Sunday, August 31, 2008

Seamen oppose plan to axe Aussie ship

29 August 2008
MUA news

Crew on board the MT Seakap in Port Kembla tonight have sent a letter to the Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese condemning a decision by US based shipping company Koppers to replace the Australian flagged and crewed vessel with a foreign vessel working the Australian coast with guest workers. The Seakap is due into the port of Newcastle tomorrow morning. This is their letter:

"Minister, We the crew of the M.T. Seakap condemn in the strongest possible terms the deplorable actions of Koppers Australia in seeing off this Australian flagged and manned vessel and replacing it with a foreign manned vessel. This exporting of Australian jobs fly in the face of the Rudd Government's inquiry into the coastal shipping policy and regulation that is attempting to revitalize the Australian shipping industry.

We believe this blatant abuse of the Single Voyage Permit and Multi Voyage Permit Systems is nothing less then an attack on Australian seafaerers' rights to transport Australian cargoes on the Australian coast.

The crew of the M.T. Seakap calls on the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese to publicly support us in this struggle to protect Australian jobs."

Power sell-off: Energy workers strike

Energy workers across NSW walked off the job on Friday to protest the Government's decision to sell off retailers in the power industry.

The action comes in response to Morris Iemma's blatant disregard for the political process after the bill to privatise power was overwhelming defeated in parliament yesterday.

"The Government has no respect for the workers, the community or the parliamentary process," said Ben Kruse, Secretary of the United Services Union (USU).

"The Government's new proposal gives no employment protections to workers and it is understandable they would want to walk," he continued.

Mr Kruse said the action was not unexpected given the government decided to make an example of the retailers and sell them off.

As many as 1500 workers walked off the job on Friday. Hardest hit will be regional and rural workers from Port Macquarie, Bathurst, Western Sydney and Queanbeyan and the high number of female retail workers in regional areas.

"Iemma has been backed into a corner and decided he is happy to sacrifice retail workers instead of making a sensible reassessment of his policies."

Workers will be off the job until Monday morning and another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 2 September.

Fairfax: Print workers support journalists

The Australian Manufacturers Workers Union (AMWU) national secretary Steve Walsh stated that “the AMWU is fully supportive of the struggle of the MEAA”.

“In the event that the MEAA put in place picket lines at any of the sites, then members of the AMWU will not be crossing them.”

This could essentially mean a strike for Fairfax’s printing staff if the MEAA chooses to picket Fairfax’s printing operations. The MEAA has said moves to picket such buildings are still being discussed, with striking journalists and photographers already picketing Fairfax’s offices in Sydney and a public rally taking place outside The Age’s offices in Melbourne.

Walsh has described it as “astounding” that Fairfax is still not yet revealing where exactly the mooted cuts will occur.

“Despite the assurances contained in David Kirk's memo that consultation will occur, the regional areas of Fairfax, particularly in Victoria, are not prepared to sit down and have transparent discussions with the union, and in fact have already begun targeting individuals in a number of sites”, said Walsh.

“We have had some preliminary discussions relating to the metropolitan sites in Melbourne and Sydney and further discussions are scheduled for next week.”

Fairfax: lockout unlitmatum Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance says striking Fairfax journalists have been told they face lockouts from their workplaces unless they accept a collective agreement on offer from the company.

Journalists at several Fairfax newspapers have walked off the job until Monday to protest the company's decision to cut 550 jobs.

The Federal Secretary of the MEAA Chris Warren says a group of union members met with Fairfax management today and were told of the possible lock-outs.

He says the union will hold information meetings across the country for affected staff tomorrow afternoon.

Richard Glover: SMH interview
Alan Oakley editor of Sydney Morning Herald speaks to Richard Glover on 702 Drive 29/08/2008

In The Fairfax dispute today Columnist Mike Carlton was sacked from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sources have told the ABC that Mr Carlton refused to write his regular column for the paper's Saturday edition, because of the current strike by journalists and editorial staff.

He was told that he would no longer be writing for the newspaper as a result.

