SPOTLIGHT, the retail chain store that found itself the focus of national attention last year over the new industrial relations legislation, has turned its back on Australian Workplace Agreements.
The company was reported yesterday as saying it would reluctantly return to collective agreements after 460 Spotlight AWAs were rejected unde the Federal Government's fairness test, as checked by the Workplace Ombudsman.
Last year then Coffs Harbour Spotlight employee Annette Harris refused the company's offer of an AWA which would have replaced some of her award benefits like penalty payments, overtime and other benefits with a 2c an hour pay increase.
After the story appeared in the Coffs Coast Advocate, the Labor Party raised Mrs Harris' case in Parliament last May and Mrs Harris, who was on a caravan holiday in Queensland with her husband and friends. emerged from the bush to find herself a national celebrity.
Yesterday Mrs Harris was surprised but happy to hear the retail chain had changed its stance.
"That's good news," Mrs Harris said, but added she did not want to comment further as she was now retired. Spotlight chief Executive Stephen Carter told ABC Radio it was the company's intention to clean up the industrial issue and move into a more secure future with its employees.
"The advice we've had at this stage (is that) some of the (pay) rates have been insufficient," he said. "We were always prepared to discuss that and to understand exactly in what way we had to modify that.
"But the facts at this particular point are that over 400 of our staff are going to receive notification that their AWAs have not satisfied the fairness test, so we need to protect the interest of our organisation, the interest of our employees.