Monday, February 28, 2005

Workers at Tenix Solutions protest against AWAs

The processing of speeding fines and traffic infringements for Victorian motorists will cease today (Monday 28th February) as 120 administration workers at Tenix Solutions take protest action over their right to choose to be covered by a collective enterprise agreement in their workplace.

Tenix solutions is making 120 administration workers at their Spencer Street office sign an individual contract if they want a pay increase, even though an independent ballot conducted by the AIRC (Australian Industrial Relations Commission) found that 83% of Tenix workers said they opposed individual contracts (AWA’s) and wanted to be covered by a collective agreement.

.... more

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Super Seduction

By Jim Maher Workers Online

Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

How would you like to have an extra $212,000 in the bank?

That's one question posed by research into the performance of various superannuation products on the Australian market.

Rainmaker Information analysts concluded that a worker in an industry fund earning $40,000 a year, with $10,000 accrued today, could end up $212,000 better off than someone in a for-profit arrangement.

read more

Wal-Mart ordered to stop harassing in Canada

The Quebec labor relations board has ordered the Canadian unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop intimidating and harassing workers who tried to form a union at a Quebec store.

In a decision Thursday, board commissioner Louis Garant said he found that Wal-Mart Canada tried to hinder the formation of a union at a store in Sainte-Foy, a borough of the provincial capital, Quebec City.

In a statement, the United Food and Commercial Workers union said the decision showed Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, cannot violate workers' fundamental rights without paying the consequences.

read more

Saturday, February 26, 2005

John Howard tilts 450 more into Iraq quagmire

Mike Carlton writing in the Sydney Morning Herald

".... no one these days believes a word the Government says about the Iraq war. On Tuesday the Prime Minister showed why. Yet again.

His latest piece of sophistry is that the war is at a "tilting point". How he loves that White House jargon, those Pentagon mots du jour. Having sailed through the election campaign tossing out bland assurances that Australia would not be deploying more troops to Iraq, and having told The Bulletin magazine only three weeks ago that this still held good, John Howard has suddenly tilted another 450 diggers into the quagmire.

And all because our good friends the British, and our oldest ally, the Japanese, have asked politely. No arm-twisting from Washington, of course."

read more

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

APHEDA Timor Oils and Gas Petition

Petition to be Sent

To the Honourable The President and Members of the Senate assembled in Parliament

We, the undersigned, appeal to the Australian Government regarding its conduct of negotiations with the Government of Timor Leste on the maritime boundary between the two countries and sharing of the Timor Sea oil and gas revenue.

We pray the Senate ensures the Australian Government:

· negotiates a fair and equitable maritime boundary with Timor Leste according to current international law and the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);

· responds to Timor Leste's request for more regular meetings to settle the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries within a more reasonable timeframe;

· returns Australia to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and UNCLOS for the adjudication of maritime boundary;

· commits to hold in trust (escrow) revenues received from disputed areas immediately outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) of the20th May 2002 Timor Sea Treaty, for further apportionment between Australia and Timor Leste after the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries has been settled.

sign the APHEDA petition here:

Monday, February 21, 2005

Unions provide health and engineering assistance in Aceh

"Unionists in Australia can be very proud of the work they are assisting through Indonesian trade unions to help the victims of the tsunami in Aceh" said Peter Jennings, the Executive Officer of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA upon his return yesterday from a 10-day visit to Aceh.

Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA, the overseas aid arm of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is assisting the Indonesian branch of the International Union of Foodworkers, the Global Union Federation which links unions representing workers in all aspects of food and agricultural production. The IUF - Indonesia has now sent three teams comprising volunteer Indonesian doctors, nurses, paramedics and engineers from IUF affiliated unions to Meulaboh, formerly a city of 78,000 people on the west coast of Aceh, to assist those affected by the tsunami. Each team of approximately 10 volunteers has served there for two weeks.

The Indonesian doctors and paramedics with the IUF team have focused their efforts on the region south of Meulaboh where many of the people are contract or casual workers for palm oil plantations.

"The trade union movement can be justifiably proud of the excellent work done by these volunteers with the IUF. The medical teams have provided essential emergency health services such as treating wounds and cuts and inoculating for cholera, typhoid and tetanus, as well as providing a free general health service and advice to the people for perhaps the first time in their lives" Mr Jennings said.

... read more at APHEDA

Union Movement Focus

[ From an article by Grant Belchamber Senior Research Officer Australian Council of Trade Unions published in Dissent ]

For organised labour there is simply no choice. Unions must articulate cogent reasons for workers to join them, or die.

