||Issue No. 305||05 May 2006|
Contract With Australia
Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Politics: Labor Pains
Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Corporate: House of Horrors
History: Clash Of Cultures
International: Childs Play
Culture: Folk You Mate!
Review: Last Holeproof Hero
The Locker Room
Amber Light on Howard's Way
Forget the claims and counter-claims of politicians and paid union officials. The truth of the Workchoices pudding is in the eating and for Narrabeen Sports High teenager, Amber Oswald, it tasted foul.
She, and her disgusted father, Phil, left the spin at the door of Unions NSW, and furnished delegates with the truth of what AWAs meant to Amber and youngsters like her.
Pow Juice, in Warriewood Square, dropped a take-it or leave-it AWA on the 16-year-old that slashed her weekly earnings from $97 to $65 overnight. Her Sunday rate plummeted from the award specified $14.27 an hour to $8.57.
"We had a meeting on Monday and on Wednesday they told me my wages had dropped from $97 to $65," Amber explained.
Her father went to the heart of AWA argument, explaining key elements of the document Amber had been ordered to sign.
The AWA, he said:
- cut hourly rates back to $8.57
- stripped penal rates for Saturdays and Sundays
- lasted five years, with no wage adjustments during that period
- referred workplace disputes to the private agency that drew up the AWAs for the company
Finally, he said, the AWA contained a clause stating that bringing bad publicity to the company would result in dismissal.
Phil Oswald said there was "no way" that he or Amber could have understood the 15-page document without help.
He said a Pow Juice manager had revealed the truth about AWAs, in media statements during the dispute.
Famously, he told a Sydney radio audience: "It's not about what's fair, it's about what's good for the company".
"I am so proud to be Amber's father because she has shown concern, not just for herself, but for her workmates as well," Phil Oswald said.
"I appeal to other young workers to come forward and bring this shocking treatment of our kids to light."
The SDA won Amber a stay of execution when the Australian Industrial Relations Commission ordered Pow Juice to pay her, and others who had refused to sign AWAs, their original rates.
SDA assistant secretary, Bernie Smith, said that only occurred because the company had bungled its AWAs, if it had got the paperwork right, there was nothing that could have been done under Howard's new IR regime.
In shades of the 1998 waterfront dispute, the juice company went into liquidation on the eve of WorkChoices coming into operation. The same day, as Pow, it offered staff AWAs that undercut award wages and conditions.
In another extraordinary development, a clearly embarrassed company director, Cherily Coad, denied being Cherily Coad, when approached by the Sydney Morning Herald after she was identified by employees.
Amber Oswald told Unions NSW, since the IRC ruling, her manager had been instructed to cut her out of Sunday work.
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