Friday, April 29, 2005

No Rubber Stamp High Court!

The reinstatement of a union activist by the High Court has added to union confidence that the country’s top judges will not simply rubber stamp Howard Government industrial attacks on workers.

Meatworkers union leader Kath Evans has hailed the decision as a "win for all workers across Australia" and a classic example of the "little guy taking on the big guy".

"This is a unanimous decision from a conservative bench,' says Evans. "We are delighted."

"What this means for workers is that if they are re-instated they will have a job and not simply be paid to 'go away'."

read more

General Staff Union condemns anti-democratic, anti-education IR changes

Changes announced today are just a subterfuge for anti-democratic controls over universities, cost cutting and disenfranchisement and depowerment of the workforce.

"The changes announced by Ministers Andrews and Nelson will not improve our universities - they will further accelerate Australia's brain drain and push university education towards mediocrity", says John Cahill, General Secretary of the Public Service Association and NSW Branch Secretary of the Community & Public Sector Union.

"What they have been unable to do by persuasion they are now trying by coercion. They are eliminating choice", says Mr Cahill.

"Their long term aim is to reduce labour costs through reduced wages and lesser conditions.

"The claim they want more flexibility for university managers. The sort of flexibility they are promoting will increase staff turnover and decrease staff morale. Neither outcomes are good for education.

"No university management or council and no university staff body has asked for any of these changes. Nelson and Andrews think they know what's best for universities, and that the experienced people do not.

read more

Security, funding crucial for Sudan/Chad

Security, basic living conditions and funding are among the top concerns of the UN refugee agency in Sudan and Chad, said Acting High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin after returning from a five-day trip to the region.

"The conditions are very bad there, sometimes even worse than in Darfur, and certainly worse than in Chad,'' she noted. "What really disturbed us is that 13,000 houses have recently been destroyed there, affecting 17,000 families."

read more

Thousands of students march in Sydney

Thousands of protesters marched down Sydney's Broadway yesterday as part of a national campaign against axing compulsory student unionism.

The abolition of these compulsory fees is one of a raft of changes the government has vowed to push through the Senate when it takes control of the upper house in July.

read more

International Workers’ Memorial Day

"International Workers' Memorial Day is commemorated worldwide to remember the 1.3 million workers who are killed on the job each year - that's 3,300 per day and nearly double the number of deaths caused by war," said CFMEU Construction National Secretary John Sutton.

"More than 2,000 Australians lose their lives in a workplace accident or through work-related disease each year - that's more than the road toll of 1700 deaths per year. And the construction industry ranks as one of Australia's most dangerous industries, with an average 50 deaths each year on construction jobs."

read more

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Work Deaths Get Permanent Reflection

A Sydney harbourside park will be dedicated as a permanent reminder of the dangers of work when Sydney workers join millions around the globe in observing the International Day of Mourning for Deaths in the Workplace.

NSW Premier Bob Carr will official rename Little Pier Park as 'Reflection Park' at a ceremony involving friends and colleagues of five workers who have died in NSW workplaces.

The park is on the site of Australia's first "industrial revolution", being the home of one of Sydney's earliest mills and a brewery.

read more

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bjelke-Petersen funeral protest

Electricity workers sacked by Joh Bjelke-Petersen's National Party government during one of Queensland's most divisive industrial disputes will hold at protest to coincide with the former premier's state funeral next week.

Bernie Neville, the Electrical Trades Union organiser at the time of the SEQEB dispute, said he would attend a protest rally at Brisbane's King George Square to coincide with the funeral.

read more

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Health Services Union resolution on IR

The HSU will be part of the campaign to maintain our rights at workThe HSU will be part of the campaign to maintain our rights at work
The HSU will play an active role in the union campaign against the Federal Government's changes to workplace laws which aim to reduce the rights of working Australians.

HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said it was a critical time for all unions.

"People need to realise that what the Federal Government wants to do is to interfere in the workplace in favour of employers," he said.

"This is all about reducing the fairness in the workplace and making it harder for people to enjoy the wages and conditions they deserve.

"Unions around the country are gearing up to fight these proposed changes and the HSU will be at the forefront of that campaign."

read more

Friday, April 15, 2005

Conservative posters: roll your own!

If you’re in the UK you’ll have seen the Conservative Party’s “are you thinking what we’re thinking” poster campaign. Did you, when you looked at those posters, think: I wish I could change some of the text on those, to show the Tories what I think of them and their ideas? Well, now you can, a little bit.

Roll your own Conservative poster

Neoliberal economic strategy in tatters

The principle of greater national and regional self-reliance, consistently derided by the neoliberals, evidently warrants serious consideration as a basis for more secure long term Australian economic development. Drawing on the savings held in superannuation funds in order to finance investment in infrastructure and industry is the sort of progressive political economic alternative that now beckons. Productive investment, systematically linked to goals of social justice and ecological sustainability, has to be the top priority.

