||Issue No. 133||26 April 2002|
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
Shonky Bosses Get Contract Brush
Council secretary John Robertson and Public Works Minister Morris Iemma this week signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding that will make it tougher for shonky bosses to participate in the lucrative race to supply goods and services to state government
Contracting, in some sectors, has become a synonym for rorts, from slashing wages and avoiding tax and compo payments, to discriminating against people with union affiliations.
Those worst-case scenarios are repudiated by the memorandum formally recognising unions "as the representative body of employees".
It gives effect to that by providing rights to enter workplaces and inspect records, as well as banning victimisation of union members.
The memorandum binds the Department to deal only with operators who comply with the code and sets out enforcement responsibilities.
State-Sponsored Sweated Labour
Council deputy assistant secretary, Chris Christodoulou, drove the agreement from its formative stages.
He said the memorandum, expected to apply to tens of thousands of people employed in occupations such as cleaning, security, couriers, IT and garment manufacture, had its genesis in the discovery of sweated labour at firms holding state government clothing contracts.
Unions pooled resources and experiences to develop a draft which was reshaped over 15 separate meetings with departmental officials.
By the middle of last year enough ground had been made to involve the minister.
Unions, including the LHMU, TCFUA and TWU, re-caucused over the practicalities of monitoring its implementation, then put their proposals before peak industry bodies.
The arrangement supplements another, covering off the NSW building industry, and seems certain to be used as a template for protocols with the RTA and local governments.
Plans to erect fences around those sectors are underway with Labor Council likely to put the acid on at least 12 Sydney-based councils in the near future.
"The key part of the exercise is to get out and organise in those companies the Government deals with," Christodoulou said. "From here, it has to be monitored and driven by rank and file members in their workplaces
"What the memorandum does is remove a significant impediment to doing that. You would think that bona fide companies wouldn't be going in to slash wages or exhibit anti-union tendencies but, unfortunately, that has not always been the case."
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