Today on the 702 Drive show, Richard Glover spoke to Alan Oakley Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald

Play audio

The State of Industrial Relations

The Evatt Foundation is pleased to invite members and friends to the launch of The State of Industrial Relations on Thursday 4 September in the atrium of the Sydney Trades Hall.


The book is to be launched by John Robertson, Secretary of Unions NSW, with John Buchanan, the Director of the Workplace Research Centre, University of Sydney.

The State of Industrial Relations is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand what the struggle over WorkChoices was all about, who needs to remember what it was all about, or who wishes to join the public debate over the transition to a fairer Australia.
The book is an edited collection of 10 chapters by specialists and leading participants in the public debate over the direction of Australia's industrial relations. The State of Industrial Relations completes the Evatt Foundation's critique of WorkChoices and joins the new directions that have accompanied the election of the Rudd Labor government.

Foreword by Chris Gambian

Tessa Meyrick -- Federalism

Peter Waring & John Burgess -- Productivity

Rae Cooper & Bradon Ellem -- Collective Bargaining

Cath Bowtell -- The 'fairness' test

Meg Smith -- Working women

NSW Commission for Children and Young People -- Working children

Jeff Lawrence -- A new settlement

Julia Gillard -- Forward with fairness

Chris White -- The right to strike

Edited with an introduction by Christopher Sheil

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Iemma: "We'll bypass Parliament!"

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has announced he is intending to push on with a form of electricity privatisation after a tumultuous day in State Parliament.

The State Government introduced its electricity legislation as planned in the Upper House, but killed the debate after less than an hour.

The Government now plans to sell electricity retailers and development sites but leave the power generators in public hands.

"It's a package that doesn't require the support of the Opposition and doesn't require legislation," he said.

"We have a duty and an obligation to the people of New South Wales to maintain the state's energy supplies and its financial security."

Unions New South Wales secretary John Robertson says he is shocked and disappointed by the Government's alternative privatisation package.

Mr Robertson says the State Government is displaying its arrogance by moving to partially privatise the electricity sector, now its original plan has been killed off.

"What we are seeing is Morris Iemma and Michael Costa treat the Parliament and the people of New South Wales with the same contempt [with which] they have treated their own party," he said.

Greens MP John Kaye says in February, NSW Treasurer Michael Costa gave an undertaking to the Upper House that any sale would be determined by the Parliament.

"He's completely misled Parliament, he misled the people of New South Wales," Mr Kaye said.

NSW: Power to the people!

April 2007
NSW State Election
Iemma says "No Power Privatisation if Labor wins"
Labor holds NSW

November 2007
Rudd Labor landslide wins Federal Election ... Howard loses seat.

2 weeks later ...
November 2007
Costa unveils NSW Power Sell-off plan.

November 2007 ... NSW opinion polls
80% reject power privatisation ... Costa and Iemma say "push on"

April 2008
Power privatisation rejected 139 to 1
Labor Party branches vote
Of the 140 branches and electorate councils that have submitted resolutions on privatisation, only the Kiama state electorate council on the South Coast has endorsed it ... Costa and Iemma say "push on"

May 2008
Power privatisation rejected 7 to 1
Delegates at the New South Wales Labor Party Conference in Sydney have overwhelmingly rejected a State Government proposal to privatise the electricity sector ... Costa and Iemma say "push on"

28 August 2008
NSW Parliament votes ... Costa and Iemma say "We'll bypass Parliament!"

Master Builders hope ABCC will smash unions

About 5000 building workers met at Festival Hall yesterday and agreed on a union pay deal that awarded increases of 15% over three years including a 6% rise in the first year. The deal is to cover more than 20,000 employees.

But Master Builders industrial relations manager Lawrie Cross said the union agreement was inflexible on issues such as rostered days off or cashing out annual leave. He said the presence of industry watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission was giving employers more confidence to offer non-union deals.

"The freedom of choice that is available to employers has become a reality because the ABCC is on the beat," Mr Cross said. "Unions are no longer at liberty to stand people up at the gate and insist that they have a particular kind of agreement."

