Labour bites

No settlement for court staff

The Federal Court could see delays because of ongoing strike action by staff.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Deputy National President Rupert Evans says court staff had gone four years without a pay increase and faced cuts to workplace rights and conditions under EBA proposals. “CPSU members in courts feel they have no other option but protected industrial action,” he said.

During strikes at the start of November, court registries in Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne were closed as workers walked off the job.

Ongoing industrial action has returned to the Federal Court this week as staff walk off the job for the third time.

The CPSU has warned the Federal Court, Family Court, Federal Circuit Courts and the National Native Title Tribunal could see staff shortages until Friday as staff ramp up strike action.

“Courts management refuses to hear workers’ concerns about the cuts, they’ve been through mergers, job losses and more changes are planned. Staff have been put through the wringer and enough is enough.”

The union restated calls for Attorney-General George Brandis to step in, however, a spokesman for Senator Brandis said the federal courts were responsible for their own operation and management, including enterprise bargaining matters. (Source: Fairfax Media)

Undies protester wins job back

Following a concerted union campaign led by the CFMEU, the Wollongong miner at the centre of the ‘undie’ protest, Dave McLachlan, has been reinstated by the Fair Work Commission this afternoon.

The Commission found Dave’s unfair dismissal by Illawarra Coal’s South32 to be “harsh, unjust and unreasonable”.

Workers at the Appin Colliery participated in a 10 minute protest by stripping to their undies last May over South32’s refusal to provide replacement work clothes and a laundry service for miners at the Appin Colliery – a condition of their enterprise agreement.

Dave’s dismissal by South32 for his quirky protest became a symbol around the country for workers fighting the erosion of their rights and conditions by big corporations.

The Fair Work Commissioner found the undies protest did not constitute unlawful industrial action and found Dave to be a person of good character and an “honest and decent person”. The Commissioner ordered Dave reinstated with full continuity of employment and the amount of backpay owing to be agreed by the parties. (Source: CFMEU)

Another bizarre job for teachers

Florida Christian School is selling bulletproof panels that go inside students backpacks. George Gulla, dean of students and head of school security at Florida Christian School, said the bulletproof panels would add “another level of protection” to students of the pre-K through grade 12 school “in the event of an active shooter.”

“The teachers are trained to instruct the students to use their backpacks as a shield to protect themselves,” said Gulla.

The cost of the panels is $120 and are part of a new industry dedicated to the manufacture of bulletproof products which includes whiteboards notebooks, computer briefcases, barrier blankets, furniture, and even underwear. (Source: CNN)

Uber drivers are not self employed

In the UK the ride hailing firm Uber has lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with minimum wage rights, in a case that could have major ramifications for labour rights in the growing gig economy.

The US company, which claims that drivers are self employed, said it would launch a further appeal against the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision, meaning the case could end up in the supreme court next year.

Drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam won an employment tribunal case last year after arguing they should be classified as workers, citing Uber’s control over their working conditions. Uber challenged the ruling at the tribunal in central London, warning that it could deprive riders of the “personal flexibility they value”. It claims that the majority of its drivers prefer their existing employment status.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which backed the appeal, said drivers will still be able to enjoy the freedoms of self employment – such as flexibility in choosing shifts – even if they have worker status.

The Labor MP Jack Dromey commented that “No British worker should be denied basic employment rights which we have worked so hard to secure.

“Uber is a 21st century company behaving like a 19th century mill owner, when workers had no rights. It is now up to Uber to change its employment practices and grant its drivers the rights they deserve and are entitled to in law.” (Source: The Guardian)

Compiled by John Quessy