Tristar decision shows 'only employers are protected'

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Tristar decision shows 'only employers are protected'

A decision by a full bench of the AIRC to terminate the Tristar workers' collective agreement shows that only the interests of employers are now protected, according to the AMWU.

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A decision by a full bench of the AIRC to terminate the Tristar workers' collective agreement shows that only the interests of employers are now protected, according to the AMWU.

The AIRC full bench last month rejected an appeal by the union against the termination of the agreement by a single commissioner and proceeded to terminate the agreement itself.

AMWU NSW State Secretary, Paul Bastian, said that while the Commission agreed with the union's position, the new IR laws prevented them from considering how their decision would affect the workers.

Impact on workers not considered

'Howard's laws have removed the requirement for the Commission to consider the impact on workers when an application is made to terminate an agreement,' Bastian said. 'The so-called "public interest" test is all about what's in the interests of the employers. The interests of workers no longer counts under [Prime Minister] John Howard's laws.'

AIRC had no alternative

Bastian said that despite Tristar being in flagrant breach of their obligations, the Commission found it had no alternative but to terminate the agreement.

The decision by the AIRC follows an appeal by unions against a finding in February, when the Commission terminated the Tristar workers' agreement. Bastian said that decision effectively ended protection for the workers' redundancy entitlements, as an insurance bond protecting their entitlements ended with the agreement.

He said 29 workers, with up to 45 years service at Tristar, claim that they are being kept on by the company, despite having little or no work to do, so that the company can avoid paying them their redundancy entitlements.

Defamation threats

'Tristar's response to ongoing attention from unions and the media has been to sack the delegate for speaking to media and to threaten workers, unions and journalists with defamation action,' he said.

Paul Bastian said that the Tristar issue was far from over.

'We are still waiting for the outcome of the unions' case against the company for the sacking of union delegate Marty Peek. We are also waiting for the prosecution against the company for breaches of the Workplace Relations Act which will not commence until next month,' Bastian said. 'There is still an opportunity for the Federal Government to step in and change their legislation to protect workers like those at Tristar.'

Threat to Cadbury jobs

Meanwhile the AMWU says hundreds of its members at Cadbury Schweppes in Tasmania are anxious about their jobs after hearing through the media that the company has decided to axe 7,500 jobs and close 10 plants globally.

AMWU Tasmanian Secretary, Anne Urquhart, has spent a week trying to secure a meeting with Cadbury Schweppes to find out how workers will be affected.

'We are very concerned for our members in Tasmania and what possible impacts this announcement could have on their jobs,' she said. 'When we heard of the announcement, we immediately contacted local Cadbury management, who had not provided us with any warning of the plan.'

Cadbury Schweppes employs about 800 staff at its factory near Hobart and up to 20 people at its milk processing plant at Cooee, in the State's northwest.

The company has said it is unclear what impact the announcement could have on Tasmania.

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