Bosswatch: Wharfies slam Buswell, penalty rates attacked

October 12, 2012

Buswell lies to attack wharfies

The Maritime Union of Australia has slammed as false West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell's claims that maritime workers are striking for a 20% pay rise.

On October 11, MUA national secretary Ian Bray said the dispute was about safety of workers, noting last month's workplace death of Newcastle waterfront worker Greg Fitzgibbon, who was crushed by a 20 tonne pallet.

Bray said Buswell should "investigate the concerns of workers to avoid further fatalities on the Australian waterfront".

MUA WA branch assistant secretary, Will Tracey said: “Fremantle Port workers are asking for the same conditions as all other workers on the Kwinana Bulk Terminal strip, to address serious safety concerns that have come about as a result of excessively long hours."
Tracey said Fremantle Port management are hiding behind Buswell, rather than "instead of trying to find a solution to the problem".

Vulnerable workers face new wages attack

Unions have vowed to fight an attack by employer groups on the wages of some of the country's most vulnerable workers.

Bosses' organisations are seeking the abolition or reduction of penalty rates for fast food, retail and hospitality workers.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Ged Kearney said a cut to penalty rates for these workers “would send many into poverty".

Kearney said that while others are enjoying their leisure time, these workers give up their after hours and weekends.

Kearney said employers' argument that weekends and evenings are no longer defined as ‘after hours’ is flawed. She said: "Weekends are still weekends when it comes to sporting events, weddings, parties and long weekends away and evenings are still evenings when children have homework to do, or there is a family birthday to celebrate."

The ACTU is arguing against any attempt to cut penalty rates, noting that many low-paid workers work unsociable hours "just to make ends meet".

The ACTU also condemned independent senator Nick Xenophon's attempts to attack penalty rates through a parliamentary bill to amend the Fair Work Act.

Council workers beat strike breakers

The Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) released a statement on October 10 saying City of Dandenong Council CEO John Bennie had "sunk to a new low".

VTHC said that despite Bennie receiving about $350,000 a year, he refuses to listen to the requests of council workers, and instead has tried to bring in a private contractor to break a strike by council employees. The
Australian Services Union (ASU) said the council's actions show it is not willing to bargain with council workers in good faith.

VTHC said: “We call on the CEO to stop wasting money on private contractors and lawyers and to pay his employees properly."

On October 12, the ASU said it would recommend union members accept an improved pay offer from the council.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.