||Issue No. 314||07 July 2006|
The Power of Ones
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Rio Sets Up Own Goal
Labour hire outfit Mining and Earthmoving Services supplied workers to Coal and Allied after it used John Howard's first round of IR reforms to punt 190 direct employees.
Lorissa Stevens, 21, a Young Matildas defender, was sacked for refusing to sign an AWA that allowed MES to fine her $200 if she was suddenly taken ill.
The non-negotiable individual contract required 12 hours notification of any sickness to avoid the penalty.
Legal firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman will challenge the dismissal in the Federal Court and Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
Senior associate, Lisa Doust, said Rio Tinto-controlled Coal and Allied's arrangement with MES placed a layer of contractual relationships between the real employer and the employee, to avoid award obligations.
Doust said MES's involvement in employee relationships was virtually non-existent.
She said Stevens' training was performed by Coal and Allied and she was to work on a full time permanent roster alongside Coal and Allied staff.
"The extent of the relationship so far as MES was concerned was to sign her up, hand her the AWA and tell her where to turn up," Doust said.
The CFMEU will assert Coal and Allied is the real employer of MES workers in the Federal Court and will argue its "employees" should attract the same wages and conditions as others doing the same job.
CFMEU mining's Keenon Endacott said it was part of the industry's mission to undermine award terms and conditions.
Rio Tinto coughed up $25 million to get rid of direct employees after the CFMEU won an unfair dismissal settlement. The global resources giant held up the process with a string of appeals.
Maurice Blackburn Cashman has lodged a claim with the Federal Court, which alleges Stevens was bullied, harassed and threatened with dismissal if she did not sign the AWA.
Stevens says a senior manager threatened she would never work in a Hunter Valley Mine again.
Related proceedings filed in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission allege Stevens was dismissed because of her refusal to sign the AWA.
"This is an important case which will test whether there are real protections in the new workplace relations legislation for employees who want to have a say about their terms and conditions of employment," Doust said.
"This was one of the most punitive employment documents I have ever seen, and it is remarkable that this young woman was able to withstand the pressure heaped upon her."
Apart from the $200 sick leave penalty, the AWA contained a 50 to 60 hour working week and forced Stevens to pay for her own induction.
The Federal Court action is expected to take at least six months.
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