it could happen to me“ by lindahy


More Info
									“I never thought

it could happen to me...“
                  Assistant Secretary   the Government’s new laws but I       “If they don’t want to sign,
                  Bernie Smith talks    never thought this would happen to    they can leave.”
                  about one young       me,” said Amber.
                  worker’s experi-
                                                                              When Amber’s boss was
                                        Pulp Juices restructured their        questioned about the AWA’s he
                  ences under
                                        business effective from Friday 24
                  WorkChoices.                                                was quoted as saying “If they
                                        March 2006, just before
                                                                              don’t want to sign, they can
                                        WorkChoices came into effect. The
                                                                              leave. It’s not about what’s fair,
                                        following week, under WorkChoices,
 16-year-old Amber Oswald was                                                 it’s what’s right – right for the
                                        AWAs were on the table with lower
 terminated from her job as a juice                                           company”.
                                        rates of pay, no penalty rates and
 bar worker the Friday before           standard conditions like minimum      This response highlights how the
 WorkChoices was introduced and         shift lengths stripped away.          new laws can shift the balance in
 rehired the very next week on John
                                        The reason the AWA rate could         some workplaces from what
 Howard’s reduced WorkChoices
                                        even undercut the Award standard      most employees and employers
 rates of pay.
                                        is because the Federal Government     would expect, fairness and
 Her employer tried to put Amber        refused to recommit to the            co-operation between employees
 onto a WorkChoices AWA at Pulp         guarantee they gave in 1996 that      and employers, to a system
 Juices Warriewood Square. Her pay      no worker would be worse off under
                                                                              weighted heavily in favour of
 and conditions would have been         an agreement. The new legislation
                                                                              unscrupulous employers doing
 slashed overnight by about $1 per      does away with the old guarantee in
 hour on weekdays and even more                                               as they wish. By removing the
                                        the no-disadvantage test that
 on weekends.                                                                 no-disadvantage test the Federal
                                        compared the overall wages and
                                                                              Government have opened the
 “I am doing the same job as before.    conditions in an agreement against
                                                                              door to unscrupulous employers
 I still make the same juices for       the overall wages and conditions in
 customers. I lose my job and the       the relevant Award. Now               to take advantage of their young

 only way I get to keep it is to lose   agreements only need to meet a        workers. This then puts pressure

 pay? I might be only 16 but I know     minimum wage and fewer                on good employers struggling to
 that this is not right! I know about   conditions.                           compete in the same industry.

Amber talks to Bernie Smith and Gerard Dwyer

about her case.

          SDA News Winter 2006
Amber Stands Up For Her Rights
To her credit, Amber Oswald refused        Same work, $40 less: take it or leave it
                                           Kelly Burke
to sign the new AWA and insisted on
                                           q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q q

                                           AMBER OSWALD is a forthright
                                           and enthusiastic 16-year-old who
                                           was thrilled when she scored her

receiving her current entitlements.
                                           first part-time job early last
                                           month, at a juice bar in
                                              But on March 29, two days
                                           after the Federal Government’s
Not only did she stand up for her          new workplace laws came into
                                           effect, Amber learned that she
                                           had been made redundant and
                                           then ‘‘rehired’’.
own rights, when she was offered a            She was now party to an Aus-
                                           tralian workplace agreement.
                                           The contract remains unsigned,
                                           despite taking effect from March

one off pay increase by her new boss
                                           27 – day one of the new laws.
                                              Amber saw her new contract
                                           for the first time only yesterday,
                                           which confirmed that her hourly
                                           pay rate had dropped from $9.52
to silence her she refused it unless it    to $8.57 and her penalty rates had
                                           been abolished altogether, reduc-

was offered to all of her other            ‘‘If they don’t want to
                                           sign, they can leave.
                                           It’s not about what’s
workmates too. Amber realises that         fair, it’s [about] what’s
                                           right – right for the
the only way to look after your            ANDRE, Pow Juice

