Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ACTU: National Employment Standards

From 1 January 2010 a new national workplace relations system will apply to most employees in Australia.
This fact sheet provides details of your rights and entitlements under the new Fair Work Act.

National Employment Standards
As an employee, you are entitled to the following minimum employment terms and conditions:

  • For full time employees – a maximum standard working week of 38 hours. Your employer can require you to work reasonable additional hours but you have the right to refuse unreasonable hours. Whether the hours are unreasonable will depend on your position, the arrangement of the hours, health and safety and your family responsibilities. Note that the relevant Modern Award may provide for averaging of hours over more than a week.
  • The right to request flexible working arrangements to care for a child under school age, or a child (under 18) with a disability. Your employer must consider the request and can only refuse on reasonable business grounds.
  • 12 months unpaid parental (or adoption) leave for each parent after the birth (or adoption) of a child. You also have the right to request a further twelve months unpaid parental leave. Your employer can only refuse on reasonable business grounds.
  • Four weeks paid annual leave each year plus an additional week for some shift workers.
  • Ten days paid personal or carer’s leave each year that carries over from year to year. You can use this leave when you’re sick or when you need to care for a member of your immediate family or household.
  • Two days paid compassionate leave when a member of your immediate family or household dies or is seriously ill. If you require more time off, you can take two additional days of unpaid carer’s leave.
  • Community Service Leave for jury service or activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters. With the exception of jury service, this leave is unpaid.
  • Long Service Leave. Your existing long service leave is secured by the new federal laws.
  • Public holidays and the entitlement to be paid for ordinary hours on those days. Penalty rates for working on public holidays are provided for in Modern Awards and Enterprise Agreements. You have the right to reasonably refuse to work a public holiday.
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay.

The right for new employees to receive the Fair Work Information Statement.
A complete copy of the National Employment Standards (NES) can be viewed at Please note some limitations may apply — for instance, if you are a casual employee your terms and conditions of employment will be slightly different.

For further information contact your union or phone 13004UNION.

Friday, December 25, 2009

ACTU letter to Australia Post

The ACTU has stepped into the public debate about our members' current dispute with Australia Post, with a simple message for the corporation: "get back to the bargaining table."

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Australia Post was unnecessarily escalating the dispute by using casual staff to circumvent protected and legal industrial action.

She said the dispute had worsened because of Australia Post management's refusal to sit down and negotiate with the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union.

Last week, the union lifted workplace bans for several days in a spirit of good faith to allow negotiations to resume, but over the weekend, Australia Post management again rejected talks that could have resolved the dispute.

Ms Burrow said that rather than concentrating on negotiations to end the dispute, Post management had been pre-occupied with organising an alternative workforce.

"For months, Australia Post workers have been seeking a new enterprise agreement that provides job security and better workplace safety," Ms Burrow said.

"Australia Post management appears to be deliberately escalating this dispute by putting up all sorts of excuses for not negotiating with the union."

For further information

Contact: Ed Husic, National President
Union: CEPU

Monday, December 21, 2009

TckTckTck report

From TckTckTck

This year, from a strong, but small seed of climate campaigning, a movement touching millions of people in hundreds of countries around the world has grown. Over the last two weeks while leaders were dithering an additional 5 million people joined the campaign, resulting in a total of 15 million voices calling for a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal.

More than 250 partner organisations have come together to form an unprecedented alliance under the TckTckTck banner – including development, human rights, environment, religious and youth groups, trade unions and scout groups. Over three days of global action, these partners have mobilized unprecedented numbers of people campaigning for urgent action on climate change. In Copenhagen on December 12, one hundred thousand people marched in a powerful manifestation of this unity.

And, when naysayers, fearmongers, and the business-as-usual-crowd try to usurp the issue, they will be met by a surging sea of people from all around the globe and all walks of life unified in their demand for a real deal.

The global climate movement - more diverse than ever before - stands united in the face of tonight's disappointing news. This weekend we are mounting an unprecedented response, with joint messaging appearing on the global public websites of our partners, to ensure world leaders know we are unimpressed with their lack of real progress and failure to deliver a real deal.

We have come so far in a short space of time. Millions around the world look to the future and see hope, justice, and opportunity. It is up to each of us to make our voices heard and to get the real deal that the world needs.

The world’s leaders still have a chance to get it right. They must realize that we expect, and will not accept, anything less.

They’re not done yet. Neither are we.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Climate scientists scoreboard

Extensive analysis of the Copenhagen talks has been put forth by pundits across the political spectrum. In many ways, the scientific bottom line is the most important story here, and it's a story that few are telling.

Scientists and statisticians and Climate Interactive have presented these stark figures about the proposals on the table. Here's the scoreboard right now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Unions: Copenhagen falls short

19 December, 2009 | ACTU Media Release
At the close of the Copenhagen conference, world leaders must move to resume negotiation to tackle climate change, before it is too late, say unions.

"This conference has fallen short of an agreement on ambitious targets for emissions reductions and the binding deal that leaders needed to reach to start turning around the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow, an official observer of the United Nations’ talks.

The ACTU and the global organisation for unions, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) called world leaders’ attention to the UN’s scientific advice that in order to avoid irreversible and catastrophic temperature increase, far-reaching and binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions by industrialised countries by 2020 were required, combined with ambitious and verifiable actions in developing nations.

"Furthermore, pledges by industrialised countries to provide assistance for adaptation and mitigation measures by developing countries still falls short of the minimum level estimated by the United Nations," said Ms Burrow, who is also President of ITUC.

One of the sole positive features of the Copenhagen negotiations concerned the support from many governments to including reference to decent work and just transition for the workforce within the framework of the UN’s efforts on climate change.

Addressing the Plenary, Ms Burrow said: "We would like to express our satisfaction that this process has recognised the importance of calling for a just transition as a driver for decent work and good quality job creation. We thank those parties that understood the potential of this paragraph for building a broad support for climate action."

But she said unless further negotiations were based on such text this commitment to a 'just transition' was now at risk.

The ITUC reiterated that the restricted access of civil society and NGO representatives to the UN conference centre was unacceptable.

"It is vital that when negotiations resume at the UNFCCC and at the COP16 meeting in Mexico next year, the access of civil society representatives be guaranteed once again," Ms Burrow said.

"Unions are deeply disappointed at the clear differences between governments that persist and have resulted in the world leaving Copenhagen without an acceptable deal.

"We need a binding agreement that delivers a habitable planet, decent work, binding emissions reductions and financial support for the most vulnerable.

