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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : June 24th 2009
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, June 25, 2009 3 NEWS www.innerwestweekly.com.au Anger at picket line FIONA BRADY Workers at the Rhodes Theiss site Nigel Gould, Andrew Jones and son Riley and Peter Carr. Pictures: PHIL BLATCH ~PP290275, ~PP290273 FOUR men who claim they were made redundant because they re- fused to accept poorer working conditions are picketing their company's Rhodes site. The men, two of whom were union delegates, worked as plant technicians on two Thiess remediation sites in Walker St, Rhodes, until June 9. All four said they had opposed a non-union agreement being put forward by Thiess which they say will force workers to take annual leave if machinery breaks down and remove rostered days off, in exchange for a 1 per cent pay rise. But the company has denied the men were targeted, saying the redundancies were due to ''natu- ral attrition of the workforce''. One of the men who lost their jobs was father-of-five Nigel Gould, a union delegate who worked for Thiess for seven years. ''This was just blatant, not want- ing to have a unionised site,'' he said. ''They had to cut some people, the easiest way was to get rid of the unionists.'' Mr Gould said their jobs had been replaced by casuals. ''That was the straw that broke the camel's back.'' Fellow union delegate Peter Riikonen's wife was 36 weeks' pregnant when he was made re- dundant. ''It was more stressful for her than me,'' he said. A spokesman for Thiess said the redundancies were due to a drop in available work. ''The project on the former Al- lied Feeds site owned by Meriton is 96 per cent completed. ''As a result of this project drawing to a close, the plant has been decommissioned and there has been some natural attrition of the workforce.'' But CFMEU acting secretary Malcolm Tulloch claimed Thiess was trying to rush through the new agreement before new workplace laws come into effect on July 1. ''Thiess is determined to be the last company to use Work Choices,'' he said. ''The company is trying to bully its workers into signing away their entitlements before Labor's Fair Work laws come into operation.'' The union is also following up unlawful dismissal claims on be- half of the workers, Mr Tulloch said. Theiss did not respond to the union's claims. Toxic soil row could end in court THE stand-off between Meriton and Canada Bay Council over an apart- ment construction site in Rhodes looks set to end up in the Land and Environment Court. Meriton put further construction at the Walker St site on hold last week in protest over the council's refusal to issue an occupancy certificate. The council said there was still soil on the site that needed remediation. A spokeswoman said the council had consulted with the Planning, Health and Environment and Climate Change departments about the appli- cation and was advised the original condition that all remediation work must be adhered to before an occu- pation certificate was issued. However, Meriton said it was not proposing to occupy the site until all contaminants were removed. Meriton also said last week's me- dia reports that 100 Meriton workers would be stood down were incorrect. ''Meriton decided that the internal trades (such as tilers, gyprockers and painters) should slow down, but we kept working on the lifts and the external parts of the building,'' a spokesman said. ''Most of the 50 or so affected workers have been able to be re- deployed to our other sites and we note that some of our subcontractors have put in place rotation rosters with some men taking leave while others remain on the job.'' Couple caught in site's safety controversy FIONA BRADY Olivia Bannister and her partner Dane Cameron can't wait to move in. A COUPLE who have bought an apartment in the Meriton complex at Rhodes say they believe it will be safe to live in. First-home buyers Olivia Ban- nister, 26, and her partner Dane Cameron, 25, are having to com- mute to Sydney from the Central Coast until their new home in the Riverview complex in Walker St is completed. Ms Bannister said she believed the assurances of the company that the site posed no risks and Canada Bay Council should issue an occupation certificate. ''The council does appear to be unreasonable,'' she said. She said Meriton had kept them ''well-informed'' about the situ- ation. She said the workers wouldn't have been allowed on the con- struction site if there had been any health risks. Ms Bannister, an accountant, said that when they signed the contract on the two-bedroom apartment and study last November, they believed they would have moved in by May. She said the delay had caused a lot of inconvenience to the couple, including an extra five-hour com- mute each week. But despite all the controversy, she is still excited about moving into her first home. ''We love the area, we lived in Chiswick previously,'' she said. Delivering for our Community Strathfield Council is working towards a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2015. council chambers: 65 Homebush Rd, Strathfield NSW 2135 e) firstname.lastname@example.org p) 9748 9999 f) 9764 1034 w) www.strathfield.nsw.gov.au business hours: 8.30am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday postal address: PO Box 120, Strathfield NSW 2135 Council is on track to achieve this target and recently achieved Milestone 5 of the Cities for Climate Protection Program. Achieving Milestone 5 of the program, delivered by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), involves the measuring of Council's and the community's greenhouse gas emissions. As an organisation, Council has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 11.5 per cent from 2005 to 2008. Some areas where Council was able to reduce emissions the most was the installation of new lighting technology that improved street lighting while reducing energy, and Council's Greenwaste Program, where plant material was diverted from being disposed of in landfill. For further information about Council's Greenhouse Action Plan visit www.strathfield.nsw.gov.au or contact 9748 9999.
June 17th 2009
July 1st 2009