Productivity and Labour Relations Minister Yvonne Henderson today welcomed the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission's temporary order to Robe River Iron Associates to discontinue sacking its workers.
Mrs Henderson said it was a positive step for the commission to order Robe River to suspend the sackings until it had the opportunity to deal with the matter.
She said she saw the stay of proceedings as a win for the workers, particularly as even this morning they were being sacked as they arrived at work.
"The case of the unfair dismissal of 29 workers is still before the commission," Mrs Henderson said.
"Until their case is decided, Robe should not continue to dismiss other workers.
"Robe River has been insisting that workers sign away their democratic and legal right to participate in industrial action or be sacked.
"This style of management by fear and intimidation denies workers a basic right and defies the ILO convention.
"This draconian master and slave attitude flies in the face of major productivity improvements being gained through employer/employee co-operation.
"Harmonious relations and workplace agreements have achieved major workplace reforms and productivity gains."
Mrs Henderson said that, despite the reprieve, all WA workers should take note that Robe River's actions could well be commonplace under a Liberal Government which did away with Awards, as Kennett had done in Victoria.
"It is the Award that enshrines the worker's right to strike, and this cannot be undercut by a contract," Mrs Henderson said.
"This has so bothered the Victorian Government that it has brought forward by two months the date on which Awards are abolished.
"As from next month, Victorian workers will have to bargain individually, without the safety net of an Award and under the Robe River-type threat of `sign or be sacked'," she said.