|Issue No 78||17 November 2000|
Reith Fiddles As Workers Diddled In Shelf Company Scam
Disgust and anger were widespread in the labour movement this week as more workers were diddled out of their entitlements in a Patrick-like corporate sleight-of-hand.
STP Manufacturing is the latest unscrupulous employer to take advantage of the unprincipled Workplace Relations Act.
The Newcastle company had transferred their workforce into a number of shelf companies to avoid responsibility for paying workers their entitlements when they went belly up.
ETU Secretary Bernie Riordan says it highlights the inadequacy and incompetence of the Federal Government in protecting workers.
'One can only hope that the Prime Minister's brother sits on the board of STP so that we can be sure that the employees of STP will receive their full entitlements,' he says.
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Arch Bevis says employers would not be able to use shelf companies to evade their financial responsibilities for workers if laws proposed by Labor in 1998 had been adopted.
Mr Bevis said workers with Steel Tank and Pipe Manufacturing now faced a period of uncertainty over whether their employee entitlements would be paid.
"Not only is Peter Reith unwilling to guarantee all the legally accrued entitlements of workers, the Government is also unwilling to address the issue of dodgy corporate structures which have been used by some employers to avoid their responsibilities.
"This is the very worst type of situation that workers find themselves in," Mr Bevis said. "Not only have the workers at STP found themselves without jobs, it also appears that they have been deceived over their actual employment arrangements.
"Labor moved Private Member's legislation to address this issue at the time of the waterfront dispute, but the Government continually stifled the debate.
"Since then Labor has continued to advocate a change to corporation laws to allow courts to recover assets which have been stripped from businesses in these sorts of complex corporate manoeuvres.
"In June Labor Shadow Minister for Financial Service and Regulation, Stephen Conroy, successfully had Labor's amendments included in the Corporations Law Amendment (Employee Entitlement) Act in the Senate. Again, John Howard and Peter Reith used their numbers in the House to vote against these amendments.
"Not only has this Government put in place a second-rate scheme to repay workers a fraction of what is legally theirs, it is unable or unwilling to deal with the laws that allow such situations to occur. This case once again proves that the Howard Government is a Government for the few and not the many," Mr Bevis said.
Interview: Doubly Blessed
With that unforgettable name, Grace Grace is making her mark as the first female secretary of the Queensland trade union movement.
Unions: On The Line
Trade unions this week entered a landmark partnership with the call centre industry to improve the quality jobs in this growing sector.
History: Conspiracy or Class? The Whitlam Sacking
Never trust a man who wears a top hat and tails in Australia, in Summer. Neale Towart considers this and other evidence of conspiracy in the great shonky dismissal.
Legal: Return Of The Lock-out
Marian Baird reports on the increasing tendency of aggressive employers to use lock-outs to reduce wages and conditions and promote individual agreements.
Activists: Waterfront Hero Bows Out
John Coombs, the man the government compared to Ned Kelly - villain to the bosses, the big land owners and conservatives, folk hero to working Australians - bows out of the union movement next month.
International: Morocco Stonewalls In Western Sahara
Morocco has new king but its old game plan of defying world opinion over its occupation of the Western Sahara continues.
Review: The Identity-Shifting Pragmatist
If New Zealand should have an Australian as its first Labour Prime Minister, then it is only fitting that Australia should have as its first a man who spent much of his formative years across the ditch.
Satire: Hackers Infect Microsoft Computers With Mysterious Windows Virus
SEATTLE, Thursday: Shame-faced workers at Microsoft admitted today that hackers had succeeded in penetrating their network's defences and had installed a sophisticated virus on the Apple Macintosh machines used across the software giant's operations.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005