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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (20 October) . . Page.. 3405 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

contracts, so they could do no work at the hospital and they got no money. I do not recall anybody going out on strike when I was in a ministerial position. There would have been people who took industrial action; I have no doubt about that.

Mr Stefaniak: In your department.

MR BERRY: No. I was the IR person and there would have been people involved in industrial action; certainly, no pay was docked for industrial action. If people went on strike and did not come to work, they would not have been paid; that would be for certain. The only ones that I can recall were the ones when the doctors' contracts ran out. You can argue the case whether they were on strike, but it had the same effect in that they did not get paid, either. There may have been some cessation of pay for stop-work meetings, but I am not entirely clear about that. That is the normal course of events. But this is an entirely different matter and it cannot be described as having any relationship to strike action.

I turn to the remarks of Mr Rugendyke, first of all. It would appear to me that Mr Rugendyke has not been listening to the debate. Does that surprise many of us? I think that he made up his mind very early in the piece in relation to this matter. He seems to have adopted an anti-union stance, which I find a little disturbing. I thought that he was a fairer man than that and I thought that he stood for fairness, equity and those sorts of things because that is the persona that he has presented on a whole range of issues.

Mr Rugendyke talked at length about the effect of the law and how he as a lawyer interpreted it. All I have asked Mr Rugendyke to do is support my amendment in the first place and then my motion as amended - or the motion by itself, for that matter - which makes clear that there is an approach which has at its heart fairness and equity, that is, that the Government treat the bursars in the same way as they treat their other employees. I do not want to go to the issue of what the other employees are involved in, which is not a matter of any relevance to this debate, except to draw attention to the issue about core duties. I think that it has been made very clear that the industrial action that the bursars were involved in could not be described as being about their core duties. It was about a very minor part of their duties, 2 or 3 per cent of their duties. It was an insignificant part of their industrial action. So the argument as far as the Government is concerned has been lost.

I understand from Ms Tucker's contribution to the debate that she had been advised by other Ministers who had had industrial disruption somewhere in their portfolios that they were paid because they had done their core duties. If the bursars had been paid for it, they would have continued to do their core duties as well, but the Government stopped their pay because they took very minor industrial action. It was an ideological strike at unionists who were mostly middle aged, many of them part time. Being isolated, they were an easy hit and they could not fight back. There is no question about that. The Government would not have been game to do that to other areas of their work force which would have been more organised and prepared to fight back.

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