Monday, February 26, 2007

Darwin: 457 visa scam capital!

Darwin is on the verge of becoming the national capital for guest worker scams, costing many Territorians the benefits of the current economic boom, the leader of the national Construction Union warned today.

CFMEU Construction national secretary Dave Noonan raised concerns after spending the past two days meeting Darwin construction workers and hearing their concerns about the section 457 visa scheme.

"What we are seeing is builders who are doing well out of the boom coming up with elaborate schemes to use guest workers to drive wages down," Mr Noonan said.

"The impact of these scams is driving down wages and conditions. Some employers have demanded significant wage cuts to workers and non-payment of superannuation is rife.

"These practices are also limiting opportunities for young Territorians to take up apprenticeships as foreign workers are actually cheaper, reducing the long-term benefits of the current building boom.

"And it is particularly concerning that guest workers are undercutting young Indigenous Australians who are attempting to gain a start in the construction industries."


ABCC warns workers not to demonstrate

The ABCC - Australian Building and Construction Commission - today issued warnings to companies that if their workers attended today's CFMEU rally and were 15 minutes late back to work they should be docked four hours pay.

The Federal Government claims the ABCC was established to restore the rule of law in the construction industry, yet it has done nothing to investigate Thiess' safety practices on the Marcus Clarke St site following the near fatality of a worker. Instead they issued warnings to those wishing to show public support for workplace safety.

"A man could have been killed on this site last week and yet the ABCC has done nothing to investigate Thiess' safety practices," says George Wason, ACT Secretary, CFMEU.

"The lack of concern shown by Thiess and the ABCC for worker safety is absolutely shameful."

"Workers have the right to go to work and also the right to go home safely."

Worker safety is paramount for the CFMEU. "We will not allow another workers life to be threatened on this job or any other job in the ACT."


Sunday, February 25, 2007

NSW Teachers: April 22 rally

NSW Teachers Federation is encouraging all members to attend the Your Rights at Work rally in Sydney on April 22.

The rally begins at 11am at Hyde Park and will be followed by a march to the Sydney Cricket Ground where a "Rockin' for Rights" concert will take place.

The rally is being organised by Unions NSW.

April 22 is the last Sunday of the school and TAFE holidays.

Posters advertising the rally have been sent to all Federation Representatives with multiple copies sent to schools in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.

Federation hopes that buses will be organised from regional and rural centres. Where members cannot get to Sydney, it is hoped that regional rallies will be organised. Further detail about transport and regional rallies will be provided as it becomes available.

Federation has called on members to join the community protest to defend the right of teachers at work. This call follows the most explicit statements so far from the Howard Government about performance pay and the local hiring and firing of teachers.

Teachers are urged to support the April 22 rally in order to:

  • defend teacher tenure and transfer rights
  • defend collective salary agreements
  • defeat the Howard Government.

April 22 poster


Teacher pay: Feds gets it wrong again

An expert in measuring teacher quality says student results provide an invalid base for identifying high-performing teachers for pay rises.

Lawrence Ingvarson, a research fellow at the Australian Council of Educational Research, was commissioned by the Federal Government to research performance pay for teachers.

The report has not been made public, but the federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, has said it supports her push for performance pay in all schools. She maintains that student results should be a key determinant of teacher quality and has suggested asking principals, parents and students to rate teachers.

Dr Ingvarson declined to comment on the report, which he co-authored, but when asked about his general views he told the Sydney Morning Herald that existing test data could not be used as a reliable measure of individual teachers.

He said teacher merit pay had been tried in the US and failed and that giving principals power to hire and fire could lead to a messy cottage industry with no common standards for performance. "If we leave it up to the school it leads to cronyism and favouritism," he said. "We can't do it well until we have developed methods of assessing teachers that stand up to very critical reviews of their validity, reliability and fairness."


Managers: concern over WorkChoices

A new workplace survey shows some managers are concerned about the effect that the Federal Government's WorkChoices legislation will have on workplace morale.

Most of the 300 upper and middle managers who participated in the research say many basic workplace conditions are under threat and should be protected by law.

The general manager of UMR Research, Bruce Dier, says more than 80 per cent of managers surveyed want four weeks of holidays guaranteed and unfair dismissal laws protected.

"There are threats to that morale and the threats to that morale are several," he said.

"Many are worried about jobs going offshore and not just manufacturing jobs, but a lot of service jobs, including some quite highly-skilled service jobs are going offshore.

"The work hours are getting longer and for most people they're longer than they actually want them to be."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stop the Scams: scrap the IR Laws

Politics in the Pub

Blackburn’s Family Hotel, 15 Parke Street, Katoomba

[Download Blue Mountains Union News: Feb 2007]

Saturday, 24th February 2007, 2.30 pm

Stop the Scams: scrap the IR Laws

The past few months has seen a host of anti-worker and anti-union scams by employers emboldened by Howard’s IR Laws.

