Saturday, December 31, 2005

Innovation at the Workplace: Unemployment in Australia

The Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures 2005:

Our real unemployment rate is not a tick over 5%, contrary to what you’ve been breathlessly told by the government and the media, because the numbers are a fraud. If you add up the total of unemployment, disability and sole-parent benefits together, there are more people now than when the official unemployment rate was much higher. This, despite a decade of boom. It works like this: We used to have about a million unemployed and about 100,000 disability pensions. Now we’ve got half a million unemployed and 600,000 disability pensions. We’ve just rearranged the deckchairs, and declared victory. That’s why we still have one in six children growing up in a jobless household. If you doubt that, let me take you for a drive forty-five minutes from here. The truth is we have about two million people who have less work than they want.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Japanese whaling hindered

Inflatable boats from the Greenpeace ships - the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza - hinder the transfer of a dead minke whale from the Japanese whaling fleet catcher ship Kyo Maru No.1 to the Nisshin Maru factory ship.


The International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.

Despite international protests, Japan has this year more than doubled its planned catch of minke whales to 935.

It has also added 10 endangered fin whales and plans to eventually lift the number to 50, along with 50 rare humpback whales.

... of Middle Eastern Appearance

Friday, December 23, 2005

Melbourne Burns AWAs

Eighteen Melbourne workers have kicked a big hole in John Howard's plan to deunionise Australia.

On Monday, December 19, their employer, Colrain, wrote to the Office of the Employment Advocate, asking that their AWAs be scrubbed.

After a short but bitter stand-off the operators of the truck parts distribution centre, a division of Maxitrans, agreed to meet the AMWU about a collective agreement, and the 18 workers returned to the job.

Their two-week picket at Swan Drive, in Melbourne's west, had been marred by the use of scabs and violence.

Union organiser, Fergal Eliffe, was threatened by baseball bat wielding thugs, and, last week, a picketer was struck by a car.

"It's a matter of putting the relationship back together," Eliffe told Workers Online. "There are more civilised and efficient ways of sorting out wages and conditions and that's the road we've agreed to take.

"With goodwill, we are confident we can get a decent agreement for these people, and their families, in the next few weeks."

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

New York: transit strike

Dec. 21- Yesterday you used your position as Mayor of New York to call us "thuggish"and "selfish." How dare you?

Our children turn on the TV to see the Mayor denouncing their parents as "morally reprehensible." Have you no shame?

As you know better than most, this strike was forced on us by the MTA. You know this because you share much of the blame. It is your provocative rhetoric about what givebacks we transit workers must accept for the next generation of transit -- our children and new immigrants -- that has pushed our members beyond the limits of their patience.

You all but demanded this confrontation, and now you act angry and surprised. You owe all New Yorkers an apology for poisoning the atmosphere around difficult labor negotiations.

You call us “irresponsible.” New York City and New York State have slashed their subsidies for mass transit. Mayors and Governors have created a seemingly permanent Structural Deficit for transit which much be filled by costly borrowing. Wall Street has profited, but Main Street has suffered. But you knew that already from your previous career. Now that the debt-servicing bill has come due, the MTA demands that we pay the price: worse health care and worse pensions.


Dec. 22-The first NYC system-wide transit strike in 25 years ended today. Local 100 had to walk out to stop the TA’s 11th hour pension ambush. We walked out strong, and we walk back stronger.

Thousands of transit workers have been on freezing cold picket lines around the clock for three days. The vote of the TWU Local 100 Executive Board to overwhelmingly accept the recommendation of theNew York State Mediators means we will now start reporting to work.

In the face of an unprecedented media assault, the average New Yorker supported the TWU and blamed the MTA for the strike. Our riders knew we did not abandon them, and they did not abandon us. Public support from unions, communities, clergy and elected officials helped create the atmosphere for an end to the strike.

The details will be coming to all transit workers very soon.

Every TWU member should be proud that our Union stood up for justice.

