||Issue No. 150||30 August 2002|
Shut It Down!
Interview: Australian Worker
Unions: Morning Ambush
Cole-Watch: Grumpy Old Men
International: Arrested (Sustainable) Development
History: Illegal Alien
Economics: The Trouble With PPPs
Poetry: Is This 'My Country'?
Review: Garage Days
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Eight Weeks Only for Bomb Survivors
The plight of the veteran hotel workers, among 267 sacked this week, comes as the ACTU launches a test case for a new redundancy standard for the entire workforce.
Hilton hotel management announced the sackings to a shocked workforce - many of whom face unemployment after 20 years service to the company. Casual employees will get no redundancy pay.
The Sydney Hilton will close for at least 18 months on November 29, with over $200 million budgeted for extensive renovations.
Wiwoho Sosrohardjono, a steward with 26 years service, says staff had cried this morning when told they would be terminated in November.
"I'm very upset. This is my second family, my second home," Wiwoho says. "I have two children and a mortgage. I don't know what I will do now."
LHMU delegate and housekeeper Patrick Holmes, who has worked at the Sydney Hilton for 12 years, gave the five-star hotel "no stars" for the treatment of employees.
"Management will continue to live well while we are out on the streets," said Patrick. "Many casuals have worked more than 30 hours per week for 10 years or more. They are to be left destitute."
The LHMU has won the support of the NSW Labor Council for a major campaign in defence of the Sydney Hilton workers redundancy rights.
Hilton Boss Squirms in Spotlight
The Hilton Hotel's top man in Australia, Oded Lifschitz, was squirming in his seat as he tried to avoid telling the Sydney media how much he would get paid in a golden handshake if his employer retrenched him.
Lifschitz went red and squirmed with embarrassment trying to avoid telling the world why he was to be treated so differently from the hundreds of low-waged workers employed by his flagship hotel in Australia.
Finally - after some hesitation - Mr Lifschitz avoided answering simply by saying "oh, he was not covered by the Award".
New Redundancy Standard
Meanwhile, the ACTUI has detailed its claim for universal redundancy rights through a federal Test Case to be heard by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission later this year.
Under the claim the minimum entitlement for employees made redundant after six or more years of service would be doubled from eight weeks severance pay to 16 weeks, with workers aged over 45-years-old to receive 20 weeks pay.
It would be the first time redundancy entitlements have been extended to long-term casuals (with more than 12 months service) and require managers to consult employees about job losses.
"Corporate failures and cutbacks have made 600,000 people redundant in the last few years," SACTU president Sharan Burrow says.
"One-quarter of them - 150,000 employees - received less than one-day's notice that they're losing their job. Many employees hear it first on the radio or in the newspaper that they're about to lose their livelihoods."
Burrow says the current eight-week cap on severance pay is inadequate when the average period of unemployment after redundancy is 22 weeks, and more than one-fifth of employees made redundant in the last few years lost their jobs after more than 10 years of service.
"It is unfair that 60% of casual employees, or about 1.2 million people, have worked in the same job for more than 12 months but have no redundancy entitlements," Burrow says.
"Extra help is needed for employees aged over 45 who face being unemployed for more than twice as long as younger workers, or 96 weeks of unemployment on average.
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