||Issue No. 132||19 April 2002|
Interview: Generation Next
Legal: We’re All Terrorists Now
Unions: Holding the Baby
International: Taking It To The Streets
History: Off the Wall
Economics: Financing International Development
Satire: Queen Mum's Life Tragically Cut Short
Review: Return of The People’s Parliament
Poetry: Silent Night
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Where's the Silver Tail?
Holding the Baby
Media onlookers, male and female, were non-plussed by the Federation's approach to sacked netball mum, Janette Wynbergen, during evidence in her IRC case against infant wear retailer, BabyCo.
Advocate, Dru Gillan, virtually told the mother of four she should have left two daughters in the care of anyone she could find in order to work changed rosters demanded by the company.
Mother of four Wynbergen had told the Commission of being offered alternative shifts on her demotion from a managerial position. She chose the Monday-Friday option and immediately signed-up pre-teenage daughters, Tiffany and Stacey, with Saturday morning netball teams.
Babyco, however, came back on the eve of the season and told her she had to work Saturdays, after all.
Wynbergen explained that, with both girls in action, she and husband Michael needed, and wanted, to be at netball on Saturday mornings. She volunteered to work Thursday nights, Sundays and even, every second Saturday, in a bid to "meet the company halfway".
But when she dug her heels in, insisting on being a netball mum for at least half the season, Babyco sent her packing.
After hearing of Wynbergen's unsuccessful efforts to have one daughter supervised by a mother she knew, the man from the Retailers Federation wanted to know why she hadn't farmed her daughters out to other netball families.
"Because I didn't know them," Wynbergen said.
"I put it to you, you were dealing with responsible adult people and you would have known that?"
"I think it's my responsibility to make sure my children are safe," Wynbergen contended.
"What I am putting to you, is that to make matters work we have to be practical and make compromises to find a solution."
Gillan then hammered away at why, months earlier, she hadn't enrolled the girls, 14 months apart, in the same team.
Told the girls were individuals, with their own friends, who wanted to make their own ways in life and sport, Gillan questioned whether, in fact, it was true they had special needs, educational or social.
Wynbergen told the IRC both daughters' netball careers finished within 24 hours of her losing her job at the Bankstown store.
"We withdrew the children the following day because we couldn't afford the couple of hundred dollars it was going to cost," she said.
Babyco managing director, John Langley, said the change to Wynbergen's roster had been brought about by his attempt to protect jobs in the wake of closing the company's Guilford shop.
One of the displaced workers, he said, had been relocated to Bankstown, necessitating a change in rosters.
Langley said, contrary to the union claim, Babyco ran a family-friendly operation but didn't like to "blow our own trumpet" on the issue.
Langley conceded the treatment of Wynbergen ran counter to normal work provisions in the retail award.
The case is being run as an award dispute by the SDA. A separate unjustified dismissal claim has also been filed.
The Wynbergen case is being closely monitored as the first practical test of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Carers' Responsibilities) Act, which is supposed to give practical effect to the state Government's policy of allowing employees to balance work and family commitments.
It is being argue before NSW IRC deputy president, Peter Sams, and continues next week.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson is highlighting the wider implications of the case and his organisation has been granted leave to intervene in the procedings.
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