Thursday, July 31, 2008

Katoomba: Poetry in the Pub

Sunday 3 August, 2008,
4.00pm - 6.00pm

Blackburn's Family Hotel,
15 parke street, katoomba

In honour of Australia's Poet Lorikeet, Denis Kevans (1939-2005),
and in the spirit of poets' breakfasts at the Blue Mountains Music Festival

where you can come along and listen,
perhaps share your poems,
and perhaps stay on for a delicious Sunday Roast evening meal afterwards at the Family Hotel's Bistro (meal bookings advisable, tel. 4782 1106)

Enquiries: Denis Rice tel. 4782 6623

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Refugees: Mandatory detention horror ends

mandatory detentionThe Government today announced it would use detention only as a last resort, giving refugees the right to live in the community while their claim is being processed.

The majority of asylum seekers will no longer be detained under major immigration reforms described by Immigration Minister Chris Evans as a more compassionate approach.

"A person who poses no danger to the community will be able to remain in the community while their visa status is resolved," Senator Evans said.

Senator Evans says indefinite detention is not acceptable.

"Labor rejects the notion that dehumanising and punishing unauthorised arrivals with long-term detention is an effective or civilised response," he said.

"Desperate people are not deterred by the threat of harsh detention - they are often fleeing much worse circumstances."

Refugee groups say the Federal Government's decision to soften its policy on the mandatory detention of asylum seekers will put an end to a sad chapter of Australia's history.

The director of the Australian Refugee Association, Kevin Liston, says while the changes are welcome, the previous treatment of asylum seekers will not easily be forgotten.

"So many people who have already come through that asylum seeker process, having spent time in places like Woomera and Baxter, have been damaged for life and they have huge problems in terms of integrating in the community and becoming citizens as a result of the experiences they have endured," he said.

GetUp, which has been campaigning for an end to mandatory detention, called for firm legislation to set the new policy in stone.

"This Government must ensure that no change of heart or government can turn this policy around," executive director Brett Solomon said.

"Only by amending the Migration Act itself will the presumption of detention be reversed."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Staffing campaign: Teachers speak out

Paul Lang is a classroom teacher at Jamisontown Public School. He started his career as a casual teacher and did casual and temporary work in Sydney before going overseas to teach in London for a couple of years. On his return to Australia he worked as a temporary teacher.

In 2005 Paul applied for a P.E.P. position (Permanent Employment Program) for a permanent teaching appointment. P.E.P. was part of the previous staffing agreements negotiated by the Federation and gave casual and permanent teachers access to permanent teaching appointments. Under the new staffing arrangements P.E.P. has been abolished.

Casual and temporary teachers now have to compete with permanent teachers in an open market for positions.Paul is worried that younger casual and temporary teachers will be seen as a greater risk for employment by Principals.

Paul is also worried about those schools in socially and economically disadvantaged areas, that are not incentive schools, having to compete for qualified teachers.

For further information

Contact :

NSW Teachers Federation

Phone : 02 9217 2100
Fax : 02 9217 2470
Email :

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Telstar ... talking to themselves!

Yesterday, Telstra decided it didn't want to talk to the unions anymore about an enterprise agreement affecting up to 32,000 employees.

A day later - after saying they would no longer talk - Telstra's HR managers launched a website called "Now We're Talking."

Now, that is "irony"...

Just when you thought things couldn't get more bizarre, Telstra prove that in their own minds what's weird, can be normal - and they hope no-one will notice.

Is this what you get, when you fork out nearly $1m in pay to give HR advice to Telstra?

Or, is this the case, that with no-one else to talk to, these managers want to talk with anybody to fill in the hours that no longer will be filled with serious discussion about getting a deal done to secure wages and conditions?

Visit the site and tell them to stop playing games and to talk sensibly about the future of wages and conditions in Australia's fourth largest company.

Tanaka-san will not do callisthenics

A film by Maree Delofski
Opening Sequence

Tanaka-san will not do callisthenics

Qantas: denials followed by job cuts

Jul 17, 2008

Qantas has labelled claims in media reports that it is about to axe 2,000 jobs worldwide as "pure speculation".

