Friday, June 30, 2006

Tokyo: 25 years protest and picket

On June 29 1981, OKI sacked one of its workers who had refused to sign the choices he was offered, a transfer order to work far from his home or to a piece of paper that said he agreed to be fired.

Yesterday, 25 years later Tetsuro Tanaka, was forcefully evicted from the company's shareholders meeting. This violence against a shareholder who dared to ask a question was reported today in a Tokyo newspaper. A number of Japanese companies have been forced to appoligise to their stockhoders on matters of corruption and other violations of their legal responsibilities.

Tanaka has become famous around the world for his daily picket of the OKI factory where he worked in Takao. He sings songs he has composed about his struggle with the company.

Late last year he was awarded a Japanese human rights award in Tokyo for his determination and support for other workers who find themselves in similar situations, being unfairly dissmissed or being punished for standing up for themselves.

The German magazine Der Spiegel wrote about Tanaka last February and his story was picked up recently by a Turkish website but the best place to find out more is from his own website at

Congratulations on on the 25th anniversary!

Canberra: Libs Laugh At Sacked Mum

Howard backers taunted a sacked Mum with cries of "Get a job" when she took her case to federal parliament.

While their leader refused to make eye contact with the dumped childcare worker, last week, Liberal MPs left little doubt where their sympathies lay.

Emily O'Connor accused John Howard of dishonesty and cowardice, after he played the Sergeant Schultz card, in response to questions about her dismissal.

Howard told Parliament he neither knew, nor could be expected to know, of the highly-publicised case in which a Canberra employer boasted WorkChoices meant she didn't have to advance a reason for O'Connor's sacking.

According to bewildered parents, Blinky Bill child care centre manager, Anna Maria French, told them she had taken "full advantage" of the new industrial relations laws in dismissing O'Connor.

"He pretended he didn't know," said O'Connor, who was in the gallery when the Prime Minister was asked if he could "look Emily O'Connor in the eye?"
"He knew exactly who I was. Doesn't he watch TV or read the papers?
"He just dodged the issue. Any decent person would find this situation shocking. I think he has lost sight of what the Australian people want. It was a gutless thing to do."

O'Connor was shocked at the reaction of Liberal politicians when her case was raised in parliament. With Andrew Laming, Liberal member for Bowman, waving a paper at her and telling her to "find a new job".

"I felt like they were going 'look at this girl, she's nothing, she's nobody'," O'Connor said.
O'Connor says she came forward because of the large number of people being affected by the new laws who were too scared to speak up. She has been buoyed by the support from her community and the LHMU.

"It's important people speak up. Just because it's legal doesn't make it right," she said.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

June 28th: 300,000 join IR protests

150,000 in Melbourne ...

40,000 in Blacktown ...

including the Blue Mountains contingent ...


The largest turnout was in Melbourne, with around 150,000 people rallying in the centre of the city at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Sts.

40,000 people attended the main NSW rally in the outer suburb of Blacktown - almost double the number organisers expected.

Around 25,000 turned out in Brisbane.

An estimated 10,000 attended rallies in Adelaide.

In Launceston Tasmania, around 2,000 people rallied including rescued Beaconsfield miner Brant Webb. A further protest is planned for Hobart on Saturday 1 July on Parliament House lawns.

There was a strong turnout in Perth with around 20,000 people marching and around 500 attending a protest in Darwin.

Unions estimate a further fifty to sixty thousand people also attended rallies in regional centres across Australia today:

In Queensland 7,000 attended a rally on the Gold Coast and protests were also held in Gladstone, Rockhampton, and Townsville.

In NSW, 6000 attended a rally in Newcastle and 7000 in Wollongong. There were also protests in Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Goulburn, Lismore, Nowra, Tweed Heads, Tamworth, Queanbeyan and Wagga Wagga.

