Wednesday, August 31, 2005

National Community Day of Protest: November 15

All Health Services Union members and their families are encouraged to take place in a national community day of protest over new work laws on November 15.

The day of protest will include a national hook-up of people across the country via a Sky Channel broadcast.

Members will be able to go to local venues in country and city areas to take part in what is expected to be the largest ever protest meeting in Australia.

HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said the national community day of protest was designed to allow people to express their feelings about proposed work laws which if passed by parliament would cut employment rights.

"By the time November 15 comes around the Howard Government's changes should be before parliament," he said.

"That means the day will be about informing the community about the proposed changes and sending a clear message to the Howard Government that they should be scrapped."

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Christians preach hate too

Why do George W Bush and Rupert Murdoch think so highly of a dangerous demagogue?

One aspect of the preachers of hate debate which has gone unnoticed is that any new laws would have to apply to Christian preachers as well as Muslims.

In that case, people like American evangelist Pat Robertson could well find themselves in trouble. Last week, for example, Robertson was calling for the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to be 'taken out', in other words, murdered. (He later tried to get out of it by claiming that 'taking people out' didn't necessarily involve assassination.)

This Christian preacher of hate, it turns out, enjoys a cordial relationship with George W Bush, who might well come to his aid if he were under threat. But he could not deny that, in many respects, there is nothing to distinguish him from his Muslim brothers. He hates homosexuals, for example, and has even on occasion spoken out about what he calls a 'Jewish money conspiracy'.

It is not widely known that Robertson has another very influential admirer, in the person of Rupert Murdoch. Andrew Neil, in his memoirs published in 1996, records that when Robertson stood as a presidential candidate in 1988, Murdoch told Neil: 'He's right on all the issues.'

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Howard Witch Hunt: shoot the messenger

The Howard Government's use of police and the criminal law to plug embarrassing leaks has moved into the industrial relations arena.

Australian Financial Review journalist Marcus Priest has been questioned by the Australian Federal Police over the source of a briefing from within the department of Workplace Relations, critical of the Minister's use of the building and construction code.

With two Herald Sun journalists, Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, facing jail for refusing to name the source of information from the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Media Alliance has warned the use of AFP officers to chase down leaks from the public service had the potential to stifle public debate,

"This type of harassment of journalists is an improper application of the criminal law - it means that journalists are exposing themselves to police investigations for fulfilling their professional obligation to seek out and report on the truth," Alliance national secretary Chris Warren says.

Liberal leader resigns

After the news got out of John Brodgen's racist "joke" about Helena Carr, he resigned as Liberal leader in the NSW parliament, while still claiming it was all meant in jest.

The New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma says it is extraordinary the NSW Liberal party wanted to keep on a discredited leader rather than a new one, and says the party may suffer a public backlash.

"What's happened in the last 48 hours is probably a new low in New South Wales politics, or in politics in general," he said.

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NSW Libs: racism exposed at top

NSW Liberal Party leader John Brogden has exposed how deeply racism is embedded in his party when he "joked" about Bob Carr's wife being "a Mail-order bride"

"It was the week Bob Carr resigned. I had a few drinks and let off some steam, and in doing so acted foolishly." said Brogden

Asked about his description of Helena Carr, he said: "I did tell a joke along those lines. It was completely inappropriate."

Bob Carr rejected Brogden's explanation and said Mr Brogden should resign.

"Mr Brogden is totally unfit to lead any political party, he has given vent to sheer, unadulterated racism - in a state where one in four citizens was born overseas."

