Sunday, November 26, 2006

Join Your Union

A song by John Warner©John Warner 2006

Tune Hymn "Bread of Heaven" - "Guide me oh thou great Jehovah/Redeemer"
Welsh tune: Cwm Rhondda. Composed by John Hughes (1873-1932).

play MP3 or

Join your union, join your union,
Friends, we need our unions now,
Friends, we need our unions now

Thieves grow rich and liars prosper,
Milking profit's sacred cow.
They make war to make their money,
How we need our unions now.

One man's pay for three men's labour,
Bosses' powers enshrined in law.
When our rights are torn and trampled,
How we need our unions more.

Women's rights and women's wages,
Fiercely fought and barely won,
Children's care and education,
Go where all our hopes have gone.

Shake the souls of union leaders,
Shout the message clear and plain,
Leave the desk, desert the boardroom,
Fight the workers' cause again.

Quiet words did not avail us,
Patience only earned defeat,
Unity's our only answer,
Join your unions on the street.

Stand with us and swell the numbers,
We are the majority.
Sing in chorus, raise the banners,
Union is victory.

more IR songs

NSW: IR laws make wages go backwards

New research by the ACTU shows that workers in NSW are being hard hit by the Government's industrial relations laws with average wages for full time employees dropping $33 a week in real terms over the last year.

"While the economic boom means corporate profits are at an all time high, there is a growing class of people in Australia that are being left behind," said Ms Burrow.

"Our latest research shows that the Howard Government's unfair IR laws are a contributing factor.

Average real wages for full time workers throughout Australia are failing to keep pace with inflation for the first time since the introduction of the GST.

Recent data also shows that workers in the hospitality and retail industries are being hardest hit.

Workers in our shops, cafes and bars are bearing the brunt of the new IR laws.

They work in sectors of the economy where many employers have moved to take advantage of the new IR laws by cutting penalty rates, overtime payments, public holiday pay and annual leave loading.

"If there is an economic downturn many people will start to feel the effects. Real wages could go down further, people could lose their jobs and Australians who are mortgaged to the hilt could lose their homes and many may be forced to turn to charities for help.

The Howard Government's IR policy means that in a downturn low paid workers will be hung out to dry when they most need protection and support," said Ms Burrow.

Who Are These People?

Lyrics by Burt Bacharach and Tonio K.

Who are these people that keep telling us lies
And how did these people get control of our lives
And who’ll stop the violence cause it’s out of control?
Make em stop

Who are these people that destroy everything
And sell off the future for whatever it brings
And what kind of leaders can’t admit when they’re wrong?
Make em stop

This stupid mess we’re in just keeps getting worse
So many people dying needlessly
Looks like the liars may inherit the earth
Even pretending to pray
And getting away with it

Who are these people that keep telling us lies
And how did these people get control of our lives
And who’ll stop the violence cause it’s out of control?
We’ve got to make them stop

Who are these people that keep telling us lies
And how did these people get control of our lives
and who’ll stop the violence cause it’s out of control?
Make em stop

See things really have to change
Before it’s too late


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Victoria: Victory for working families opposing IR laws

Labor has claimed victory in the Victorian election.

At the Italian Social Club in Williamstown, Premier Steve Bracks said the victory belonged to working families in Victoria.

Mr Bracks said his Government would commit to his election promises including establishing new elective surgery centres; implementing the largest water recycling project in the country to secure water supply for next 50 years; continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions; develop renewable energy and keep Victoria nuclear free.

He said he would keep standing up for working families around Victoria because the result was a clear message to the Government to stop attacking working families with extreme industrial relations laws.

The New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma, has offered his congratulations to Mr Bracks. He says Victorian voters had Federal Government issues on their minds. "This is a win for working families," he said.

"It's a clear signal that voters recognise state Labor governments are the last line of defence against John Howard's extreme WorkChoices laws."

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello was clearly rattled by Labor's win and the role played by Howard's unpopular industrial relations laws and his purile faith in nuclear power as a cure for global warming.

Costello warned Bracks to keep out of "federal issues": "His ambitions are now to start taking on the federal government, I would say to the people of Victoria, though, you didn't elect a premier of Victoria to spend his time worrying about Canberra."


London: 30 November solidarity

Amicus the UnionIt's been almost a year since the Australian right wing government introduced a raft of new industrial relations laws.

These are the most draconian laws in the industralised world having a disastrous effect on Australian working families, particularly their right to a living wage, freedom to join their union and collectively bargain.