Workers also rallied in regional Victoria today with protests in Ballarat, Geelong, Hamilton, Portland, Warrnambool and Wodonga/Albury.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

National week of action: Striking Out Rights

As Australian trade unionists prepare for the latest National Week of Action, broader consequences of the IR changes are becoming apparent. And they are not good for democracy.
Some of the less scrutinised clauses in WorkChoices relate to industrial action, and the severe restrictions that now apply.

Employers now have no option but to dock workers who attend rallies this week four hours pay. In the construction industry, it goes even further, where workers face criminal charges under the government's special laws for the building industry.

Some employees, emboldend by the new powers are going further - Australia Post, for example, is threatening to take formal disciplinary action against workers who march.

These threats will keep some works away, but they also turn those who to attend into heroes, prepared to put their own well being on the line.

It is just the pointy end of an all-out assault on the right to strike - with costly secret ballots now required before workers can withhold their labour.

At the same time the government has handed itself unprecedented power to rule any strike unlawful, exposing unions and individual workers to any economic loss incurred.

read more

Monday, June 26, 2006

Howard's IR Laws feel the boot

Sport and politics mixed as hundreds of people protesting against the Federal Government's industrial relations changes took to Canberra Stadium yesterday during the half-time break in the game between the Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters.

Those supporting the union movement's fight against the IR changes held orange balloons and carried placards warning that, among other things, "weekend footy" and "decent wages" were under threat.

The protest follows the Raiders signing up the ACT branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union as its main sponsor from 2007-09 in a deal worth more than $2 million.

It coincided with the start of a week of action by the unions to highlight what they say is the "disastrous impact" of the Government's reforms.

read more

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coastal permit lunacy

"Continued warnings by the Maritime Union of Australia about the imminent security threat posed through the lack of any oversight of the issuing coastal permits of the have been completely ignored by the Howard government" says the MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin.

The threat has now been graphically demonstrated through an incident in Geelong on Wednesday morning when the master of the flag of convenience ship "Pos Auckland" reportedly put the security level of the ship on the highest international maritime security level "3".

The MUA has been told that the ships' captain was taking action after the 3rd engineer who is a Thai national attacked three of his crew mates and threatened to "blow the ship up" by igniting fuel in the ships engine room.

The captain has told ITF inspectors in Geelong that the ship is operating under a single voyage permit issued by the Australian government and was discharging 33,000 tonnes of the Fertiliser, Urea, before continuing on to Portland Victoria and then Bell Bay in Tasmania.

"This has all the elements for a major catastrophe and yet has not even registered on the government's radar. What is Howard doing about protecting our critical maritime infrastructure and how can he continue to trade off the security of our ports while he presides over the demise of the Australian shipping industry." added Paddy Crumlin.

The Hong Kong flagged vessel is owned in the Philippines, crewed by Thai and Filipino nationals, trades to the Indonesia and the Middle East and works on the Australian coast replacing Australian shipping and security checked Australian crews

Katoomba: Winter Magic Festival

This year’s festival is on Saturday June 24 and members of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and other community groups are distributing Your Rights At Work material on a number of stalls.

The BMUC will be distributing material through the crowd. If you can help distribute material, even for a few minutes, then contact Phil Doyle on 0416 155 235

June 28 Rally: Many working people and their families will be making time to attend the rally against WorkChoices planned for June 28.


For those travelling by train, members of the ASU have decided to travel on the 6.35am ex-Lithgow service, departing Katoomba at 7.24am, and this would be a very convenient service for other working people.

The BMUC banner will be in attendance and working people from the Blue Mountains are encouraged to rally around our distinctive emblem.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

CFMEU: Don't Trade Aussie Jobs To China

The Howard Government should not sign any trade deal with China before it conducts a full inquiry into the current use of workers on short-term visas in the Australian workforce, the CFMEU said today.

Commenting on reports today that China was seeking greater access to the Australian workplace for guest workers, CFMEU national secretary John Sutton said widespread abuses were already occurring.

Mr Sutton said he believes that 8,500 Chinese guest workers now in Australia are being paid at rates far below the Australian standard.