"We call on world leaders to meet again within months to meet the expectations of the world’s people and conclude such a treaty."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Climate Challenge: Conference Diary

Giulia Baggio: ACTU climate change co-ordinator

The cold sun struggles into the sky about 9am in Copenhagen and disappears at 3pm, a cameo performance. But what the city lacks in sunlight, its warm, gregarious citizens compensate for - they are quick to share a joke in their perfect English as they help us travel-dazed Aussies get around.

I'm here as part of a trade union delegation representing 168 million workers in 154 countries, led by the ACTU president, Sharan Burrow.

Our mission is to make sure any global agreement includes reference to workers by locking in decent labour standards and good quality jobs as climate action kicks in: "A just transition" in conference parlance.

This is core business for unions. Every job in every workplace in every country rich or poor will be touched by the worldwide economic revolution to clean up the planet.

There was broad support among most government delegations for the concept of a "just transition", with a paragraph in the draft acknowledging its importance.

This is good news. For Australia and other wealthy nations it means decent pay and rights at work for jobs in the emerging low-carbon industries. But it's especially heartening for people in dirt-poor countries where labour standards are non-existent and climate action without safeguards potentially could grind them into worse poverty.

The big question for developing countries will be financing. To cut emissions and create decent work standards with institutions to support them will require truckloads of money from developed nations.

We heard 40,000 people have registered for the conference. Attendance will have to be rationed when the likes of Barack Obama turn up.

The numbers suggest this history in the making. As with many such events, it doesn't look much. Boring huddles of people mired in negotiation over a word here, a phrase there. You show me your target, I'll show you mine.

I arrived here depressed about Australia's political meltdown over the ETS but I know I will come home restored by seeing so many good people determined to make something happen.

There will be a deal within the next year and the world will take on a new shape.

It's the best chance we may ever have for a new Industrial Revolution to overcome the inequalities and environmental damage created by the last Industrial Revolution. We're much smarter now, we have lessons to learn from.

I hope we don't blow it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Politics in the Pub: 13 Dec 2009

Family Hotel, 15 Parke Street, Katoomba
Sunday, 13 December 2009, 3.00 pm

Union Recruitment
Trials and tribulations of growing union membership in the 21st Century

In the last two years, the Australian Education Union in Victoria, as well other unions in several states, have used a new methodology pioneered by Dr Stuart McGill. It has seen a dramatic growth in membership.

The Secretary of the AEU, together with Stuart McGill, will discuss the new approach and its successes, as well as the controversies that surround it.
Can this new method play a major part in making unions even larger social movements than in recent years? What works for 20 somethings? What happens to unions when the baby boom retires? Can workplaces get greener via workplace bargaining? How do we build productivity, make work more interesting, and get better paid?

These and more issues and questions will be discussed. Come and hear the burning debates in modern unionism.

Brian Henderson, Secretary of Victorian Branch of Australian Education Union (AEU),
Dr Stuart McGill, CEO of Work Partners

For more information
Phone Deb Smith on (02) 4787 1401 or email BMUC

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Miners: Abbott scaremongering

Australian miners have accused Federal Liberal party leader Mr Tony Abbott of spreading blatant lies in a concerted scare campaign against action on climate change.

Mr Abbott has been in the newspapers and on the airwaves in the past 24 hours spreading blatant lies about climate change and the position of the CFMEU Mining and Energy union.

Mr Tony Maher general president of CFMEU Mining and Energy union which represents more than 20,000 coalmine workers across the country said that Mr Abbott had been deliberately dishonest about the union’s position on climate change.

Mr Maher said that “Mr Abbott has spent the past 24 hours spreading nasty lies about the union’s position on climate change. The CFMEU has long supported an emissions trading scheme for cutting carbon pollution and reducing the risk of climate change.”

Recently, Mr Tony Maher general president of CFMEU lead a delegation of rank and file working coalminers to Canberra ahead of a climate change deal between the Rudd Government and the Malcolm Turnbull lead Opposition. In Canberra the delegation met with both Opposition climate change negotiator Ian MacFarlane and senior Government ministers to outline the union’s support for emissions trading and immediate action on climate change.

Mr Maher said had Mr Abbott spent less time trying to roll Malcolm Turnbull he would have known the CFMEU Mining and Energy supports taking action on climate change through an emissions trading scheme.

He said that “If Mr Tony Abbott had spent a little less time plotting against his former leader and more time listening to real coalmine workers then he would know that coal communities support an emissions trading scheme.”

He added that “Mr Abbott is entitled to disagree with the union’s position but he is not entitled to misrepresent or lie about it.”

Monday: free Xmas mail day

People across Australia will be presented with the opportunity to send their mail postage free from Monday after postal workers announced details of protected industrial action at Australia Post.

"On Monday Australia Post employees will allow unstamped letters through - instead of returning them to sender.

"We've received plenty of positive feedback from the public about this move and it promises to be a great Christmas gift for them - and mail volumes", said Ed Husic, National President of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union.

"Our message to the public: if you want to send a Christmas Card this year, 'ditch the e-mail: go free-mail'.

"Postal workers across Australia voted overwhelmingly - and in unprecedented numbers - to take protected industrial action against Australia Post. From Friday, we will be undertaking a range of different actions .

"This is a move of last resort after Australia Post refused to move since April on modest claims for improved job security, better workplace safety and protection of take home pay.

"Our members know Christmas is a special time and they are conscious of limiting the public impact - which is why we have elected for the free mail days. This action could affect 70 million Christmas cards and revenue of $35 million, according to Australia's Post's own predictions of mail volume during this period.

"Prior to any action commencing, we wrote to Post yesterday indicating that while our members wanted to take action, the CEPU was still willing to meet with Managing Director Graeme John and Chief Operating Officer Jim Marshall to sort this agreement out.

"Late yesterday we were advised that the Mr John and Mr Marshall would not meet, even though Mr John took the unusual step of writing to each Australia Post employee urging them not to support our ballot.

"Given he has an interest in trying to avoid industrial action, we're disappointed that both key decision makers in Australia Post won't listen to what their employees are telling them: 'we want our issues dealt with and we're prepared to take action to show we want a better deal'.

"Since April we've gotten nowhere in trying to get a new enterprise agreement with Australia Post. Based on yesterday's response from senior management, we're going to get no closer to sorting any of this out."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Abbott's zombies

Tony Abbott has returned Kevin Andrews, Bronwyn Bishop and Philip Ruddock to the coalition front bench. These walking dead are supposed to give the Rudd Government a fright!

No wonder this time of the year is called the Silly Season.

Another scare comes in the form of a piece of double speak Abbott is calling "Climate Action" ... Just as "Work Choices" meant there was no choice so "Climate Action" means doing nothing about the climate ... or at least nothing until the USA shows the way.