The building industry is dominated by union collective agreements, but Mr Cross expects up to 15% of agreements to move to non-union deals. CFMEU assistant state secretary Bill Oliver expected the non-union offers to be ignored.

"I'm fairly confident our agreement will be successful," he said. "We expect all the major constructors to fall in line."


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No to Power sell-off!

Letter to Sydney Morning Herald 27 August 2008
When you start with a desired result and write backwards

The report by the Auditor-General on the privatisation of the electricity supply industry is a classic case of a government writing the desired result into the terms of reference ("O'Farrell in barrel of trouble with business", August 26).

One of its key findings is that "nothing has come to my attention that causes me to believe that the Government's strategy for the transfer of assets to the private sector as set out in the strategy document supplied by the Treasurer is not appropriate for maximising financial value for taxpayers".

With due respect to the Auditor-General, this observation has the capacity to mislead. NSW residents pay taxes to the Federal Government, and nothing in the proposed sale of electricity assets will do anything to lighten their tax burden. What the sale will do is fatten up the coffers of the State Government. Whether this is to the benefit of NSW residents will depend on whether the money is spent wisely or merely for electoral advantage.

The question that should have been asked of the Auditor-General is whether the proposed sale will be in the best interests of NSW electricity consumers. A substantial part of the assets to be sold has been paid for by "internally generated" funds, that is, funds provided by present and past electricity consumers. There is precious little of value in the Government's strategy to protect electricity consumers' collective equity in those assets.

A superficial reading of the Auditor-General's report may lead some to believe he has found the change will be to consumers' advantage but this is not so. As he states: "I am not commenting on the merits of transferring electricity assets to the private sector. My role is to review the strategy document that has been developed to give effect to any such transfer."

On careful reading, it will be seen that he was simply asked whether the Government's proposed method of selling the assets would generate the maximum income - in general he is satisfied that it will. He has not said that privatisation in itself is a good thing for electricity consumers.

History is not on their side. When the Victorian electricity industry was privatised, tariffs in Victoria were in line with those in NSW.

After the sale and the expiry of transitional arrangements, the relative cost of power in Victoria rose significantly. The story in South Australia is similar.

NSW and Queensland, which have not privatised, are the low-cost mainland suppliers. This is the key issue that the Government and Opposition need to address in this critical week.

Frank Brady

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Japan and Australia: urge nuclear disarmament

Japan and Australia will jointly call on the United Nations to adopt a resolution urging all atomic states to cut their nuclear arms speedily, a newspaper reported.

The Japanese and Australian Governments will submit the resolution to the United Nations when its General Assembly convenes in late September, the Nikkei business daily said, quoting Government sources.

The two countries will soon begin negotiations on the specific wording of the resolution, expecting the proposal to be approved as early as December, the newspaper said.

The resolution is largely aimed at urging China to take disarmament measures as the other four nuclear powers - the United States, Britain, France and Russia - have already taken voluntary disarmament steps in some form, it said.

Japan also hopes to use the proposal to ratchet up pressure on North Korea and Iran to abolish their nuclear weapons programs, the Nikkei said.

The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt the resolution by majority vote as other Group of Eight countries are likely to endorse it, the daily said.

It will be the first time for Japan, the only victim of nuclear attacks, to specify "all nuclear weapons states" in Tokyo-led nuclear disarmament resolutions.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Scrap WorkChoices now

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said it was wrong to assume that Work Choices was dead and the Rudd Government should bring in its main legislation to overturn the Howard Government’s IR laws as soon as possible.

"Tens of thousands of Australian workers are continuing to be hurt by Work Choices.

"In recent weeks there has been clear evidence that Telstra, Rio Tinto, Cochlear and other major companies are still exploiting Work Choices.

"Despite reaping windfall profits, many of Australia’s biggest companies are holding on to Work Choices and are refusing to let their workers bargain collectively for better pay and conditions.

"This week Rio Tinto has joined a growing list of companies that is snubbing the Rudd Government’s IR policy by refusing to negotiate with the union that represents workers at the Pilbara Iron Company.