With the upcoming State and Federal elections we will have a chance to show the emphatic community opposition to these laws and to the types of backwardness they encourage amongst some employers.

The most recent scams include:
Qantas selloff ... management profit via loaded up debt:
reducing job security
Tristar moving offshore ... trashing redundancy payments
Misuse of 457 visa scheme ... Filipino workers in Bribane:
using the excuse of gaps left by 10 years of cutbacks in local training

Speakers include:
Paul Bastian, NSW State Secretary, AMWU
Special Guest, Tristar delegate from the Sydney factory

Further information:
Brett O’Brien 0413866520

Friday, February 23, 2007

Visa 457: CFMEU threatens to name companies

The construction union is calling on the Federal Government to stop issuing 457 temporary migrant visas in the Northern Territory because of alleged abuses of the guest worker scheme.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is threatening to name and shame the companies abusing the system.

CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan believes dozens of migrant workers in Darwin are being forced to pay their employers exorbitant amounts out of their wages for housing and tools.

"We've heard of suggestions that workers will be charged $3,000 or more for tools," Mr Noonan said.

"Workers will be accommodated four to six in a room and charged in excess of $150-a-week rent and the workers will be forced to pay large amounts of commission to labour agents in China."


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sydney: Impeach Cheney!

Ten people have been arrested during a Sydney protest against the arrival of the United States Vice-President Dick Cheney.

More than 250 people were protesting peacefully against the Iraq war and the treatment of David Hicks when they decided to march, despite being refused a permit. The protesters were eventually allowed to walk along the footpath to the US consulate.

Monday, February 19, 2007

NT: Workers outraged at AWA pay cuts

A Northern Territory business has offered staff $1000 if they sign away workplace conditions.

In return for the cash bonus, staff of Aboriginal Hostels are being asked to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement.

The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union organiser Mr Hall said that under the AWA, workers would surrender a raft of conditions.

These included cuts to their redundancy and severance pay, the axing of flexitime and travel allowances and reduced annual leave, maternity leave and higher duties allowance.

Staff at the hostels and at the company's four new indigenous apprentice-housing facilities were not happy with the lack of consultation.

One worker, who did not want to be named, said he thought WorkChoices was about taking away people's rights.

'There was no consultation with employees, we were just told the AWA was going to happen.''

Mr Hall said it was difficult to find staff members willing to talk in public.

'If workers stick their head up in the media, they get shot very quickly,'' he said.

Mr Hall said the AWAs had come at the expense of jobs, with reduced staffing levels forcing workers not to take breaks.

'The workload will pick up and chances for our members to have those breaks will disappear,'' Mr Hall said.

'And there's no form of redress to be had in the AWA.''

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Nuclear no solution to climate change

Doomsday Clock - 5 MinutesNo to Nuclear Energy
By Toshiyuki Toyoda
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

When nuclear power was first introduced, government officials and so-called experts from elite institutions assured its safety and economic success. Now we know that they lied, or they were totally ignorant.

We witnessed nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and more. One thing common in these nuclear disasters is that authorities, i.e., governments and nuclear industries, always tried to hide essential information necessary to assess the scale of danger and also the true causes of the disasters.

Remarks made by those pro-nuclear experts always underestimate the possible danger of the nuclear disaster, and they are never shy to deceive people. I remember one of these experts (perhaps a professor at a prestigious university) said that because the probability of a nuclear accident is much smaller than a jumbo jet crash, it is ridiculous to worry. I believe he deliberately avoided discussing the expectation value. For college students who learned probability theory, it should be obvious that the relevant quantity is the expectation value and not the probability itself. But for common people, it may not be. I think this example typifies the general attitude of those pro-nuclear experts.

Some time ago in Japan, an official institution of a pro-nuclear group circulated hundreds of copies of a promotional video for children. In the video, it was shown that plutonium was so safe that one could even drink it! When I heard the story, I couldn’t believe that a human, particularly one who certainly knew the danger of plutonium, could make such a devilish propaganda video. I suspect that similar deceiving propaganda is distributed worldwide.

Even though they are dishonest and shamelessly indifferent to the future welfare of humankind, they are protected to lie under the guard of secrecy for national security, because nuclear technology is inherently connected to nuclear weapons. The amount of energy released in a single nuclear reaction is on the order of 1,000,000 electron volts, while the typical chemical reaction yields only a few electron volts. This enormous amount of energy makes a nuclear reaction particularly suitable for destructive purposes and not for peaceful uses.

