Are workers stranded in pre-backflip AWA jobs?

The media will, naturally, find the bad news in every WorkChoices story. On the weekend, both the Fairfax broadsheets began their AWA back-flip stories with the losers that fit the narrative on the story – not employers whose bargaining options had been reduced, but the workers who had already signed AWAs. According to the SMH

HUNDREDS of thousands of workers will be left behind by the reintroduction of the “no disadvantage test” by the Federal Government.

And according to The Age

Tens of thousands of workers will be left stranded on work contracts that strip them of penalty rates, overtime and public holiday pay with no compensation, despite Prime Minister John Howard’s move to soften his controversial WorkChoices laws.

But there is more in this than just the journalist’s sense that the negative aspect is the news and that the seemingly weakest party must be in the right. It reflects the powerful legacy of the old IR system on the way people think about the issue, that the law alone protects wages and conditions. Little consideration is given to the way that employees take things into their own hands to improve their lot.
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