Friday, August 26, 2005

EUREKA: Painting, Photography, Sculpture

An exhibition of Painting, Photography, Sculpture
Irene Schroder
Jan Green
Alan Healy

to be opened by
Greens NSW MLC Lee Rhiannon
6.30 Friday 26th August
49-51 King Street Newtown
Phone 9550 4433

26 August - 14 September

AGNSW: Rocking the Foundations

Art Gallery NSW
Sunday 28th August

2.00pm showing of 1986 film Rocking the Foundations a history of the Builders Labourers Federation and the Green Bans

Filmmaker Pat Fiske and BLF leader Jack Mundey will speak

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Denis Kevans, Poet Lorikeet, has died

Denis Kevans - Australia's Poet Lorikeet - died in the early hours of August 23rd. He had a heart attack about two weeks ago and succumbed to complications following by-pass surgery. He was 66.

Denis wrote so many great songs and poems for the labour movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, Aboriginal rights, the folk movement over a period spanning close to 50 years that it's hard to overestimate his contribution.

Denis supported the Blue Mountains Unions Council from the beginning and was a regular contibutor to our Politics in the Pub.

Colleen Burke and Margaret Walters have organised an informal wake upstairs at the
Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire St, Sydney
near Central Railway

from 5pm Sunday - 28 August

Everyone welcome. Please bring a plate.

Denis will be farewelled at:
Leura Memorial Gardens
10.30 am on Saturday 3rd September

There will be a wake afterwards at the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba Street, Katoomba
(from 1pm).

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Money or a life, the choice was yours

The industrial changes might be a chance to pad the wallet, but at a price, writes Ross Gittins.

I DOUBT if there is anyone in the world who would tell you our relationships are not more important than money. And yet there is often a big gap between what we believe and what we do. In practice, we're always putting money - whether earning it or spending it - ahead of our relations with family, friends and neighbours.

The best thing to come from John Howard's plans for a revolution in industrial relations is the way they are prompting people to ask what effect they would have on family life. It's a question we should have been asking a lot earlier about other aspects of economic change.

In the policies they advocate, economists quite deliberately ignore the possible implications for our relationships. In their professional capacity, they neither know nor care. It's not their department, so they leave it for more qualified people to worry about.

Which people? Well, one group with a special interest in the topic is the purveyors of religion. They are always being told to butt out because they know nothing about economics - although no one ever tells the economists to dry up because they know nothing about relationships.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sydney City Trash:

Combining a no-nonsense punk approach and country and folk roots, Sydney six piece Sydney City Trash are something new in both the city and the bush. Their lyrics are simple, straight to the point and laced with Aussie laconic humour. Fiddle, acoustic guitar, and country bass clash with distorted telecaster and heavy drums. And their proudest achievement is it's all done with Aussie accents.

SC Trash don't pretend to be something they're not - and they make a point of it. They wear baseball caps, not Stetsons. They wear skater shoes, not cowboy boots. They smash two of the most stereotyped music styles out there - punk and country. Free from the shackles of formula, there is a realness and honesty about them that is rare on the music scene.

That realness is reflected in the band's approach to politics. Most of the band's songs have something to say. They sing about things such as big business taking away someone's home. The crowd favourite is "the Ballad of Little Johnny" which is about the utter frustration that stems from our immovable Prime Minister. There is also a very strong union element to their songs, and the band does a modern version of the classic Union Boy.

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Workers Online glossary of IR weasel words

here is the Workers Online glossary of IR weasel words:

- 'Productivity' means 'working longer and harder for less'
- 'Flexibility' means 'losing working rights'
- 'More jobs' mean 'more casual jobs'
- 'Choice' means 'sign here'
- 'Competitive' means 'competing for wages with China and India'
- 'IR reform' means 'destroying unions'

There's one other weasel word that we keep hearing being bandied about, namely 'national interest', and it is the ultimate justification for this attack on workers' rights.

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MPs Duck As Unions Hit the Road

Excuses are coming in thick and fast as regional Coalition MPs attempt to dodge invitations to explain their attack on workers rights as Unions NSW take their campaign on the road.
Alby Shultz will extend his policy of abstaining from contentious issues, when he fails to join members of the Goulburn community to discuss the changes on Thursday.

