The Guardian 6 July, 2005

Employers moved
to prevent workers protesting

Beneficiaries of planned workplace relations changes have taken legal action to keep thousands of Australians away from nationwide protests. Big employers, Australia Post, Holden and Glaxo Kline were amongst more than a dozen companies that sought 127 orders against their own employees in a bid to stop them joining last Thursday’s rally that shut down central Melbourne.

Ironically, they ran their cases in the same Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) that would be stripped of its powers if Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, gets his Bills through federal parliament.

Government-owned Australia Post gained an order on the Tuesday before the actions preventing the CEPU from "inciting, advising, persuading or encouraging" anyone to join the protest.

It informed employees it would use in-house doctors to check the medical certificates of anyone who called in sick on the day.

Holden, on the other hand, failed in its bid to stop staff raising their voices against the government’s workplace agenda.

AIRC Commissioner Len Hingley said he refused to stop Holden workers attending the rally because it was a one-off or issue an order that would have stymied workers’ freedom of association and expression.

Business will be the immediate beneficiary of Canberra’s plan to hold down wages, strip more than four million Australians of the right to challenge unfair dismissals, and replace collective agreements with individual contracts.

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