LHMU Cleaners Union has won an important federal court ruling against militant bosses who try cut their costs by forcing workers to become individual contractors.
” This court ruling will help us to stop those bosses who think they can avoid Award obligations by forcing workers to quit jobs but still continue working – as individual contractors,” Jeff Lawrence, LHMU National Secretary said.
” This is a blow to the militant employer culture that the Howard Government has been promoting.
Win for workplace decency, fairness and job security
” This is a win for workplace decency, fairness and job security – delivered thanks to the full Bench of the Federal Court.
” A boss can’t turn workers into individual contractors, and then go on to sack the worker, hoping they’ve found the perfect way to avoid unfair dismissal charges.”
Reinforces campaign for responsible cleaning contracts
Jeff Lawrence said the win reinforces the successful campaign by the ACT LHMU Cleaners Union to establish a Code of Practice for responsible cleaning which has the support of 85% of Canberra contract cleaning firms.
The case before the Federal court involved a Canberra contract cleaning company, Endoxos, who had shifted workers into individual contractors arrangements.
” A win for Endoxos in Canberra would have had a wave effect across the country,” Jeff Lawrence said.
The Federal Court has found that Endoxos ” held the position of responsibility and wielded the power in the employment relationship.”
The Court also concluded that the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission ” shut its eyes to uncontested evidence which demonstrated the reality of what occurred” in the workplace and on the job.
Clears way for recovery of money owing
This ruling now clears the way for LHMU member, Mr Riste Damevski, to fight his unfair dismissal in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
It will also allow at least 75 other cleaners, who were forced into the same situation, to recover money owing for underpayment of wages and for portable long service leave.
Endoxos – a company which has now been wound up – was owned by a Canberra identity, Lindsay Burke, who was probably best known for being the husband of prominent local Liberal Territory MP, Jacqui Burke – who was also at one time a director of the cleaning company.
At the time Mr Burke was quoted in the local media saying he had found the perfect solution to cutting costs by ordering around 75 Endoxos workers to set themselves up as individual companies to whom he would then provide work.
” It would have been a tragedy if Endoxos had got away with this because, given the competitive nature of the contract cleaning industry, even respectable contractors would have been forced along the same track as Endoxos,” Jeff Lawrence said.
Potential to drive down cleaners rates of pay
” It had the potential to put the more than two thousand ACT cleaning jobs at risk and for the market to drive down cleaners rates of pay.
” This has been a long and controversial campaign to protect job security, and a union member attacked by Endoxos. We were not prepared to back down.”