Feltex workers reject all AWAs despite AIRC ruling

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Feltex workers reject all AWAs despite AIRC ruling

More than 300 workers at the carpet company Feltex have decided to reject any AWAs with the new owner, despite an AIRC decision which pointed the way to individual agreements that would not be lower than their current collective agreement.

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More than 300 workers at the carpet company Feltex have decided to reject any AWAs with the new owner, despite an AIRC decision which pointed the way to individual agreements that would not be lower than their current collective agreement.

At a meeting yesterday the workers vowed not to sign individual job contracts with the new owner, Godfrey Hirst. The workers are currently employed by a receiver, McGrathNicol.

Godfrey Hirst, which is buying Feltex from the receivers, wants to put the production workers at the Melbourne plants on AWAs, but has twice failed to get the agreements ratified by the AIRC.

Acceptable changes

However on Monday AIRC senior deputy president Ian Watson detailed specific changes to the latest version of the AWAs that would make them acceptable.

Watson rejected the first version of the AWAs as providing unacceptable alternative employment because they reduce the conditions in a current union collective agreement.

He invited Godfrey Hirst to produce a second version after further talks with the union, the TCFUA, but then found that the second version was also not acceptable.

DP Watson said the agreement would be acceptable if the company adopted his suggestions, which included maintaining union consultation and representation rights, improving disputes procedures, recognising consultative committees and restoring rostered days off, annual leave and stand downs provisions.

New dispute

A further dispute has now erupted over the fact that management and sales employees have been transferred to a new company entity, but around 320 production employees covered by the union agreement, which expires in September next year, have not.

They remain in the old company that the union says is now an ‘empty shell’ under a labour hire arrangement to receivers McGrathNicol.

Full text of case

Feltex Australia Pty Ltd v Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia - AIRC - Watson DP - 11/

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