In the federal public service, the Department of Employment and Labour Relations reported that as of December 31, 2004, out of 124,500 permanent public and parliamentary employees, 11,085 AWAs (for 1928 Senior Executive Service (SES), for which AWAs are mandatory, and 9,157 other employees.  The remaining permanent staff were covered by 101 certified agreements as of 30 March 2005, including 70 trade union enterprise agreements and 31 non-union enterprise agreements.  According to OAS statistics, as of 31 December 2004, 1,410,900 people were under EU-certified agreements, 168,500 by non-union agreements and 421,800 or more than 21% among A.A. As of December 31, 2005, there were 1,618,200 under the Union Certified Agreements, 185,300 under non-union agreements and 538,200 Australian enterprise agreements.  Figures published in March 2005 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that hourly wages for workers in AWAs were 2% lower than workers` hourly wages in registered collective agreements, which were mainly negotiated by trade unions.  For women, AEAs paid 11% less per hour than collective agreements.  In April 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald reported receiving unpublished government tables that showed that 27.8% of the agreements had eliminated the conditions that were to be protected by law.   The tables were based on a sample of AWA agreements.  The trade union movement saw in the AWA an attempt to undermine the power of trade unions in negotiating the wages and conditions of their members. The unions argued that the ordinary worker himself had little or no bargaining power to effectively negotiate an agreement with an employer, so that there is, of course, unequal bargaining power for the contract. For exceptional individuals in the workplace or in labour-shortage sectors, the labour movement argues that common law contracts are sufficient. They also believe that, while commercial law and common law provide for fairness and equality in negotiations, the AAEs were designed to reinforce the inequality between employers and workers in terms of pay and conditions. The ACTU`s policy has been to eliminate AWAs and establish collective agreements.
 AEAs give employers and workers flexibility in setting wages and conditions and allow them to maintain agreements that correspond to their jobs and individual preferences. AWAs offer employers and employees the opportunity to enter into an agreement that best meets the specific needs of each employee. An existing employee may not be required to sign an AWA.  An Australian Labour Agreement (AWA) was a kind of formal agreement negotiated between an employer and a worker in Australia that existed from 1996 to 2009. Employers could propose an AWA as a condition of employment. They were registered by labour counsel and did not require a dispute resolution procedure. These agreements only worked at the federal level. The AWAs were individual written agreements on the conditions of employment between the employer and the worker in Australia, in accordance with the 1996 Labour Relations Act. An AWA could repeal conditions of employment in national or territorial laws, with the exception of those relating to occupational health protection, workers` compensation or training agreements.
An AWA only had to meet Australia`s highest standard of fair payment and minimum conditions. The agreements were not obligated to introduce effective dispute resolution procedures and could not contain prohibited content.