                                           ing her pay by $5.70 an hour on

workplace rights is by everybody in
                                           Sundays and by as much as $11.25
                                           an hour on public holidays.
                                              ‘‘I’m pretty upset they can do
                                           that,’’ Amber said yesterday after
                                           finishing a seven-hour shift that
the workplace joining together, so         would have earned her $99.89
                                           before tax two weeks ago but
                                           now pays just $59.99.
                                              ‘‘I’m doing exactly the same job
she joined the SDA. The SDA has            as before but I’m still young, so
                                           they think they can pretty much
                                           get away with it.’’
                                              Amber’s boss, who would only

commenced proceedings in the AIRC
                                           identify himself as Andre, said
                                           that between 15 and 20 staff at
                                           the three NSW Pulp Juice fran-
                                           chise shops had been given work-                                                                                                                Rehired ... Amber Oswald is unhappy with the new contract she has been offered by her employer, Pow Juice. All penalty rates have been abolished under the contract. Photo: Grant Turner
                                           place agreements.
to restore Amber’s rates of pay. We           ‘‘If they don’t want to sign, they
                                           can leave,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not about
                                                                                                                                                                                           same day by Pow Juice, which
                                                                                                                                                                                           won a licensing agreement to run
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               for employers . . . to treat people
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               in whatever way they choose,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ual cases. But anyone aged under
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     18 would require a parent or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         tionist, Rhonda Walke, received
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         a similar assurance from the Lib-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             employee for refusing to nego-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             tiate an AWA’’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  points she needed to clarify before
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  signing. At lunchtime she was
                                           what’s fair, it’s [about] what’s right                                                                                                          the three shops, and for whom he    and young people and older            guardian to sign a workplace        erals’ Danna Vale last November.       On March 29, Ms Walke was         served termination papers on the
                                           – right for the company.’’                                                                                                                      worked as a ‘‘consultant’’.         workers, particularly women, are      agreement, she said.                The recently widowed Ms Walke       handed a workplace agreement by      grounds that her reluctance to
can only do this because Amber                He said a previous award be-
                                           came invalid after Pulp was
                                                                                                                                                                                             The president of the ACTU,
                                                                                                                                                                                           Sharan Burrow, described Pow
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               the most vulnerable,’’ she said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 A spokeswoman for the fed-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ‘‘Any examples of employees
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     feeling they have been treated
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         got a comprehensive reply from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         her local MP which included as-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             the office manager, who insisted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             she sign it immediately. Ms Walke
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sign proved she did not wish to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  become part of a team.
                                           placed into liquidation on March                                                                                                                Juice’s ultimatum to staff as       eral Minister for Employment          unfairly can take their claim to    surances that it would be ‘‘un-     declined, saying she wished to          Ms Walke’s case, with two
                                           24, effectively making all the                                                                                                                  outrageous.                         and Workplace Relations, Kevin        the Office of Workplace Ser-        lawful for an employer to apply     take it home to study it in depth.   other allegedly illegal dismissals
                                           staff redundant.                                                                                                                                  ‘‘The new laws are a              Andrews, said the minister was        vices,’’ she said.                  duress in the negotiation of        The following day she told the       involving older women, are now
refused to sign the AWA and because           The AWAs were issued the                                                                                                                     Government-sanctioned licence       not prepared to discuss individ-         A part-time medical recep-       agreements, or to terminate an      manager there were several           being investigated by the ACTU.

her current enterprise agreement                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2006. Grant Turner/Fairfaxphotos

refers to the AIRC to resolve


Until these unfair laws change, the

only way young people can enforce
                                                      AWA Shame File!
their rights is through their union.                        Spotlight                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pulp Juice
Well unionised workplaces will                              n No penalty rates                                                                                                                                                                                                   n No penalty rates
remain good workplaces where                                n No tea breaks                                                                                                                                                                                                      n $1 an hour wage cut on
employers and employees can
                                                            n No minimum shift length                                                                                                                                                                                                     weekdays
co-operate as equals.
                                                            n 3 less public holidays                                                                                                                                                                                             n $5.70 an hour wage cut on
Young Employees’ Rights                                     n No definite pay rise for at                                                                                                                                                                                                 Sundays
Deserve Respect                                                                                  least 5 years                                                                                                                                                                   n No minimum shift length
Before WorkChoices, Amber’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      n 4 less public holidays
disgraceful treatment would have

                                                                                                                                          YOUNG WOR P PRESS!
been illegal. I am sure every parent

today would still think it is

disgraceful treatment of a child but
                                                                                                                                                   KER WINS W
because of the Federal Government’s

radical IR laws it is now perfectly
                                                In Sydn

