|Issue No. 230
|23 July 2004
Kill the Lawyers
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
The Agony Of The Refugee
Company Pays for Casual Affair
The union levelled the charge after the medical products manufacturer agreed to "confidential" settlements with three people it washed its hands of on the basis of their labour hire casual status.
ResMed and labour hire outfit, Action James, agreed to the payments after the AMWU launched unfair contracts actions in the Industrial Relations Commission.
"The company had to accept responsibility because these people were employed on regular and systematic terms for up to 11 months before they were let go under the guise of no more work," AMWU organiser, Martin Cartwright, said.
"What ResMed does is 'let people go' and argue they have no rights because they were only casual workers."
It was the second significant hole punched in Resmed's employment practises, after the AMWU, last year, won reinstatement and permanency for a woman who had been "let go" after working five days a week for 37 months.
Cartwright said the results were "important steps" in the campaign to make the market darling face up to its responsibilities as an employer.
Turner Freeman lawyer, Stephen Penning, said the settlement was "significant" because the host employer had accepted responsibility for employees supplied by a labour hire company.
"Given the booming use of labour hire casuals, it's an important use of employment contract law by a union," he said.
ResMed, headed by chief executive officer Peter C Farrell, has become a significant player in the world of medical research and manufacture. Some of its products are ground-breaking.
It is listed on the Australian and US stock markets and has won rave reviews for its financial performances.
In June, last year, the company was listed amongst Business Week's 100 Hot Growth Companies and came in at 89 on Investor's Business Daily's Top 100 Companies in America.
Its latest annual report predicts it will employ 2000 people by the time it relocates, later in the year, to a new home at Sydney's NorWest Business Park.
The problem, according to Cartwright, is ResMed's use of labour hire to try and keep employment responsibilities at arms length.
New starters are supplied by Action James and, at times, 30-40 percent of employees are casuals without access to holidays, sick leave or other basic entitlements.
ResMed is a classic greenfields site where the majority of production workers do not have union of EBA coverage.
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