"The Chinese Government is pressuring Australia to accept more guest workers on temporary visas, so the Federal minister for immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone should immediately investigate the pay rates of those working here now," Mr Sutton said.

"This would ensure that Australians know where their government stands on the guest worker issue in the face of pressure from the Chinese Interests," Mr Sutton said.

Mr Sutton accused the Government of allowing employers and labour supply companies to exploit foreign workers and undercut wage levels in Australia on building sites in Australia.
"The pay rates of guest workers must be fully investigated, otherwise the exploitation will continue and wage levels in Australia will be driven down," Mr Sutton said.

Parliament undermines democracy

The Federal Government's controversial electoral legislation has been passed by Parliament.

The changes include closing the electoral roll earlier, banning prisoners from voting and increasing the threshold for disclosing donations.

The legislation was opposed by all non-government parties.

The Democrats say increasing the amount of tax deductible donations from $100 to $1,500 and increasing the amounts that have to be disclosed to $10,000 is an assault on the integrity of the electoral system.

Greens Senator Bob Brown says it will lead to corruption.

Labor says closing the rolls almost as soon as the election is called will disenfranchise young people enrolling for the first time.

Until now, voters have had an extra week to ensure they are properly enrolled.


Don't just sit around watching those boring introductions to the World Cup games on SBS. Come out and get yourself in a right proper fighting mood with a night of Sedition; satire and parody.

Just to set the Tone:-

I love a Howard Country,
A land of foreign wars,
Of rodent politicians
Who’ve sold themselves like whores.

I love the way we all expect
A day to never pass
When our great and fearless leader
Doesn’t lick a US Arse.

SATURDAY JUNE 24th 7.30pm

Our specially selected team of Satirists, Parodyists and Seditionists have declared war on hypocrisy, mendacity, pomposity, insincerity, dishonesty, banality, sycophancy, spin doctoring and smirking.

And who are the members of our panel? Well listen to this list. We have the famed Shiny Bum Singers- Canberra’s answer to the Luton Boys (and girls) Choir, The old rapscallion poet, Blue the Shearer, That master of Parody, John Dengate, That hard hitting pomposity baiter, Kevin Baker and master seditionist Maurie Mulheron. On top of that Doreen Borrow will be making her ‘on stage’ debut with the Illawarra Union Singers and a song specially written for the occasion. (To the tune of the the Dad’s Army theme song ‘What do you think you are doing Mr. Hitler) There could be more!

Imagine the Government standing before you naked (I know it would make you ill) stripped of their pretensions. Well that is what our panel will be doing- You’ll get a good laugh.

Entry to this great concert is still our usual $8 ($12 non members)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beazley: ”troops out of Iraq"

Mr Beazley accused Prime Minister John Howard of "looking for a mission" for Australian troops.

"John Howard has missed a golden opportunity for an exit strategy from Iraq,'' he said. "He said that those troops were going in to support the Japanese and he had a whole series of reasons why Australia and Japan needed to be close.
"Well the Japanese are now going and the Australians should go as well.''
Mr Beazley said the Government was looking for a job for its troops in Iraq when there was clearly a need for them closer to home.

Mr Beazley said Australia's foray into Iraq had involved one mistake after another.
"Every feature of this conflict has involved one misjudgment after another. Quite frankly, the Australian Government ought to be very sparing with the lives and roles of Australian soldiers. They should not be there, they should be out, all of them, now."

"It looks like he's looking for a mission for them,'' he said. "The mission is called the arc of instability in the region around Australia, where more and more is being asked of us and that is where our focus ought to be.''

Mr Beazley said Australia's foray into Iraq had involved one mistake after another.
"Every feature of this conflict has involved one misjudgment after another. Quite frankly, the Australian Government ought to be very sparing with the lives and roles of Australian soldiers. They should not be there, they should be out, all of them, now."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Insult to Aborigines: ABC Windschuttle appointment

ALP national president, Warren Mundine, who is Aboriginal, said the appointment was "a huge insult to Aborigines".

