WORK AGREEMENT: Green Garage employee Mitchel Lindsey (left)
WORK AGREEMENT: Green Garage employee Mitchel Lindsey (left)

A flexible workforce key to success

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

JOHN HOWARD'S proposed industrial relations changes have the full support of Byron Bay small business owner Ed Ahern.

Mr Ahern, who has 50 employees working for him at the Green Garage and Byron Bay 5 Star supermarkets, said his staff already negotiated their sick and holiday payments and their working hours within the AWAs he introduced over a year ago.

Staff are consequently paid higher hourly rates than their peers in the same industry because their holiday and sick days are included in their hourly rate.

However, while they are paid more per hour, staff are all on permanent part-time AWA's that only guarantee three hours work a week ? what they end up working depends mostly on their performance, Mr Ahern says.

"The advantage for me is that I can quarantine my labour costs, and for the staff the advantage is that they get paid more per hour," Mr Ahern said.

"I'm fully behind the industrial relations changes. It will attract people who take more responsibility for their own existence.

"It will attract the right sort of person, not someone who looks to their employer to look after them.

"My staff have to think about what they do, they have to perform well to protect their hours."

Mr Ahern admits without collective bargaining power, employees were more dependant on the safeguard of their employer treating them well.

But that made good business sense anyway, he said.

"It assumes employers are conscious and empathetic," he said.

"But if you treat people with dignity and respect, they will respond well. They won't steal from you, they won't turn up late or slack off," Mr Ahern said.

n Editorial, Page 10



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