||Issue No. 249||03 December 2004|
Interview: Minority Report
Industrial: Girl Power
Unions: Made in NZ
History: Spirit for a Fair Go
Economics: Fool's Gold
Politics: Worth Fighting For
Health: The Force Behind Medibank
Legal: Robust Justice
International: After the Revolution
Poetry: The Sound of Unions
Review: Bad Santa
The Locker Room
Not A Casey Fan
Buckeridge Bill Blocks Entry
Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, confirmed his government would restrict union rights of entry provisions, effectively overturning a federal court ruling against multi-millionaire, Len Buckeridge.
Andrews promised, last August, that a re-elected Coalition Government would trump a decision that AWA employees were entitled to on-the-job access to union advice and assistance.
CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, tagged this week's legislation the "Buckeridge Bill".
"Buckeridge was using AWAs to deny workers rights to union access. What the federal court found was illegal, this government is moving to make legal," Noonan said.
The WA case was sensational because it undermined arguments that AWAs were about freedom of choice. It revealed Buckeridge's company, BGC, bound sub-contractors to employ AWA labour only.
The court heard the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) was registering fraudulent AWAs, and green-lighting others lodged outside the time limit set in law.
In uncontested evidence, industry veteran Alan Kuret, said a non-union AWA had been registered in his name although he had never seen nor signed the document.
He said when he refused to sign a pre-dated AWA, his employment had been terminated.
Justice French rejected Buckeridge's argument that the CFMEU was not entitled to enter Burrup Fertelisers to speak with workers on AWAs.
Buckeridge has become a Hard Right hero for his aggressive moves to deunionise workplaces.
He was awarded the HR Nicholls Society's Charles Copeman Medal for services to industrial reform, after being convicted of assaulting a union activist.
In accepting that award, Buckeridge revealed he had drawn up a "hit list" of trade unionists who had earned his ire.
Andrews announced this week he would move well beyond the construction industry by over-riding state right of entry rules, across the board.
Meanwhile, the CFMEU says the OEA has not taken any action over the fraudulent registering of AWAs.
"This government says it has a no tolerance policy towards law breakers. Clearly, that doesn't apply if you are an employer," Noonan said.
The Queensland Council of Unions has urged all state governments to oppose the Federal Government's proposed "right of entry" laws which would severely curtail the day-to-day work of unions.
QCU General Secretary Grace Grace said the proposed laws were unworkable and unnecessary.
"Right of entry has never been an issue in workplaces and there is simply no need for the government to impose these laws.
"Unions play a vital role when visiting workplaces by ensuring, amongst many things, that employees are being paid correctly and that the workplace is a safe one."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|