Banner
election2010 box5
News News Dumped: $9 an hour, no security for most vulnerbale
THE young men who collected trolleys at three Centro shopping centres in and around Albury were always good for a cheery hello and a chat. 

One day in late May they were not there, and the story of instant dismissal, shipped-in replacements and the unending search for lowest-cost services by Australia's largest retailers exposes deep social and economic forces changing Australia.

The 20 trolley boys who were summarily dismissed by a Melbourne labour-hire company, Xidis Pty Ltd, trading as Effective Supermarket Solutions, are among those least able to defend themselves from such forces. Some got their jobs through a community organisation, Personnel Employment, that places mentally and physically handicapped people into work.

They are, said the director of the Office of Workplace Services, Nicholas Wilson, "the most vulnerable of the vulnerable". An investigation by the Office of Workplace Services has found that Xidis paid as little as $9 an hour, below the minimum wage, and fell short on other entitlements.

The new trolley boys may not be faring much better. Xidis, through another company, has hired at least six trolley boys, five originally from Sudan and one from Iraq. Their living conditions in a group house in Albury have been a matter of concern to the local St Vincent de Paul Society.

The sackings of the original trolley boys on May 29 followed investigations by the Office of Workplace Services into underpayment at the shopping centres. When they were sacked there was no easy channel for them to protest about their dismissal.

The Office of Workplace Services generally has no formal jurisdiction over dismissals (except if they are a result of a whistleblower being penalised, a matter the office is investigating in relation to this case). And under the Workplace Relations Act, the NSW Office of Industrial Relations, which has a record of prosecuting trolley companies, no longer has jurisdiction over incorporated companies.

Under the act there is no unfair dismissal in a company that has fewer than 100 employees. Claims of unlawful dismissal must be lodged with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission by the sacked workers. But this is for conciliation only. If reinstatement or conciliation does not occur, the employee has 28 days to decide whether to take the case to the Federal Court, initially at his or her expense. Personnel Employment has helped six of the trolley boys lodge a claim with the commission, which is listed for hearing in Albury on Thursday.

This case is not an isolated one. The Office of Workplace Services, which becomes the Workplace Ombudsman on July 1, is taking action in four cases alleging underpayment against Xidis in Victoria and in two cases alleging underpayment in Western Australia. It has taken action against several other trolley companies nationally. It is unclear whether anyone holds ultimate responsibility for contractors such as Xidis.

 
  • MUACampaign
  • SOS Action Plan

  • EmpowerWA

  • WAjobsfromwaresources

  • May_Day_Photos
  • Don't Risk 2nd Rate Safety

  • shopritelg_2010

ME Bank Unity Training
© Copyright Unions WA Designed by Foote Francis