Amicus pledges its support to Australian workers and their trade unions. To show our solidarity we asking members to attend a protest organised by Amicus. Demonstration will be held at the Australian Embassy, The Strand WC2B 4LA on 30 November 30 2006 at 9.30am.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Blue Mountains: 30 November rallies

Thousands of workers across the Blue Mountains and Central West are expected to walk off the job this Thursday, November 30, as part of a national day of action against the Federal Government’s workplace laws.

Katoomba RSL is the venue of a 9am meeting co-ordinated by the Blue Mountains Unions Council, which will feature a nationwide satellite hook-up with similar meetings in other capital cities and regional centres across Australia.

Other venues in the Mountains include the New Lapstone Hotel in Blaxland and The Royal Hotel at Springwood.

The Springwood meeting will be followed by a march to the office of Kerry Bartlett; a keen supporter of the laws which have seen penalty rates, take home pay and conditions cut and breadwinners thrown out of work.

Meetings will also be held at Lithgow Workers Club, Royal Hotel Oberon, Bathurst Panthers and Penrith Paceway.

Others from the region are traveling to Sydney to take part in a mass rally planned for Belmore Park, next to Central Station, that morning.

“With our rights at work under attack from Kerry Bartlett’s Liberal Party we are seeing people in the mountains, especially in the hospitality industry, being given ‘take it or leave it’ individual workplace agreements that cut or abolish penalty rates and slash conditions,” said Kerry Cooke, Blue Mountains Unions Council President.

“We are placing those businesses that think that they can sink the boot into our neighbours on notice that we are not going to stand by and do nothing while our community is under attack.”

Blue Mountains Unions Council Secretary, Brett O’Brien, is encouraging as many people as possible to get along to the meetings at Katoomba RSL, Springwood and Blaxland.

“People really need to have a serious look at these laws,” said O’Brien. “Bit by bit they will destroyworking conditions built over decades.“With holidays, penalty rates, sick leave rules andhourly rates under attack, our kids could be the firstgeneration to end up with worse working conditions than their parents.

“How is that progress?”

O’Brien encouraged those that cannot get to the meetings to contact the Blue Mountains Unions Council on 0413 866 520

Global warning!

AWB notes: so who misled parliament?

Previously secret AWB documents have shown the organisation was told Australia would join the invasion of Iraq a year before the Federal Government told us that it was going to war.

The information came from Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations, John Dauth.

When Prime Minister Howard announced that Australian troops would join the invasion on March 1, 2003, he also claimed his decision was made just before that.

Now the secret AWB board notes prove that early in 2002 the Australian Ambassador to the UN, Mr Dauth, said Australia would support and participate in US action, 18 months before the invasion.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NSW IRC: Landmark ruling for truck drivers

better rates better safetyThe New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) has ordered transport companies to implement safe driving plans advocated by the Transport Workers Union.

The plans include appropriate breaks and pay, to discourage drivers from long, unsafe shifts.

Driver Ray Driscoll says the ruling could go a long way to saving lives, by reducing fatigue and pressure on drivers.

"This decision today is groundbreaking because the truck drivers will be a bit better protected," Mr Driscoll said.

"Not only that, our roads in New South Wales, hopefully it'll be a safer place to be."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Greg Combet: new consensus for 21st Century

Delivering the 2006 Hawke lecture in Adelaide today, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has called for Labor and the union movement to develop a new "democratic consensus" on the issues of economic growth, security, education and climate change.

Mr Combet said Australia needs "a consensus which united rather than divides us" in the face of "division and deliberate deceit and distraction from the real issues" by the Howard Government.

Mr Combet said the Coalition Government was prepared to "unleash every evil spectre", including racism, xenophobia and contempt -- all for its own political gain.

He said long-term economic, environmental, social justice and security issues were not being effectively addressed.

"Political opportunism, divisiveness and disregard for civil rights and democratic principle is evident at unprecedented levels.

Democratic values have been weakened as the Coalition put human rights and social justice behind other priorities."


Fair Employers Scheme

Unions NSW has launched a ground-breaking initiative that will take the campaign into hitherto untapped areas of small business operators who want to give their employees decent secure jobs.

The fair Employers Scheme will see Rights at Work campaign committees around the state support businesses that to turn their backs on WorkChoices and AWAs.

There is a natural alliance between decent small business operators and workers - both victims of the ruthless power plays of the big corporates who view competition and respect as commercial impediments.