The bright orange 'Rights at work' bus will set off from Sydney on Monday for the start of a six week odyssey which will see it take in dozens of regional meetings as it makes it way around the state.

From the beaches of the 'Gong to the highlands of Cooma, the bus will stir up public debate about the Federal Government's proposed workplace changes.

The first leg is the South Coast, taking in Wollongong, Nowra, Ulladulla, Bateman's Bay, Moruya, Bega and Merimbula before coming up through Cooma, Queanbeyan and Goulburn.

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Andrews Shafts Employee Safety

Kevin Andrews has moved to deny Federal Government employees representation on safety issues.

The Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Bill, which is set to be passed by the Coalition-controlled Senate, allows the employer to control the election of safety representatives.

Currently all employees elect their health and safety representatives in a union-run ballot.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the new legislation flew in the face of research which showed union involvement led to safer workplaces.

"Surveys have shown that unionised workplaces are three times as likely to have a health and safety committee, and twice as likely to have undertaken a health and safety audit in the last 12 months," she said.

Under the current act, the Commonwealth has a better safety record compared to all states and territories.

The Commonwealth OHS law has seen almost 30 per cent fewer injuries that result in a week or more compensation compared to NSW, according to a Workplace Relations & Management Consultants survey.

Burrow says there was no need to change the system. "The motivation for these changes is clearly ideological."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

New Laws Mean More Deaths: Widow

The widow of a man killed while working on the Cross City Tunnel has warned new construction industry laws will lead to more deaths.

Marlene Shores, whose husband Ronnie was killed by a falling boulder last year, says the laws will intimidate workers from speaking up about safety.

"My husband died when shortcuts were taken in the rush to complete the job, and no one was brave enough to speak out," Shores said.

"But these laws will make matters worse. This new law will be used to fine workers $22,000 for having a meeting about safety, refusing to work in unsafe areas, or stopping to morn a killed mate."

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Non Unionist's Psalm

The dues-paying members are my shepherd; I shall not pay.
They provideth me with sick days and holidays
So that I may lie down in green pastures.
Beside the still waters
They reclaimeth my back pay
They guardeth my welfare,
without cost to me
I stray in the path of the
non-righteous for my money's sake
Yeah though I alibi and pay no dues
For generation to generation,
I fear no evil, for they protect.
The working conditions which they provide
Do comfort me.
They anointeth my head with oil of Worker's Comp,
Sick pay, Annual leave, Long Service Leave
Flextime and the thirty six and three quarter hour week.
And my cup runneth over with gratitude.
Surely their goodness and loving kindness
Shall follow me all the days of my life,
Without cost to me
I shall dwell in their house forever
And allow them to pay the bills.

Union official Len Cooper was clearing out his office and came across this previously unpublished psalm

Unions launch IR radio

A breakfast radio program, run by various trade unions and backed by Unions New South Wales, was launched this morning on FM 88.9 and will run from 5.30am until 9am on weekdays.

Workers Radio Sydney announcer Craig Bulley said the program would inform workers about what the planned industrial relations changes meant for them.

On Friday, the ACTU and Federal Labor lost a High Court quest for an interim injunction to have the Government's $20-million advertising campaign promoting IR reform taken off air.

The case will now go before the High Court's full bench, after Justice Dyson Heydon granted an order for an expeditious hearing.

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The Last Weekend

Come and enjoy your right to spend time with your family before John Howard takes it away - with our free family day out...

11am - 2:30pm Sunday August 7th 2005
The Overflow
Sydney Olympic Park


* The Hooley Dooleys
* Tim Freedman
* Kid Confucius
* Free rides and face painting for the kids; and
* Much much more

ALL DAY PARKING available - $3 per hour, up to maximum $15 per day. To guarantee a spot, pre-book by phoning Ticketek 132849 ($15 plus booking fee)

FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT to and from the event - on CityRail services and Sydney Olympic Park Major Event Buses.

For more transport info, go to or call TRANSPORT INFOLINE 131500.

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