||Issue No. 328||13 October 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
The Unpromised Land
Meatworkers Boned by WorkChoices
Australian Country Choice, a Queensland meat production and processing company, recently overhauled its meat processing plant at Cannon Hill in the state's south-east to boost production of retail-ready trays of meat for Coles supermarkets.
"Coles appears to be moving out of butchering in the supermarkets more into a retail-ready products in a black tray," said Russell Carr, Qld secretary of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Association.
"Australian Country Choice built the facility with the view to supplying most of NSW and then Queensland ... their sole market is Coles."
While several hundred existing employees of ACC are covered by an award-based enterprise agreement, 40 new workers at the revamped plant - half of whom are African migrants - were required to sign AWAs as a condition of employment, said Carr.
There are plans to employ up to 300 people at the site, he said.
The AWAs strip all entitlements aside from the basic sick and holiday leave guaranteed under WorkChoices for an hourly rate of $16.20 an hour - just 29c more than the lowest hourly rate in the enterprise agreement, said Carr.
"Under the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement the maximum number of hours is 10, as opposed to 12 on the AWAs. The AWAs set no normal hours, so the workers can be asked to work any time around the clock.
"There's no shift allowance or overtime, no holiday loading or public holiday penalties," said Carr.
"The workers spend a lot of time working in freezers, but the AWAs don't contain the cold temperature allowance included in the award."
AMIEU members - there are about 350 at Australian Country Choice - are fearful about what will happen when their enterprise agreement expires next year.
"They are very worried about what will happen if this legislation is still available to employers when the agreement expires," said Carr.
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