By supporting each other - by choosing to do business with the businesses that treat workers with respect - the scheme could provide a counter-balance to the seemingly compelling logic of dragging down wages and conditions to match competitors.

In this way, the corporate interests protected by our highest court could just come undone by ordinary men and women who are building a high road on the high street.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Here we go

A song by Clem Parkinson (2006)

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Here we go
Here we go
Here we go
With a roar that will sweep through the nation
United we stand and we know
We will never be denied

Strike a blow
Strike a blow
Strike a blow
Send the bosses to hell and to damnation
Like thunder our anger will grow
We'll make stand and build a land
That's free for ever

Here we go
Here we go
Here we go
With a roar that will sweep through the nation
United we stand and we know
We will never be denied

Strike a blow
Strike a blow
Strike a blow
Send the multis to hell and to damnation
Like thunder our anger will grow
We'll make stand and build a land
That's free for ever


This song began as a football chant sung to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever". It became the song of the striking miners in Britain in 1984 and has been rewritten here for the Australian battle against the Howard government's anti-union laws.

more IR songs at

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

High Court dismisses IR laws challenge

The High Court has dismissed the challenge to the Federal Government's workplace relations laws.

The states and the unions challenged the validity of the new laws, saying they were unconstitutional because they were set up under the corporations power in the Constitution.

However the High Court has found the laws are valid, and that it was appropriate for the Government to base its new laws on the corporations section of the Constitution.

The Court also rejected the challenges to particular sections of the Act.

Two of the seven judges, Micheal Kirby and Ian Callinan, dissented from the majority.

Justice Kirby, in his dissenting decision, said Work Choices should be declared completely invalid and declared the case important in the context of constitutional power in Australia.

"The majority concludes that not a single one of the myriad constitutional arguments of the states succeeds," he said.

"Truly this reveals the apogee of federal constitutional power and a profound weakness in the legal checks and balances which the founders sought to provide to the Australian Commonwealth."


Sunday, November 12, 2006

NSW: unions plan for green jobs

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says the combination of environment targets and government purchasing policies would create massive job and export opportunities for NSW companies.

"We have the opportunity to generate smart, export industries by taking a lead on the environment," Robertson says.

Under the plan, NSW would be declared a carbon neutral state and take a lead role by installing solar panels in all NSW schools, hospitals and public buildings.

It would then use procurement policy to favour NSW suppliers, creating the required demand to build an export base in energy-efficient manufacturing, with centres of excellence based in regions such as Newcastle and Wollongong.

"This is the sort of smart government intervention that makes the most of our current challenges," Robertson says.

Robertson says the community fights against WorkChoices and climate change are fighting the same enemy, the Howard Government's support for big business over ordinary working families.

"Our current battle for Rights at Work has bought us closer to the community than ever before," he says.

"There is no doubt that, like the attack on workers rights, the issue of global warming is resonating in the community.

"Both our campaigns have a common theme: ordinary Australians taking a stand for future generations.

"And in both our campaigns, we are up against a Prime Minister who always puts the interests of big business ahead of the interests of the people he is meant to represent."


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Whither the architects of war?

One by one, they are falling victim to conflict they engineered. Bush and Blair remain - for now

Richard Armitage
Colin Powell's number two quit at the same time as his boss after the 2004 election.

Jose Maria Aznar
Spanish PM. Victim of Islamic extremism caused by war. Ousted after Madrid bombs.

Silvio Berlusconi
Big backer of the war, sending 2,000 Italian troops. Cost him his job as PM this April.

Tony Blair
In last year of premiership. Still insists war was right, but it will be his unwanted legacy.

John Bolton
The neocons' darling as ambassador to the UN. Infuriated Powell and Armitage.

Paul Bremer
Ran Iraq's civilian affairs after war. Crucially, disbanded Iraqi army. Seen as a failure.

George Bush
Iraq buck stops here. Has two years left in office with hostile Congress. Lame duck.

Alastair Campbell
Brilliant PR reputation lost in row over 'sexing up' dossier on case for war. Later quit.

Ahmed Chalabi
CIA adviser behind 'evidence' of weapons of mass destruction. Failed to win Iraq seat.

Arch neocon, and key foreign policy voice. Despite war fiasco, will remain Vice-President.

Iain Duncan Smith
Backing for war crucial. Limits Tories' scope to criticise now. Dumped as leader in 2004.

Jay Garner
US general supposed to lead the occupation. Replaced after a month as violence flared.

