Lunchroom access off the menu for TWU

TWU accuses DHL of monitoring union members to discourage attendance at meetings

By Brad Gardner | March 22, 2011

The Transport Workers Union has tried to gain greater access to a DHL warehouse to hold meetings, claiming the company is using the current location to prevent TWU members from speaking to organisers.

The union has objected to using the board room at DHL’s Arndell Park warehouse in NSW because it is adjacent to the site manager’s office.

Site delegate Lester Denetto claims members are intimidated because management can observe meetings.

DHL denied the allegations and Fair Work Australia rejected the TWU’s request for meetings to be held in the lunch room or outdoor barbecue area.

"In this matter there is no evidence to substantiate this submission nor can I draw any inference of an intent by DHL to discourage or intimidate employees from having access to authorised permit holders," Commissioner Greg Harrison says.

"My observations of the layout and meal room and outdoor areas are such that no matter where access was granted, all of the venues are capable of being monitored by management, if it so desired."

Warehouse workers also opposed the TWU’s request and signed a petition urging Fair Work Australia to deny it access to the lunch room.

"The expressed preference of the employees is a relevant factor in this matter," Harrison says.

DHL says the lunchroom is not appropriate because it is a common facility used by all employees.

Despite union protests over the adequacy of the board room, the company says it has five chairs, a table and desk and a whiteboard.

DHL’s human resources manager, Ian Lilley, says the room has a solid door, blinds that can be opened or shut and is air-conditioned.

During the case, Harrison referred to problems between the TWU and the National Union of Workers (NUW), which DHL prefers to deal with. The TWU claimed officials from the rival union were permitted to use the lunchroom.

The NUW's site delegate, Patricia Talbot, told Fair Work Australia that officials and employees did not hold meetings during meal breaks.

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