SA meatworks probed over ‘forced’ AWAs

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SA meatworks probed over ‘forced’ AWAs

The Workplace Ombudsman is investigating claims that a South Australian meatworks has ignored its workers' demand for a collective agreement, and is pressuring the employees to sign individual AWAs.

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The Workplace Ombudsman is investigating claims that a South Australian meatworks has ignored its workers' demand for a collective agreement, and is pressuring the employees to sign individual AWAs.

The Ombudsman says it has commenced an investigation into alleged breaches of freedom-of-association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 by Lobethal Australia Pty Ltd (Lobethal Meatworks).

The matter was referred to the Workplace Ombudsman by the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), which has provided the Workplace Ombudsman with supporting documents.

The company has been made aware that the Workplace Ombudsman has received the claim and that Ombudsman officers will be interviewing staff as part of its investigation.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the ACTU welcomed the investigation by the Workplace Ombudsman into the Lobethal meatworks.

‘Worrying’ development

Burrow said the fact that another major employer is under investigation for pushing workers onto AWAs that cut workers’ pay by up to $300 a week is ‘very worrying’ given the Federal Government’s ban on the use of new WorkChoices AWAs is expected to pass through Parliament in the next two weeks.

Graham Smith of the South Australian Meatworkers’ Union said the Lobethal meatworks employees have lost redundancy provisions and their rights to collective bargaining, as well as the pay loss.

Burrow said the Lobethal meatworks has repeatedly failed to respect the choice of their staff for the union to represent them collectively.

Rejected by workers

‘A majority of the workers voted to reject the company’s offer of a non-union job contract last year,’ she said. ‘Now the company is reported to be approaching staff one by one and getting them to sign an unfair AWA that lasts for five years.'

‘Employers should accept the will of the Australian people who voted to scrap Work Choices and end AWAs at the last election.'

‘Not ethical’

‘It may be legal for employers to continue to use Work Choices AWAs but it is certainly not ethical,’ Burrow continued.

‘Businesses all around Australia should immediately stop using AWAs and respect the right of their workers to choose a collective agreement that is negotiated by their union.'

‘Businesses need to stop ripping off their workers and get used to the fact that the Australian public voted to get rid of Work Choices at the last election,’ concluded Burrow.


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