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  Issue No 83 Official Organ of LaborNet 09 February 2001  

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News

Union Busters Target Call Centres


The law firm that represented Patricks in the waterfront dispute is now drumming up business in a bid to keep unions out of the call centre industry.

The law firm, Freehill, Hollingdale and Page are touting special seminars for call center employers around the country in March aimed at resisting a national Code of Conduct for the industry.

The top end of town lawyers this week issued a media release this warning that the trade union organizing drive into call centers "will pose a serious challenge for employers."

Freehills says the Call Centre Code of Conduct, developed by the ACTU and some employers poses a particular threat.

"Employers need to be aware that if enough of them sign up to this code, the unions will push for it to become the benchmark for award and other legally binding industrial instruments," Freehills say.

"It will also mean that so-called 'rogues' (employers who don't sign up) will be under greater pressure from union campaigns to come on board.

"Call centers must have strategies in place to ensure staff alignment, as those who do not accept union demands may be publicly attacked to shift their loyalty towards the union." There is, unfortunately, no definition for the meaning of 'staff alignment'

We Must be Something Right

Australian Services Union services branch state secretary Luke Foley says the push is proof that unions are making inroads in the call center industry.

"This is a growth area where we are seeing a real need for collective action," Foley says.

"While it's a hard slog, we are starting to see the results of the past few years work with a steady stream of call centre workers choosing to join their union

The ASU is one of a group of trade unions who have been working with the ACTU to develop the Code of Conduct and organize campaigns around its implementation.

Stephen Jones, form another of the particpating union - the Community and Public Sector union - says it's employees who need the help, not bosses.

"We have visited centres where employees are crammed together under poor health and safety standards and at other companies workers have been told to buy their own equipment. In some places people are required to sit for an entire eight hour shift without even a lunch break," Jones says.

"I know of one worker with a disability who had been required to buy his own chair.

"Some people in the industry have been told that it is a condition of their employment that they don't join a union.

"Freehills shouldn't be trying to cover this up. Some employers are working cooperatively with the CPSU and do not see the union as a threat. Obviously there is no money for lawyers in industrial harmony."

The CPSU is seeking to make an award for workers in telecommunications companies including AAPT, Orange/Hutchinson, OneTel, and Primus.


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*   Issue 83 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Dispatch from Davos
ACTU President Shahran Burrow reports back on the trade union movement’s presence at last week’s meeting of the heavyweights of global capital.
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*  Unions: After the Gold Rush
Recent mass sackings at high-profile e-businesses are beginning to expose the flimsiness of the ‘jobs for all’ predictions made on behalf of the sector.
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*  Economics: The Other Davos
While the world’s business leaders met in Davos, a very different gathering was taking place in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Pat Ranald was there.
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*  Politics: While We Were Snoozing
As we lay in our banana chair through summer the political world kept turning with a new man in the White House. Here’s what we missed while we were off the air.
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*  History: Federation Day, 1901
One hundred years after Australia became a nation, Ralph Sawyer relives the original Federation Day through the eyes of Billy Hughes.
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*  International: Burma: The Struggle Continues
As the internatinal community moves to bring Burma to account, APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad is working on the ground.
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*  Review: Inside the Journopolis
In his new book, Rob Johnson brings the infamous Cash for Comment Affair to life.
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*  Satire: Families Demand Longer Work Hours
A new report confirms the long held suspicion that employees who reduce their workload to spend more time with their spouse and children just end up annoying their families even more.
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News
»  Union Busters Target Call Centres
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»  Workers Take Message to World Bank
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»  Korean Worker Bashed for Questioning Wages
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»  Steelworkers Draw The Line
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»  Sartor Thanks Workers for Games by Outsourcing Jobs
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»  Outworkers Still Waiting for Action of Sweatshops
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»  Workers Casualties in Wentworth Fire Sale
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»  Fantastic Win for Furniture Workers
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»  Billions Spent on Mine Takeovers
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»  No Guarantees on Orange Jobs
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»  M5 Project- Worker Pays the Price
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»  Forum: Organising Youth in a Hostile Workplace
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»  Western Sahara Marks 25 Years of Waiting
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»  Action as Australia Considers WTO Ties
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Cavalier Attitude to Cricketers
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»  Unions and the WEF: How should unions bridge the divide?
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»  Botsman's Ivory Tower
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»  Volunteering a Modest Proposal
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»  Well Done, Workers Online
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