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Media Release

July 24 2007

SA verdict on WorkChoices overwhelmingly negative

A barmanA new research report released in South Australia today shows that WorkChoices is having a serious effect on local workers and their families.

The report, Not fair, No choice: the impact of WorkChoices on twenty South Australian workers and their households, was delivered to the South Australian Government today by its authors Dr Jude Elton and Professor Barbara Pocock from UniSA’s Centre for Work + Life.

This “up close and personal” report examines the detailed effects of WorkChoices on individual South Australian workers affected by changes in their working conditions following the implementation of WorkChoices. The workers studied responded to newspaper advertisements seeking volunteers.

“I’m afraid we didn’t hear any positive stories,” report author Dr Elton says. “Instead, the workers told us about having their pay cut, their job security reduced and their working hours becoming more unpredictable.

“Many of the participants were already on low salaries, so they have been hit hard.”

Dr Elton says many of the families reported that the new laws have had a negative effect, casting a shadow of insecurity over jobs and household finances.

“Through very detailed and specific examples the report shows that - far from being family-friendly - WorkChoices makes it tougher for workers to balance their work and family responsibilities,” second author and Director of the Centre for Work + Life Prof Barbara Pocock says.

WorkChoices has delivered a huge backward step for most of the workers whose stories are detailed in this report.”

She says increased job insecurity came through as a major concern for workers. Fear and anxiety were exacerbated by the removal of unfair dismissal rights and weaker redundancy entitlements.

“The changes these workers experienced have made it harder to make ends meet and negatively affected job satisfaction, housing and retirement planning, health, and long term economic security,” Prof Pocock says.

“And impact on individual workers flows through to their households and communities, putting pressure on family and broader social relationships.”

Dr Elton says the report reveals that within workplaces the changes undermined pay equity, team work and cooperation, training and productivity, occupational health, safety and welfare, and staff turnover.

“These experiences completely contradict government claims that WorkChoices delivers more flexibility for employees, and grants greater job certainty,” Dr Elton says.

The full report can be downloaded here.

MEDIA:  The report’s authors will be available for interview at Parliament House at 4pm, Tuesday July 24.

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