So a national policy on climate from our frightful opposition means leaving the decision up to Washington!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Unions back Rees

Nine unions have written to Labor Party's head office threatening to withdraw financial support if the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees is overthrown.

A special party room meeting has been called for 6.00pm today.

Paul Bastian from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says it has been less than a month since the Premier received unanimous support to end the influence of developers and choose his own cabinet, and he should be allowed to continue with his reforms.

He says if that does not happen the unions, who are signatory to the letter, will reconsider their commitment to the party.

"We're very concerned that the interests of the party are not being put first," he said.

"If they're not put first then we'll certainly ensure that the resources and our commitment to the party go to those people that uphold those principles that were espoused by the Premier at the conference."

Earlier, Mr Rees delivered a blistering attack on his detractors and refused to step down.

The Premier held a press conference this morning saying he "would not hand the government of New South Wales to Obeid, Tripodi or Sartor."

"Should I not be Premier at the end of this day, let there be no doubt in the community's mind that any challenger would be a puppet of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi," he said.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tony Abbott: Track record

Greg Combet described Tony Abbott's election to Liberal leader as a "victory for the extremists"

From Canberra Times 2 December 2009
Former Liberal leader John Hewson, who once employed Mr Abbott as a staffer, described yesterday the new Opposition Leader as a ''divisive'' and ''ideological'' figure who would need to adopt a much more inclusive political approach.

Independent Federal MP Robert Oakeshott went much further, savaging Mr Abbott as a ''far right'' politician likely to bring ''race, religion and xenophobia'' back to the centre stage of politics.

''Tony Abbott can lay claim to being one of the makers of One Nation in the 1990s by allowing the far right wing to get organised within his very own electorate office,'' Mr Oakeshott said.

''His natural starting point is of concern for Australian politics where no separation of church and state exists in principle and [his] language is inflammatory by design.''

Feminist and national convener of the Women's Electoral Lobby Eva Cox said yesterday she had ''serious concerns'' about what Mr Abbott's victory would mean for Australian women given his anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti no-fault- divorce stance.

''He has made it clear in the past his personal views on questions around choice, fertility, and divorce and he has a strong record of using his personal religious beliefs as criteria for making policy and political decisions,'' Ms Cox said. ''While everyone has a right to their own viewpoint, Tony Abbott must remember that the role of government is different to the role of Church and my concern is the Liberal Party will become much more conservative under his control and that means back to the 1950s for Australian women.'

Right to Life Australia president Veronica Andrews said she hoped Mr Abbott would use his position to speak out against abortion and voluntary euthanasia in Parliament. In October 2006, as health minister, he refused to allow the morning-after abortion drug RU486 to be made available in Australia. This led to a conscience vote in Parliament that deprived him of regulatory control of the drug.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tanaka film: Best-in-Festival prize

"Tanaka-san will not do callisthenics" has won the CLiFF/Machinists Union Best-in-Festival prize, as voted on by the Toronto audience of CLiFF (Canadian Labour International Film Festival)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greg Combet: Liberal ETS wreckers

ABC interview 28 November 2009

GREG COMBET: There is a lot at stake for Australia in this because when you go back to the fundamentals, this legislation is designed, of course, to allow us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and play a part internationally in tackling the challenge that climate change represents and of course, this country has got a lot to lose.

So these wreckers led by Senator Minchin are doing this country a tremendous disservice and really they are significantly undermining the integrity of the Liberal Party and the Opposition by attacking what was and is an agreement.

SABRA LANE: If Joe Hockey is the leader of the party come Tuesday, do you consider him one of those wreckers too?

GREG COMBET: Well, he is certainly in an extraordinary position here. He is one of those who we understand who strongly support emissions trading. He has not been a climate change sceptic as far as we have been able to ascertain but he definitely has been a supporter of Malcolm Turnbull's in securing this agreement with the Government over the climate change legislation and yet here he is prepared to sell out his beliefs and undermine his own integrity in an effort to get the leadership.

SABRA LANE: So he wasn't …

GREG COMBET: I don't think, that is not a very principled stance for Mr Hockey to be taking.

SABRA LANE: He wasn't part of the deal that was done with you?

GREG COMBET: He was part of the deal that was done. Mr Hockey is the shadow treasurer. He supported Mr Turnbull in negotiating with the Government. We understand he very closely was kept appraised of the developments in the negotiations and supported the agreement with the Government over emissions trading.

So Mr Hockey, in order to accept the leadership of course has got to accept Senator Minchin's conditions that the emissions trading arrangements, the climate change legislation gets sent off into the never never in order to secure Senator Minchin's numbers to get the leadership.

Now that is just opportunism and disreputable conduct if that is what Mr Hockey does because a deal is a deal and it should be delivered.

SABRA LANE: Have you sought legal advice on whether referring this bill off to an inquiry would constitute failure to pass meaning that the Government could use this as a double dissolution trigger?

GREG COMBET: This is an issue that I would like to be very clear about on behalf of the Government. We have endeavoured from the outset to get the emissions trading arrangements, our climate change legislation, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through because it is just a critical public policy issue.

Our objective is to get it through. Not to be playing manoeuvres for double dissolutions.

SABRA LANE: So that is no to double dissolution?

GREG COMBET: Well, I am not in a position to speculate about that. All that I can say is what we have reiterated all the way along and the Prime Minister has been very clear about and that is that we are not interested in mucking about looking for double dissolution triggers.

What we are interested in is getting the legislation through.

SABRA LANE: The Senate is scheduled to start sitting 10:00 O'Clock Monday morning and will continue debate on this. Can you confirm that the Senate will sit day and night without a break until the bills are voted on or referred off to a committee?

GREG COMBET: Well, the Senate's ways are a little complex for Members of the House of Representatives at times so I wouldn't speculate too much about that but as I understand it, the Senate will keep sitting until it has disposed of the issue some way or other and we, of course, want it passed and we would like it passed on Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Economists oppose QLD privatisation

The fight against Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's plan to privatise $16 billion worth of state assets is strengthening, with 19 influential economists branding it ''economically unsound''.

The group of economists, which include Reserve Bank director Warwick McKibbin, Henry Ergas and a host of academics, said in a joint statement yesterday the Queensland Government's case for selling road, rail, port and forestry assets was based on ''spurious claims''.

''The people of Queensland deserve a robust and well-informed public debate over the costs and benefits of privatisation.

So far they have not received it,'' the economists said.