"Last week one of Australia’s largest employers, Telstra was exposed as having a secret agenda to reduce pay and conditions for Telstra workers by sidelining unions at the company.

"Bionic ear manufacturer and exporter, Cochlear also announced it would refuse to negotiate with the union representing its workers despite a recent adverse ruling in the Industrial Relations Commission.

"We are seeing major employers ignoring the will of the Australian people at the last election to get rid of Work Choices.

"It is now time for the Rudd Government to deliver its new IR laws and to scrap the rest of Work Choices.

"Australian workers want a genuine right to collective bargaining and a strong independent umpire," said Ms Burrow.


Sell-off risky for NSW taxpayer

Emissions from NSW coal-fired power generators are not only adding to global warming. The Auditor-General has now confirmed what most financial analysts have been saying for months: these emissions will seriously affect the price the Treasurer gets for the power sale.

And until the Federal Government sorts out its emissions trading scheme, which will put a price on those greenhouse gases, privatising the state generators may be risky for NSW taxpayers.

Indeed, the Auditor-General's report reveals the confidential Treasury strategy document on the privatisation has already recommended to the Iemma Government "delaying the sale of any generator until emissions trading scheme details are known".

The Premier, Morris Iemma, tried to spin the Auditor-General's report yesterday as a green light for the sale. That is a simplification. While the report does not suggest delaying the legislation, it highlights huge gaps in the Government's facts and figures on the privatisation, partly because of the unknown cost of greenhouse gas pollution. No one, it seems, can put a price on the pollution from the generators or say how much they are likely to be compensated. And that means investors will be nervous about leasing the coal-fired power generators.

The most stunning revelation in the Auditor-General's report is that state Treasury has not even produced figures on whether it is less costly and less risky for the Government to keep its electricity business rather than sell it.

Without those basic figures, the report says, Treasury has so far been unable to come up with a reserve price for any of the electricity assets it wants to privatise. In other words, it does not know how low it should go when selling Energy Australia, or leasing the heavily polluting Macquarie Generation, which supplies 13 per cent of the national grid.

The Auditor-General suggests it would be useful to find out these details, and what to do if the Government doesn't get the reserve price it wants. But given the uncertainly around the price of greenhouse gas pollution, it may be difficult for Treasury to put a reserve price on some of the most polluting power generators in the developed world.


Stop Iemma's sell-off!

Following yesterday’s release of the NSW Auditor-General’s report “Oversight of Electricity Industry Restructuring”, the Iemma government has recalled the parliament early, for Thursday August 28, to try to ram through the privatisation.

The Auditor-General did not help MPs make a decision because, he claimed, “he was not asked to form a view on whether or not the electricity restructuring should occur”.

The Auditor-General’s effort was severely criticised by Prof Bob Walker and Betty Con Walker, who are experts on privatisations in NSW and on state government finances.

Basically, the Auditor-General did not come up with his own estimates of the prices likely to be received from sale, compared with the value of keeping the electricity system in public ownership.

However, he did report that the publicly-owned assets now earn about 25% on their current value to the taxpayer, and that the generators provide 30% of the National Electricity Market, and that the retailers provide 33% of the retail part of the NEM. In other words, these are very valuable and important public assets.

The Auditor-General did confirm the fear that Premier Iemma and Treasurer Costa intend to have a ‘fire-sale’ because he revealed that no work had been done by the government to establish a ‘reserve price’. Of course, he also failed to estimate a ‘reserve price’ at which it would be better to keep the electricity system in public ownership.

The Auditor-General also confirmed that the proposed National Emissions Trading Scheme would have a big impact on the price that Costa might get for the electricity assets. However, it is unlikely that the Rudd government will get legislation on this through the federal parliament until well into 2009. A NSW Treasury strategy document advised that any sale of the generators be delayed until the Emissions Trading Scheme is clear.

The overall picture is one of a fire-sale, like the disastrous sale of the State Bank of NSW where there was a real loss of about $2.5 billion, in the 1990s! No ‘reserve price’, no clear idea how to calculate a ‘reserve price’!

