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  Issue No 49 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 April 2000  




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Maria Wins Historic Email Test Case

A woman sacked for distributing union material over an office email system has won in a landmark case.

Australian Services Union delegate and Ansett worker Maria Gencarelli emerged from the Federal Court victorious after it held that the airline had breached the Workplace Relations Act in dismissing her.

Justice Ron Merkel found that Ansett's actions contravened freedom of association provisions in section 298k of the Workplace Relations Act. The penalty to be imposed upon the airline, and compensation for Ms Gencarelli, will be determined at a date yet to be set.

A vindicated Ms Gencarelli said "I obviously did not do anything wrong. I was merely communicating some enterprise bargaining discussions to my fellow members."

The ASU has hailed the outcome as a victory for the rights of all workers to use new technology, such as email, to communicate with each other.

ASU National Assistant Secretary, Linda White says this decision enshrines the rights of union delegates in the enterprise bargaining process to use company communications systems, and recognises that union delegates and representatives in workplaces have a vital role to play in enterprise bargaining.

"It sends a message to corporate Australia that delegates have rights, and that seeking to restrict these rights is a breach of the Workplace Relations Act," White says.

Ansett management had deemed the distribution of the newsletter - an update on enterprise bargaining negotiations - on the internal Internet system as an "unacceptable use of technology".

NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the win is a vindication of what the union movement has been arguing for some time: that workers should have the right to distribute union information in the workplace - whether on a noticeboard or an email system.

Costa says he's written this week to NSW Industrial Relations Mister Jeff Shaw asking him to look into the issue as a matter of urgency.

"Until we have a universal right to reasonable access, more cases like this will emerge," he says.

The ASU in Victoria is now planning to approach Liberty Victoria about jointly campaigning/lobbying the Bracks Government on the back of the court decision.

Congratulations can be sent to Maria at: mailto:[email protected]

For a details analysis of the decision see next week's Workers Online


*    Read transcript of the judgment

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 49 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
*  East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
*  Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
*  International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
*  Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
*  Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
*  History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
*  Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
*  Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.

»  Free East Timor? For the Workers, It's Just Cheap
»  Maria Wins Historic Email Test Case
»  More Hot Air: Cyclone Telstra Hits Townsville
»  Cleaners Walk: We Are Humans, Not Robots!
»  Reith's Day in the Dock Draws Near
»  Olympics Tickets: One Size Doesn't Fit All
»  Back Door Sell-Off of Nursing Home Beds
»  Entitlement Changes Fail to Protect Workers
»  Shaw Sets Safety Guidelines
»  Water Workers Ready to Walk
»  Honour for Jack Mundy
»  Lindsay Tanner Chat Session
»  Radio Free East Timor Fundraiser Thursday
»  Workers Online Turns 50 Next Week!

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Public Meeting: Globalised Capital and International Labour.

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