Release date: 20/04/2012

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has won a long running dispute against waste company J.J. Richards following a ruling of the Full Bench of the Federal Court in Melbourne at 9:30am this morning.

Press Release, Transport Workers Union of NSW

The landmark decision confirms that where employees have attempted to negotiate with a company in good faith they can take protected industrial action. In this case, 20 waste workers at Canterbury Council had their wages and conditions drastically cut when the tender changed, from a previous employer with a union collective agreement, to J.J. Richards who employed them on the minimum Award rates. In response, the workers had been attempting to negotiate a collective agreement with J.J. Richards for around 18 months but the company continually refused to even meet with the employees. The workers then applied to Fair Work Australia to take protected industrial action in order to force J.J. Richards to the table.

“This decision by the Federal Court is a significant victory not only for the workers at J.J. Richards, but for all workers and employers throughout the country,” NSW State Secretary Wayne Forno said.

“And that message is that the right to take protected industrial action when you are attempting to negotiate in good faith is a right that is protected in law, it is a fundamental right that should be afforded to any worker seeking to collectively bargain,” Forno said.

“The decisions of Fair Work Australia placed the responsibility to negotiate squarely on both parties. J.J. Richards’ appeal to the Federal Court must be seen for what it is – a blatant attempt to undermine the collective bargaining system,” Forno said.

This is the fifth time that a Tribunal or Court has found in favour of the TWU on this point of law, however J.J. Richards has continually refused to accept the umpire’s decision and, with support from the Australian Mines and Metals Association (an organisation with no connection to the waste industry) has relentlessly and pointlessly pursued its ideological agenda. J.J. Richards has since lost the tender at Canterbury Council and thus the decision has no practical effect on either party. 

“Enough is enough, it is time for J.J. Richards to face the reality and stop clogging up our court system with a case that has no commercial significance but is all about ideology” said Wayne Forno.

Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Aird is available to discuss the decision and consequences for the Australian workforce.


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