The Guardian 13 July, 2005

Masterton's AWA sacking spree

A 52-year-old father of three has been sacked for refusing to sign an AWA with his employer of 26 years. Masterton Homes told carpenter Phil Withington to sign the AWA, which would have slashed his family's income by more than $7000 a year, or he wouldn't have a job.

He was one of seven Masterton employees punted after they refused to sign individual contracts last week, further undermining federal government insistence that its AWAs would be voluntary. Mr Withington tried to meet his bosses with a union representative but was told he was no longer required.

"I was surprised that they didn't have the respect to discuss the matter", he said. "I asked if I don't sign what would happen she [the Masterton representative] said that would be your resignation."

When he raised projects he was working on, he was told contractors would do the job. "My work was repairing sub-contractors' work", he said.

In the union movement's first "naming and shaming" of a workplace law "abuser", the CFMEU will take Withington's case to prospective Masterton customers outside its Warwick Farm showroom in Sydney's west.

Union members are picketing, distributing flyers and talking to customers about the treatment of the seven dumped workers. They are calling on the public to back their colleagues and join an email campaign, telling Masterton Homes what they think of its action.

The CFMEU's Andrew Ferguson said this was a warning to all employers that if they attacked workers' rights they would be up for a fight.

Mr Withington said he had to take a stand on the issue to set an example for his boys. "I tell my kids to always stand up for your rights as my father told me. I said to my wife I have to set an example I can't go against what I told my boys."

Details on how to send a message and sign a peititon to Masterton Homes are available at www.cfmeu-construction-nsw.com.au.

You can also give your support by phoning Masterton Homes on 02 9601 4066 and demanding Phil be reinstated.

If you live in near enough, then drop into the protest: Corner Hume Highway and Sappho Road, Warwick Farm. Barbeque every Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 4 pm let prospective home buyers know how you feel about workers' rights.

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