||Issue No. 263||13 May 2005|
A Fistful of Dollars
Interview: Fortress NSW
Unions: Fashions Afield
Industrial: Pay Dirt
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Big Day Out
International: Making History
Economics: The Fear Factor
Review: The Robots Revolt
Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The Locker Room
Bikies Needle Heroines
A dozen motorcycle gang members, some wearing helmets and bandanas, crashed the Kemalex Plastics picket line at Dandenong South on Thursday.
NUW secretary, Martin Pakula, said bikies, escorting tyres into the factory, abused picketing women.
"Our members at this site are mainly migrant women and it seems an extreme over-reaction for nearly a dozen male bikers to escort tyres onto the site," he said.
"The women were so concerned for their safety that they called the local police for assistance."
Fifty five women, paid as little as $12.62 an hour, have been picketing since their boss greeted claims for a new enterprise bargaining agreement with an announcement that all new starters would be contractors, outside the terms of any negotiated agreement.
Kemalex managing director, Richard Colebatch, has already turned 10 existing employees into "contractors".
Company reps have payed late-night visits to the homes of women refusing to become contract to threaten they will be sued.
The NUW says Colebatch's independent contracts are "bogus" and have been instigated to strip away "basic employee rights".
Pakula said Kemalex highlighted the sham independent contracting had become and urged the Howard Government to bring offending companies into line.
"It is farcical that companies can use independent contracting arrangements to shirk all their legal responsibilities, and strip workers of their basic rights," he said.
"Employees are entitled to annual leave, sick leave and long service leave. They are entitled to superannuation contributions and to have their employers take tax out of their wages. None of these rights, though, apply to independent contractors."
He said Kemalex workers met none of the tests traditionally applied to contractors. They only worked for the one company, which set their hours and requirered them to work at its premises.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, visited the Dandenong picketers today and said he feared their treatment was a sign of things to come as the federal government sought to strip away basic rights.
Combet challenged the Workplace Relations Minister to launch an inquiry into Kemalex's use of contracting.
"What we want to know from Kevin Andrews is does he support this disgraceful independent contracting sham or does he oppose it?" Combet said.
Andrews is currently running an inquiry into labour hire and independent contracting.
The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research has warned that the rush to labour hire and contracting is exposing taxpayers to a $14.38 billion annual loss.
Presenting those figures to the contracting inquiry, AMWU secretary Doug Cameron, said $14.38 billion could wipe out the public health crisis by funding 42 new teaching hospitals, or paying for an extra 5.6 million operations.
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