The politics

Premier Iemma is trying to tell the Coalition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, that he must now vote for the privatisation because there is an Auditor-General’s report that says it is okay. O’Farrell needs to be told loud and clear that the report does not make it ‘okay’.

For now, O’Farrell recognises this and is holding firm.

Premier Iemma is going after Coalition votes because he doesn’t have enough Labor votes to pass the privatisation. This is his major problem – his own party is strongly against the privatisation, and so are 85% of the entire voting population of NSW.

What you can do

  • In this next six days, contact your local Member of Parliament and Upper House members who live near you. You can find all their contact details at the NSW parliament website, and the link is here to the Lower House.
  • Write a short letter to the editor saying that the Auditor-General’s report indicates a fire sale is underway without adequate information about the ‘reserve price’ and about the greenhouse gas impacts:

All of us can make a difference!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Lawson Hall Song

A Poem by Erst Carmichael©Erst Carmichael 2008
Music by Denis Rice©Denis Rice 2008

A building on the highway at Lawson
A fine Mechanics Institute I am told
Served as the first Council Chambers
But to townsfolk is known as the Hall

It was built by the people in 1903
Carrying bricks from the old railway station
Used as a library, for dancing and cinema
A valuable cultural creation

Many have memories from experiences there
It was a central focus of the town
But now the local Council in its infinite wisdom
Wants to knock this building down

People all over the Blue Mountains
Who live here or visit overnight
Are working to save the Mechanics Institute
Because it is a heritage site

If you could hear the voices of a choir there
Its acoustics are known far and wide
Concerts, events and plays you’d enjoy
If only you could get inside!

So join the citizens of Blue Mountains
Celebrate this wonderful old Hall
Join in our fight to save it
For the future, once and for all.


lawson hall

Lawson is one of the oldest towns in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

The 105 year old Lawson Hall is under threat of demolition because of a road road widening plan.

More information is available from

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Telstra: "making government look soft"

Shaun Carney
The Age 16 August 2008

"... some sections of corporate Australia seem to think the Government is an easy mark. At the very least, they're keen to try to call the Government's bluff.

Take Telstra, for example. This is not some small widget-maker operating in an industrial estate near Moorabbin airport, it's one of the nation's major companies, at the leading edge of technology and infrastructure delivery. Telstra could not give a toss about the intent of the new Government's industrial relations system, which is skewed towards collective bargaining and restores the rights of unions to represent employees. Leaked internal documents show that it wants to use what's left of WorkChoices to further de-unionise its workforce well into the next decade, while also eschewing an updated enterprise agreement. According to the documents, the company has been working on this strategy since February, well before it embarked upon and then pulled out of negotiations on an enterprise agreement with unions. Under the company's plan, workers who signed non-union deals would get pay increase of up to 22%, while those who opted not to do so would have their pay frozen until late next year and then would receive inferior pay rises.

Even before the documents surfaced, Telstra had declared that it would no longer negotiate with unions and that it would try to keep as many as possible of its 21,000 employees on Australian Workplace Agreements on those individual contracts after they expire in 2012. The company will not allow any of these workers to opt out of their AWAs early in order to be covered by a collective agreement. In other words, it wants to do as much as it can to keep WorkChoices going. This is completely contrary to what Gillard promised would be the spirit and intent of Labor's IR policy before the election. And yet, here is one of the country's signature companies quite blatantly thumbing its nose at the Government which, incidentally, has a mandate and, many would say, an obligation, to ditch the central premises of WorkChoices."


Hawke on WorkChoices wind back

Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, guest speaker at the 16th Annual Labour Law Conference at Sydney University, said that the inconsistencies between state and federal industrial relations laws is one of the biggest challenges being faced by the Government.

He says he hopes the legislation will be enacted quickly, but the Government needs to get it right.

"They've already brought in legislation which means there can be no more AWAs, so they have acted, no one can complain about that," he said.

