Unions have called for the Federal Parliament to scrap what remains of Work Choices after revelations yet another major employer is still exploiting the Howard Government’s industrial relations laws to deny workers the right to union collective bargaining.
The latest case of a major employer attempting to deny workers their rights to union representation involves a subsidiary of US based multinational McKesson.
McKesson Asia-Pacific is pursuing a Work Choices-style non-union employment offer for more than 250 nurses around the nation.
The company was in July awarded the $176 million contract to provide the national health telephone triage service, Healthdirect Australia.
But even before it had been officially confirmed as the operator, McKesson decided it would no longer negotiate an enterprise agreement with nurses.
Its decision to shut the union out of negotiations over pay and conditions at the company is at odds with the preferences of its employees to have the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) negotiate on their behalf.
“This is another case in a growing and worrying trend for major employers to exploit the remnants of Work Choices to deny workers their rights,” said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.
“Telstra, BHP Billiton, Pilbara Iron, bionic ear maker Cochlear, major truck manufacturer Maxitrans and now McKessons are all refusing to give their workers the right to be represented by their union in collective bargaining.
“Last year’s federal election was won by the ALP on the back of the public’s strong rejection of Work Choices and support for the right of workers to collective bargaining.
“It’s very worrying to see another major company going ahead as if Australian voters did not make their views clear about fairness in the workplace.”
McKesson Asia-Pacific is part of a global company based in San Francisco and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, that employs about 32,000 people. The 2008 net profit of parent company McKesson Corporation was $US990 million — more than AUD$1 billion.
The ANF has applied to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week to settle the dispute with McKesson and force the company to negotiate with the union.
“McKesson’s approach is clearly in conflict with the Rudd Government’s industrial relations policy.
“It only makes it more urgent that new laws be passed by Parliament to scrap Work Choices and restore fairness and co-operation in Australian workplaces,” Mr Lawrence said.