25 Feb 2006, Comments Off on Coming to a workplace near you

Coming to a workplace near you

Author: Helen

Remember when the IR legislation was going through, we were told “this bill in its present form will provide more jobs [and] higher wages,” and “In 12 months time people will be wondering what the fuss was about…” ?

Now as the new laws are about to take effect, the message appears to have changed to “ha, ha, sucked in badly”, just as I’d feared. The management at a car parts factory in Clayton have gleefully begun cutting their workers wages and conditions.

ACTU secretary Greg Combet and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary Doug Cameron addressed a stopwork meeting of more than 200 Dana employees outside the company’s Clayton plant yesterday, over what they say are Dana’s plans to drastically cut workers’ wages and conditions.

The company’s enterprise bargaining demands, put to the union this month, are for a 5 per cent drop in pay for current workers, 20 per cent pay cut for new workers, removal of rostered days off and restrictions on sick day and overtime entitlements.

20 per cent!? This went far beyond anything I expected, and I thought I was a pessimist.

Despite his unbelievable demands, and the fact that the company made he still made a net profit of $25 million last year, the Dana boss, Bob Day, still described the stopwork meeting as a “grandstanding publicity stunt”. That’s chutzpah.

Mr Day said Dana had not asked employees to work for $1 an hour as in China or India.

But he had his fingers crossed behind his back when he said that, since his next utterance was:

“We’re trying to invest in technology and (remove) some of the manacles and shackles that people like the AMWU place on you so that you can achieve productivity that’s achievable in other parts of the world.”

“Other parts of the world” is a bit of a giveaway.

I was halfway through this post when I clicked on Larvatus Prodeo and found out that Qantas, too, is trying to cut its workers pay and conditions.

Comments (0)

  • saint says:

    Yep, no one will be forced onto an AWA nor do they have to work on “iconic holidays” like Australia Day – except when your boss thinks it’s not a holiday of course.

  • Tony.T says:

    A “20 per cent pay cut for new workers” (if indeed there is such a thing as a pay cut for new workers) is eminently fair in light of the fact that new workers need time to learn their jobs. If they are any good at their job it won’t be long before they are up to scale with the rest of the workforce.

  • Helen says:

    How does the employer decide when they are up to scale? Can’t they just set the benchmark really high or keep moving the goalposts so they can keep enjoying paying substandard wages for a year or two? You are trusting employers to raise a person’s wages once a rather subjective and indeterminate point, to be decided by themselves, has been reached.

    And if the job isn’t really that complicated, they can string ’em out for a year or two, then tell them they aren’t up to scratch and employ someone new, again of course at the lower rate.

  • Tony.T says:

    No, you just incorporate into the agreement that after, say, a year on the job, the worker’s pay rate becomes the same as all the other workers. Just the same as has always happened with apprentices.

    But I take the point you make in the second paragraph and add that the goal of most employers is to have a casual workforce.

  • Julian Rusell says:

    The way I read it the current workers are getting a 5% cut and anyone starting work will start at 20% below the current wages, for the same job, and STAY there

  • saint says:

    Tony, I’d like to think it true but one of my old employers used to play that game with contract staff. Put them on only for three months or so and then offer renewals at reduced rates thinking that if they won’t take it, some ‘newbie’ will. They lost a lot of experience and the cost of churning/retraining all the newbies has gone through the roof. I hear they are in deep doodles now, i.e. can’t operate effectively because of inexperienced staff and no experienced staff to train them.

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