The ABC had been positive, honest and open about Aborigines but Mr Windschuttle was "very mean spirited, with no feeling about the suffering of the Aboriginal people over the last 200 years".

Prominent indigenous academic Marcia Langton described the appointment as "a slap in the face to the ABC audience", saying the Government had rewarded "a person who has conducted vicious ad hominem attacks on important historians and scholars and grossly misrepresented Australian history".

read more

Monday, June 12, 2006

Beazley: AWAs cannot be fixed, they must be rejected

"AWAs cannot be fixed. They can't be made good. They must be rejected."

The fundamental problem with AWAs was that they ignored "the basic inequality in the bargaining relationship" with employers and employees. "And they give no protection to employees' basic entitlements," Mr Beazley told the NSW ALP conference.

"While collective bargaining will be the bedrock of the system, individual flexibility will remain an essential feature,"

read more

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sydney Quilt Show: Naming the Stars

Eileen Haley's quilt Naming the Stars
Sydney Quilt Show
Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour,
14 June to 18 June 9am-5pm (admission is $15).

This quilt was first exhibited at the Two Fires Festival in Braidwood in February 2005, a festival which honoured the legacy of the poet and activist Judith Wright.

The quilt illustrates the Judith Wright poem Naming the Stars

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Spent fuel rod disposal

Central Coast: residents IR protests

Picture 325.jpgResidents on the Central coast are showing John Howard what they think of his unfair industrial laws by continually involving themselves in protests.

Whether it is at the Mariners football games, the Central Coast Rugby League, Junior Soccer or a surf carnival we are finding central coast residents taking a stand.

As Jodie from Bateau Bay said “My boss can now sack me without giving me a reason - even though my work is great. Its just not fair and we shouldn’t have to be under this sort of pressure at work”

read more

ILO: Sharon Burrow plea for support

The criminalisation of union activity is clear and shocking but without national law and/or the capacity to bargain fair dismissal provisions union members and activists are being sacked wilfully. While given other reasons for dismissal we know that where union members agitate for a collective agreement or stand up against unsafe practices they are increasingly targeted.

Forgive me but these laws are not fair or just, they flout ILO standards and are a serious attack on the basic rights of the working people of my nation. They are not a legacy anyone in good conscience would want to leave to our children.

The Australian Government 's new 'WorkChoices' legislation actually means no choices for working Australians and unilateral power to employers - a backward step for a rich and democratic nation like Australia and a backward step for international labour rights.

Australia's working people and their families need your support.

read more

Monday, June 05, 2006

Australia's IR Laws are Among The World's Worst: ILO Complaint

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has listed Australia's IR laws for an immediate hearing alongside cases from Libya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Guatemala and other countries that are known as the world's worst violators of labour rights.

Speaking from the ILO's main annual conference in Geneva, Switzerland, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

"Australia's IR laws breach fundamental human rights by infringing on the right of working people to join a union and to bargain collectively.

ILO members are very concerned that as an advanced nation, Australia is increasingly out of step with its international obligations and has placed the Howard Government's laws on a list of labour rights violations cases for immediate examination on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

read more

Saturday, June 03, 2006

IR Laws begin to haunt Howard

Workers are now easier to sack. It is now easier to hire people on any rate an employer chooses. It is harder to get a union onto a worksite. It is harder to secure objective, enforceable scrutiny of workplace arrangements. Elements of the less structured form of industrial negotiation that characterised the late 19th century workplace are being reintroduced.

It is no good for the Government to pretend otherwise and that is why the Prime Minister is no longer bothering to try. The laws were designed to produce the results that have been attracting news, such as the woman employed by Spotlight.