Stay United! Stay Strong!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NSW launches High Court challenge to IR laws

The News South Wales Government is lodging a High Court challenge against the Federal Government's industrial relations changes - becoming the first state to do so.

The Western Australian Government says it is in the final stages of preparing its challenge and the Queensland Government says it is likely to launch its own early in the new year.

Victoria will also file a claim early next year supporting the New South Wales challenge.

New South Wales Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca says there is a strong case against the reforms recently passed in the Senate, and he expects similar action from other states.

"Today we're lodging our papers for our challenge in the High Court.

"We anticipate that Queensland and South Australia and other states will shortly follow and may even be taking similar action today.

"But we want to make sure our case is lodged and ready to go because we want to make sure the WorkChoices legislation is tested in the High Court as soon as practicable so the offensive provisions can be struck out."

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Paul Robeson stamp

Where to From Here?

Fred Argy discusses his new book.

My new book focuses on three of the traditional pillars of economic egalitarianism in Australia:

  • 1. a strong, unconditional, need-based welfare safety net (to minimise the risk of poverty),
  • 2. a broad sharing of national productivity gains (through a "just" wage, progressive taxes and nation development); and
  • 3. equality of opportunity.

Fair Pay Commission: Harper's record

Professor Ian Harper, the new chairman of the Fair Pay Commission, was the director of a company that went into administration owing more than $700,000 to its workers.

The company went broke after allegedly trading while insolvent. The administrators found there was an arguable case that the directors had breached criminal offences under company law.

Professor Harper was hand picked by John Howard to play a major role in determining wage rises under the Federal Government's new industrial relations system.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Eight Hour Day: 150 years (1856-2006)

Howard's shame

According to the prime minister, there is no underlying racism in this country.

That was John Howard's claim during the ugly violence that rocked Sydney and trashed Australia's international reputation. If Howard really believes it, he has been wasting his time blowing his dog whistle all these years.

But, of course, the man who cashed in so cleverly on the prejudices exposed by Pauline Hanson's brief period of political glory knows better.

And if proof of that was needed, the PM supplied it when he was asked on A Current Affair about the drunken hoons involved in the Cronulla violence who wrapped themselves in Australian flag. Howard — still with an eye to the lessons he learned from Hansonism- could not bring himself to criticise this behaviour.

"Look, I would never condemn people for being proud of the Australian flag," he said. It was a disgusting cop-out, and an inglorious way for Howard to end the political year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sydney riots and the shock jocks

By Thursday last week Alan Jones was screaming like a race caller whose horse was coming home. "I'm the person that's led this charge here. Nobody wanted to know about North Cronulla, now it's gathered to this."

The riot was still three days away and Sydney's highest-rating breakfast radio host had a heap of anonymous emails to whip his 2GB listeners along.

Sunday's trouble did not come out of the blue. It was brewing all week on talkback radio — particularly on 2GB.

Radio doesn't get much grimmer than Alan Jones' efforts in the days before the Cronulla riot. He was dead keen for a demo at the beach — "a rally, a street march, call it what you will. A community show of force."

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Keep Australia Ugly!

see also...

The NSW Teachers Federation condemns the racially-incited violence in Sydney this weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Send your MP a Christmas Message

It's that time of year again. Christmas is finally upon us - a time for family and friends, presents and cards, and (hopefully!) some rest and relaxation.

Unfortunately this year the Howard Government's Christmas present to Australians is the worst piece of industrial law the country has ever seen. And, like socks, jocks and those other unwanted gifts, we need to send "WorkChoices" back and get something better.

So, as you write your Christmas cards, don't forget your local politician. Did your Member of Parliament help John Howard give us "WorkChoices", or are they going to help send it back?

We know how you voted! Send your MP a Christmas message now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Harold Pinter: Nobel Lecture Art, Truth & Politics

Harold PnterHarold Pinter's Nobel Lecture was pre-recorded, and shown on video December 7, 2005, in Börssalen at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm.

See a Video of the Nobel Lecture 46 min
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© Copyright to the recorded and filmed version of the Nobel Lecture: Illuminations 2005.
© Copyright to the text version of the Nobel Lecture: The Nobel Foundation 2005.

