||Issue No. 260||22 April 2005|
Interview: [email protected]
Unions: State of the Union
Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Legal: Leg Before Picket
Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Health: Cannabis Controversy
Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
History: Politics In The Pubs
Review: Three Bob's Worth
Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
The Locker Room
Mushrooms Mums Fed Bull
The Office of the Employment Advocate upheld the women’s appeal against the contracts and instructed Merbein Mushroom farmer, Geoff Izard to pay shortfalls in their wages dating back to the start of the year.
The OEA ordered the AWA back down after separate court decision found four of the women, who were sacked after refusing to sign contracts, had been unfairly dismissed.
Izard, introduced the new pay regime to his 45 strong workforce two months ago after state law forced him to pay higher wages on January 1. The contracts also cut penalty rates and bonuses, replaced hourly pay with "piece" rates and maintained all staff as casuals.
The four mushroom pickers took Izard to the Federal Court after they were sacked for objecting to the new pay regime, but were ordered back to work in March.
Now the OEA has torn up the AWA's for all the 45 pickers after finding they had been coerced into signing under threat of dismissal.
One mushroom picker who took a stand against the AWAs, Sue Simes, says she feels vindicated by the decision. "The AWAs were stopped because it didn't meet certain requirements, so we were right, we do feel it has been a victory for us."
Staff are now furious because Izard kept them in the dark about the AWA's cancellation for three weeks.
The mushroom pickers union, the AWU, will take legal action against Merbein Mushrooms over the delay.
The AWU believes the result is an embarrassing setback for the Federal Government's preferred form of individual contract.
AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten said he was concerned the Federal Government's forthcoming changes to industrial relations laws will allow AWAs to cut workers' pay and conditions by being forced on people without their proper consent.
"John Howard should publicly rule out any changes that would allow the compulsory introduction of AWAs that undercut Award pay and conditions," Shorten said.
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