||Issue No. 311||16 June 2006|
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
A Nuclear Error
Esselte Occasioning Workplace Harm
American multi-national Esselte is spiriting employees to the Campbelltown Art Gallery where they are being interrogated about “union coercion” by officers from Kevin Andrews' Department of Employment and Workplace Services.
Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said the strategy proved the federal government was "partisan" in its workplace dealings.
"This company has called in DEWR to pressure workers into signing AWAs while pretending they are investigating unions for pressuring workers." Mr Robertson said.
'It's absurd. The simple answer is that workers at this company made a prudent decision not to sign the AWAs because it's not in their interest.
"This is another example of federal agencies being used as enforcers of government's political ideology."
Esselte manager Justin Reidy is taking people from the distribution warehouse, two at a time, and driving them to the Art Gallery, where DEWR officers grill them in a back room.
Workers are told they will be subpoenaed to appear in court if they refuse to answer questions.
They are then required to sign witness statements that could be used against their union.
At least five people were interviewed last Thursday and a further four on Friday.
A witness statement seen by Workers Online gave evidence of an Esselte manager pestering workers to sign AWAs, which strip penalty rates, wages and conditions.
Officials from the National Union of Workers were amazed by the company's move.
Esselte had been aggressively pushing the individual workplace agreements on 20 employees at Minto.
"If the department is wondering why these workers aren't signing these AWAs, it's because they leave them $80 a week worse off," says Derek Belan from the NUW. "Do they think our members are that stupid they'd agree to that?
"It's not rocket science."
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