||Issue No. 179||23 May 2003|
The Game’s Up
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Modern Management Theory
Off the Rails
Picket Breaks Abbott
Further, the champion of individual contracts, pledged to intervene in the long-running Morris McMahon dispute after being embarrassed by rank and file process workers and their union officials.
The Workplace Relations Minister met picketers on a challenge from AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, delivered at the end of a heated university debate earlier in the week.
During the meeting, held in front of television cameras, the Minister revealed little understanding of what his legislation means for workers whose employer refuses to negotiate.
Morris McMahon employees have been picketing the company for 10 weeks. Their employer, city lawyer Judith Beswick, refuses to negotiate or even recongise the union. She has used Abbott's AWAs, backed by thousand dollar lures, to try and split individuals from workmates and their union.
Employers around the country have used above contract payments to try and buy people off collective agreements and onto AWAs.
Confronted with the reality Abbott appeared dumbfounded.
He tried to tell workers "under my legislation it is illegal for people on individual contracts to be treated any differently to people on collective agreements."
Cameron interjected: "That's not true Minister."
Abbott then took issue with a picketer. "No that's not right," he insisted. "You can take protected action when you have an individual contract."
Cameron: "Minister, that's not right, you can't take protected action on individual contracts. Believe me, officials of trhe AMWU know about bargaining laws."
"Thanks Doug. In future I will take my advice on industrial laws from the AMWU,"
Abbott responded to cheers and applause. "I am only a bush lawyer not an industrial lawyer," he added.
The Minister looked bemused when a single mother of two, earning $12.81 an hour, pleaded for help so her family could "live with dignity".
Cameron thanked the Minister for fronting up but urged him to go further and represent the interests of picketers. Abbott said he would intervene and conceded the workers should be entitled to a collective agreement and union representation if they wanted it.
Cameron said workers had given Abbott a lesson in real life.
"Government's mantra about choice is not supported by its laws," he said. "These workers have chosen to belong to the union, they have chosen to have a collective agreement, yet the laws mean the employer does not have to bargain in good faith.
"We hope the Minister now understands how his laws are encouraging and assisting employers to starve workers into submission."
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