||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
Democracy Overboard in Bass Strait
The true nature of the legislation was drummed into Bass Strait platform workers when the AIRC ordered them back to work, although the stoppage they voted for by 31-4 in a secret ballot, was barely one fifth of the way through.
"It was just starting to bite," AMWU organiser, Greg Warren, explained. "Now they've been forced back to work and we are all back to square one.
"There is no incentive for employers to bargain in good faith under this process."
Under the WorkChoices bureacracy, it took 39 Quality Maintenance Service employees on Bass St rigs, six weeks to complete their WorkChoices industrial action ballot.
They voted, overwhelmingly for a series of bans, to be followed by a 100-day stoppage, if the company did not address their issues.
However, barely 20 days into the stoppage, the company won an order to suspend their bargaining period for a month form AIRC SDP Acton.
The decision renders any industrial action illegal and punishable by hefty fines and damages. It also forces the offshore fitters and service operators to begin the whole process again.
Key sticking points included classifications and union access.
Warren said members thought they had an agreement on classifications after an agreed, arbitrated process involving industry training body, MISTAS, and employer organisation, AIG.
"QMS has reneged on the deal. There was stuff in there we didn't like but our guys accepted it as a way forward," Warren said.
"These laws are stacked in favour of the employer. The SDP has a new Act she has to apply and it is a deliberately anti-worker Act.
"Companies can lock people out for ever and a day but, even after we jump through all their hoops, they overturn secret ballot decisions if they look like being effective."
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