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Workforce, Issue 1584
Reporter: Steven Andrew

Labor contractor arrangements similar to Coalition’s, says ICA

The Independent Contractors of Aust (ICA) has largely welcomed proposed independent contractor arrangements under Labor. Speaking on May 2 after the release on the weekend of Labor’s small business and contractor platform, ICA spokesperson Ken Phillips told Workforce there was now “not a lot of difference” between Labor and Coalition policies on contractors. Phillips said Labor’s recognition that independent contractors were covered by commercial - and not employment - law ended confusion on the issue. “We now have political consensus on this issue, which we welcome,” he said. Phillips was less happy with Labor’s decision to maintain the status quo arrangements for owner-drivers in NSW and outworkers. “Any law that tries to do any form of price fixing is completely unacceptable,” Phillips said. “It’s bad policy by the Coalition and bad policy by the ALP.” Phillips said Labor’s investigation of small claims processes as a method for settling disputes was a welcome move. He said the ICA supported contractors accessing collective bargaining processes - but was suspicious of any moves to give unions bosses control over independent contractors. “We await with interest more detail on this and other areas,” Phillips said.


Wendy’s workers seek solace in award

The AIRC has agreed to terminate two pre-Work Choices agreements covering Wendy’s shop workers and transfer their coverage to the award. The SDA sought the terminations after it failed to negotiate new agreements with the franchise chain. Wendy’s did not appear at the AIRC hearing - but the union cited correspondence from Wendy’s lawyers suggesting the organisation did not oppose the terminations. The SDA argued pay and conditions under the relevant shop awards were “more beneficial” than leaving the workers on the Wendy’s Supa Sundaes Agreement 2003 and the Wendy’s Supa Sundaes Agreement No 2, 2005. Both expired on June 30, 2006. VP Graeme Watson agreed, finding it was “not contrary” to the public interest to terminate them. Schedule 7 of the amended WR Act provides for the continued operation of certain provisions of the pre-reform Act in relation to pre-reform certified agreements. SDA nat sec Joe De Bruyn told Workforce the decision to transfer the workers to the award was “the only option” in the face of entrenched company resistance to negotiating new agreements. “The other option was to leave workers frozen on the old agreements,” he said. A spokesperson for Wendy’s said about 130 of its 300 franchises had been covered by the agreements. She said Wendy’s would not pursue new union collective deals and would offer franchises AWA templates for workers. (SDA v Wendy’s Supa Sundaes Agreement.PR976915. 30/04/07)


No second bite for sacked worker

The AIRC has refused to reopen a worker’s unsuccessful unfair dismissal claim, despite hearing fresh allegations he was sacked because of his Asperger’s syndrome “disability” and “the fact he was a male”. The worker claimed the syndrome - and his maleness - was a factor in his romantic pursuit of a female co-worker. But he said the pursuit did not amount to harassment as claimed by the employer in its decision to terminate him. He argued his actions were simply those of a male expressing himself in respect of a female, who happened to be a co-worker, and he was dismissed “simply because he was a male”. SDP Peter Richards said s673 of the WR Act prevented him hearing the allegations unless error was shown in the original application. The worker’s failure in his original application to elaborate on a second-string argument he was relying on “privacy and unjust termination” did not qualify as an error, he said. “There is no evidence of the correction of an error of the kind as might, in the ordinary definition of error, between the first and second applications,” SDP Richards said. “The applicant has merely, with the assistance of new advice, identified new grounds upon which to attempt to progress his second application. This does not constitute the correction of an error. Rather, it is merely the substitution of one claim by a subsequent claim when the former has not yielded the required outcome.” SDP Richards said the worker had been warned by his employer his actions towards his co-worker weren’t appropriate. “It appears in all respects to have been the applicant’s conduct and refusal to obey his employer’s directions that led to the termination of his employment”, not his syndrome or the fact he was a male, the SDP said. This placed him outside the protection of discrimination law. (Semmler v Collins Food Group.PR976837. 27/04/07)


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Remuneration & Reward Strategies
Remuneration & Reward Strategies
Author: Steven Andrew
Publisher: CPD
Country: Australia

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