||Issue No. 293||20 December 2005|
Waves of Destruction
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
Melbourne Burns AWAs
On Monday, December 19, their employer, Colrain, wrote to the Office of the Employment Advocate, asking that their AWAs be scrubbed.
After a short but bitter stand-off the operators of the truck parts distribution centre, a division of Maxitrans, agreed to meet the AMWU about a collective agreement, and the 18 workers returned to the job.
Their two-week picket at Swan Drive, in Melbourne's west, had been marred by the use of scabs and violence.
Union organiser, Fergal Eliffe, was threatened by baseball bat wielding thugs, and, last week, a picketer was struck by a car.
"It's a matter of putting the relationship back together," Eliffe told Workers Online. "There are more civilised and efficient ways of sorting out wages and conditions and that's the road we've agreed to take.
"With goodwill, we are confident we can get a decent agreement for these people, and their families, in the next few weeks."
The landmark rolling of AWAs, at the heart of "Workchoices", began when Colrain employees rang the AMWU to say they had didn't like the individual contracts they had been forced to sign.
A check with the OEA, revealed the documents were still waiting for its rubber stamp. The AMWU moved, serving notice of a bargaining period.
"Colrain refused to sit down and talk. They said they would deal with each employee individually. We told them we could save them the bother, and free up their time to run the business, but they wouldn't listen," Eliffe said.
Workers then gave notice of protected action but when one of them refused to do data entry, he was stood down, provoking workmates to leave in solidarity.
The company called in replacement labour but, last Monday, agreed to contact the OEA and terminate its application to have the individual contracts registered.
The dispute blows apart Howard Government claims that AWAs are about "choice", and calls into question the motivation for its scrapping of the 14-day cooling off period before Australians can have their working lives regulated, for up to five years, by non-negotiated contracts.
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