Following an internal email issued to Qantas staff this week, reports today suggested that Qantas will slash up to 2,000 jobs next week, or about 5% of its 36,000 strong workforce.

July 18, 2008

Qantas is to cut 1500 jobs worldwide and scrap plans to hire another 1200 workers, blaming higher fuel costs.

Julia Gillard slams Telstra

Julia Gillard has questioned Telstra's decision to pull out of EA talks with the unions - and also questioned Telstra's claim that their tender for the NBN project might be affected by a collective agreement.

"The National Code and Guidelines for the Construction Industry do not in any way prevent a company subject to their operation from negotiating a collective agreement with their employees or their employees' representatives," Ms Gillard said in a statement.

"Any claims to the contrary are incorrect."

One has to question the validity of the Telstra HR claims - and the impressions they are designed to create.

The Deputy PM has been a great supporter of getting the parties together to come up with an enterprise agreement at Telstra:

"It's the Government's view that cooperative workplace relations drive productivity, employee engagement and satisfaction... I hope that by working together the union movement and Telstra can develop outcomes which are in the best interests of Telstra employees," Ms Gillard said in a letter to the ACTU on 20 June, 2008.


Oil price and fish conversation!

Tuna fleet suspensions on horizon
The Japan Times Weekly: July 12, 2008

The nation's largest association of deep-sea tuna fishermen announced a new suspension plan July 4 as coordinated fishing suspensions are becoming more common with the unabated rise in fuel prices.

The association said 233 of its pelagic long-line tuna boat operators will each suspend operations for two to three months sometime between Aug. 1 and the end of July 2010.

About 100 of them are expected to suspend fishing in the 12-month period starting Aug. 1 because fuel costs are eating their profits, the organization said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ACTU: wind up ABCC

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the widespread powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), including the right to interrogate workers without them having legal representation, denied them basic rights.

She was speaking as Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Noel Washington faced a possible six-month jail sentence for refusing to give evidence to the ABCC about what he saw and heard at a meeting of workers last year.

"A union official will be brought before the courts for what crime?" Ms Burrow asked.

"For refusing to dob in his mates when they met on union business outside of work and after hours.

"If Noel Washington is jailed, Australians will be shocked."

Iemma's 'annoyance law' struck down

A court in Sydney has struck down a NSW law that made it illegal to "annoy" pilgrims gathered for a Roman Catholic youth festival.

The judges ruled that the law, which allowed the police to fine people protesting over the Vatican's stance on various issues, limited free speech.

Annoyance clause invalid

The judges said that the interpretation of clause 7.1 of the act, which allowed regulation of conduct deemed to be a cause of "annoyance", was invalid because it "affects freedom of speech in a way that, in our opinion, is not supported by the statutory powers".

There was "no intelligible boundary" on what "causes annoyance".

The regulation relating to annoyance "could be expected to have a chilling effect upon the exercise of their freedom of speech because of the very uncertainty about the degree of its infringement upon that freedom", they said.

The challenge to the law was brought by a coalition of protest groups.

Activists say they plan to hold a rally on Saturday at which they will demonstrate against the Church's stand on homosexuality and birth control, by handing out condoms and wearing provocative T-shirts.

Civil liberty groups had denounced the New South Wales state law - which threatened fines of up to $5,500 against anyone causing "annoyance" to pilgrims - as unnecessary and repugnant.


The Doctors of Tomorrow

A new film about the Timor Leste-Cuba solidarity

Monday, 28 July 7.30pm
Tris Elies night club
(next to the Katoomba Station)

Cuba now provides 1000 scholarships to young East Timorese to study to become doctors, as well as 300 Cuban doctors to provide primary health care in Timor’s most needy areas.

The Doctors of Tomorrow, which was filmed in Timor Leste and Cuba, features interviews with some of the 850 East Timorese students currently studying medicine with the Cubans, in the biggest medical college on Earth.

Tim Anderson, the film's producer, will introduce the screening.

$6/$10 solidarity

For more info, phone 4787 7859 or 0428 826 347

Friday, July 11, 2008

Power workers say ‘Don’t sell the farm’

Power workers walked off the job at the Munmorah and Vales Point power stations on the NSW central coast last week to protest against Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald, who was using the Munmorah site for a press conference.

