||Issue No. 356||21 December 2006|
Interview: The Terminator
Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Unions: Breaking News
History: Seven Deadly Sins
Economics: Back to the Future
Politics: Organising and Organisations
International: Web Retrospective
Review: Shock Therapy
All the Best
Vanstone Opens New Meat Market
National secretary, Graham Bird, suspects Commonwealth attempts to get states to sign off on a new meat industry regime are a direct response to a report Amanda Vanstone has been sitting on for six months.
The Minister has ducked challenges to release departmental findings into allegations that a Murray Bridge abattoir imported non-skilled Asians to work for hundreds of dollars below negotiated rates.
Now the industry wants unskilled labour to be reclassified as skilled work by the stroke of a pen.
It also seeks to dodge existing requirements on employers to pay return airfares and health insurance for imported workers.
Commonwealth proposals have been kept away from worker reps, while Canberra seeks backing from state governments.
Meat Industry Council boss, Kevn Cottrill, says 30 meatworks want to bring in another 1000 workers.
Bird says the proposals flow from Vantstone's secret report.
"There's not much doubt about that. Their investigations have found that what we have been saying is factual but they don't want to admit it," Bird said.
"We haven't been shown the new proposals but, from what we've heard, they tighten up earnings and hours of work but don't have any meaningful enforcement mechanisms.
"And that's the whole problem with this government's guest labour program. The practice doesn't match the theory because they don't enforce the rules."
He said Murray Bridge was a case in point. The report, forwarded to Vanstone, showed the system was being rorted but hundreds of guest workers were still employed there and no penalties had been imposed.
Bird challenged the industry's core claim of a debilitating labour shortage.
"Works that paying union negotiated rates and have good conditions can get workers," he said.
"There are one or two exceptions, in very isolated places, but the companies leading the charge for guest labour are those using AWAs to slash the pay and conditions of Australians."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|