||Issue No. 184||27 June 2003|
To the Victors The Spoils
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
The Story in General
Thinking of America
Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser
AWU president, Mick Madden, was stunned by the personal attack which, he said, showed neither Swedish multi-national, Electrolux, the AiG, nor its city law firm, Cutler and Harris, had any idea about rural Australians.
Cutler and Harris wrote to the AWU, urging that Madden be disciplined for using "veiled threats" and "intimidation" after he wrote to Electrolux's HR chief at Orange suggesting the pair don boxing gloves at an up-coming charity night to raise funds for local charities.
"I still think it was a good idea. People out west would have loved it and we could have raised some decent money for the community," Madden said. "Other than the fact that he is bigger and heavier than me, it was an offer he could accept or decline."
Madden revealed the lawyers' letter after 1000 employees at the fridge-freezer manufacturer voted, last week, to reject a radical campaign to eliminate unions from their enterprise bargaining negotiations.
But, with a majority of just five, Madden is certain the company will come back and try again, rather than making any effort to conclude a deal.
He pointed to a number of unusual elements in the Electrolux campaign to back his prediction.
- it hired corporate accountants, KPMG, rather than the neutral Industrial Relations Commission to conduct the ballot
- dozens of people who would not be covered by the document, including HR staff, were allowed to vote
- at the height of campaigning, more than a month ago, Electrolux had police remove union officials from the property
- they have not been permitted to return since, other than to talk to workers in a tiny room, under company surveillance, during lunch hours
- for the first few hours of the ballot workers were required to use pencils. Only after delegates identified management personnel with erasers in their pockets, were staff provided with pens to indicate their preferences.
- whilst the company surrounded the polling area with "Vote Yes" materials when a union member put a "Vote No" poster on the wall he was threatened with disciplinary action and the poster was removed.
Members of the AWU, AMWU, NUW and ETU at Orange are particularly angry about the Electrolux campaign because they rallied and lobbied state government to get the company into the town when it seemed the facility, originally owned by Email, would close.
Madden said company determination to press ahead with another ballot was demonstrated by its refusal to budge from "pattern claims" being forced on workers by the AiG.
With the exception of a few words in a stand-down clause, he said, it had moved on nothing during negotiations. Still, there was agreement on everything but an Electorlux demand for longer hours to be paid at less than the award rate.
"We have moved as far as we can to accommodate them but now they are pushing to extend the working day by an hour over summer and pay people less than the award prescribes. We can't sign off on that and they know it.
"They don't want an agreement at all, they just want to keep coming back and putting their proposal for a non-union agreement," Madden said.
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