By Matthew Henry

ADELAIDE: The controversy surrounding the decision by Radio Rentals Prospect in South Australia to force its technicians into individual workplace agreements has continued today, with the retailer locking out 16 staff who participated in industrial action yesterday.

Service technicians at the electrical retail store located in Adelaide participated in a half day’s industrial action yesterday, stopping short of a full strike, but were told by their employer that they will be consequently locked out and docked a month’s pay.

The employees have protested management’s decision to force them on to individual agreements rather than a collective agreement – a move which is now lawful for employers under the government’s new workplace relations laws.

The group of technicians, who earn $16 an hour for building electrical switchboards, are preparing to vote in South Australia’s first industrial relations action ballot under the Howard government’s new IR laws. The ballot will determine what industrial action will follow yesterday’s meeting.

According to the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), the Federal Opposition Leader – Kim Beazley met with the group yesterday a tore up the individual contracts.

According to the AMWU, “employees who take industrial action before jumping through the hoops set up by Howard’s new legislation face substantial fines and the possibility of unlimited damages”.