The Guardian 30 November, 2005

Printers stamp on low paid workers

Printing companies are holding out on a $30 a week win for low skilled workers in anticipation of the Federal Government’s industrial relations changes. The Printing Industries Association is appealing an Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) decision on a skills based classification, which would boost pay for an employee’s on-the-job skills.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Printing Secretary Steve Walsh said it was a "bloody-minded" move, cynically devised to hold out for the Howard Government’s industrial relations changes.

He said if the award was not upgraded before the reforms, the ability to introduce a skills-based classification structure into enterprise agreements would be reduced.

"We’re very disappointed at the Printing Industries Association after such a long period of time trying to secure this result", Mr Walsh said.

The AIRC’s Senior Deputy President Marsh handed down the decision last month to re-­classify printing workers on points earned through on-the-job skills. Previously, only formal qualifications were recognised.

The classification structure would see an extra $20 to $30 a week in the pockets of low-skilled printing workers.

It would encourage workers do develop their skills at work, as bonuses would be gained through acquiring skills across all tasks in the industry.

The Australian Industry Group backed the initiative, arguing before the AIRC that it provided more precision for classifying employees.

Walsh said it was important to have the classification structure in place before the Howard Government took its razor to awards.

"It would give workers some degree of security", Steve Walsh said.

"The Printing Industries Association is simply engaged in tactics to delay this important decision."

Back to index page