Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
A Recipe for Conflict
After the Accident
Cuba - the Debate Continues
Greetings from Japan
In the Pooh
The dead hand of Tony Abbott's Building Industry Taskforce has been identified in a Sydney formwork company's sacking of the only two union members among its 10-strong workforce.
But it's not just the dismissals, nor their callous manner, that makes Taskforce-backed PTV - Peter, Tom and Victor - this month's Bad Boss nominee.
It is fair to say, that since the two CFMEU members joined its crew, the operation has stunk.
The pair worked for a week at a site in Rosehill St, Redfern, undermined by torrents of sewage from an adjacent apartment building.
"We're not talking a couple of cupfuls," disgusted organiser, Russell Cunningham explains, "we're talking barrels and barrels of turds."
The workers had to walk through the three-metre wide stream of offensive matter until the CFMEU and Workcover called a halt to procedings. But it wasn't experienced formworker, Malcolm McLean, or his off-sider, Danny, who blew the whistle.
The union was informed of the atrocious state of site by a resident, sick to death of the smell overwhelming the neighbourhood.
From there, the PTV crew was shifted to a building at Kent St in the city and told to work amongst broken asbestos sheets. When the union pointed out the danger/irresponsibility of that, just before the June long weekend, the pair was told to report back to Rosehill St on the Wednesday.
McLean takes up the story: "I got there about 10 past 6, I always arrive early, and the boss drove up. He said - what are you doing here? You've been terminated.
"I couldn't believe it. They never told us to our faces or rang us at home. He said he had written a letter over the long weekend.
"Sure enough, later that day, it arrived in the post box. All I can think is, they thought we had potted them to the union but that wasn't true.
"I don't know what I will do. I've been working in the construction industry around Sydney for 30 years but I'm 55 years old and it's hard to get a job at my age."
Cunningham says the atmosphere in his negotiations with the sub-contractors PTV, builder Definitive Dimensions, and a third Redfern operator, Sublime, changed for the worse after the Building Industry Taskforce became involved.
Problems on that site, he said, had included Sublime operating without Workers Compensation cover; tax compliance, and health and safety issues, including the failure to carry out basic inductions.
"We were making progress when the Taskforce came down and gave them all this crook information on how they could beat the union. The approach changed, quite reasonable employers became hostile," Cunningham said.
"All of a sudden, the only two union guys on the site get the sack. These guys were innocent victims. They didn't even tip us off about the problems in the first place."
All PTV's retained workers were employed on Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) which require them to set up independent companies and deny them basic employee entitlements.
Workers from the Redfern job identified the Taskforce officers who injected themselves into the situation as - Greg Alford, a woman called Julie, and longtime anti-CFMEU activist John Copeland.
Cunningham said their presence had scuttled "promising" discussions about an EBA for the job.
Both McLean and his friend, recovering from a cancer operation, are now desperately looking for alternative work.
But as for the other stitch ups - safety, workers comp and tax rorts - nobody expects the Taskforce to follow through on any of them.
The CFMEU has lodged claims against PTV, seeking apologies and compensation for its two members.
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