Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Tom Goes Asexual
Road Rage At Work
Democracy In Action
'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Vincent is the director of what Meatworkers Union Tasmanian secretary, Grant Courtney, describes as "any number of bodgey, $2 shelf companies" - at least one of which has gone belly-up leaving processors without half a million dollars in owed wages.
Some of the outfits we can link with Vincent include Australian Food Group, Blue Ribbon Products, the Perfect Pork Group of Companies, 21st Picnic and Smine.
It was with the notorious Blue Ribbon Products, of course, that Vincent earned his Bad Boss spurs, sparking the longest industrial dispute in Tasmania's history.
Using the services of Victorian-based Newemploy his workers were transformed from employees to individual contractors, losing entitlements such as overtime, annual leave, public holidays and sick leave, at the stroke of a pen.
Seventeen workers, with up to 30 years of service, labelled the process a "scam" and picketed Blue Ribbon for 182 days.
Finally, in the spring of 2003, IRC commissioner, Pauline Shelley, delivered vindication, ruling the arrangements between Blue Ribbon and Newemploy had been a "contrivance to avoid award obligations and industrial consequences".
She ordered that the workers be reinstated and back paid for their six months on the grass.
One, Brian Wood, was prescient in his comments to local media, saying he would believe the back pay order when he saw the money.
Neither he, nor any of his colleagues, has seen a zac from Vincent who embarked on an appeal-athon.
First, though, he denied any relationship between Newemploy and Blue Ribbon, although both companies had been registered on the same day.
Blue Ribbon and Newemploy appealed to the full bench of the IRC which upheld Commissioner Shelley's ruling.
Blue Ribbon then appealed to the Supreme Court where Justice Blow upheld her decision. Then it went to a full bench hearing, before Chief Justice Cox and Justices Evans and Slicer. The case has been heard and the parties are waiting for a decision.
The only thing that wasn't appealing was Blue Ribbon which put up its hands and went into liquidation owing $650,000, with assets of $800.
Courtney also accuses the company of abusing tens of thousands of dollars worth of training grants laid on by state and federal governments. Many taxpayer-subsidised "trainees", he says, were already experienced operators.
He says Vincent put his hand out for $100,000 from the state government and then backed up for individual federal subsidies for employees of up $4000 a head.
"He double dipped and there was no real training going on," Courtney says.
His union has also demanded occupational health and safety investigations since its officials were barred from the premises in April, 2003.
Its worst fears were realised, last month, when 16-year-old, Matthew Hudson, was killed after a forklift he was driving collapsed on him. Blue Ribbon says Hudson was not an employee.
While workers wait for justice, at least one family grieves for a son, and, theoretically at least, Blue Ribbon Products is no longer with us, Vincent continues to churn smallgoods out of the premises.
They go into shops around Australia under guises such as Blue Ribbon, Perfect Pork, Vereynice and Island Fresh, and Courtney says it is time consumers used their discretion to send the boss a message.
"This operation is no good to anybody, except Darren Vincent," he says. "Low paid workers have lost money, a boy has died, and farmers and growers don't benefit either.
"He sources his product from overseas, mainly Denmark and Canada. There is nothing in it for the local community."
Vincent appears to be living proof that Tony Abbot was wrong when he claimed a bad boss was better than no boss.
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