Their criticisms echo a union-commissioned report on the privatisation. University of Sydney professor Bob Walker found that the Government had overstated how bad the state's finances were and made misleading claims to justify the asset sell-off.

University of Queensland fellow in economics John Quiggin hopes the economists' joint statement will add credibility to the widespread public criticism of the Bligh Government's privatisation rationale.

''I would be very surprised if you could find a senior independent economist who would endorse [the Government's privatisation justifications],'' Professor Quiggin said.

Ms Bligh's plan - not revealed to voters until after she was re-elected in March - has sparked public anger at the Government. Polls suggest 80 per cent of Queenslanders oppose the asset sell-off and the ALP's support has tumbled.

White Ribbon Day: flags fly on ship & wharf

25 NOV 2009
It's White Ribbon Day, day for the elimination of all violence against women, and the MUA is flying the flag nationwide

MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman has been endorsed as the ACTU representative on the National Leaders Grouup of the White Ribbon Day Foundation, NT national organiser Glen Williams has attended the White Ribbon Day breakfast and is standing by at a shopping mall this afternoon with members Rowan Hayward and Stephen Richardson to raise awareness. Sydney Ferries are all flying the flag as too are other MUA workplaces.

Nationally the union is challenging members to take the oath on the MUA website, featuring different faces from the wharves and ships each day this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ACTU push for pay equity

With average female pay still at least 17% lower than for men, it is clear that business self-regulation has failed and new mandatory requirements are needed, says the ACTU.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow welcomed recommendations from a Federal Parliamentary committee to introduce annual pay equity audits requiring companies to reveal how many women are employed and their pay rates compared with those of men.

But tougher regulations on business are needed to prevent unequal remuneration, including performance improvement notices and mandatory action plans, Ms Burrow said.

The committee’s recommendation for gender and equal remuneration principles to be considered when industrial awards are upgraded by Fair Work Australia, including the federal minimum wage case, is a positive step.

Positive also is the proposal for a pay equity unit within Fair Work Australia to gather data, monitor and investigate equity in pay, conditions and benefits.

The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Index recently revealed a disturbing trend for Australia women, who are slipping further down world rankings on key indicators of labour force participation and wage equality.

“It’s 40 years since the first equal pay test case, yet women still lag well behind men in the Australian workforce,” Ms Burrow said.

“Women went backwards or stood still on pay, workforce participation and access to senior executive positions under the former Coalition Government.

“Over the course of her career, an Australian woman will earn $1 million less than a man, and will retire with less than half the savings in her superannuation account.

“Employers have had four decades to correct this inequity. They’ve shown they can’t do it voluntarily so it is time for tougher regulations.

“But already employers are gearing up to oppose equal pay for women for the simple reason that they don’t want to pay women any more. We cannot allow claims about red tape to stand in the way of fairness and equality.”

Unions are calling for action on women’s pay and career opportunities by businesses and governments.

Unions are also undertaking a major industrial campaign with a major new test case in Fair Work Australia that could lift the pay of workers in the female-dominated social and community services sector by more than $100 a week.

It is wrong that workers in the sector have historically been underpaid simply because their jobs were undervalued and seen as “women’s work”, Ms Burrow said.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pat Mackie: 1914-2009

Pat Mackie led the Mount Isa strike of 1964/5 that polarised the town and almost bankrupted Mount Isa Mining.

Mackie's life of activism began when as a young stowaway on a boat from New Zealand, he challenged the captain as to the lawfulness of his uncomfortable accommodation. Working in blue collar jobs around the globe, he became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and the United States Seafarers Unions before ending up central Queensland.

The dispute of 1964/5, one of Australia's major rank and file uprisings, arose over management's failure to provide showers for miners. As it escalated, Queensland Premier Frank Nicklin described Mackie as a 'vicious gangster' and the strike as a 'communist strategy to retard and even prevent major developmental projects in this state'; the government vainly explored all possible avenues to have him deported.

The strike and the rest of the unionist's tumultuous life are described in Mount Isa: The Story of a Dispute (1989) and Many Ships to Mount Isa (c. 2002).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MUA: Oil and gas workers role

13 November 2009 MUA press release

The Maritime Union of Australia said protected industrial action planned by maritime workers employed by Farstad Shipping had been taken responsibly within the Fair Work Act and rejected claims of the action being "reckless or destructive".

"Any industrial action is always a last resort and taken only after serious consideration and the Union has carried out negotiations in good faith. The Union is ready to avoid any action through further negotiation with the employer", said Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA.

"The Australian Mines and Metals Association and other detractors should remember that Fair Work Australia gave the go ahead for this proposed action and these claims are not frivolous. we remain committed to a negotiated outcome.

"The employers' hysterical protestations and dissembling of the facts in the media reflect their poor application to the bargaining process. Nevertheless we will persist with the negotiations in both our members and the industry's best interests", Crumlin added.

"The Maritime union is seeking to have seafarers engaged in offshore construction to earn the same as riggers on vessels which, subject to negotiations, would be equivalent to an allowance of $200 to $300 and the union is prepared to have the payment phased in.

"The figure of $500 a day which has been mentioned by detractors is misleading. Workers are entirely justified in seeking an allowance for a construction role that makes additional specific demands on them, consistent with what other workers of the same skill level are paid working along side of them.

"There are essential skills to learn if workers are to perform to the standards expected in the burgeoning oil and gas sector and in this particular situation and training should be mandatory. The Union is requesting companies pay $45 a day for training per employee, in a sector of the industry that has been extremely reluctant to commit to meeting their training needs over many years", said Crumlin.

Rising unemployment: keep the stimulus

12 November, 2009 | ACTU Media Release
The latest employment data released today shows that every month thousands of Australians are still losing their jobs as a result of the Global Financial Crisis, and the Australian economy is still struggling, say unions.

Unemployment rose to 5.8% and the 670,100 people out of work – an increase of 11,100 in October - is the highest since 2002.

Almost all of the employment growth in the past month was in part-time work, with just 3000 full-time jobs created.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the Federal Government’s stimulus and infrastructure investment package was working, and had to be maintained during a delicate period for the economy.

“Australia’s economy has been one of the more resilient in the Global Financial Crisis because of the Government’s early stimulus spending,” Mr Lawrence said.

“But there are still 171,000 more people out of work than a year ago – that is almost 3300 a week.

“The revised official government economic forecast earlier this month reveals about 95,000 more Australians will be jobless by the middle of next year.

“It is also disturbing that the unemployment rate in the nation’s biggest economy, New South Wales, has leapt back above 6%.

“Aggregate monthly hours worked has fallen, indicating there are probably also more Australians suffering from underemployment than a month ago.

