Reports of the death of WorkChoices are, to borrow from Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated and plans to arrange a wake might be a little premature. While the Commonwealth Government has plans to amend the Workplace Relations Act 1996, which introduced WorkChoices, and the passage of the transition bill -the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008 - and its assent have eased some elements of the legislation enacted in 1996 for some workers, in the education sector, however, the impact is less evident. One of the primary features of the transition bill is to bring an end to the making of new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). It would be fair to say, however, that the education industry, and in particular schools, escaped some of the worst excesses of these individual contracts. Where education industry workers were forced onto AWAs, this arrangement will effectively end when their current AWAs expire. But the real post-WorkChoices environment will only be acknowledged as being 'in existence' by educators when the big ticket items are delivered: unfair dismissal rights, collective bargaining, employer behaviour in the nongovernment sector, fair wage outcomes. So as the new transition bill takes effect and as the more substantial legislative changes are enacted over the coming months, educators sector workers will still be struggling with the historic realities of industrial relations in the workplace. [Author abstract, ed]
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