Aug 9, 2006

3 Minute Statement –Tristar workers

3 Minute Statement –Tristar workers

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (9.47 am) — Last Thursday, 3 August, I visited the remaining workers of Tristar Steering and Suspension during a stop-work meeting in my electorate.

Due to the Howard government’s extreme Work Choices legislation, these workers are facing the loss of their entitlements.

Tristar is likely to shut down in the next 12 months or so, following the loss of all its contracts. Most of its workers have already been retrenched.

A once 300-strong workforce is down to fewer than 60. The workers who remain are the longest-serving employees.

Thirty of those remaining have given an average of 25 years service, and I met workers who had worked there for more than 40 years.

Like the AMWU and the AWU, which represent these workers, I am concerned about their entitlements. Other workers who have taken redundancy have received four weeks payment per year of service.

These workers are being kept at the factory, even though there is no work to do. The EBA is due to expire on 30 September, and it allows for redundancy of four weeks per year of service.

If Tristar were to terminate the current agreement after 30 September, the remaining workers would lose their entitlements. They may revert to the Work Choices fair pay and conditions standard, which has no redundancy provisions.

The company is essentially stalling for time to take advantage of the new Work Choices legislation.

These workers are being treated like a disposable commodity, with no respect or dignity, where bosses can stall, remove all certainty and security for workers and seek to take away their entitlements.

Under the changes that the Howard government has made to the GEERS scheme, if the company goes into voluntary administration rather than liquidation, the only limited entitlements that the workers would receive could be reduced even further. The GEERS scheme may not even apply.

Like many of my constituents, these workers have come from all parts of the world.

They have come to make this place their home and to raise a family. They have been a part of building a great nation.

But that nation falls apart when you have a government that is prepared to treat people like they are disposable and to throw them onto the scrap heap.

On Friday, I wrote to the management of Tristar, and yesterday I received a response from Vincent Kong to my request for a meeting to discuss these issues.

He wrote:

Dear Mr Albanese,

I refer to your letter dated 4 August 2006. The company feels that a meeting with yourself at this time is not necessary and respectfully decline your request for such a meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Vincent Kong

General Manager

That is a company that will not even meet with the local Federal Member to discuss these issues and that in the industrial commission last week refused to give a guarantee of entitlements.

This is the brave new world under John Howard’s extreme IR legislation.

It is one that Labor will resist, and it is one in which I will continue to represent those workers.