Lord Goldsmith
Friend of Blair. Despite doubts, eventually ruled war legal. Still Attorney General

Sir Jeremy Greenstock
As UK ambassador to the UN, tried to build coalition for war. Now works for think-tank.

Geoff Hoon
Loyal Defence Secretary demoted to be Leader of Commons. Now Europe minister.

Sir Christopher Meyer
Was UK ambassador in US. Currently heads PCC, press watchdog. Has become war critic.

Colin Powell
Secretary of State's February 2003 speech to UN making case for war was untrue. Retired.

Condoleezza Rice
Replaced Powell. No fan of Cheney-Rumsfeld agenda. But has never objected.

Donald Rumsfeld
Ruthless US Defence Secretary. Tried to redefine US Army. Paid with job for war fiasco.

John Scarlett
Allowed 'sexing up' of dossier making case for war. Reward? Promotion. Heads MI6.

Jack Straw
As Foreign Secretary, loyally backed Blair's Iraq strategy. His payback was demotion.

George Tenet
CIA chief called case for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "a slam dunk". Sacked.

John Williams
Foreign Office spin doctor who wrote a draft of the WMD dossier. Now a freelance journalist.

Paul Wolfowitz
Deputy at Defence. Neo-con and intellectual force behind war. Went to World Bank.


Friday, November 10, 2006

15th year: UN condemns US blockade against Cuba

8 November: The United Nations General Assembly, for the 15th consecutive time and by overwhelming majority, passed a resolution condemning the U.S. blockade against Cuba and demanding that it be lifted.

The resolution obtained the support of one more country than last year, with 183 votes for, 4 against – the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands – and one abstention, Micronesia.

From 59 countries that supported the resolution in 1992, when it was presented for the first time, the number rose to 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 183 this year.

On this occasion, Australia proposed an amendment (under guidance from the US government!) that was rejected by the General Assembly.

The approved resolution “once again urges States where laws and measures of this type exist and continue to be implemented that, in the shortest possible period and in line with their legal order, they take the necessary measures to abolish them or leave them without effect.”

The General Assembly reiterated that countries that adopt such sanctions are not complying with “their obligations according to the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which among other things reaffirm freedom of trade and shipping.”


Andrews puts jobs & livelihoods at risk

A new Federal Government ban on the content of common law agreements between workers and employers in the building industry is a dangerous expansion of the Howard Government's unfair IR laws and has put the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of construction workers at risk says the ACTU.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has unilaterally changed the Government's national code of practice for the construction industry to prohibit agreements containing important rights for workers including the right to attend union-provided health and safety training.

Commenting on the new ban, ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said:

"This is a highly irresponsible act by Minister Andrews which threatens to undo months of co-operative work by unions and employers in the building industry.

Only recently the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Office of the Employment Advocate both certified that common law agreements approved by building workers and their employers complied with the law.

But within a few weeks, the Minister has unilaterally moved to change the law and ban agreements that contain important provisions such as prompt dispute settlement procedures involving union delegates, rights for paid leave to attend union-provided health and safety training, and rights for an internal review of dismissal decisions.

Companies that do not comply with the ban cannot bid for federal government funded construction work."


Howard: slow learner?

PM John Howard is one of the few commentators on the US elections to play down the role of the Iraq War on the Republican electoral defeat.

Is this just another example of his inability to admit he was wrong?
  • Howard was very slow to admit that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
  • He was slow to admit there were no children thrown overboard
  • He was the last to to acknowledge the war in Iraq had made the world less secure
  • He still shows extreme sluggishness about whether Global Warming needs to be tackled
  • He has yet to recognise that Nuclear Power remains more of a problem than a solution
  • Slow on water policy, slower on recognising Kyoto, going backwards on human rights. Slowly increasing interest rates and still refusing to recognise how damaging they are.
  • Slow to admit his IR laws affected the results of two State Elections and are likely to do same in a third.
Howard's slowness is largely the result of trying to permanently hitch Australia to the insane Bush bandwagon; in effect he has handed over all policy to a foreign power. More parrot than patriot!

Vic election: Coalition splitting on IR laws

Remarks by Nationals MP Peter Hall have shown a widening gulf between Victoria's conservative parties, with Liberal leader Ted Baillieu backing the IR reforms.

In an interview with the Australian Education Union journal, Mr Hall distanced his party from the Liberals, saying: "I think the new IR laws are a worry. I can understand teachers being nervous."

Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Brian Boyd applauded the Labor strategy of highlighting the federal laws, saying the reforms were deeply unpopular in the state, particularly among young working people.

He said he expected almost 100,000 to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a union protest rally on November 30, five days after the state election.

"We think we're on a winner in terms of what the public perception, especially in Victoria, is," Mr Boyd said.

"The IR laws are hurting, they need to go, and we think Bracksie is on a winner with it. It's not a matter of being desperate. I think it's good politics. There are lots of anecdotal stories coming through in terms of what's happening to young working people. A lot of young people are starting to hurt and I think a lot of parents are worried about what the legislation will mean for their kids."


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bush whacked!

09.11.06: Steve Bell on the US midterm elections

The Stress Position

October 23Illustration: Bruce Petty

Workers and homeowners hit: Howard happy, banks happy

John Howard was relaxed and comfortable. Homeowners mortgaged to the hilt were quite the opposite. The banks were preparing to rake in even more from us. And Treasurer Peter Costello seemed uncomfortable defending it all.

The Reserve Bank's decision yesterday to raise interest rates took no one by surprise. Governor Glenn Stevens flagged it even before new figures showed underlying inflation has edged just above the Reserve's target zone of 2-3 per cent.

We've all done our calculations, and know what it will cost us. For homeowners, mortgage bills will now rise by a quarter of a percentage point. The banks' standard home loan rate will jump to 8.07 per cent, its highest level since February 1997.

But then, households owed $195 billion on their mortgages. Now they owe more than $800 billion. Household incomes have risen 75 per cent, but mortgage bills have quadrupled.

This interest rate rise is going to hurt more people than any since 1994. The statistics show a rapidly rising number of mortgage defaults by borrowers, and repossessions as banks take over homes and sell them off.

In contradiction to Howard's public ravings about interest rates, Reserve Bank figures show that the effect of interest rates on households now, at 8 per cent, is very much higher than the effect on households when rates were 17 per cent under Keating.

The reason for this is simple. Household debt has almost tripled as a percentage of family income since 1989, when interest rates were 17 per cent. At that time housing interest payments made up 6.1 per cent of household disposable income. Now they make up 9.1 per cent of household disposable income.


US unions claim victory against Bush

We did it. We’ve made history. Working families have won back the U.S. House of Representatives, picking up at least 28 seats (13 more than we needed to win back control) and votes are still being counted in many races across the country. In the U.S. Senate, we have won back at least four seats with votes still being counted in two key races—Montana and Virginia—that will determine whether we win back the Senate as well.

Yesterday’s resounding victories are a testament to the power of ordinary working Americans working together to change the course of our country. We stood together and rejected the Bush administration’s agenda. We said no special favors to the privileged while blocking the minimum wage. No to lousy trade deals that have exported good jobs. No to privatizing Social Security. No to spending hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq while ignoring the war on the middle class at home. No to energy and health care policies that have fattened oil and pharmaceutical industry profits without helping working families.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Crocodile tears over Telstra jobs

The Australian Government are now shedding crocodile tears over Telstra job cuts which are a direct result of their own policies. The Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Western Australia Senator Judith Adams both expressed disappointment over call centre closures in Queensland which will led to the loss of around 180 jobs.

They said the job losses were regrettable but defended the Government's overall record of job creation, including the creation of employment opportunities within the telecommunications industry.

In fact, both these job cuts and the deteriorating working conditions in the industry generally can be laid at the Government's doorstep. As for claims that the Government had increased telecommunications employment during its decade in office, the figures tell a different story.

The Government says that there are now approximately 77,000 people employed in the telecommunications industry. But in June 1996, Telstra alone employed 76,522 with Optus employing another 4,000. Total industry employment was probably some 85-90,000. Yet the most recent survey identified 67,750 telecommunications workers. So where's the growth? said CEPU's Colin Cooper.

Difficult questions

Sunday, November 05, 2006

IR and Jobs: issue in Vic elections

More than 500,000 Victorians will have their working conditions protected by a standard to be introduced by the Bracks Government if it retains power.

Premier Steve Bracks yesterday promised a new pay and conditions standard to protect workers from the Federal Government's new workplace laws, which he said under- mined job security and work conditions.

The standard will guarantee rights such as annual leave loading, extra pay for working overtime, penalty rates and flexible family provisions.

Estimated to cover about 25 per cent of Victorian workers, it will be legally binding in workplaces not covered by federal awards, such as some charitable organisations, unincorporated sporting clubs and workers in partnerships.