Italian truck manufacturer, Iveco, is trying to rip money, conditions and protections away from 400 Dandenong manufacturing workers.
The company, part of the giant Fiat Group, is using a High Court ruling to insist that employees 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 are demands aimed at weakening union organisation, including rescinding right of entry, payroll deduction and trade union training provisions.
Iveco put its proposal after IRC senior deputy president, OCallaghan, said that a week and a half of industrial action at Dandenong had been unprotected.
OCallaghan cited this months controversial Electrolux ruling to suggest some AMWU claims did not pertain to the employer-employee relationship.
OCallaghan came to the Iveco case after the employers bid to have industrial action declared unprotected had already been rejected by fellow IRC Commissioner Hinkley.
Some commentators believe the Electrolux decision, brought down by the full High Court, will dramatically narrow issues that workers can bargain over and, as a consequence, take protected industrial about.
In fact, Justice Kirby in dissenting from the majority, warned their ruling would have a chilling effect on the process of collective bargaining.
All the clauses Iveco has nominated as non-compliant are included in other vehicle industry agreements, covering more than 30,000 Australian workers.
AMWU Vehicle Division secretary, Ian Jones, 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 cant 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.
The message Iveco is sending to our members is that the easiest thing to do is just file our claims, wait a week, and then belt them because negotiating appears to be a waste of time.
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 their agreements.
Meanwhile, the same senior vice president OCallaghan has certified the Mitsubishi termination agreement that will affect 700 displaced Adelaide workers.
OCallaghan, last week, reserved his decision, suggesting provisions for medical checks and financial advice might have rendered the agreement invalid under principles laid down in the Electrolux ruling.
AMWU South Australian secretary, John Camillo, said it was just as well OCallaghan had overcome those qualms.
Our people were ropeable, he said. They couldnt believe that a freely negotiated agreement between Mitsubishi and their representatives would be torpedoed by someone who had nothing do with it.