|Issue No 23||23 July 1999|
Shafted: Howard Squibs on Entitlements
Workers have forced the Howard Government to make some token gestures toward protecting workers entitlements, but will continue to shame Canberra until meaningful reform occurs.
More than 500 workers rallied in Sydney this week to back a plan by NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw to secure workers entitlements through changes to corporations law.
Shaw, backed by the Queensland and Tasmanian governments, took his plan to the state and federal ministers responsible for corporations law.
While federal minister Joe Hockey (incidentally the student leader who led the campaign against HECS in the mid-eighties) released a statement trumpeting changes to the law, the proposals still fall way short of genuine protection.
Hockey said the government would introduce measures to:
- introduce a new offence to stop directors from entering into arrangements or transactions that avoided payments of employee entitlements.
- strengthen the existing prohibitions against insolvent trading to prevent directors shifting assets to strip a company of assets before entitlements are paid.
Hockey said the government would also consider allowing the court, "in certain circumstances" to make a company within a group pay outstanding employee entitlements.
While hailing the measures as "a major step towards protecting worker entitlements", the real solution - pay as they accrue entitlements trust funds are still not on the agenda.
Oakdale Campaign to Continue
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says workers will continue to shame the Howard government with events like the successful rally and public awareness campaign.
Thousands of fliers were distributed at railway stations before the rally, attended by more than a dozen different unions/
Oakdale miners, thrown out of work owed more than $6 million, arrived in their shame truck, which is touring the state with the message that Australia is the only country in the OECD which doesn't protect workers entitlements.
With the backing of a brass band. the rally was told how the issue was affecting thousands of workers across all industries - including performers, truck drivers and rural workers.
Costa says it's time for public policy makers to choose whether entitlements earned by workers should be guaranteed or not.
"Slipping and sliding about the need to encourage business investment misses the fundamental point that we are talking about money that is legally the workers," he says
"To justify the current state of injustice by stating that employers should have access to their employees entitlements to help them run their business shows just how far the pendulum has swung against workers."
Interview: An Economic Wet
Dr Christopher Sheil on economic rationalism and the 1997-98 water failures in Adelaide and Sydney.
Unions: The Stench from the South
In 1997 the entire Adelaide metropolitan area was drenched in foul, sulphorous, sewerage odours, emanating from the Bolivar waste water treatment plant.
Environment: Trading into Trouble
Seattle, USA, is shaping up as demonstrator mecca in the lead up to World Trade Organisation talks.
History: Eveliegh Rail Reunion
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site on Sunday, August 29.
International: Bosses Use Armed Gangs to Break Russian Picket
On 9 July 1999, eighty masked, uniformed gunmen accompanied by the local prosecutor and other officials tried to storm the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, under occupation by workers for the past eighteen months.
Satire: New Refugee Crisis: Journalists Flee Peace Zone
The camps are once again full in the Albanian border town of Gruntiez.
Review: 10 Reasonably Interesting Moments in Film
Cultural theorist Snag Cleaver flies off the handle again..
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005