||Year End 2005|
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Waves of Destruction
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
The Bottom Ten
The Bad Bosses were out in force, emboldened by the Howard Government. We had them paying wages in five cent coins, wanting their women "work hardened" and , generally, exposing why AWAs are crook. To those who failed to make the cut - take cheer - Workchoices will be around for at least another year.
Bad Boss #10: The Artful Dodgers
Centrelink's staff might have to deal with flying colostomy bags and firebombs from irate customers, but the real abuse this year has come from management. During enterprise agreement negotiations, management has ducked and dodged workers' demands, even going as far as blocking access to union websites and emails. Although an agreement is drawing closer, thanks to some hard work from workers and the CPSU, Centrelink's impression of Muhammad Ali during negotiations earns them a spot on the list.
Bad Boss #9: Fishy Tales
A late contender for this year's awards, fish and chip proprietor Mick Atkins, drew the wrath of 80 Geelong residents after he paid a 16-year-old schoolgirl in five cent pieces. Still, this was a significant improvement on his original offer of not paying her at all. Atkins took issue with her family's requests that he pay up. "I thought it was ridiculous - just really petty," former employee Dharnae Kern said - a good assessment.
Bad Boss #8: American Workplace Agreements
American doughnut manufacturer Krispy Kreme was not content bringing over the fried lard wheels that helped to make the Yew-nited States the fattest nation on earth. It also brought its attitude to workplace relations. Cases surfaced in a Senate Inquiry in August of Krispy Kreme workers being forced to sign AWAs, work 16.5 hour shifts and forgo penalties. According to workers, management refused new employees time to consider AWAs. Oh say can you see...
Bad Boss #7: The Fun Guys
We found out this year what it's like working in a mushroom factory: kept in the dark, and sacked when you ask where all your entitlements have gone. That's what happened to Carmen Walacz Vel Walewska, whose battle with Imperial Mushrooms went to the national media. Carmen was told not to come in after asking her boss why her AWA took away holiday pay, holiday loading, long service leave, sick pay, penalty rates, meal allowance, travel allowance, parental leave, bereavement leave, redundancy, severance entitlements - and paid 40 cents an hour below the award. After attacking Carmen on the Today show, the Fun Guys figured it wasn't a popular position and came to a settlement.
Bad Boss #6: We're Not In Right Now
Sol Trujillo came to Australia with a bold vision. He would turn around Telstra's fortunes by improving customer service. How would he do this? Through sacking a quarter of the workforce. What better way is there of showing the customer you care by having no-one answer phones and longer waiting times because all the technicians have been sacked. It's an amazing management philosophy, Sol.
Bad Boss #5: The High Flying Kangaroo
Qantas celebrated its 85th anniversary as Australia's premier airline by threatening to move 3000 maintenance jobs overseas. Aussie workers are just too well paid, according to chief exec Geoff Dixon, and need to cut their entitlements to compete. No word on whether this would also apply to Geoff's $3 million a year.
Bad Boss #4: The Bank of the 70s
Yep, there are some bad bosses out there. But just like the Your Rights at Work campaign, the bad bosses show people why we need unions. This happened when a campaign by the Finance Sector Union resulted in a $750,000 fine for the Commonwealth Bank. The Federal Court compared its underhand plot to force workers onto individual contracts to "the tax avoidance schemes of the 1970s". It was shifting workers out of the enterprise agreements and onto individual contracts at subsidiary CommSec. These contracts allowed the bank to pay up to 30 per cent less for doing exactly the same job.
Bad Boss #3: Victorian Principles
Plastics manufacturer Kemalex's Managing Director Richard Colebatch is a firm believer in a meaner, leaner workforce. This ideological crusader went public with his gripes about his predominantly female staff, who took issue with his plan to make them 'independent contractors' with no entitlements to things such as penalties, sick leave, annual leave, superannuation, et cetera. Colebatch refused to negotiate with the striking workers and closed down his Melbourne factory, saying the women had lost their physical edge on the picket line. "You've got to understand, they were all sitting on their arses for ten weeks with nothing to do. They all put on 5kg when they came back to work on these machines they weren't work hardened."
Bad Boss #2: The Choice Meister
No one could accuse the Reverend Kevin Andrews of not practicing what he dog whistles. Kev's own department blew the lid on his "choice" line by forcing all new employees to sign AWAs. Fifteen Department of Workplace Relations forms for new staff uncovered by the CPSU had 'yes' boxes already ticked next to the words "I acknowledge my commitment to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement".
But Kev isn't at number two just because of this, after all the department is just doing what it is already allowed to. Kev is also here because under his WorkChoices legislation good bosses, the ones who do the right thing, will most likely have to drive their conditions down to compete with the bad bosses. So in the world of bad bosses, Kev, you're right down there with the lowest of them.
Bad Boss #1: Top Guns
Although there were many contenders for this year's award, none flew lower than Boeing which fired missiles on behalf of the feds. Maintenance workers at Boeing in Newcastle have been on strike for more than 200 days while the company refuses, point-blank, to negotiate with them collectively. Recent hearings in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission revealed Boeing couldn't really explain its preference for individual contracts. Still, it has the full backing of the Prime Minister, and that can be important when you're gunning for multi-million defence contracts. John Howard says Boeing is well within its rights to reject workers' right to choose a collective agreement. So, for forcing workers onto the grass for well over half a year for daring to ask for what is supposed to be a core right, Boeing is our grub of the year.
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