The Guardian 27 July, 2005

Taskforce plastered

Nigel Hadgkis’s Building Industry Taskforce sat on its hands while a Wollongong plasterer ripped off an 18-year-old apprentice and defied Industrial Relations Commission orders to make restitution.

On June 17, K & K Bowden was given 28 days to pay CFMEU Construction Division member, Justin Sutherland, $8800 after being found guilty of discriminating against the teenager, and denying him a range of allowances he had been entitled to.

Commissioner Grayson said he was "comfortably satisfied" the union had made out its case "in all respects" and ordered Bowden to meet its costs.

Thirty-five days after the decision was recorded, the CFMEU confirmed Bowden had paid neither sum.

"We will have to file in the local court for a writ of execution", union legal officer, Leah Charlson, said.

"The decision is on the record and has had media coverage but the Taskforce is not interested in breaches by employers that infringe on the rights of workers."

Mr Sutherland told the Commission he had been sacked after asking for travel allowance, and that Bowden had threatened his union membership would "haunt him for a long time".

He said that prior to his dismissal he had received no indication of dissatisfaction with his work.

The Commission found Justin Sutherland had been dudded out of $1680 in travel allowance during his seven months as an apprentice plasterer, along with lesser amounts for tool allowance and termination of employment.

It also found the company had denied him his rostered days off.

The Commissioner said it was "clear" the apprentice had been summarily dismissed because he pursued his entitlements.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted for the Australia Institute has found that the prospect of asking for a pay rise "terrified" or "horrified" the majority of young people.

Labour market economist, Richard Denniss, asked 50 Australians, aged between 23 and 28 in full-time work, about their attitudes to job security and wage bargaining.

Analysts say the attitude would put young people at a marked disadvantage in an employment environment marked by a shift towards individual agreements.

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