LAST week One Nation circulated an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) which outlined conditions for casual workers and was signed by Jeff Drayton, the current Labor candidate, when he was acting as a negotiator for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
One Nation said it demonstrated Jeff Drayton supported a casualised workforce and questioned if Jeff Drayton had in someway financially benefited from the EBA, although they provided no evidence of any financial benefit.
The EBA was raised in the Upper House last week, watch the video here.
Jeff Drayton said the agreement is no different to other agreements signed by the Unions, explaining further that the Union negotiates on behalf of casual, contract and full time workers routinely.
“There are a thousand other agreements like it,” said Mr Drayton.
“The process of negotiating the agreement, was the usual process that we (the Union) follow,” he said.
“It’s been made an issue, by people who don’t understand the process.
“Me in someway benefiting from it is just a complete fabrication and I categorically deny them and I’ve had enormous support from people who do understand EBA processes and can see this is smear campaign,” he said.
“It’s designed to take the focus on the things that are important and I won’t be allowing it,” Jeff Drayton said.
Peter Jordan, Northern District CFMEU President, said the Unions are not legally allowed to veto EBA’s which have casual workers and while the Unions want legislation to restrict only 20 percent of workers being casuals, One Nation and the Nationals both voted against the legislation last year.
“The Union can’t veto the making of Enterprise Agreements (EA). We may bargain on behalf of members, we may recommend members vote for or against an EA and we may be named in an EA in order to represent Union members covered by it, but EAs only become valid by being voted up by a majority of employees and approved by the Fair Work Commission,” said Mr Jordan.
“In the case of greenfields Agreements like Valley Labour Services, the union is required by the law to participate in bargaining,” he said.
“The Union successfully won two rounds of backpaid entitlements for these Sub Zero workers through the Federal Government’s FEG scheme on the grounds they had been unlawfully employed as casuals under the Award – the most recent just this year.
“Jeff Drayton then negotiated a new agreement with Valley Labour Services in order to protect the jobs of workers at Bengalla affected by the legislation.
“It included many above-award conditions that other contractor agreements don’t have (better superannuation, accident pay and shift penalties for example) and had better pay and conditions than Sub Zero workers affected by the liquidation were receiving.
The union was motivated to keep these local workers in their jobs, as they wanted.
That hasn’t stopped the union from fighting on behalf of those casual workers and negotiating agreements that attempt to improve their pay and conditions where we can.
“These agreements are never as good as those that cover direct employees, which is a reality of the bargaining power of direct, permanent employees compared with labour hire casuals. Employers can put an agreement out to vote at any time, regardless of the union’s negotiating position, for a vote by workers. If a majority vote yes it goes to the FWC for approval,” he said.
“Our approach has consistently been to improve the position of contractors on the ground where possible while fighting to change the laws,” Peter Jordan said.