||Issue No. 323||08 September 2006|
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
Catch a Tube
All Work and No Pay
Defending WorkChoices, Howard revealed Heinemann Electrics' refusal to pay 54 employees for a week's completed work, stemmed from law changes he made a decade ago.
"I would make the point that this in no way arises from the operation of WorkChoices because there's been a prohibition on the payment of strike pay in the Australian law for 10 years," Howard told Parliament.
But employees of the South African company hadn't been on strike. They had each worked full 38-hour weeks but barred overtime as part of their WorkChoices-sanctioned campaign for a collective agreement.
Acting on the advice of anti-worker law firm Freehills, used by the Government to help draft WorkChoices, Heinemann Electrics, refused to pay for the completed.
It says it was advised that to pay its employees would have been illegal because they had engaged in industrial action.
General manager, Richard Ross, told the Sydney Morning Herald because the action blocked overtime at any hour, it could legally be seen as a continuous ban.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, challenged John Howard to stop playing "word games" and answer three straight questions.:
"Is Mr Howard saying that as far as he and his IR laws are concerned the 38 hours work these workers have completed was a 'strike' and therefore they should not be paid?
"Is Mr Howard saying he can wipe his hands of this injustice because the laws under which the company claims to be acting were passed by him in 1996 and not 2006?
"Is he denying he introduced new provisions in the 2006 WorkChoices laws that require workers to be docked a minimum of four hours pay for any industrial action - even if it only lasts for 15 minutes?"
At the time of publication, Howard had not answered of the questions.
Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary said Dean Mighell said the company's actions meant only two forms of industrial action were left - indefinite strikes and lockouts by employers.
Unions will make a decision this week on challenging Heinemann's actions in the Federal Court.
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