NSW Govt steps into Tristar redundancy dispute

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NSW Govt steps into Tristar redundancy dispute

The NSW Government has referred the Tristar dispute to the State's Industrial Relations Commission in an attempt to resolve the stand-off over redundancy payments.

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The NSW Government has referred the Tristar dispute to the State's Industrial Relations Commission in an attempt to resolve the stand-off over redundancy payments.

About 35 long serving workers are currently still employed at the company's Sydney plant with nothing to do, but are entitled to massive redundancy payments. The company recently had their certified agreement terminated, and the redundancy deal will end in 12 months, after which they will be entitled to 12 weeks' pay.

NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, said the matter would be referred to the NSWIRC, but he expected there would be jurisdictional arguments about whether it could be resolved there.

An attempt in 2005 to resolve the long running Williamstown Boeing dispute through the NSWIRC was not successful.

Situation unresolved

In recent weeks new Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey, intervened in the Tristar dispute to get a $50,000 payout for a worker dying of cancer after there was media uproar over his case, but the situation of the rest of the workers remains unresolved.

The company claims to have two years' work for them, but even Hockey is unconvinced about that. The Federal Government has asked the OWS to investigate the situation, but is not claiming the company has broken any laws.

Visiting the factory today, Della Bosca said that under WorkChoices the company's bosses had been 'given the green light to dupe long-serving employees out of pay and entitlements'.

'John Howard's WorkChoices laws are undermining our fair go principles and encouraging Australians to mistreat each other in the workplace — they are destroying our lifestyles and hurting families,' Della Bosca said.

He said that under the Commonwealth's unfair laws, when a dispute arises:

  • There is no requirement for employers to negotiate protection of entitlements.
  • Employees can be locked out of their workplace.
  • Workers' wages and conditions can be removed.
  • There is no power to force an employer to negotiate with its workers.

'WorkChoices has stripped the AIRC of the power to be an effective arbitrator,' Della Bosca said. 'Workers caught in the Federal system have nowhere to go for independent help.

Independent umpire

'The Tristar example is further proof that Work Choices needs to be torn up. If this can happen at Tristar, which is operating within the Commonwealth's laws, it can happen to any worker under the WorkChoices system. Fortunately in this State, we still have a truly independent umpire with dispute resolution powers that workers and businesses can turn to when problems arise.'

Della Bosca said that given the Tristar dispute cannot be resolved in the Federal system, he was activating the Ministerial reference power of the State Industrial Relations Act to allow the NSW Commission to inquire into the dispute.

'It is likely there will be a jurisdictional argument about the NSW Commission's involvement,' he said.

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