                                                her em
                                                           ey tod

                                                                   ay, 16

                                                                 r Pow
                                                                           -year -ol
                                                                                     d Ambe
                                                                                               r Oswa
                                                                                                        ld, thro
                                                                                                                                                              ITH SDA
                                                                         Juice                                    ugh he
                                                conditi                           tradin                                  r union
                                                         ons th                          g as Pu                                    the SD
                                                                                                   lp to giv
legal.                                                            at they
                                                                            took aw                           e her
                                                                                                                                            A, for
                                                                                      ay fro                               the ra
                                               Ambe                                          m her                                 tes of
                                                       r was                                           under                              pay an
                                                               repres                                          Work                               d
                                                                        ented                                         Choic
                                                                                 in the                                      es.
Young workers are vulnerable in the            Bernie
                                                         Smith                           AIRC
                                                                                                 by SD
                                                                 . Mr Sm                                A NSW
                                                                            ith tol                               Branch
                                               AWA,                                 d the                                  Assis
Federal Governments new system.                       which
                                                               he de
                                                                                                                                  tant Se
                                                                                  as “a                            Ambe
                                              breaks                                    real ba                           r stood
                                                       , meal                                     re-bone                           to los
Politicians, whether at a State or                              breaks
                                                                         , minim                            s deal”
                                                                                                                    . She
                                                                                                                                           e unde
                                                                                                                                                    r the
                                              her re                                um sh                                 stood
                                                      solve                                ift en                                 to los
                                                              dispu                                gageme                                e pay,
                                                                      tes.                                                                      rest
Federal level, need to put in place                                                                          nt and
                                                                                                                      the us
                                                                                                                             e of th
                                              Mr Sm                                                                                   e AIRC
                                                      ith ex                                                                                  to help
                                                                       d how
protections for young workers to             substan                           the em
                                                        dard AW                                 r soug
                                                                   A. He                                ht to re
                                                                            told th                               hire em
ensure they cannot be disadvantaged          laws if
                                                      they [P
                                                                                     e AIRC
                                                                                              that “th
                                                                                                                                  es on
                                                                ulp] ha                                  e truly
                                                                         d carr                                   sad th
                                             have                                 ied ou                                 ing is
                                                                                         t their
by an agreement.                                    no jur
                                                                   ion. Th                         plan pr
                                                                                                                                 that un
                                                                                                                                          der th
                                                                             is is de                                                            e new
                                            suffere                                   spite                           this Co
                                                      d.”                                    the ob                           mmiss
                                                                                                      vious                            ion wo
                                                                                                              disad                           uld
Politicians are meant to govern for         In proc
                                                                                                                    vant ag
                                                                                                                            e Ambe
                                                     eedin                                                                            r would
                                                             gs, th                                                                             have
                                                                    e comp
                                                                              any re
all. Well I am sure that most decent       finall
                                                  y conc
                                                                   that Am                              was th
                                                                              ber co                             reate
                                                                                       uld ke                          ned wi
Australians want to see politicians        SDA NS
                                                     W Bran                                   ep he
                                                                                                      r old hig
                                                                                                                               th cont
                                                               ch Se                                             her wa                                e
                                                                       creta                                             ge rates
                                           vulne                              ry, Ge
                                                  rability                            rard Dw                                       and co
put in place protections for young                           of youn
                                                                       g work
                                                                                                 yer, sa
                                                                                                         id “Amb
                                                                                ers in                             er’s ca
                                          Mr Dw                                         this ne                            se hig
                                                   yer qu                                         w syste                          hlights
workers. Politicians need to do                             estione
                                                                      d what
                                                                                                            m”.                             the
                                          of their                             would
                                                     union                              happen
                                                             or the                                to youn
everything in their power to pass         Ambe
                                                                                                             g emplo
                                                                                                                       yees wi
                                                 r, sayin                               re of Am                               thout
                                                           g “she                                   ber’s                               the su
                                                                    took a                                  case.                              pport
laws to preserve a fair go for young                                         pr inc
                                                                                                                   He als
                                                                                                                          o comp
                                                                                           stanc                                   limen
                                                                                                   e in dif                               ted
Australians in the workplace.                                                                                             mstan
                                                                                                                                  ces an
                                                                                                                                          d won”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         SDA News Winter 2006

To top