||Issue No. 202||10 November 2003|
Governing the Corporates
Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
Unions: Joel's Law
National Focus: Spring Carnival
Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
Industrial: The Price of War
Economics: Who's Got What
History: Containing Discontent
Review: An Honourable Wally
Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
Mandarins in $120m Disappearing Act
USU secretary, Brian Harris, says senior public servants are in "cahoots" with labour hire companies, including Manpower, to deny unions access to workers employed on state government contracts worth $120 million.
Harris says the evasions are a "clear breach" of a Memorandum of Understanding thrashed out between NSW Labor Council and the state government.
Labor Council, last week, resolved to go over the heads of Commerce Department officials to urge the Commerce Minister to enforce the MOU.
The USU is one of a number of unions supporting Labor Council's historic Secure Employment Test Case but its efforts to gather information on labour hire penetration, wages and employment standards have been stone-walled by companies like, Manpower, and senior departmental officials.
Manpower refuses to divulge what departments it contracts with.
"The (Commerce) Department's own records show that up to $120 million worth of labour hire services are procured by various departments under contract 1078," Harris says.
"Accordingly, we wrote to all the labour hire companies who are providers under this contract and requested that they provide the names of departments they supplied services to, so we could organise appropriate times to meet with their employees.
"This action is consistent with the MOU on goods and services the Labor Council has with NSW Government.
"Manpower, and a number of other companies have declined to provide this information. Even more disturbing is the attitude of senior members of the Department of Commerce who claim such fundamental information, that would allow unions to organise workers, is not allowable under the MOU."
In a letter to the USU, Manpower cites three grounds for hiding the whereabout of its employees:
- the Privacy Act
- client confidentiality
- appropriate industrial coverage
Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, said the "excuses" didn't hold water.
He called the Privacty Act claim "ridiculous" given that the union had sought no names or addresses of individuals, and said union coverage had never been a matter for employers.
"Obviously, departmental officials aren't telling these companies about their obligations under the MOU," Robertson said.
"They can run and hide but we will be going to the Minister and insisting that he tell these clowns to face up their responsibilities."
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