||Issue No. 169||07 March 2003|
Re-considering The Accord
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Interview: League of Nations
Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
Organising: On The Buses
Unions: National Focus
History: The Banner Room
International: The Slaughter Continues
Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Culture: Singing For The People
Review: The Hours
Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
The Locker Room
Strangers in the House
Nursing Home Concerns
Mum Raises Labour Hire Bar
Oanh Nguyen was celebrating IRC vindication this week with baby son, Jaidyn, after Commissioner Donna McKenna ruled she had been unjustifiably dismissed from her casual processing job at Chullora and awarded her $10,000 in compensation.
"It's not the money, most of that will go in legal fees," she told Workers Online. "This decision is saying that if you are pregnant, you still have the right to work. It doesn't matter if you are casual or permanent and it doesn't matter if you are employed by the company or an agent, you have rights they can't take away.
"It means other people should be treated better in the future. I think it's important""
Her analysis of the decision's signficance was endorsed by union and employer reps, as well as industrial lawyers.
Labor Council assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou honed in on company attempts to wash their hands of Nguyen because she had been on the books of labour hire outfit, ANT, which in turn told the Commission she hadn't been dismissed, they just had no work to offer her.
Christodoulou said that sort of attitude was "too common" in labour hire arrangments.
"Companies often try to hide behind labour hire entities to avoid their responsibilities but this decision strips away much of that defence - anti-discrimination, victimisation and health and safety rights were all elements of this case," he said.
Prominent industrial lawyer Steven Penning of Turner Freeman Solicitors, who ran Nguyen's case, also said it was a landmark labour hire ruling. It was, he said, the first Commission unfair dismissal decision that decided the host employer was the "real and effective" employer.
He said it had "big implications" for labour hire and challenged employers to launch an appeal.
"We would welcome an appeal," Penning said. "Host employers have had open slather for a long time and that is challenged by a decision that is both strong and well-reasoned. I think it would be endorsed by a full bench and that would give it even stronger authority."
Peter Rochfort, who represented Theiss, conceded the implications were "mammoth".
Ms McKenna found Theiss was liable because if had effective control over Nguyen's recruitment, employment and termination. She ordered it to pay the compensation.
In her judgement she referred to the "husk" of an employment relationship with ANT.
Another key element in the case was the 23-year-old's long history of union activism and the evident dislike this had created with a supervisor. The longest-serving casual at the recycling plant had been a delegate and safety committee secretary. She had fought and won a previous unfair dismissal case.
"I was not one of their favourite people because I had taken up a few health and safety issues," she conceded.
Ms McKenna said Nguyen's "industrial activism" and the fact that Theiss management were not "particularly well-disposed" towards her formed part of the backdrop. She found Nguyen's pregnancy had been the "catalyst" for her removal from duties at Chullora.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|