Union takes Rio to court

Union takes on Rio Tinto in the latest row over new industrial relations laws.

A Federal Court bid being launched by the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) against Rio Tinto is an attempt to thwart the ability of major companies evading new industrial laws, CFMEU Western Australian secretary Gary Wood said yesterday.

“Rio Tinto has deliberately moved to dodge its obligation to recognise the right of its workers to bargain for future pay increases and improved conditions under Rudd’s new IR laws,” he said.

According to CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers, the action brought against Rio could act as a landmark examination of the Federal Government’s industrial relations laws.

“This is the first legal challenge of its kind in Australia and one that will hopefully test the reach of the Rudd Government’s new IR laws,” Vickers said.

The bid has been lodged in order to block Rio Tinto from moving AWA workers onto a five-year agreement before the Fair Work Act officially comes into effect on July 1.

According to the CFMEU, under the agreement hundreds of miners would lose their right to bargain for future wage increases and improved conditions as their AWA expired.

The CFMEU will continue to fight on the behalf of affected workers, Vickers said.

“The CFMEU fought long and hard to safeguard the rights of ours members under fair industrial relations laws and we are not about to let Rio Tinto walk away from its obligations under those laws.”

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