||Issue No. 310||09 June 2006|
I'm No Economist, But ….
Interview: Rock Solid
Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Politics: The Johnnie Code
Energy: Fission Fantasies
History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
International: Closer to Home
Economics: Taking the Fizz
Unions: Stronger Together
Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Poetry: Fair Go Gone
The Locker Room
Greens Are Good For You
Calling All Micks!
Coming Up Swinging
Mining For Gold
Blood Spangled Banner
Never To Be Repeated Offer
Smirk Boss Loses Control
The fears were raised when Finlay Engineering boss, Jim Sutton, confirmed his auto components company was going into administration, last week.
He made his announcement five weeks after sacking the shop steward and another union activist, for smirking, then dropping sub-standard AWAs on those left standing.
Twenty five of the 28 remaining staff signed contracts that contained barely 140 words and reduced redundancy entitlements from three weeks a year, to 14 weeks maximum.
The AMWU has asked the Office of Workplace Services to investigate individual contracts that strip employees of around $500,000 they would have been entitled to under their union-negotiated collective agreement.
AMWU Victorian secretary, Dave Oliver, called the move a "rort".
"You only have to look at the sequence of events. He sacks the delegates, introduces AWAs the same day, then closes the door five weeks later with a minimum saving of half a million," Oliver said.
"This is John Howard's new world where genuine agreements can be undercut at will. Where's all the protections he spent $55 million advertising last year?"
When Sutton sacked the delegates, and another worker on sick leave, he gloated, on radio, that Howard's regime had given him unprecedented "control of his workforce".
A community protest forced him to reinstate all three men and, last week, he blamed the AMWU for the closure and job losses.
Oliver called that claim "political grandstanding".
He said mismanagement, lack of investment, and federal government's open door policy to cheap auto components were the real reasons behind Finlay's demise.
Oliver described conditions inside the West Heidelberg factory as "Dickensian".
Other factors that Sutton appeared to have overlooked included:
- His insistence, to the IRC 13 months ago, that he wanted out and the business was on the market
- The fact that Finlay Engineering had been in administration as recently as two years ago
- The agreement of employees to accept a five-year wage freeze
- The fact that, at the time of closure, staff had been whittled down to 28, from around 100, and that only four of those remaining were union members
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