||Issue No. 266||03 June 2005|
An Act of Faith
Interview: The Baby Drought
Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
Workplace: The Invisible Parents
History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
Politics: All God's Children
Economics: Spun Out
International: Shakey Trials
Legal: Civil Distrubance
Review: Crash Course In Racism
Poetry: You're Fired
The Locker Room
Remembering Workers In Cairns
Fair Go For Injured Workers
A Question Of Choice
Galahs Up The Cross
Broken Hill Confronts "Choice"
"We just want to give our kids a safe environment and stability and many of us here are going to lose it," says local disability care worker Mary-Ellen Crimp. "Many of the staff here are young, with young families. We’re all getting a lesson."
Proprietor Wayne Nicholas threatened 30 employees of Silver Lea Care and Respite with the sack before Christmas if they didn't sign AWA's that would have reduced conditions and removed penalty and weekend rates.
A Federal Court ruling ordered Nicholas to reinstate the workers and restore their earnings.
The service re-emerged as Summit, with the same workforce and Nicholas calling the shots, but without guaranteed hours that delivered income security.
The new arrangements cost Broken Hill workers around $200 a week.
"He's thumbed his nose at the Federal Court and walked away from agreements," says Simon Williams from the Australian Services Union.
But Crimp and her colleagues are standing firm against the use of AWAs and any attempt to undermine their conditions, concerned it will affect the standard of service they provide to the disabled and their families.
"A lot of our staff are really concerned," says Crimp. "It takes a certain kind of person to do this work
"You can imagine how the clients families were feeling."
The AWAs are offering different hourly rates of pay for people doing the same work with the same experience. Some of the rates vary by as much as three dollars an hour.
"We're worried about the conflict this would cause within staff. We fear it is going to set worker against worker."
Crimp was offered a deal that would have seen her give up overnight, weekend, on call and active nights rates, in exchange for a twenty cent an hour pay rise.
"My husband and I would have had to leave town,' says Crimp. "A majority, many young families, would have lost homes and cars."
Employees are calling for the service to restore their conditions in line with the directions of the Federal Court.
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