||Issue No. 281||16 September 2005|
Interview: Polar Eclipse
Industrial: Wrong Turn
Unions: Star Support
Workplace: Checked Out
Economics: Sold Out
Politics: Green Banned
History: Potted History
International: Curtain Call
Review: Little Fish
Poetry: Slug A Worker
The Locker Room
Do the Bus Stop
A Touch of Honesty
Boss Made Me Sick
OEA Flicks Fraud Case
The OEA sat on its hands for a year and a half, after being alerted by 40-year building industry veteran, Allan Kuret, that he had never seen, let alone signed, an individual non-union agreement it had registered in his name.
The federal government and the agency it established to monitor secret employment contracts, were embarrassed when the facts came to light in a Perth courtroom, last July.
Kuret told the Federal Court, he had contacted the OEA after being asked to sign a pre-dated AWA at Burrup Fertilisers.
He refused, he testified, and, instead, wrote to the OEA asking to sight the document it had rubber-stamped in his name. He said he viewed the AWA for the first time on April 14, 2004.
"The employee's signature that appears on the letter of offer and the AWA is not my signature," Kuret said. "I know this because I did not sign a letter of offer or an AWA prior to, during, or after commencing employment with Killarnee.
"None of the handwriting on the letter of offer or the AWA is my own."
Last August, Kuret's union, the CFMEU, formally asked the OEA to investigate the allegation.
Nearly a year later, frustrated CFMEU branch secretary Kevin Reynolds, again wrote to the Office.
In its first statement, since being alerted by Kuret, the OEA announced last week, it would flick the allegation on to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' Fraud Investigation Unit.
Reynolds said the sluggish response was typical of the "anti-worker" organisation.
He said the OEA and successor bodies, like the Building Industry Taskforce, moved rapidly if there was "a whiff of a case" against building workers.
Last week, he revealed, the Taskforce flew officers to a site, three hours out of Rockhampton, to charge a crane driver it alleged had been involved in an unlawful stoppage in Perth.
In that case, the Taskforce charged two men who had given courtroom evidence on behalf of the CFMEU from a total workforce of nearly 100, involved in the alleged breach.
"They can't wait to prosecute our people for defending their wages and conditions but sit on their hands in a case where, in our view, there is clear evidence of fraud," Reynolds said.
"It confirms what we have said all along. The OEA is biased, simple as that."
During the discredited Building Industry Royal Commission, a number of employer witnesses referred to the OEA as the Office of the Employers' Advocate.
OEA practises of rubber-stamping unsigned AWAs, and registering others outside the 21 days allowed by law, were also outed in the District Court, last year.
Justice French described as "surprising" some of the OEA's behaviour in relation to AWAs.
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