||Issue No. 332||10 November 2006|
Affairs of State
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
Abrasive Giant Pinged on Sackings
Long serving NUW delegates, Jeff Gearin and Tony Seymour, were marked for the chop when the abrasives multinational tried to impose non-negotiated AWAs on staff at Lidcombe and Wetherill Park.
The pair, with 18 and 31 years service respectively, were made redundant as Saint-Govains used WorkChoices to deny workers the right to a collective agreement.
The NUW argued the pair had been victimised because of their union activism and the federal court, this week, ruled their dismissals had been unlawful.
Justice Buchanan said the company's retrenchment process had been "convenient mechanism" to achieve the selection of Seymour and Gearin.
"It's a great boost for everyone," said Mark Ptolemy from the NUW.
"Saint-Gobains used WorkChoices to refuse to negotiate, now there is a real sense that if workers back one another they can still win in this environment."
Gearin and Seymour had been involved in negotiations with the manufacturer when it marked their cards in September.
The company is trying to have the existing collective agreement terminated.
Thirty workers are protesting outside its Lidcombe plant while another dozen are on picket duty at Wetherill Park.
NUW members are also picketing Futuris Brakes at Wetherill Park.
The company, which manufactures locomotive brakes and holds the State Rail contract, refuses to enter negotiations on a new collective agreement and is also trying to impose non-negotiated AWAs.
Ptolemy said Futuris had had some success as workers got fed-up with the ongoing stand-off.
"The AWAs are slightly inferior on conditions and offer a bit of a sweetener on hourly rates," Ptolemy said, "they're about breaking down the ability of workers to defend their conditions into the future.
"It's unfortunate that some people haven't been able to see that, in the long-run, everyone loses under this system."
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