||Issue No. 180||30 May 2003|
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
Unions Deserve Reputation
Abbott: Look After Number One
The extraordinary piece of industrial advice was offered after Abbott was badgered into talking to Morris McMahon delegate, James Bridge, by radio shock jock, Stan Zemanek.
Bridge, who has been on the picketline since Morris McMahon refused to negotiate with the AMWU 11 weeks ago, told Workers Online he would ignore the Ministerial recommendation.
He confirmed Abbott had told him - forget about this dispute - go and get another job.
Abbott's advice came within a week of appearing to have backed key worker demands after a picket line meeting. Last Friday, he supported workers' rights to union representation and to negotiate a collective agreement.
The Minister distanced himself from both those undertakings during the Zemanek interview.
"The company is, as I understand it, operating successfully enough with those workers who aren't on strike. Now, given that the company is apparently operating more or less successfully, why should it be forced to do a deal with a union, which it for some reason, I think some understandable reasons, has some animosity towards," Abbott said.
Can manufacturer Morris McMahon is owned by central city lawyer, Judith Beswick. Its employees voted for a union- agreement but Beswick refused to negotiate with the AMWU. She has offered staff $1000 lures to return on individual AWAs, championed by Abbott, and for weeks has bussed labor hire scabs past picketers.
The IRC, which under Abbott's regime has no right to mediate an agreement, has accused her of failing to bargain in good faith.
This week, Beswick again upped the ante, hiring PR consultants to spin her side of the story.
Profesional Public Relations obliged with a "Myth Sheet", listing 12 apparent "myths" about the dispute.
A couple of its myths, complete with spin, were
- "Myth 9: Morris McMahon is unfairly suing the unions for $700,000. Fact: We have been legally advised and believe it was proper to commence proceedings for damages as soon as possible."
- "Myth 10: The company has breached award conditions. Fact. Morris McMahon has never knowingly breached award conditions."
While Professional Public Relations were casting their spell, wharfies at Port Botany organised a collection that raised $10,000 to lessen the chance of strikers being starved back on Beswick's conditions.
Della Champions IRC
State IR Minister John Della Bosca has weighed into the wrangle, calling on Abbott to restore the powers of the AIRC.
Responding to a question in State Parliament, he said the Federal Commission was "powerless" to intervene in the Morris McMahon dispute.
"For 11 weeks, workers at Morris McMahon have been on strike due to the failure of the employer to negotiate with their union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union," Della Bosca said.
"This is despite the AMWU being a bona fide negotiating party under the federal Workplace Relations Act 1996."
Mr Della Bosca said it wouldn't happen under the NSW system which had retained an active role for the state IRC. He said he wasn't surprisde the dispute was "floundering" under federal provisions.
"I urge Mr Abbott to restore a true role for the independent umpire and unshackle the power of the Federal Commission," Della Bosca said..
He cited Morris McMahon as the "perfect example" of why NSW didn't want to have its industrial relations governed by a federal system based on conflict.
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