Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Industrial: How Low Is Low
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Unions: Bad Medicine
History: Right Turn, Clyde
Economics: Long Division
International: Union Proud
Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Culture: News Front
The Locker Room
Cloak and Dagger
A great man once stated that; "Politics is War without bloodshed and War is Politics with bloodshed" that man was Chairman Mao. The frontline assault upon the rights of workers should be viewed as nothing more than class warfare, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, Isaac Newton.
On the 26th April I infiltrated the Howard Governments Work Choices seminar that was held in the Menzies building Sydney.
I can only say that it was a "sickening and gut wrenching experience" that I will never forget.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations for two and a half hours briefed employers on how to dismiss workers, reduce wages and conditions and how to avoid paying redundancies upon terminating employees, the Department of Workplace Relations also detailed to employers "How to terminate a Union workforce or un-desirables and re-employ workers on lesser conditions and outlined the definitions pertaining to
"Operational reasons" "Prohibited Content" "Agreement making" "Termination and Expiration of existing Agreements". The Departmental advisor also stated that she was not qualified to answer certain questions and that employers best obtain legal advice.
Citing from a document that was leaked to me by Freehills law firm of Melbourne I asked the Departmental advisor as to whether it would be categorised as such; "if two workers negotiated Individual Contracts and if both contracts negotiated delivered similar outcomes would this be viewed as pattern bargaining. her response, was yes.
I went further and questioned that if two mines (different companies) under collective union agreements and if say, for example; mine A had negotiated and lodged a new agreement and mine B negotiates a new enterprise agreement with similar conditions would that be viewed as pattern bargaining, her reply again, was yes.
The Freehills document states that hours of work are 38 hours per week and that additional hours can be averaged over a 12 month period, I perceive that payment of overtime can be withheld until the expiration of twelve months and that the additional hours worked have been averaged out over a twelve month period, the briefing document also states that five weeks holiday for certain types of shift workers (no doubt at the discretion of the employment advocate).
I further questioned as to whether it was possible for an employer to delay negotiations (stalling) within a bargaining period so as to force workers on to the four allowable matters and the minimum hourly rate of $12.75, at this stage I believe that they realised that I was not there to undermine or enslave a workforce.
The most common question continually asked by Employers was; "How do we dismiss employees and how can we dismiss them and not pay them redundancies and how can I sack an employee who is on workers compensation"
The new legislation states that Corporations with employees earning less than $55,000 per year must keep records of hours worked and wages paid for a period of seven years and there are penalties applied for non-compliance, my conclusion of this relates to that when an agreement whether being an Individual Contract or Enterprise Bargaining Agreement expires employers must avert the employee back to the minimum four conditions and minimum hourly rate of $12.75, DEWR effectively has the ability to audit business's for non compliance and penalties do apply.
We have all heard "old man Howard's" rhetoric that the "Work choices" legislation was introduced to create a simpler and fairer Industrial Relations system, to believe this is detestable in every sense. The legislation was introduced for nothing more than to drive down wages and conditions and destroy Australian standards of living, since 1996 the Howard Government has politically comatised and socially hypnotised Australian workers.
At the close of the employer briefing the membership of the Maritime Union
of Australia were awaiting in ambush to greet employers at the front door and protest against this draconian legislation.
The Labor Party must ensure that upon being elected that it destroys this medieval legislation and resurrect the former judicial authority of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission; we must also remove 45d and 45e of the Workplace Relations Act.
Workers united will never be defeated.
Sean Ambrose is a member of the Maritime Union of Australia and works at Port Botany Patrick as a Stevedore, is a Delegate of Cook FEC, survived the 1998 Patrick dispute and was later sent that year as a delegate to study and analyse the impact of the Industrial Relations legislation, GST and privatisation in New Zealand.
In 2003 Sean was elected as a Queensland Youth
Parliamentarian for the State seat of Gympie and held a portfolio within the environment committee, in 2004 won pre-selection and was endorsed as the ALP candidate for the Federal seat of Wide Bay and contested it against Warren Truss (National Party) who was the Minister for Agriculture at the time.
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