||Issue No. 304||28 April 2006|
Canaries in the Coalmine
Interview: Head On
Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
Industrial: Vital Signs
Economics: Taxing Times
Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
History: Melbourne’s Hours
Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
Review: Pollie Fiction
Poetry: The Cabal
The Locker Room
Answer is Easy
Amber Light for Pay Cuts
After winning an AIRC hearing forcing a juice bar to repay the funds, SDA assistant state secretary Bernie Smith conceded it was only the 'ineptitude' of the employer's consultant that had opened the way for the legal challenge.
The Commissioner ruled that Amber Oswald and her colleagues would retain penalty rates and shift loadings offered under a collective agreement that had been stripped under an AWA, because she had never actually signed the document.
While celebrating Amber's victory, Smith warned that if the employer had received good advice on using WorkChoices, he would have got away with the pay cut.
"The truly sad thing is that under the new laws if they [Pulp] had carried out their plan properly this Commission would have no jurisdiction," he told the AIRC. "This is despite the obvious disadvantage Amber would have suffered."
In a fiery hearing, the employment consultant, Ei Legal's Ben Thompson, was monstered by Commissioner Peter Lawson after he claimed that Amber's fight for justice was just a 'media beat-up'.
During the case Thompson was threatened with contempt and the right to appear before the Commission; with Commissioner Lawson saying Thompson's behaviour was "probably the most objectionable" he'd seen before the AIRC in "many, many years".
Thompson had deliberately tried to "railroad" a proper application to the AIRC for assistance, he said, and warned him that his conduct hadn't assisted his client's case. Commissioner Lawson also criticised the employer's Andre Dowling, saying he had provided "misinformation" to the Commission.
Amber's father, Phil Oswald, told Workers Online that WorkChoices would force young workers and parents to be lawyers if they were to understand their workplace agreements.
"The new owner is now madly running around trying to get his employees onto new AWAs," says Oswald. "These new agreements refer to the legislation. Now, who is going to look them up? Have you seen how thick the laws are?
"How is that going to make it simpler for the average worker?"
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