“Today’s data clearly shows that the champagne corks should be firmly placed back in the bottle.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tanaka film goes to Canada

29 November 2009
Tanaka-san Will Not Do Callisthenics selected for the inaugural Canadian Labour International Film Festival, CLiFF:

"The second film is Tanaka-san Will Not do Calisenthics. It was filmed in Japan and tells the story of Tanaka-san who was let go from his job 25 years ago when he refused to conform – and what happens when he protests at his old office every day.

Two fabulous films that you can’t see at your local movie theatre so please join us at CLiFF Burnaby on November 29. You’ll also be participating in this first labour film festival for Canada so you’ll be a part of history."

Director: Maree Delofski
Editor: Morgan Gregory
Sound Editor and Mixer: Greg Fitgerald

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mountains stations: Staffing slashed

11 Nov Blue Mountains Gazette by Michael Cleggett

Mountains train stations have lost one-fifth of staffing hours each week following the implementation of RailCorp’s review, according to figures supplied by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).

The reduced staff presence will be particularly noticeable on Saturdays and Sundays with 23 of those shifts disappearing, adding Glenbrook and
Lawson to the list of stations unmanned on weekends.

In total, 624.5 hours have been slashed with Mount Victoria (142 hours), Katoomba (112 hours) and Springwood (104 hours) the hardest hit.

RTBU NSW branch secretary Nick Lewocki said the review had been a "slap in the face for front-line workers".

"This is a cost-cutting exercise . . . Worse than that it’s taking away services for commuters out there at a time we’re trying to encourage more people on the train.

"We will reverse these decisions, I’ve got no doubt about it."

Mr Lewocki was less than optimistic about assurances Member for Blue Mountains Phil Koperberg has sought from Transport Minister David Campbell, including that appropriate levels of staffing are provided at any given time and that amenities, cleaning and security levels are maintained.

"The rail workers themselves are saying that they will struggle to provide the same level of service they did previously," said Mr Lewocki.

He said that with stations left with a reduced staff presence, "undesirables" would inevitably descend, resulting in decreased safety and more vandalism.

"How does that not take away the facilities for the travelling public?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TAFE: stop-work meetings

Thousands of striking TAFE teachers attending stopwork meetings across the state yesterday voted overwhelmingly (99.9%) to reject the Work Choices style changes to their working conditions announced in the recent judgement of the NSW Industrial Commission.

Teachers at some centres were so incensed that they voted not to return to work that day.

While calling on the Premier and the Minister for Education and Training to negotiate a settlement with the NSW Teachers Federation, TAFE teachers declared that they will join with teachers in schools to take combined statewide action in the next few weeks, if the dispute cannot be resolved.

Bob Lipscombe, President of the NSW Teachers Federation, said:

'TAFE teachers today have overwhelmingly rejected the appalling decision of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to introduce Work Choices style changes to their working conditions.

'If this dispute is not settled, school teachers in public primary and high schools across the state will join with their TAFE colleagues to take combined industrial action within weeks.

'To teachers it is incomprehensible how any court can increase a teacher's working week by 5 hours and then value each hour at less than $3.00, or how it can require teachers to fund their annual leave out of their accumulated long service leave. Even under the discredited Howard Government's Work Choices, this would not have been possible.

'The Director-General has already told school teachers in writing that he cannot guarantee that there will not be an attempt by the Department of Education and Training to impose similar conditions on school teachers once their award expires.'

Sunday, November 08, 2009

US: Landmark Health Care Reform

Photo credit: Ramon Becerra
from AFL-CIO

This is what progress looks like. Tonight, by a 220-215 vote, the U.S. House has passed a historic health care reform bill that will improve the nation’s health care system, covering millions of uninsured and making insurance work better for those who have it.

H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, fulfills the decades-long promise to create a system that provides affordable, high-quality health care coverage to nearly everyone. It will break the stranglehold of insurance company greed and cut costs for both families and the country. It will make a real difference for families across the country.

The bill is fairly funded, relying on employer responsibility and a surtax on the highest earners—not a tax on middle-class workers’ health benefits. And it offers the choice of a public health insurance option that can compete with private insurers.

Across the country, a broad coalition of community groups, including the union movement, fought hard and reached out to House members to ask them to pass this critical bill. Thousands of your letters and phone calls helped make the difference.

Education Forum: Katoomba 8





download flyer:

: 4784

Friday, November 06, 2009

ASU: Equal Work Equal Pay

The Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Australian Government have reached an historic agreement which will see the social and community services sector as the test case for pay equity in the new Federal Industrial Relations system.

This agreement means that the very first National equal remuneration case under the new Fair Work Act will be run by ASU with the support and co-operation of the Australian Government.

ASU Assistant National Secretary, Linda White declared the landmark agreement would provide unprecedented opportunity to argue for significant pay increases based on pay equity principles to flow to social and community sector workers throughout the country.

"ASU and the Australian Government have reached agreement which potentially lays a foundation to provide equity and fairness for tens of thousands of Australian workers. It is nation-building in the workplace," Linda White said.

"As the largest union in non government social and community services, the ASU looks forward to achieving pay equity in this important section of the Australian economy which is at the forefront of delivering social inclusion to our country," Linda White said.

This landmark agreement helps to pave the way for the ASU's successful Queensland pay equity case to flow on to SACS workers across Australia. The case will seek pay rises based on pay equity and work value to support retention of staff and address a chronic skills shortage in the sector by delivering substantial wage rise for the predominately female workforce - 87% of SACS workers are women.

"If the remuneration case is successful, a phase-in of enhanced wages and conditions will provide welcome relief to both employees and employers in the sector. Many organisations are struggling with wage rates failing to attract and retain staff," Linda White said.

Unions donate to Sri Lankan refugees

MUA Press Release

As the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers move into their 20th day at sea, Australian seafarers, miners and wharfies plan to hand $10,000 to the refugees to help them in their crisis.

"It's Australian seafarers who have been with these people through their ordeal and they have been moved to make a meaningful humanitarian gesture. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) with the CFMEU (Mining and Energy Division) have agreed to donate the money", said Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

"Shortly there will be a "swing" in the crew of the Oceanic Viking - 13 MUA crew will be relieved and replaced with fresh crew. The MUA delegate will distribute the donations among the refugees.

"At least it will mean that the refugees have a bit of light at the end of a very long tunnel", said Mr Crumlin.

"This is about two Aussie unions stumping up to help people fleeing dreadful persecution," said CFMEU President Tony Maher.

"We've all seen the pictures of these desperate families. They are the victims in all this and they need our support", Mr Maher said.

