||Issue No. 331||03 November 2006|
From Green House to Glass House
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
Green the New Black
Almost 200 employer greenfield 'agreements' - business-wide employment deals where the terms are set unilaterally by the company before workers are hired - were lodged in the six months after laws allowing them were introduced in March.
Fast-growing franchise chains and building and engineering companies are the biggest users of the agreements, according to an analysis by the Australian Financial Review.
Food and restaurant chains including Starbucks, Health Habits and Jones the Grocer have lodged greenfield agreements allowing franchise business owners to replace award conditions like overtime and penalty rates with flat hourly rates.
Takeaway food chain Seaking Seafood's agreement gives workers $14.28 an hour and strips all award entitlements including overtime and shift penalties, uniform and laundry allowances, public holiday penalties and allows the employer to deduct uniform costs from pay.
Construction firms including John Holland, Barclay Mowlem and Thiess Services have included no-strike clauses and offered lump-sum payments for projects finished without industrial disruption in the so-called 'agreements'.
Once lodged, greenfield deals override any industrial awards which would otherwise apply. They remain valid for 12 months with the Government arguing they would encourage new business ventures.
But unions say businesses are taking advantage of the cost-cutting opportunities offered by greenfield deals by restructuring and transferring workers between different branches within a company.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley has promised to abolish the greenfield provisions if Labor wins office.
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