"They brought that legislation in in March. Now there's a second stage of the legislation and they're undertaking a serious round of consultations and that's to be welcomed."

He says the election defeat will make the Coalition less likely to move against the Government's changes to WorkChoices.

"They are after all political animals and their first concern is a bit of leather in Parliament House that they can put their bums on," he said.

"And they must surely understand now after November 24 that there is this deep fundamental belief of the Australian people to a fair industrial relations system which is going to provide adequate protection for workers."


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Time to deliver on new workplace laws

Signs of a slowdown in the economy underline the need for the urgent scrapping of Work Choices and restoration of a strong safety net of rights and entitlements for Australian workers.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said it was wrong that business groups were now using the economy as an excuse to further postpone the Rudd Government’s new laws.

"It's mischievous for business groups to link the slowdown in economic conditions with the restoration of rights at work," Ms Burrow said.

"On the contrary, concern about job losses underlines the importance of having strong protections for workers entitlements and a good faith bargaining system that provides both certainty and injects shared growth into the economy.

"Any businessperson worth their salt should recognise that the best way of achieving high productivity and profits is through a co-operative relationship with your workforce, not the nasty, hostile approach of Work Choices."

Ms Burrow said big business was simply trying to hold onto Work Choices for as long as possible. This follows a concerted lobbying campaign by business to water down key elements of the Labor Government’s policy to restore workers rights to collective bargaining, protection from unfair dismissal, and an independent industrial umpire. more Email your MP now

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gillard slams Telstra

The acting Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has accused Telstra of exploiting the old law's provisions in refusing to negotiate with the unions.

Ms Gillard has told ABC1's Insiders program that Telstra should keep in mind that Australians voted against WorkChoices at the last election.

"I don't think it's in anyone's interest, whether it be Telstra or anybody else, to be continuously associated with WorkChoices," she said.

"I don't think it's in Telstra's interests to be seen to be the company that is still trying to implement WorkChoices."

"In a democracy if people want to be a member of a union, then the union's got a right to represent them, and companies . . . should recognise that."

About 21,000 workers are employed on AWAs that will stay in place up to 2012, well into any second term of a Labor government. Telstra is now considering allowing these workers to stay on AWAs indefinitely, employing them on expired contracts that provide for an annual pay rise.

Ms Gillard said the Government's new laws would be clear and transparent. "It will certainly say to Telstra and to other companies that if a majority of the employees want to try collectively bargaining, then the employer has to join them at the bargaining table and have a go at it in good faith," she said.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Government-funded maternity leave

SMH: Lisa Pryor
26 July 2008

... Women have every right to be as organised and demanding as other lobby groups - such as farmers, private schools, the fossil fuels industry - which have no qualms about whingeing and asking for stuff from governments.

...Women need to get organised and support the road map that Elizabeth Broderick put forward this week, which includes increasing the number of women in leadership positions, calling for a national, government-funded, paid maternity leave scheme, driving down sexual harassment, and reducing the gender gap in retirement savings.

A proposal for a government-funded maternity leave scheme has already been supported by Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, and Sharan Burrow, president of the ACTU - which may just go to show why it is so important to have women in leadership positions.

There are plenty of practical things that can be done to support this proposal. Like writing to your local member of parliament in support of such a program, or making a submission to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into paid parental leave, now or once the draft report is released in September.

We also need to do something about the issue of women and super, because few of us will get to spent our days walking barefoot along the beach towards distant headlands, if you look at how little we will have to live on.

"Half of all women aged 45 to 59 have less than $8000 in retirement savings and the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men," Broderick said this week.

"Women spend more time in unpaid work, particularly caring for children. They are also more likely to work part-time than men, leaving them with much less retirement savings."

Not only are men earning more, they are getting the lion's share of the tax breaks that come from paying into super. And we are supposed to feel guilty about the government funding us for a measly 14 weeks of paid maternity leave? The time has come to stop feeling guilty and start getting shirty.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Eveleigh: agreement must be honoured

SMH letters August 4, 2008: Brian Dunnett

The efforts of the head of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, Robert Domm, to evict the blacksmith from the heritage Eveleigh Technology site should alarm all communities in NSW - not just heritage supporters ("Battle stations for Eveleigh," August 2-3).