That amount of disastrous energy is also emitted from nuclear waste for hundreds of years. Everywhere else in the world will face this same problem if we allow further nuclear power plants. We have no right to leave dangerously radioactive high-level nuclear waste for generations for thousands of years. That would be the ultimate sin to the future of humankind and to the future of this planet.

You may ask that if nuclear energy is excluded, what alternatives do we have? The answer is given in a book written by Inglis in 1978, Wind Power and Other Energy Options. It seems obvious to me that governments and industries have deliberately undermined such energy options. Their sin should never be forgiven.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thiess sack first aid officer

[ CFMEU Home ]16 February 2007

Thiess have sacked the first aid officer working on the Marcus Clarke Street site after he gave permission to a worker to leave the site and seek medical help after being involved in a potentially fatal workplace accident.

A worker fell through a void on the fifth storey of a Theiss construction site on Marcus Clarke Street at approximately 1:00 pm on 8 February 2007. The worker fell onto ducting that was being installed. The ducting broke his fall, saving him from falling a further 6-9 metres. Had this ducting not been there, the fall could have been fatal.

Theiss did not lodge an incident report with ACT WorkCover straight away. Instead they issued a formal warning to the first aid officer on site after the officer allowed the injured worker to leave the site the following morning before notifying the foreman to seek formal medical treatment. The formal warning was later withdrawn after Thiess management came under pressure from workers on the site.

On 15 February 2007 Thiess sacked the first aid officer.


Howard and Bush

In 2001 and 2004, Bush's endorsement of Howard — the man of steel — carried a substantial electoral dividend for the Liberals. Now the American President is an embarrassment, even to most of his own people, if the polls are to be believed.

When the Prime Minister talks about ratting on an ally, he's not talking about an alliance between Australia and America, he talking about an alliance between John Howard and his clueless mate George Bush.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nurses Vote to Campaign on IR Laws

NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) members in more than 100 public hospitals and health facilities across the State have voted to run a campaign, in the lead up to the March 24 State election, on the impact of State and federal industrial relations laws on the nurse shortage.

The campaign, entitled Nurses Rights at Work: Worth Fighting and Voting For will include public events during March, in many NSW cities, towns and suburbs, aimed at highlighting the negative impact laws such as John Howard's new industrial relations laws would have on recent, successful efforts to overcome the nurse shortage in NSW public hospitals.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

AMWU: Thales campaign

The French-based multinational giant Thales is taking advantage of the new anti-union legislation enacted by the government of John Howard. It is telling some workers that the company will not re-negotiate collective agreements. It is trying to weaken those agreements in other cases, or is stalling talks. The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) is asking for our help to send a loud and clear message to Thales. Again, it will only take you a few seconds and it will make a difference.

Please click here:

Monday, February 05, 2007



[download A4 flyer]

You are invited to the launch of the Macquarie Campaign to be held on

Sunday 11th February
10:30am – 2:30pm
Lithgow Workmen’s Club
3-7 Tank Street Lithgow

Across the Macquarie electorate there are community members from the Lower Blue
Mountains out to Bathurst actively involved in the Your Rights at Work campaign.

The time has come to get together and work through some of the key goals for the
Macquarie Campaign and meet those also involved in the fight to restore
fairness back into the workplace.

Morning Tea and Lunch will be provided.

Please confirm your availability for catering purposes by filling out your details and send off this slip to Daniel Walton
Unions NSW - Level 3, 4 Goulburn Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
email: or fax: 9261 3505
Address: Suburb: Postcode:
Contact Number: Contact Mobile:

There are a limited amount of positions available so please confirm asap to guarantee your seat. For more information about the event please contact Daniel Walton on 9881 5999 or 0413 232 018.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tristar: Howard's law in operation

Labor’s IR spokesperson, Julia Gillard, has met the 35 Tristar factory workers still waiting for a fair outcome after new workplace minister Joe Hockey failed to secure their entitlements in a meeting with company director Andrew Gwinnett last week.

In an embarrassment for the government, Mr. Hockey was unable to get the company to agree to pay the workers their entitlements and was forced to admit that its tactics of paying workers to do nothing for months on end until their entitlements expire were perfectly legal under his IR laws.

It is cheaper for the company to pay its workforce to do nothing until next year when their collective agreement will expire, leaving the workers, some with more than 40 years service, with redundancy packages as low as $8 000 under the new laws.

The company has insisted that it must remain open and has new work on the way, despite the fact that most of its machinery has been removed and the Marrickville factory has stood idle for months.

Julia Gillard said that Labor would rip up John Howard’s IR laws and ensure this situation never occurred again.

“A Labor government will never allow a company to treat hard working Australian families so unfairly again.”