||Issue No. 333||17 November 2006|
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
Sparks Fly Over Electrical Interference
Andrews used extraordinary powered he conferred on himself, under special building industry legislation, to rule an agreement that took 12 months to negotiate was not "code compliant" although his own departmental officers had ruled that it was.
Failure to abide by the building industry code blocks employers from access to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of federal government work.
It was drafted to try and drive unions out of the building industry and forbids employers from agreeing to co-operate with unions in virtually any way.
NECA (the National Electrical Contractors Association) and the ETU spent a year thrashing out an agreement that was ruled code compliant by Andrews' officers in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Office of the Employment Advocate.
But after 50 Melbourne-based contractors signed on, Andrews decreed they would barred from any federal government contracts because of a deed of agreement they had signed.
Around 4000 electrical workers voted unanimously to endorse the NECA deal at a mass meeting in Melbourne, this week.
ETU secretary, Dean Mighell, said they had "drawn a line in the sand."
"We negotiated in good faith, we struck a deal and we are going to honour it, irrespective of third party interference," Mighell said.
"While we are doing that we will examine our remedies.
"On the face of it, this must be a case for the ACCC. If anyone interfered with a contract as blatantly as this, in the commercial world, it would be anti-competitive conduct."
Mighell said the Minister might also have a case to answer under anti-discrimination laws for seeking to damage employers because of the type of agreement they had entered into.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, told this week's meeting the battle was now a political one and that their only effective avenue of redress was to throw the Howard Governnment out of office.
Furious ETU members voted to knock off for the day, rejecting Mighell's warning that such an action could open them to big fines.
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