||Issue No. 327||06 October 2006|
The Road to Bangalore
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
OWS Blesses Tassie Plunder
United Petroleum, owned by Victorians Avil Silver and Eddie Hirsch, used WorkChoices to drastically undercut award minimums without giving workers at 13 gas stations any say.
Their weapon of choice was an Employer Greenfields Agreement, invented by the Howard Government.
Silver and Hirsch used it to undercut minimum award payments, eliminate overtime, penalty rates and allowances, and deny the existence of statutory holidays.
Their "Agreement" gives no security to employees, at least one of whom has a wife, child and a mortgage. It specifies neither minimum nor maximum hours of work.
It over-rides every one of the award conditions, the Howard Government promised would be "protected by law".
Clause 17 of the Agreement reads:
"For the avoidance of doubt, all protected award conditions under section 354 of the Act and both preserved entitlements under clause 34 and preserved notional terms under clause 45 of Schedule 8 of the Act are excluded by this Agreement."
It then goes on to list "protected" or "preserved" conditions that won't apply in Tasmania. Specifically ...
- rest breaks
- incentive payments and bonuses
- annual leave loadings
- observance of days declared as public holidays
- expenses incurred in the course of employment
- allowances for skills or responsibilities
- loadings for overtime or shift work
- penalty rates
David Hurd, a 32-year-old Dad, blew the whistle in the Hobart Mercury, saying the non-negotiable deal would have cost him more than $150 a week.
He said United was slashing his base hourly rate by $3.50, and taking more than $8 an hour off his weekend earnings.
Hurd worked at the Bridgewater service station in Greenpoint Rd for a year. It was one of several swooped on by the cut-price operators at the end of June.
United is also in control at former Mobil outlets in Argyle St, Hobart; Brooker Ave, Lutana; Sandy Bay Rd, Sandy Bay; Alexander St, Shearwater; Main Rd, Sorell; Rosny Hill Rd, Tasman; and Rockeby Rd, Wentworth.
Hurd and former workmates Jason Tonks, 23, Brett Carr, 42 and Rebecca Carr, 21, told the Mercury they walked away from their jobs because they couldn't afford to stay.
Hurd said the new operator refused to negotiate.
"It was a take-it-or-leave it situation," he said.
Despite that, and United still employing Tasmanians under the original Norvac name, the Office of Workplace Services says its actions are ridgey didge.
OWS spin doctor, Leo D'angelo Fisher, said Norvac, "as new operators of the Bridgewater service station, had lawfully established an Employer Greenfields Agreement.
"OWS concluded that Norvac Pty Ltd had not breached the Workplace Relations Act or Regulations."
The AMWU, Unions Tasmania and the ACTU are seeking negotiations with United Petroleum.
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