. They want to renew a collective agreement and the government’s law and the Prime Minister’s law and the minister’s law prevents them from so doing.

The second question was one that I asked:

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Australian Workplace Agreement that Martin Donnelly Electrical Services employees are required to sign provides that payment of bonuses, overtime, loadings, penalties or other allowances is at the sole discretion of the company—

that is reflected by the AWA, which I detailed yesterday and after question time—

a multistorey allowance is removed—

which I detailed yesterday and today—

and there is no guarantee of a pay increase during the three-year life of the agreement?

which I detailed yesterday and today in question time. Far from misleading either the House or the Australian people, after question time yesterday, as is my usual practice, I distributed to the media a detailed analysis of the AWA as compared with the collective agreement as I have done on every occasion that I have raised an AWA in this place. I detailed very many of those features after question time. I notice that the matters that the Prime Minister referred to did not, of course, deal with any of those matters which showed item by item that the AWA provision is inferior to that of the collective agreement.

The minister and the Prime Minister make much of the so-called letter of offer of employment, which was allegedly circulated, distributed or handed over with the AWA and I have a copy of one of those letters. It says:

This letter confirms the offer of employment with Martin Donnelly Pty Ltd as—

and then it gives a particular grade. The letter goes on to say:

This offer of employment is conditional upon the satisfactory performance of your obligation as an employee of the company and the terms and conditions of employment as set out in your AWA and the Martin Donnelly Pty Ltd Conditions of Employment document.

What does the AWA say about the bonuses and allowances that I referred to in question time yesterday and today? This is what the AWA says, and the letter says you are bound by this:

5(c) The Company, at its sole discretion from time to time, shall determine whether bonuses, overtime, loadings, penalties or other allowances are payable to you. Any of these items may be reflected in Company policy from time to time or your individual offer of employment ...

What is the key here? The key is ‘the company at its sole discretion from time to time’ determines the payment of these bonuses.


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