||Issue No. 167||21 February 2003|
Scales of Injustice
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
Who Let The Troops Out?
Wagga Wagga Calling
Ode to Johnny
Abbott Brushes Ripped Off Aussies
The policy, revealed in a paper released by the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, means rogue employers can help themselves to up to $10,000 worth of workers money without fear of departmental prosecution.
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton is calling for a Senate Inquiry into the department's failure to uphold the law.
"Ten thousand dollars may not seem like a lot to Tony Abbott and his departmental heads, but it is a lot of money for workers and their families," Sutton said.
Sutton said even the Royal Commission had conceded that the policy meant the department would not follow through on the majority of workplace rip-offs.
The policy covers the Federal Department and all states and territories to which the Federal Government has contracted out its enforcement role. It comes at a time when Abbott is pushing for a single workplace relations system across the country.
The Commission further highlighted the lack of Commonwealth interest in defending workers rights, pointing out that the Federal Department had prosecuted only two people for breaches of federal awards or agreements across all industries since 1996, while the NSW Department of Industrial Relations had proscecuted 866 breaches of workplace laws during 2001 and 2002 alone.
"At a time when the federal Minister is putting up legislation for tougher penalties against unions for breaching the Workplace relations Act, his own department has a policy of not enforcing existing law when employers are in breach," Sutton said.
As Sutton was speaking, 60 CFMEU picketers took matters into their own hands and were successful in extracting nearly $90,000 in owed wages, super and entitlements from contractor Adco.
Thirty workers employed on demolition work at Westmead Hospital hadn't been paid for nearly three weeks. Their employer, Acorp Demolition, said it didn't have the money, because although the job had been finished, it hadn't been paid by Adco.
Picket numbers were boosted by other building workers, and several demolition companies pitched in with material support, before Adco came to the party.
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