Two-hundred-and-fifty workers lined the entrance of the power station, where the Minister launched an Australian-first pilot carbon capture project.

AMWU organiser Daniel Wallace said the workers took the action because McDonald has played a prominent role in pushing for privatisation in the Iemma Government.

"Workers are angry and they decided to line the street of the only entrance to the power station.

They wanted to make sure they gave Ian MacDonald the warm welcome that he deserves," he said.

"What they've said is they're not going to stay inside and work whilst the Minister's here selling their jobs and selling their industry."

Mr Wallace said the delegates were also disappointed to see local MPs drive straight past them through the entrance.

“I believe some of the delegates will be paying our local representatives a visit throughout this week to remind them of the important issues at stake.”


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Archaeologists to refuse help bombers

10 July 2008 news service

Persepolis, once the capital of the Persian empire, and the massive mud-brick Bam citadel are among the nine listed World Heritage Sites in Iran. Yet leading archaeologists are urging colleagues to refuse any military requests to draw up a list of Iranian sites that should be exempted from air strikes.

"Such advice would provide cultural credibility and respectability to the military action," said a resolution agreed by the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin, Ireland, last week. Instead, delegates were advised to emphasise the harm that any military action would do to Iran's people and heritage.

During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, bombing damaged important monuments, including the Al-Zohur Palace in Baghdad, and museums and archaeological sites were later looted - even though archaeologists had been consulted in advance. "If these archaeologists had little impact in terms of saving even the few selected archaeological sites listed, what did they achieve?" asks Yannis Hamilakis of the University of Southampton, UK.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Noel Washington and the ABCC

For as long as he can remember, he has always hated bullies. And because of that he has always spoken out or stood up against those with power who intimidate or harass people. He has done it, even at the risk of losing his job. In 1990, as an organiser with the former Federated Ironworkers Union, he couldn’t stomach a leadership that sold workers short by doing deals that that were of no benefit to them. He ran on a ticket with others against the leadership in an election and lost his job.

This time he risks losing his freedom, but the way Noel Washington sees it, he has no choice.
Noel faces jail as he has been charged by the Department of Public Prosecutions and is set to appear in the Magistrates Court in August. The charge is for refusing to attend an interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) – an organization that was set up by the Howard government to harass, intimidate and bully workers and their unions in the construction industry.

As a union official for twenty seven years, Noel is no stranger to being in the witness box and being cross examined by the best of them. He’s not afraid of being questioned by the ABCC and that’s not why he hasn’t turned up, despite three letters requesting him to do so.

“The ABCC are the biggest bullies I’ve ever dealt with,” Noel says. “The laws they have at their disposal have no place in a so called democratic society like Australia and they use those laws freely to go after ordinary workers."


457 visor workers: employer prosecuted

Jun 26, 2008

The employer of two Chinese 457 visa workers who were forced to work with broken hands on unsafe equipment is being prosecuted by WorkCover.

The two workers had sustained injuries while working and were forced back to work while their hands were in plaster, despite directions from their doctor not to do so.

The cases of Zi Hong Fu and Cheng Cai received public attention after they sought help from the AMWU in 2006.

National Secretary Dave Oliver says the union came to the assistance of the workers and notified WorkCover.

“It was really shocking when we heard what the two workers were made to endure,” he said.

The company, Lakeside Packaging, had given the workers jobs that still required them to use both hands, including working on their boss's home erecting steel beams while their hands were in plaster.

Just weeks after breaking a wrist falling off a ladder while performing unqualified electrical work, Mr Fu had to erect scaffolding on the un-railed factory roof, despite never having done it before.

Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court heard that while drilling into 8mm thick metal plates with his unbroken left hand using a two-handed drill - supported between his chin and right hand - he broke his left wrist.

Ten days later, he was told to come back to work at Lakeside Packaging to disassemble a machine while his left arm was still encased in plaster.

He was given a letter at the end of the day warning him of his job performance. Mr Fu, 50, was in so much pain he returned to hospital, where doctors gave him another three weeks of sick leave.

When he returned with his left arm in plaster and right arm in a splint, his boss Menol (Tom) Najdovski ordered him to do maintenance work on his property, including operating a drill and cutting steel.