Four hundred Dandenong workers have stared down an attempt to use the controversial Electrolux decision to dud them of money, conditions and protections.
Truck manufacturer Iveco walked away from the “try on” this week, after a mass meeting of union members endorsed claims put under the microscope by IRC senior deputy vice president OCallaghan.
O’Callaghan ruled a week and a half of industrial action at Dandenong had not been “protected” because workers’ claims did not meet the narrow definition of pertaining to the employer-employee relationship, laid down by the High Court in its Electrolux ruling.
Iveco, part of the giant Fiat Group, used that to demand that workers give up income protection, above award payments, and the right to be consulted over redundancy, contracting out, or labour hire plans.
Also included in three pages of proposed clawbacks were demands aimed at weakening union organisation on the site, including rescinding right of entry, payroll deduction and trade union training provisions.
All the clauses Iveco nominated as “non-compliant” are included in other vehicle industry agreements, covering more than 30,000 Australian workers.
AMWU Vehicle Division secretary, Ian Jones, immediately accused the company of a “try-on”.
“A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and this company has as little knowledge about the Electrolux decision as anyone in Australia,” Jones said.
“They can’t just draw lines through everything that has been negotiated in good faith, over the last decade, and blame it on Electrolux. It would wipe out every agreement we have got.”
In dissenting from the majority High Court decision on Electrolux, Justice Kirby warned his colleagues’ ruling would have a “chilling effect” on the process of collective bargaining.
More than 300 vehicle industry stewards met in Melbourne last week to plan bargaining strategies. They considered the Electrolux judgement and voted, unanimously, not to concede a single clause in any of their agreements.
Iveco withdrew its demands this week.
Workers Online understands a type of Mexican Stand-off has developed at Iveco, with tacit agreement on the contentious clauses but doubts about the wisdom of handing them up for certification in light of the Electrolux ruling.