"As the future of these people has hung in the balance, our blokes and others on the Oceanic Viking have just got on with the job of providing as clean and safe an environment for these unfortunate human beings. In doing that job they set aside political arguments," said Mr Crumlin

"Our members pick up these flotsam and jetsam from a badly stuffed up world from their ships rigs and floating platforms, sometimes at great risk to their own safety.

"Certainly our immigration processes are the preferred mechanism, but many that really have no option but to take a last desperate throw of the dice where they pitch the gamble to survive with their lives, usually because they know with gut wrenching certainty they are likely to lose them anyway if they hang around the home town.

"What this episode has reinforced is the need for the Government to ensure that the revitalisation of Australian shipping currently before the Government goes ahead. The role our merchant navy and respected seafarers play in border protection and security cannot be overestimated", says Mr Crumlin

Monday, November 02, 2009

ACTU: Australia should show humanity

Unions are calling for the Federal Government to allow a group of 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers aboard a Customs ship to be taken to Australian territory.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said it is time for Australians to show our humanity and end the stand-off aboard the Oceanic Viking.

"The Government should demonstrate Australians' strong humanitarian values by stepping in and bringing these people to Australia," Ms Burrow said.

"Everyone deserves a fair go. These unfortunate people have been through enough. Their ordeal should be brought to an end and they should be given immediate shelter and proper care by Australian authorities.

"We should deal with their claims for refugee status under Australian laws in accordance with our international obligations and not allow them to become pawns in a political game.

"Working Australians will respect strong political leadership that shows a humane response rather than a blind adherence to hardline border security policy."


Jack Mundey at 80: Tribute

A packed Leichhardt Town Hall celebrated the Jack Mundey's eightieth birthday with a tribute to the historic role of the NSW Branch of the BLF. The Sydney Trade Union Choir/Solidarity Choir opened the tribute leading the audience with Solidarity Forever.

Bob Brown joined in the speeches via a video link! very 21st century.

Among the speakers were Judy Mundey, Joe Owens, Meredith Burgmann, Mick Tubbs and of course Jack Mundey

Bob and Margaret Fagan sang green ban songs and Bob Campbell sang one of his own.

The town hall was decked out with old union banners including this one proposing the 6 hour day!

Mick Fowler sings "Across the Wester Suburbs"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sydney Ferries Protest: Balmain

"One law for all, don't jail Ark"

On Friday 30 October thousands of workers and their families from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and many other cities and towns across the country will rally in support of Ark Tribe.

It's the day that Ark will stand in court, and face a sentence of up to six months in jail, charged with not attending an interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

A Song by Mike Williss©2009 Mike Williss
Lyrics written by Mike Williss, performed by Peter Hicks and engineered by Geoff Francis in Southern Tasmania.

Meeting Details:

SA: 11am Outside the court at the Southern End of Victoria Square, Adelaide
NSW: 11am Sydney Trades Hall, 377 Sussex Street Sydney
QLD: TBC Outside Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Office, 630 Wynnum Road, Morningside
TAS: 9.30am Outside the offices of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, 142 Elizabeth Street, Hobart
VIC: 9.30am Outside the offices of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, 533 St Kilda Road Melbourne

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TAFE teachers walk out

27 October 2009 from NSW Teachers Federation

Around 100 TAFE Teachers from both Miller and Liverpool TAFE Colleges held a lunchtime Federation meeting at Miller TAFE, and resolved to walk off the job for the rest of the day.

Teachers took this action in anger at the failure of the Labor State Government to negotiate a fair and just settlement with the Federation to resolve their Award.

Teachers rejected the draconian decision of the Industrial Relations Commission with its overtones of "workchoices" to increase their working hours, both for teaching and attendance, to remove weekly limits on teaching, to annualise teaching loads, to remove professional development and to change long service leave entitlements. Having campaigned against Howard's workchoices legislation teachers feel utterly betrayed by the NSW Labor Government and the IRC.

Teachers passed a number of resolutions including supporting the call for a legal challenge, state wide meetings of TAFE teachers, for support from teachers in all other sectors covered by the Federation, and called for the imposition of bans including attendance at senior staff meetings and forums. Teachers also passed motions of "no confidence" in the Director-General Michael Coutts-Trotter and the Institute Director Barry Peddle.

Following the walkout, teachers gathered outside the electorate office of Liverpool MP, Paul Lynch. Teachers then delivered individually signed copies of the front page of the IRC decision with the word "rejected" written across to the MPs staff. Teachers then carried a motion of "no confidence" in the Minister, Verity Firth.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Posties paid just above the poverty line

Australia Post is a bundle of contradictions. Its motorcycle PDOs carry out the MOST DANGEROUS JOB within Australia Post, yet 2357 Posties out of 11,790 nationally are paid just $20.43 above the poverty line and this figure is growing daily.

According to data from the University of Melbourne’s Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, the poverty line in Australia to the June quarter 2009, is $761.69 per week for a family comprising two adults and two dependent children.

Under Australia Post’s Future Delivery Design program posties starting times have been changed from 6.00am to a later start time solely to avoid paying the 15% penalty rate. This is currently happening in every state in Australia except Western Australia.

Tellingly, Australia Post’s OHS performance to April 2009 has deteriorated compared to the same time last year due to an increase in motorcycle injuries. The number of fatalities and severity of injuries from motorcycle accidents have increased in recent times.

Despite this as at 21st September 2009 Australia Post has stripped away the 15% penalty rates from 2357 posties that has traditionally been part of the posties pay, bringing their pay to just $782.12 per week.

more at CEPU

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PSA: Hunting in national parks opposed

It has been reported that the Government has been negotiating with the Shooters Party in relation to the provision of access for recreational hunters to hunt in National Parks. This has been condemned by the Public Service Association many of whose members work in these areas.

John Cahill, General Secretary of the Association said "This action will compromise both the safety of the community and our members who work in National Parks. Also many of the excellent feral animal control programs established by these officers will be severely compromised along with integrity of our magnificent National Parks system. The Association is totally opposed to any recreational hunting in National Parks in New South Wales."

"Our members have been working very hard to control and manage feral animals on park. The National Parks and Wildlife Service spends a significant amount of its budget on feral animal control and has extensive programs to control these pest species on park. Funds are also provided to engage professional contractors to assist with these programs. They are well trained to dispatch animals humanely." said Mr Cahill.

There have already been incidents in State Forests where recreational hunters have inadvertently killed domestic animals. It is also quite conceivable that this could also happen to native fauna that inhabit our National Parks.

The Association has questioned the motives of the Government on this matter. It sees this as merely an attempt to garner the support of the Shooters Party to assist in passing legislation through State Parliament.