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The Lecture in Text Format


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Free Vote!!!

This week’s charade of the Senate amending the Howard Government’s workplace laws raises fundamental questions about the sort of democracy Australia has become.

The PM's ideological obsession is old news. Barnaby's buffoonery and ultimate back down was to be predicted and the Opposition parties' outrage, while well-executed, was never going to change anything.

What has been more striking are flaws in our system of government that have been exposed, the failure of our democratic structures to fulfil the basic roles they were created for.

When a 700 page Act has a six day Senate Inquiry and then when the Senate has just two days to deal with more than 300 government-sponsored amendments, any pretence to being a House of Review should be dispensed with.

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Unions: long-term campaign to overturn IR laws

Unions plan a long-term campaign to overturn the destructive new WorkChoices IR laws and unseat the Howard Government at the next federal election.

Key elements of the co-ordinated union campaign include:

1. A campaign fund set up by unions to pay for a national series of television advertisements during 2006 and 2007 on the impact of the new IR laws on working families.

2. A new plan endorsed by the ACTU Executive to strategically direct local press, radio and TV advertisements in key marginal Liberal and National Party seats.

3. An 'online mobilisation' strategy using an email list that already has more than 50,000 subscribers -- the majority of whom are supporters from outside the union movement.

4. Thousands of people around the country who have committed to co-ordinate local information and lobbying campaign activities in their electorate for at least the next two years. This aspect of the campaign will target all Coalition MPs and Senators that have voted for the new IR laws with a special focus on key electorates.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

South Africa: Happy birthday COSATU

Cosatu’s first 20 years have been an extraordinary time. And from its founding in the bleak and violent 1980s, to its current, sometimes conflicted position in our immature democracy, it has remained a crucial humanising force.

In contrast with many labour movements elsewhere in the world, it remains fiercely independent of both capital and the state. Movements for worker rights and economic justice like the Congress of Non-European Trade Unions, the South Africa Congress of Trade Unions and the Federation of South African Trade Unions have been crucial in getting us to where we are today.

And Cosatu has continued, when it would be all too easy to settle into complacency, to force privileged South Africans to confront the sea of socio-economic distress that surrounds them. One may not always agree with its economic prescriptions, but it has consistently spoken up for those who have yet to reap a “liberation dividend” -- the shack-dwellers, the rural poor, the low-waged, the redundant and those outside or on the fringes of the formal economy.

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also see COSATU

Friday, December 02, 2005

John Tomlinson: Dreams

A poem by John Tomlinson

Well Telstra reached three dollars,
John Howard lay down and died.
I was tempted, I was tempted
but, I never cried.

The workers got fair wages,
bosses cheered with them.
I was tempted, I was tempted
to celebrate the win.

Refugees were welcomed,
Ruddock let them in,
I was tempted, I was tempted
to celebrate with them.

Aborigines got land justice,
jobs and hope at last
I was tempted, I was tempted
to put racism in the past.

The unemployed got good jobs
throughout this mighty land
I was tempted, I was tempted
to join the merry band.

Single parents and disabled
were given a helping hand.
I was tempted, I was tempted
at last to take a stand.

The homeless all found houses
landlords let them in,
I was tempted, I was tempted
to also welcome them.

When decency and justice
prevailed throughout the land.
I was tempted, I was tempted
to try and understand
why we’d put it off so long
ignoring weak, pampering strong,
why didn’t we right the wrong
including all as we march along.

Rights at Work Pledge

I believe in co-operation, community, and compassion. I believe in justice and fairness. I want prosperity for the many, not just the few.

I will not forget the Howard Government’s attack on fairness and equality when I vote at the next election.

I will not be complacent if at first the workplace laws affect others and not me. I will not sit idly by while others suffer injustice and indignities. I will act with integrity in my own place of work.

I will help build a wall of opposition to these laws. I vow to do everything I can to help my family, friends and colleagues to become active alongside me.

Sign here