||Issue No. 205||28 November 2003|
Australia Deserves Better
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
A Tale Of Three Cities
Call Centre Throws Safety Out the Door
Contract call centre operator TeleTech, acted against Jerry Gambacorta who will receive an award for OH&S achievements next week, as employees began campaigning against conditions included in their second generation AWAs (Australian Workplace Agreements).
"TeleTech's approach to the Australian Workplace Agreements has been that it is 'secret HR business'," says delegate James Woodcock. "There has been no consultation process. We were told that human resources had negotiated the AWAs on our behalf. The only consultation has been with the Office of the Employment Advocate."
The AWAs include no pay increases, no penalty rates, no mention of the union in grievance procedures and no duty for TeleTech to consult with employees.
Woodcock says the company has used a number of tricks to try to coerce employees into signing, including one on one meetings and spurious pay offers.
"The whole pay structure is 'off contract' and subject to company policy,' says Woodcock. "People doing the same job can be on dramatically different pay rates, sometimes as much as $10 000 [a year]."
Workers suspect the company is "down-adjusting" pay scales so a pay offer in the contracts are a furphy.
TeleTech staff have been innovative in their use of technology, using email to spread the word and to campaign against the AWAs.
TeleTech's move against Gambacorta saw an immediate response, with an email alerting employees to what had happened to the safety representative circulating within hours of the company's actions.
The company claimed Gambacorta's request for a Risk Assessment of the effects of a new rostering system was inflammatory and malicious and recommended WorkCover prosecute him for WorkCover fraud.
Gambacorta had sought to place his OH&S concerns on the agenda of a safety committee meeting, but his suspension saw him unable to attend the meeting. A management representative heads the safety committee, in contravention of OHS Legislation.
TeleTech expelled a workplace union representative from a disciplinary meeting and refused to allow representation by a union organiser, leaving him to be grilled by three management representatives.
Gambacorta was re-instated after the USU moved swiftly to bring the matter before the Industrial Relations Commission.
"I never cease to be amazed at how bad things are getting in this country," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "It's quite mind boggling that this is going on in Australia, which is supposed to be the country of the fair go and people being able to make informed decisions and I think this is an absolute disgrace."
Labor Council has condemned TeleTech for the methods it has employed to force employees to sign AWAs. If has foreshadowed a broader campaign over TeleTech's treatment of its staff if management victimises workers for speaking about their situations.
TeleTech's anti-worker management style has seen a growing number of their workers sign up to the union.
"Management are slowly learning the message that to touch one is to touch all," Woodcock says.
If you would like to tell TeleTech how you feel about their treatment of their employees you can fax them on 9551 1460 or email one of their human resources managers on [email protected]
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