The Association has directed its members (many of whom are Park Rangers working in these areas) not to participate in or assist with any support for the establishment of hunting on park. Without the support of the Park Rangers it is highly unlikely that this activity can be introduced into National Parks in New South Wales.

A rally is being organised for 12 noon 27 October outside Parliament House in Macquarie Street, Sydney. All concerned members of the public have been invited to attend.

Contact:John Cahill, General Secretary
Union:Public Service Association of NSW
Phone:9220 0982

Friday, October 23, 2009

ACTU: Apprentices and clean energy

23 October, 2009 | Media ReleaseThe ACTU has welcomed the Rudd Government’s draft National Green Skills Agreement announced today which will equip thousands of apprentices in emerging and existing industries with the skills to help tackle climate change.

Mandatory green skills will be included in all apprentice training from the end of 2010.

"The skills of our plumbers, construction workers, electricians and other specialist trades workers will be fundamental in ensuring that Australia is able to move quickly and flexibly in creating a sustainable, low carbon economy," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow at today’s Green Skills Forum in Melbourne.

"It is estimated that we are going to need to re-train and upskill about 3 million workers in the next 20 years to meet the challenge.

"Unions are already working hard in this area.

"The Plumbers' Union (CEPU) in Victoria has already set up a "Plumbing Industry Climate Change Action Centre” which is aims to up-skill the state’s 21,000 plumbers and set up similar centres nationally.

"Water management is one area where we are creating new jobs and expertise and an area in which Australia can lead the world.

"However, the creation of hundreds of thousands more jobs and apprenticeships in other clean energy and clean tech industries are on hold because Australia’s climate change laws are being blocked in the Parliament.

"We urgently need national policies in place to drive investment and a fast but fair transition to a low carbon economy.

"Australia is already being left behind, with the rest of the world moving quickly to take advantage of a $6 trillion global market in clean tech products, services, expertise and technology," the ACTU President told the forum.

More information
The Hon Julia Gillard MP: Address to the Green Skills Forum

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sydney: cleaners victory

Sydney cleaners celebrated a historic win in their three and a half year campaign for fair pay and working conditions on Anti-Poverty day with a big cake and sparklers at Town Hall.

The trigger point has just been reached in NSW for the new Clean Start Collective Agreement - the point when the Agreement becomes effective in Sydney's CBD.

Under the Agreement over the next four years office cleaners' full time pay will increase to $21.17 an hour and the part-time night shift workers rate will increase to $24.35 an hour.

Cleaner Mostofa Tareque spoke to a crowd of more than 50 cleaners about how proud he was to be a cleaner in Sydney.

"Today is a special day for cleaners. We have won our Clean Start agreement," he said to loud cheers from the crowd.

"For many cleaners like me, the pay increase will help us a lot. It will help pay the rent, buy food and for university."

LHMU NSW Branch Executive Vice President Rebecca Reilly says the Clean Start fair deal for cleaners campaign was launched in 2006 because cleaners were caught in the cross-fire of a vicious price-cutting war in the contract cleaning industry.

"This race to the bottom saw cleaners' workloads increase and working conditions decline while maintenance of buildings suffered as standards dropped," she said.

"This win means cleaners are fundamentally changing this industry - a proud achievement for this invisible workforce of mostly migrant, undervalued, underpaid cleaners working in isolation in empty buildings."

Mostofa said he was proud to be union. "We are the union and together we have won our seven fair solutions to the cleaning industry." This includes: fair hours, fair workloads, fair pay, fair job security, fair treatment, fair leave and fair rights.

Rebecca says the next step is to finalise the paperwork. "This could take some weeks but after three and a half long, hard years of Clean Start campaigning this is a down-hill run," she said.

For further information

Contact: Louise Tarrant, National Secretary
Union: LHMU

Nestlé: union busting in Indonesia

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, is determined to stop the union representing workers at its Indonesian Nescafé factory from negotiating a collective agreement which includes wages.

Nestlé has claimed that wages are a "commercial secret", harassed union members and leaders, and created a fake union to weaken the IUF's SBNIP. Indonesian Nescafé workers have been demanding and defending their collective bargaining rights for over 2.5 years.

While claiming to cooperate with the home country government of Switzerland to resolve the conflict, Nestlé is acting to eliminate a union which is challenging autocracy at the workplace. The Panjang workers urgently need your support.

Click on the link below to learn more and to send a message to Nestlé

Ron Oswald
General Secretary, IUF

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nobel Economics Prize: Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for research seen as highly topical in the wake of the economic crisis and amid efforts to tackle climate change.

Ostrom describes herself as a political scientist instead of an economist and is a professor at Indiana University, where she researches the management of common property or property under common control, such as natural resources.

Her work challenged the notion that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatised, the jury said.

"If we want to halt the degradation of our natural environment and prevent a repetition of the many collapses of natural-resource stocks experienced in the past, we should learn from the successes and failures of common-property regimes," it said.

She conducted numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes and groundwater basins, and concluded that the outcomes are "more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories", it added.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Alistair Hullett: Traditions of resistance

Saturday 24 October Alistair Hulett will present a night of songs & stories from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and other radical folk singers!

Alistair Hulett was born in Glasgow and discovered traditional music in his early teens. In 1968 he and his family moved to New Zealand where he established a reputation on the folk circuit with his large repertoire of songs and his interpretation of the big narrative ballads.

"Hulett writes in a terse, reportage style, the combination of words
and voice transporting listeners immediately to Australia's labour
struggles, post-miners'-strike Grimethorpe or Red Clydeside"

When: 8pm, Saturday 24th of October
Where: Hermann's Bar, University of Sydney Union,
Cnr City Rd & Butlin Avenue Sydney University
Cost: $20 Solidarity, $15 regular, Access Card holders $12 on the door.

ABCC: Sydney protest

Support Ark Tribe: join the Sydney protest:

Time: 11.00 am
Date: Friday, 30th October 2009
Assembly point: Trades Hall Auditorium,
377 Sussex Street, Sydney
Speakers: Mark Lennon (Secretary, Unions NSW), John Sutton (CFMEU) and Lee Rhiannon (The Greens)

Ark Tribe is to face court of the 30th October 2009 for the third time. If found guilty of not subjecting himself to the ABCC’s interrogations, Ark can find himself in jail for six months.

Demand an end to Federal Government laws that undermine safety and stop unions from looking after their members.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Unions for Nuclear Disarmament

In May 2010 the United Nations will meet to review the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Trade unionists from around the world are urging that meeting to make a clear path towards abolition of nuclear weapons in the shortest possible time. We ask that:

  • those countries which have not joined the NPT do so, and for all countries to comply with it in full;
  • the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty enter into force as soon as possible;
  • there be an immediate start to and rapid progress on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty; and
    we ask for international agreements to support nuclear-weapon-free zones.

