Labour bites

Penalty rates own goal

Hungry Jack's owner Jack Cowin has described Sunday penalty rates as unsuited to contemporary lifestyles. “Penalty rates are somewhat a product of the past,” the fast food billionaire told Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA function in Perth. “We live in a seven-day-a-week lifestyle today.

He said wage levels in Australia in the fast food industry were the highest in the world.

“If you’re a person that you (sic) work Sundays and you’re going to make less money because they’ve brought that back, obviously you’re not going to be happy about it. But the real big picture is how do we keep wage levels as high as we can but how do we try to have a common wage for everyone rather than depending on what day of the week you’re going to work.”

While Mr Cowin acknowledged workers had kids and sport to juggle on weekends “the reality is, people can work this out".

He joked that when he opened his first KFC restaurant in Perth in 1969, he had to sack his wife because she wanted employees to be able to sit on stools and take longer breaks. (Source: The West Australian)

Undies protest undone

CFMEU delegate Dave McLachlan was sacked after a shift of miners at Appin mine stripped down to their underwear in protest at the lack of work clothes. More than 50 miners arrived for work at South32’s Appin Colliery in NSW on 7 March 2017 wearing their helmets, boots, jackets – and underpants. After 10 minutes, the miners put their old, dirty clothes back on and returned to work.

The novel protest was a humorous attempt to highlight the fact that South32 has for a year failed to honour its legal obligation to provide new work clothes. The company has also failed to provide a laundry service.

But instead of responding to the issue, South32 sacked McLachlan, claiming he brought the company into disrepute after pictures of the protest were posted online.

The CFMEU has launched a campaign in support of McLachlan, and national president Tony Maher has written to CEO Graham Kerr, to urge the company to reinstate him.

“Dismissing Dave McLachlan for having participated at a short protest — which did not result in any lost time or impediment to coal production — and that was highly justified by the failure of the company to provide the laundry service and work uniforms that it is legally obliged to provide, constitutes a blatant violation of his fundamental labour rights.” (Source:

Unions fear for WHS after Brexit

The UK Trade Union Council (TUC) has warned trade unionists and working people that health and safety protections are at risk from the government’s Brexit plans. The existing (reasonable) WHS standards rely on European not UK benchmarks they say.

Although the government has set out its intention in a white paper to transfer all existing health and safety protections from EU law to UK law, there are no guarantees for what happens afterwards.

The TUC says that the next government must make sure that a commitment is written into the Brexit deal to, as a minimum, match present and future EU standards for workplace health and safety. Otherwise existing protections will be vulnerable to erosion and repeal.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working people must not have their health and safety put at greater risk after Brexit. The next government needs a watertight plan to transfer protections from EU to UK law.

“The best way to guarantee all health and safety protections is to put workplace rights at the heart of the Brexit deal. It should be written into the deal that the UK and EU will meet the same standards, for both existing rights and future improvements.” (

Catholics discover presumption of innocence

The Catholic church has railed against a new book Cardinal, The Rise and Fall of George Pell, calling it a character assassination.

Pell has repeatedly denied allegations of historical child sexual assault and maintains he is innocent.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said justice must be left to run its course. “Everyone supports just investigation of complaints but the relentless character attacks on Cardinal Pell, by some, stand the principle of innocent until proven guilty on its head,” he said.

“Australians have a right to expect better from their legal systems and the media.

"Even churchmen have a right to ‘a fair go". (Source: Sky News)

Complied by
John Quessy