The neoliberal economic strategy is in tatters. The underlying economic problems, nationally and internationally, are becoming increasingly evident. Public debt has been reined in only at the expense of creating the conditions for unsustainable levels of private debt. We have become highly vulnerable to small fluctuations in monetary policies and international financial markets. It is time to change track. Wake up Australia!

(extract from an article by Frank Stilwell Professor of Political Economy in the School of Economic and Political Science at the University of Sydney)

read more

Victorian May Day March

The history books tell us that in 1891, more than 1340 shearers took part in the May Day march at Barcaldine. Henry Lawson captured the spirit of the striking shearers in his beautiful and powerful Freedom's on the Wallaby:

So we must fly a rebel flag
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle

With The Howard Government obsessed with trying to break unions, it's important that as many ETU members as possible attend. The march will be followed by a May Day Tea and Concert in Treasury Gardens . For those who might be wondering, May Day marches started in Melbourne in 1883.

Date: Sunday May 1, 2005
Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: Trades Hall corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton South

read more

Employ 20,000 young Australians!

"The Federal Government would be better off employing 20,000 young Australians as trades apprentices, rather relying on migrant intakes and sending 10 department officers to boost employer expertise in engaging migrants,

"The extension of the Migration Occupations in Demand list to include: bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, fibrous and solid plasterers, as well as cabinet makers, plumbers and electricians, will not solve Australia's skill shortages in these sectors." said John Sutton, National Construction Secretary of the CFMEU.

"What we need is a reinstatement of a strong commitment to training from Australian employers and the government. That's the only way we address the skill requirements of Australian industry for the future," said Mr Sutton.

read more

Thursday, April 14, 2005

High Court challenge to Howard on IR

Former NSW judge Jeff Shaw is organising a union-led High Court challenge against federal government attempts to replace state workplace laws with a national industrial relations system, amid growing legal doubts about the commonwealth's power to do so.

The Labor-controlled states are also planning a challenge, with NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus seeking advice from senior Sydney silk and former NSW Bar Association president Bret Walker SC.

The challenges will argue that, under the constitution, the commonwealth corporations power extends to the regulation of corporations but cannot be used for the ulterior purpose of extinguishing state industrial relations systems.

Do the slowly-chokie: David Peetz

David Peetz teaches workers how to dance to Howard's industrial laws.

You put your right arm in
You shove your right arm up
You bend your right arm back
It gets twisted all about
You do the slowly-chokie
And you sign up here
That's what it's all about

You put your right foot in
You try to pull it out
You feel the trap shut tight
And you writhe your foot about
You do the slowly-chokie
And you sign up here
That's what it's all about

Oh-oh the slowly-chokie
Oh-oh the slowly-chokie
Oh-oh the slowly-chokie
That's what it's all about

You stick your neck right out
You look around real fast
You bend your head right down
And you kiss the boss's arse
You do the slowly-chokie
And you sign up here
That's what it's all about

read more

Government pay rise is a pay cut!

tandbergThe Commonwealth was asked yesterday to explain how its pay rise offer of $11 a week contributed to the needs of the Australia's 1.5 million low-paid workers when it represented an effective pay cut.

Michael Lawler, deputy president of the Industrial Relations Commission, told the national minimum wage case he had checked the Reserve Bank's website and confirmed Australia's inflation rate was 2.6 per cent in the 12 months to December 2004.

A worker on the minimum wage of $542.20 a week would need a pay rise of $14.10 to protect real wage purchasing power and not suffer an effective pay cut, he said.

read more

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

How Internet Radio Can Change The World

In his new book How Internet Radio Can Change The World LabourStart inventor Eric Lee writes:

"We on the left, we in the labour movement, who want to change the world - we must use every technology that makes our work easier and more efficient. We must adopt communications tools that allow us to reach global audiences, to bring our message of social justice and peace to people who will never hear it from the traditional state-controlled or corporate-controlled media.

And that is the promise of Internet radio."

A dead leader who let millions live in anguish

Pope John Paul II is remembered as being compassionate, but in many ways he was anything but. For many his legacy is one of great suffering.

There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. And yet the Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul II, instructed its priests to condemn condom use.

Worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms.

read more

Unions won't rule out mass strike

Following a meeting of the UnionsWA executive today, secretary Dave Robinson said it would not act immediately on the plan for a statewide strike put forward by the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

But Mr Robinson said the possibility of co-ordinated industrial action designed to stop work in the state was still open.

"Everything is in the mix at this point in time, but we are not going to step out ahead of informing and talking with our members in unions and the community," he said.

"That is a matter for them to talk back with us about. We have got the entire spectrum of activity still open to us."

read more

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ACTU puts $494 minimum wage case

A Federal Government plan to scrap the annual minimum wages case would mean a reduction in the living standards for working Australians and their families says the ACTU.

Greg Combet told the AIRC today

"Overall employment in Australia grew by 13% since 1996 but in industries with a high proportion of minimum wage workers like accommodation, cafe and restaurants, and health and community services, employment grew by more than 30%.