A union movement that fails to advocate its cause, that fails to agitate for change, that does not fight for a better world, has no future.

Industrial labour in Australia is facing its gravest challenge in living memory. Howard is gleeful with a majority in both houses. The Tories see the coming engagement as the crusade of individualism against collectivism.

Whatever its views and policy positions regarding the national interest, the union movement will have to focus sharply on maintaining good order in its own house and fight first and hardest for the immediate interests of its own membership. The industrial wage must be the foremost concern.

Wages. Leave. Hours. Superannuation. Minimum standards. Industrial law. Organising. Job security. Financial security.

On broader social wage issues - tax, health, education, environment, economic management, and the like - biting our tongues has not worked. The union movement must speak its mind on these issues and ventilate its policies.

... read more in Workers Online

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Changing Workforce

[extract from researcher Barbara Pocock's address to the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand Feb 2005]

More than one-quarter of Australian employees cannot take a paid holiday or paid sick day and many feel a lack of control over their working time, with big implications for households.

Households rely on women's earnings. A rapid increase in debt means households are sensitive to economic variables such as interest rates. A worker without debt has political sensitivities quite different from one who owes a great deal.

This does not necessarily mean that Australians are more materialistic or individualistic but that their level of personal vulnerability is higher and their unstable vote reflects it.

.... the ballot box swells with the votes of women, service sector, casual, part time and professional workers, who live in every electorate.

These voters are interested in policies that make their jobs better by giving them more control over their working time and its organisation, and providing a fair workplace with decent pay, including for women's jobs.

... policy that makes the modest earnings of ordinary wage earners an excuse for a further round of employer-friendly "flexibility" may well wear thin in a workforce that knows about excessive executive pay, faces high levels of insecurity and experiences many pockets of low pay.

For this workforce, the union bogy and strikes are lost in history, while the daily struggle to work reasonable hours for a fair wage that covers debt and allows a decent household life is front and centre. The remade worker is no longer an assured vote and a standard sort of guy - instead he is diverse and politically unattached, but someone to whom work continues to matter a great deal.

.... read more

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Kisch in Australia: State Library of NSW

This exhibition highlights the story of a Czechoslovakian author named Egon Erwin Kisch (1885-1948) who was invited to Australia in 1934 to address the Australian Congress of the International Movement Against War and Fascism.

Prime Minister Joseph Lyons' government, which was dealing with the effects of the 1930s depression by cracking down on free speech, tried to ban Kisch from landing.

The attempt to ban Kisch from speaking in Australia had the unintended effect of galvanising public opinion against the government. Kisch's story remains resonant today.

State Library of New South Wales
14 February to 24 April 2005

Picture Gallery, Mitchell Wing

9 am to 5 pm weekdays
11 am to 5 pm weekends

Norwegian Union Strategy

Strategy for International Solidarity, Democracy and Social Equity
Objective: Democratic and socially equitable societies

Purpose: To contribute to building strong, representative, and democratic trade union organisations at the national, industry and local levels.

Av: Internasjonal avdeling Publisert: 11.01.2005


The basic principle of trade unionism is solidarity. This solidarity is based upon mutual support between workers all over the world. Trade unionists remain the most crucial actors in the struggle to improve living and working conditions, and to achieve basic dignity for the world's working population. As a result, LO-Norway's most significant contribution to the international labour movement continues to be support for the organisational development of national trade union movements. However, this is not enough. It is extremely difficult to build up strong trade unions in an unfavourable economic, political, and social environment. The labour movement is constantly facing new challenges.

read more at Landsorganisasjonen i Norge

Friday, February 18, 2005

Unions Under Attack

"For the first time in decades the government has control of the Senate, providing the so-called Conservatives with a once in a lifetime chance to implement radical reform that will fundamentally change Australia.

At the heart of this process are changes that will turn the Australian workplace into an international experiment that will test the limits of the neo-conservative market ideology."

Thus begins an interesting article by Peter Lewis, editor of Workers Online (Feb 2005)

the article looks at the recent research of David McKnight and concludes:

"The question is not whether the changes to industrial relations will be radical - the question is how radical. How we in the labour movement position ourselves will have a large bearing on how far John Howard is prepared to go.

The irony is that a truly Conservative response, as opposed to a militant or radical response, could well be the most effective in blunting the attack and in holding the government to account once these changes become law."