On December 11 the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union said that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission's (AIRC) second consecutive rejection of carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst's sub-standard AWA (individual contract) is a clear message for the company to scrap it plans to strip existing rights and conditions from more than 300 Feltex workers.
TCFUA state secretary Michele O'Neil said Godfrey Hirst's attempt to re-hash its original AWA didn't fool anyone.
"Godfrey Hirst has to wake up and realise that they simply can not get away with their extreme attempts to deprive Australian workers of their rights and conditions. Having now been told twice by the AIRC that these AWAs are simply not acceptable, Godfrey Hirst must respect the existing Union collective agreement that's already in place", O'Neil said.
The Feltex Australia receiver's first attempt to have Godfrey Hirst's controversial AWA approved by the AIRC was defeated by the TCFUA in November, but following a series of cosmetic changes to the individual contracts, the company snubbed negotiations with the union and foolhardily rushed back to the AIRC.
In his decision, the AIRC's senior deputy president, Ian Watson, said he remained of the view that the amended AWAs do not constitute acceptable alternative employment.
O'Neil said Godfrey Hirst's efforts to reduce workers' rights and conditions have implications for workers and their families right around Australia and the union would intensify its growing industrial and community campaign to get Godfrey Hirst to honour and transmit the existing Feltex Union collective agreement that does not expire until September 2007.
"It's time this company got on with making carpet and winning back consumer confidence, instead of threatening low paid textile workers and their families", O'Neil said.