||Issue No. 322||01 September 2006|
Justice, Applied Liberally
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Westfield Flogs Good Deal
In a blow to the Howard Government's anti-worker agenda, shopping centre chain Westfield has become the first non-state owned company to use NSW law to dodge WorkChoices.
The NSW Industrial Relations Commission last week approved a project award that will see 400 construction workers at a Newcastle site receive an average $80 a week productivity payment, as well as industry standard super and redundancy.
Project agreements, banned under the Howard Government's industrial relations laws, are allowed in NSW if the employer and employees agree.
"This sends the message to other companies they can be good employers if they really want to," Newcastle Trades Hall Secretary Gary Kennedy said. "There is no longer an excuse to hide behind WorkChoices."
Kennedy said the incentive for Westfield to agree to a site award was "continued industrial stability" at the $140 million Kotara project.
In handing down the decision Commission deputy president Rod Harrison said the award provided "a formula for success of the project".
Kennedy said he did not expect a challenge from the Feds.
"The ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) had a look at it, and they may not be happy, but this is NSW law."
The award was made under a recent addition to the NSW Industrial Relations Act -section 146A - which allows corporations to fall under NSW Industrial Relations Commission, if the corporation and the employees agree.
The section was placed in the act in response to WorkChoices.
Kennedy said unions would work towards similar site agreements in Newcastle at shopping centre Charlestown Square and the waterside Honeysuckle development, as well as state-owned corporation Hunter Water.
Steel Maker Refuses to Steal
Meanwhile, steel giant Smorgon has refused to employ workers on Australian Workplace Agreements since the introduction of Work Choices' no-disadvantage test in March.
The $3 billion company which employs 6,000 workers has made the deliberate decision not to offer any new AWAs on the grounds they would undermine trust in the workplace.
While workers are currently employed on a range of AWAs, union collective agreements and non-union collective agreements, no new AWAs had been offered since the removal of the no-disadvantage test under Work Choices, said Sandra McDiarmad, Smorgon's general manager of HR.
"We have made an absolute decision to stand by what we have committed to," she told the Fair Go From Here national IR forum put on by state and territory government ministers.
Work Choices had made no positive contribution to Australian industrial relations, McDiarmad said.
"I haven't detected anything positive yet. I'm not holding my breath ... I don't think large companies are doing a lot with Work Choices," she said.
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