What makes this situation unusual in the life of the Government is that it cannot be tricked up, either by the Labor Party or by the Government itself. The Spotlight story will be repeated over and over again. These repetitions might not make the national media but people will learn of them. WorkChoices is not like the Snowy privatisation. It cannot be reversed with a single announcement.

read more

Community opposition stops Snowy privatisation

Community opposition to the Snowy sale saw end of the privatisation

Community opposition to the Snowy sale saw the end of its privatisation

"If NSW Premier Iemma had succeeded, he may well have been encouraged to take on the bigger task of following Victoria and South Australia in privatising the rest of the NSW power industry. But the collapse of the deal shuts down the privatisation window in NSW this year, and the Premier will have to find some other way to raise the money the privatisation was to have provided.

Gloomy investment bankers were speculating yesterday that the Snowy Hydro sale debacle would also blunt the appetite in NSW for full privatisation of the power industry, despite the fact that it could restore the state's finances."

read more

The Federal Opposition has welcomed the Commonwealth's decision to pull out of the sale of Snowy Hydro, saying similar moves should now be made with Telstra and Medibank Private.

Labor says state governments are being forced to privatise public utilities because of a lack of Commonwealth investment in infrastructure.

read more

Friday, June 02, 2006

Let the people have a say on Snowy Hydro

letter to Sydney Morning Herald 2 june 2006

Handing control of this central pillar of our water and power supply to those whose interests cannot be guaranteed to reflect our own, at a time of climate, water and energy uncertainty such as we have never seen, is imprudent at best and could so easily end in bitter regret.

That the sale is proceeding, apace, with so little public understanding is wrong.

Such an action demands rigorous and transparent analysis by people of vision, with unquestionable objectivity, undistracted by unrealistic time limits, short-term budgetary considerations or vested interests.

We ask you to suspend the process to give pause for that analysis and time for free and open debate of this manifestly non-partisan issue in all parliaments of the nation.

Water is far too fundamental and precious a resource to be put in jeopardy with so little forethought.

A wise and sensitive response to the widespread and growing public anxiety about this sale would attest to the strength of our democratic system and serve to enhance the unwritten compact between parliament and people that has allowed this country to work so very well.

Our warrant for this appeal is that we are all so very fortunate as to have been born into, or welcomed by, this wonderful place we call home.

Lyn Allison, Peter Andren, Jeff Angel, J.D. Anthony, Faith Bandler, Ian Barker, Paul Barratt, Andrew Bartlett, John Bell, Jonathan Biggins, Cate Blanchett, Alison Broinowski, Richard Broinowski, Geraldine Brooks, Julian Burnside, Andrew Buttfield, John Button, Mick Dodson, Marcus Einfeld, Bob Ellicott, Bob Ellis, Bernie Fraser, Malcolm Fraser, Ian Frazer, Vin Good, John Hatton, Bill Hayden, Donald Hazelwood, Craig Ingram, Richard Leplastrier, Ian Lowe, Peter Macdonald, Ted Mack, Siobhan McHugh, David Malouf, Robert Manne, Alistair Mant, John Menadue, Jack Mundey, Glenn Murcutt, Les Murray, Douglas I. Nicholas, Gordon J. Samuels, Russell Savage, Peter Sculthorpe, Rachel Siewert, Lady Southey, Paul Stephenson, Natasha Stott Despoja, Sheila Swain, Henri Szeps, Max Talbot, Tom Uren, Richard Wallace, Bob Wilson, Tony Windsor.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Newington College: Agreement On Staffing

Newington College has agreed not to declare senior staff positions vacant at the end of the year and will continue to negotiate collective arrangements covering the salary and conditions of teaching staff, the Independent Education Union announced today.

Under the agreement, most staff will remain in their current positions and any changes to areas of responsibility and remuneration resulting from the restructure will be appropriately compensated, with all salaries maintained.

IEU General Secretary Dick Shearman said the College would continue to negotiate collective arrangements covering the salary and conditions of teaching staff at the expiry of the current state award.

"This is an essential feature of this agreement in the current industrial climate," he said.

This maintains the previous arrangement rather than the school's initial proposal to introduce up to four weeks compulsory attendance.

read more