These productivity and employment gains have occurred in a period where the ACTU has achieved an increase in minimum wages of $118 a week. The facts show that real wage increases for Australia's low paid workers has not cost jobs or stifled productivity.

There is no justification for the Howard Government's plans to change the way minimum wages are set. It is disgraceful that the Government would try to use its Senate majority to attack the basic rights and living standards of working Australians.

The ACTU is seeking a guarantee from the Prime Minister that the real value of minimum wages in Australia will be maintained after the Government takes control of the Senate."

Minimum wages
Now (April 2005)
If ACTU claim for 2005 succeeds
If Howard Govt has its way

For more information:

State of the Union

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

What I want to do today is broaden this debate and place it in the context of the modern workplace

- the attitudes of employees towards their work

- the attitude of workers towards unions

- and the broader attitude of workers towards politics

read more

Cash Grab Targets Families

Australia’s lowest paid workers would be $2300 a year worse off under the federal government’s minimum wage prescription.

Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, said the Prime Minister’s recipe would equate to a two percent jump in home loan interest rates.

read more

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Public private partnerships (P3s): an international disaster

A new report exposes 100 examples of flawed, failed or abandoned infrastructure projects using the controversial “public private partnership” (P3) privatization model in Canada, Australia and the UK, undermining the overblown claims of P3 backers.

The report, produced by health coalitions and national unions, comes as governments at all levels persist with plans to privatize hospitals, roads and schools under P3s, controversial long-term deals with private finance and service corporations.


Contracting out costs $14.38 billion per year

The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research warns the rush to labour hire and contracting out is exposing taxpayers to a $14.38 billion loss, every year.

That figure, spent on nation-building, could wipe out the public health crisis by funding 42 new teaching hospitals or carrying out an extra 5.6 million operations annually.

Alternatively, it would fund the construction of 770 new high schools or the employment of an additional 1.5 million teachers.

AMWU secretary, Doug Cameron, presented the economic research as part of his union's submission to a parliamentary inquiry into contracting.

read more

Howard's plan to lower wages

Commenting on the Federal Government plans to scrap the current annual review of minimum wages by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Peter Hendy said:

‘If the tribunal that we end up with delivers the same level of wage increases that we’ve had in the past few years, it would be a failure.’

Howard Government Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews has also been reported as saying that minimum wages in Australia are more than $70 a week higher than he believes they should be.

read more

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

ABC manager: "bullying is a sham"

Commissioner Smith said it was Mr Bass' evidence that whenever someone was under performance appraisal they alleged bullying.

Commissioner Smith asked Mr Don Smith if it was the ABC's view that bullying allegations are "no more than a ruse".

He asked whether the bullying allegations of four people were a sham. Mr Smith replied that three of them were.

read more

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sentenced by the papacy

... Shakespeare had Mark Antony say, with solemn insincerity, that he'd come to bury the assassinated Caesar, "not to praise him".

Now it's the Pope's time. Having survived assassination in St Peter's Square, he died in comparative calm, to be buried in praise, much of it as coded and careful as Antony tribute to his friend.

But with so much talk of the Pope's death, now is the time to talk about the Pope and death, of his record on the life and death issues of life, from the Holocaust to AIDS, from the war in Iraq to the electric chair.

read more

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Yankee John Gets Thumbs Down

More than 2000 AMWU workplace delegates have delivered a resounding “no” to John Howard’s plans to “Americanise” their workplaces.

They left meetings around Australia, this month, resolving to build opposition at work, and beyond.

More than 700 delegates, from all sections of union, spent six hours at the final meeting in Melbourne, last week, thrashing out the shape of their resistance.

read more

Boeing gets right to discriminate in Australia

The defence contractor Boeing employs more than 2,500 people in places around Australia. But today there are concerns about the job security of some of them after New South Wales joined Victoria and Queensland in granting the company the right to discriminate against employees whose nationalities don't meet US security requirements.

Boeing said it needed an exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act to hold onto a multi-million dollar US defence contract.

read more

Friday, April 01, 2005


Invitation to Social Fund Raiser
6.30 pm Saturday 2nd April 2005
2a Kendall Street Woollahra

Hear Professor Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews discuss their book

HOW TO KILL A COUNTRY: Australia's Devastating Trade Deal with The United States

** Linda Weiss is a Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.
** Elizabeth Thurbon is a lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of NSW, and
** John Mathews is Professor of Strategic Management in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University.

We will have drinks, a buffet dinner, dessert and a musical item.
Please make your payment to The Evatt Foundation at $60.00 per person and invite your friends to joins us.

R.S.V.P. by April 1, Evatt Foundation, UNSW NSW 2052.
Phone: 9385 7137 Fax 9662 8531

Rich pay 15% income tax

The Howard Government's tax changes have allowed some of Australia's richest people to pay only 15 per cent tax on much of their income, leading economist Ross Garnaut says in a new call for reform.

Professor Garnaut yesterday urged Prime Minister John Howard to restart the reform agenda, focusing on tax and federal-state relations.

read more