||Issue No. 264||20 May 2005|
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
PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory
US aerospace giant, Boeing, this week used Howard’s laws to stand down Williamstown maintenance engineers pressing for a collective, union-negotiated contract.
The 45, a clear majority of Boeing's 60-strong maintenance workforce, were stood down after the company received written confirmation they wanted to be employed on a collective agreement.
The company's retribution came as the Prime Minister assured a Liberal Party gathering in Brisbane "it will never be the policy of this government to deny people a choice".
AWU secretary, Bill Shorten, said the Williamstown stand-off put the Prime Minister's credibility on the line.
"Unless he comes out and supports the RAAF workers' right to choose, he will be shown to have lied," Shorten said.
"There are thousands of workers, all around Australia, whose right to choose a union agreement is being denied by this federal government and its supporters."
Shorten said Boeing had acted after the engineers imposed a paperwork ban but the whole argument revolved around their rejection of Boeing's individual contract employment model.
"They are professionals who want to continue regular maintenance of the RAAF FA-18 jet fighters they work on," Shorten said. "But Boeing is refusing to let them.
"A clear majority of Williamstown workers have expressed their democratic preference for a union agreement instead of unfair individual contracts. Boeing should respect their freedom of choice and their democratic right to a collective agreement."
The AWU says Boeing's individual contracts were "inferior, unfair, discriminatory and secretive".
It says they pay some workers, up to $2 an hour less than others doing the same alongside them.
Tax Cut Rort
Meanwhile, John Howard's steelworkers are being dudded by his ideological commitment to individual contracts.
Less than a month after the Prime Minister said Treasurer Peter Costello's budget tax cuts were aimed at steelworkers, a group of NSW steelworkers has taken exception to individual contracts that would eliminate the federal government's $6 a week largesse.
A majority of Kurri Kurri workers, employed by Signode Strapping, are opposing individual contracts that would leave them a minimum $7.87 a week worse off than a proposed union agreement.
The union agreement is the same as the company already applies to employees at its Victorian operations.
The AWU's Mark Stoker said the $7.87 differential was a "best case scenario" under individual contracts that leave half the annual wage movement to the company's discretion.
The union agreement also includes income protection insurance not provided in Signode's individual contracts.
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