||Issue No. 190||08 August 2003|
Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
The Fifth Column
"Puppet" Sparks Appeals
Senior Deputy President Cartwright, appointed to the bench by former Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith, is the first IRC Commissioner in Australian history to have been found guilty of discriminating against tens of thousands of workers on the basis of their union membership.
Unions are considering appeals against his recent decision to refuse certification to a consent agreement between the AWU, AMWU and Unilever, over objections to clauses providing right of entry to union officials and imposing conditions on the use of labour hire.
Cartwright found the clauses did not relate to the relationship between employer and employees. He has subsequently used his own decision to knock back other agreements.
Announcing a meeting with affiliates to consider appeals against the Cartwright rulings, Labor Council secretary John Robertson argued right of entry and labour hire both had "direct bearings" on employment relationships.
"This is a bloke who came to the Commission with a track record and was appointed by Peter Reith or Tony Abbott," Robertson said.
"Now, it appears, the puppet is dancing to the pupeteer's tune."
Cartwright was one of a number of employer activists appointed to the IRC in the lead-up to the last general election in a move widely interpreted as an attempt to stack the bench.
He had built a strong anti-union reputation in HR roles at Rio Tinto and Telstra.
Within six months of being appointed Telstra's IR chief, he was pictured in the press with his boot on a stack of negotiated awards and agreements, announcing his intention to get rid of them.
Under his stewardship, Telstra led the country in seizing on changes to the Workplace Relations Act designed to sideline unions and cut wages and conditions. It sacked 10,000 Australians, championed the use of AWAs, and led the corporate charge to contracting out.
When Australia's largest company announced 10,000 job losses, Cartwright instructed managers that staff who had opted for AWAs over union agreements should receive preferential treatment.
That move led to the High Court finding the company had discrimated against 42,000 employees, on the basis of union membership, and ordering payment of $76,000.
The decision sparked calls for Cartwright to resign from the IRC, and lawyer predictions that his rulings could be appealed on the ground of perceived bias.
Current Workplace Relations Minister, Abbott, rejected the calls, expressing confidence in Cartwright's ability to do the job.
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