There is a long-standing government agreement that the Eveleigh site be retained for heritage purposes.

In the mid-1980s the then State Rail Authority and the state government argued that the railway workshops at Eveleigh were outdated and the 4000 employees should be either retrenched or moved to more modern workshops at Chullora. Naturally these proposals, affecting so many, caused no end of debate, including among NSW unions.

Eventually an agreement to divert industrial disputation was reached between all concerned and endorsed at a mass meeting of Eveleigh employees. The terms of settlement included an understanding that heritage features of Eveleigh would be protected for future generations as an example of what pioneering NSW industry had achieved, and that it be used to provide young people with training in traditional skills (like blacksmithing), which still have a place in our society. Thus the idea for Sydney Technology Park was born ...

... Fortunately for NSW, the blacksmith, Guido Gouverneur, and organisations like 3801 Limited have respected that agreement and some of the heritage locations and items remain in good working order and still provide the opportunity for a modern, heritage-based technical park that fits in with plans for other parts of the Eveleigh area now being discussed by Sydney University and the City of Sydney.


Battle Stations for Eveleigh

Industrial law and unions

Industrial law professor Ron McCallum said it was no shock that workers questioned the relevance of unions when the ACTU failed to take on the Rudd Government.

"I am surprised that the union movement has been so silent over the slow pace of labour market reform under the Rudd Government," Professor McCallum said. "There's almost a feeling amongst union leaders that they don't want to be disloyal to the Government.

"If the Rudd Government doesn't change the unfair dismissal limitations until 2010, the Work Choices unfair dismissal law will have operated longer under the Rudd Government than the Howard government.

"There has been no change yet to the collective bargaining laws to make it easier for collective bargaining ... reform has been at a snail's pace," he said.

"Basically what the Rudd Government is doing is leaning towards business because they figure the trade unions have no one else to vote for. You have to wonder why the trade union movement worked so hard to get the Rudd Government in and get so little in return. No wonder people are asking what's the point of (unions).

"Never before has a government had so many ex-union officials in its caucus and yet keeps them silent and co-opts them in. Unions will contain their members if they stand up for workers and ask why it is the Rudd Government has been in power for six months and nothing has happened."


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Katoomba: electricity forum - 10 Aug

A public forum on the future of Blue Mountains electricity
1 - 4pm Sunday 10 August

Katoomba Civic Centre
Katoomba Street, Katoomba
  • Privatisation
  • Managing Demand
  • Renewable Electricity
  • The Future of Coal
  • Carbon Trading

Telstra: super scam

Instead of boosting pay to cover the increase in superannuation now due to staff on performance-based pay, Telstra management is taking advantage of clever wording in its individual contracts to claw back the money from workers’ take home pay.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence says Telstra’s management has again been caught red-handed in a cynical ploy to disadvantage its employees.

"Literally weeks after management mounted a blitz to sign 15,000 employees onto AWAs, many of these Telstra workers will now receive a nasty surprise: they have been dudded out of some of their take-home pay following changes to the way superannuation contributions are calculated.

"Very few workers would have been aware they were signing up to an AWA salary arrangement that was deliberately structured to avoid passing on improvements in superannuation.

"Unions calculate that for a typical call centre worker on a total remuneration package of about $50,000 with 20% of their pay performance-based, their take home pay will fall by $720 a year or up to $3600 over the five-year life of the AWA.

"The Telstra AWAs also give employees less certainty about important conditions such as sick leave, hours of work and redundancy.

"This is a clear example of how Telstra workers can be worse off on an individual contract compared to the collective agreement (EA) that unions are seeking to negotiate with the company.

"Telstra management should stop treating its staff unethically and restart constructive talks with unions over transition arrangements for staff on AWAs and a new collective agreement to cover the telco’s 32,000 staff," Mr Lawrence says.


Sydney Hiroshima Day 2 August