THE number of Australians covered by enterprise agreements in the federal workplace relations system continues to grow, with more than 2.9 million people now participating in enterprise agreements made under the Fair Work Act.

Despite widespread industry criticism of the adversarial nature of the legislation and the document pitfalls of blanket workplace agreements, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has spruiked the numbers as offering stability.

“Having more working Australians involved in enterprise agreements helps deliver sustainable wages growth and improved productivity which supports both Australian workers and Australian business in staying competitive,” Mr Shorten said.

“We now have over 2.9 million working Australians covered by enterprise agreements made under the Fair Work Act, providing more people with flexible working arrangements and entitlements that work for them and their employers.”

Since the June quarter, an extra 2000 enterprise agreements covering an estimated 202,300 employees have been made—a total of 22,500 agreements since the Fair Work Act began.

According to Minister Shorten, 48 per cent of agreements contain a clause committing to improving productivity; 94 per cent have clauses for flexible engagement of employees and 71 per cent ‘provide flexibility in hours of work’.

Meanwhile, employer groups including AMMA continue to pressure the government to make effective change to the legislation – including removing the monopoly of unions in new project agreements and introducing bargaining mechanisms to level the playing field and address escalating cost pressures in the resource industry.