|Issue No 85||23 February 2001|
Labor To Move on Outsourcing Scams
A Beazley Government would ensure that companies could not outsource staff as a way of bypassing industrial agreements, Labor's IR spokesman Arch Bevis has vowed in the wake of this week's Stellar decision.
Bevis says the proposition that a firm can move workers doing the same job into a different corporate structure to evade awards or agreements was a threat to the intergrity of the industrial relations system.
"If this situation stands it would mean that the entire system of awards and agreements is irrelevant," Bevis says.
A Full Bench of the Federal Court this week upheld an appeal by Stellar Call Centres against the Wilcox 'Transmission of Business' ruling. This decision means Stellar staff will no longer have the opportunity to enjoy the same pay and conditions as their counterparts in Telstra call centres who perform identical work.
Stellar is 50% owned by Telstra and does a large volume of Telstra overflow work.As result of this decision, Stellar staff will earn $28,000 for a 40 hour week, with no penalty rates compared to Telstra, staff doing the exactly same job who get $35,000 and work a 38 hour week, with much better employment conditions.
Bevis says that, while he is yet to study the ruling in detail, he says a Labor Government would address the issue in the first wave of industrial reforms it pursues on taking office. This is consistent with party platform set at last year's Hobart conference.
"The basic principle that outsourcing should not be used as a vehicle for driving down the wages and conditions of the same group of workers is core Labor policy," he says.
Not the End of the Road
The man who's spent much of the past year fighting the Telstra outsourcing, Stephen Jones from the Community and Public Sector Union, says the decision is not the end of the story.
"The Court has taken the view that because Telstra workers are human beings and not office equipment or some other form of valuable property, their work isn't part of the business of Telstra," Jones says. "It is a body blow to job security."
"It means that sham operators like Stellar can make a business out of undercutting the jobs and wages of ordinary working Australian's."
Jones says that while the decision is disappointing for the CPSU, it does not divert us from our strategy of developing new awards in the Telecommunications, IT, and Call Centre Industries.
He says that ultimately job security can only be gained with a fair safety net of wages and conditions across the industry, and a well unionised workforce.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005