NUW calls for Fair Work Act change to stop sham collective bargaining
Gerard May, Workforce, 15th March 2017
The Senate inquiry into Corporate Avoidance of the Fair Work (FW) Act has heard the Act needs to change to stop sham collective bargaining of enterprise agreements (EA).
At today's Victorian Parliament House hearing, the National Union of Workers (NUW) claimed workers at Oxford Cold Storage in Laverton North, Victoria had been part of a "scheme" where they were transferred between different EAs with an array of labour hire firms, preventing them from bargaining for better wages and conditions.
NUW organiser Claire Lewis said only about 21 of the 400 workers at Laverton worked directly for Oxford.
She said eight labor hire firms provided workers on site, but three did not provide labor elsewhere and had sole directors.
NUW organiser Dario Mujkic told the inquiry six months before an EA was to expire at Oxford a few workers signed up to a new deal - then the workers on the old EA transferred to the new four-year agreement.
Mujkic said it was a "deliberate and complex scheme" that he speculated was designed to keep workers from bargaining for improved wages and conditions.
Oxford workers never bargained
One labor hire firm worker at Oxford Daniel Draicchio gave evidence that people had worked at Oxford for 10 years and had never participated in bargaining.
Lewis said some workers had rarely seen personnel from their labor hire employer and were instructed to see another worker on site for payslips.
Need a labor hire licensing scheme: Union
Mujkic said the FW Act had failed to keep up with changes in the workplace.
He called for the introduction of a labor hire licensing scheme, transparent EA voting process and increased rights for casual and labour hire workers.
In a statement the NUW said "our deregulated labour market has meant that businesses can restructure their operations to exploit loopholes in the Act".
"Four in ten workers in Australia are in some kind of insecure employment and are largely unprotected by Australia's workplace laws," NUW Vic Branch secretary Gary Maas said.
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Our workers among highest paid: Oxford hits back at union claim
Gerard May, Workforce, 17th March 2017
Oxford Cold Storage has rejected union claims that labour hire workers have been exploited at its Laverton North facility. It has told Workforce it has ensured the 400 workers at the site are paid amongst the highest wages for cold storage work in Australia.
Oxford director Luis Fleiszig rejected the National Union of Workers' (NUW) claim labour hire staff had been exploited at the site (WF 15/3/2017) and said the company has received legal advice that its industrial relations conduct was within the law.
Fleiszig said half of the Laverton North workforce has been employed by "family companies" and the other half by labour hire firms.
He said it used labour hire to help with fluctuating seasonal work and it has ensured workers at the site are paid equally across enterprise agreements (EAs) at a rate amongst the highest in the industry.
Fleiszig also denied union claims its workers had not bargained with labour hire employers at Oxford. He said Oxford has been bargaining an EA with NUW since June.
A second director at the family-owned business, Gabor Fleiszig, told Workforce the company has experienced "friction" with the NUW whose officials have been disruptive when they've entered the site on multiple occasions.
He said it refused NUW entry on one occasion when 18 of its officials tried to enter.
"We treat workers well, we have many long term employees who have worked 25 years and more," Gabby Fleiszig said.
Last Wednesday (March 15), the NUW told the Senate inquiry into Corporate Avoidance of the Fair Work Act Oxford Cold Storage had a deliberate "scheme" to keep workers from bargaining for improved wages and conditions .
It said there were several labour hire companies at the site and six months before an enterprise agreement (EA) was to expire a few workers signed up to a new deal - then the workers on the old EA transferred to the new agreement.