We support the actions of the “Mayors for Peace”, headed by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in calling for abolition of all nuclear weapons by 2020.
Production and maintenance of nuclear weapons, and military expenditure overall, cost more than one trillion dollars each year. We call for major reductions in military expenditure, to allow this money to be spent on social and economic development and fighting poverty. We further ask that this transformation from military to peaceful expenditure be done in a way which protects the livelihoods of those who would be affected by it.

sign the petition:

Blue Mountains: East Timor events


1 - 3pm on Sunday 11th October at the YOUTH HOSTEL,
215 Katoomba Street, Katoomba.

Join us for our annual tais exhibition & sale. Tais is a unique form of weaving celebrating East Timorese culture. Tais production is a major source of income for women and one of the ways BMETS supports women’s independence and healthy communities in East Timor.

We will be joined by our Timorese guest, Peace and Democracy student Elsa Pinto, who will speak about progress for women in East Timor. Free entry. Afternoon provided (by donation). For more information call Suzie on 4784 1718.


Blue Mountains City Council's Hato-Builico Friendship Group is hosting a special screening of the new Australian film "Balibo" at 7.15pm Friday 16th October at Mt Vic Flicks.

Cost $20 - includes supper and lucky door prize.

Balibo is a true story about 5 Australian journalists who were killed by Indonesian forces during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Tickets are available at:
Megalong Books in Leura
Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre (tel: 4784 7770)
Blue Mountains Women's Health Centre (tel: 4782 5133)
or call Gail on 0440 238 013 or Libby on 4780 5653

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Anti-Poverty Week 2009

Anti-Poverty Week 2009 will run from 11-17 October. Anti Poverty Week was established in Australia as an expansion of the UN's annual International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17.

The main aims of Anti-Poverty Week are to strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia and to encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

As part of Anti Poverty Week, The Hon Sylvia Hale MLC would like to invite you to a Poverty & Social Inclusion Forum on Tuesday, 13 October 2009. Speakers include:

Professor Julian Disney, Director, Social Justice Project, University of NSW

Chair, National Summit on Housing Affordability

National Chair, Anti-Poverty Week

Alison Peters

Director, NSW Council of Social Services

NSW Co-Chair, Anti-Poverty Week

Jane Woodruff

Chief Executive Officer, UnitingCare Burnside

NSW Co-Chair, Anti-Poverty Week

Tuesday, 13 October


Room 814/815, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney


By 9/10/09 to Wendy Hall on or phone (02) 9211 2599, ext 118

ACTU: Ordinary taxpayers subsidise the rich

Tax rorts and loopholes that are available only to the rich and wealthy are costing ordinary taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and should be stopped, says the ACTU.

A national forum on taxation being held today (Tuesday) will hear calls from the ACTU for the Henry Tax Review to crack down on the abuse of private trusts and company structures by wealthy individuals to unfairly minimise their tax .

The ACTU says the abuse of trusts to shuffle and conceal incomes of the very rich could be costing the Australian community more than $1 billion a year in lost tax revenue.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said there were worrying signs that the Henry Review was preparing to recommend another cut to company tax, when income tax minimisation schemes by the wealthy were a growing problem.

The Australian Taxation Office was aware of this problem, with recent media reports that it will have an increased focus on trusts and partnerships in a crackdown on tax evasion.

“There is a double standard at play in the debate over Australia’s future tax system,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The top end of town is calling for cuts to Australia’s already low company tax rate, yet is silent about the rort exploited by many wealthy individuals who use trusts and company structures to make the payment of income tax discretionary.”

Trusts are used to churn income and hide the full extent of an individual’s earnings, thus allowing them to minimise the tax they pay.

The use of trusts has grown considerably in recent years, and is estimated to deprive the community of more than $1 billion in tax revenue every year.

“This is an option available only to the very wealthy, who are able to employ expensive accountants and financial wizards to minimise their tax,” Mr Lawrence said.

“Working Australians do not have this option. This is a double-standard that is unfair and costing the community.

“It’s time to end the rorts and make sure the rich and wealthy pay tax like everyone else.”

Mr Lawrence said the business lobby had put forward a flimsy case for a cut to Australia’s company tax rate.

“There is no evidence that our current 30% company tax rate is hindering Australia’s competitiveness,” he said. “Our present rate is not out of step with comparable countries. For example, it is lower than rates in the US, Japan, France, Canada, the same as Spain and Germany, and not significantly higher than the UK.”

Thursday, October 01, 2009

NSW: Parklea Shame

The NSW Government today sold out the people of Western Sydney by announcing that a multi-national corporation, GEO Group, will take over the operation of Parklea Correctional Complex, according to the Public Service Association (PSA).

PSA General Secretary John Cahill said the Premier’s announcement was a shameful betrayal of the local community and flew in the face of ALP policy.

"The community does not want its prisons to be run by corporations. That’s why the Government was forced into backing down on the privatisation of Cessnock Prison earlier this year.

"Private prisons make money by cutting corners. That means prisoners are less likely to get rehabilitated, and more likely to reoffend.

“Ultimately, the people of NSW will pay the price of company profits when inmates are released back into the community."

Mr Cahill said handing over the keys to Parklea to a private company would not deliver cost savings to the taxpayer.

"The Public Service Association put forward an offer that would achieve $5 million in annual recurrent savings without compromising the quality of prison operations at Parklea.

"No matter how you look at this deal, the people of NSW will lose out."

Mr Cahill said the NSW Government’s announcement coincided with the release of the Western Australian Government’s response to the gruesome death of an inmate in a privately-operated prison transport van.

"The Western Australian Government yesterday flagged that it would consider taking prison transport operations back under public control – but its hands are currently tied by contractual agreements.

"It beggars belief that the NSW Government is wilfully going down the same path of contracting out vital correctional services to a private company."

Prison officers have voted to walk off the job for 24 hours in response to today’s announcement.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Katoomba: The Future Of Energy In NSW

Politics In The Pub

7.30pm, Wednesday 30 September
Upstairs, Blackburn’s Family Hotel
15 Parke Street, Katoomba
The Future Of Energy In NSW
Climate change ... CPRS ... Coal ... Wind ... Solar
Guest speaker: Greens NSW MP John Kaye
Followed by questions and discussion
All Welcome!

Coal job scare scam

CFMEU warns: Coal job scare scam
Date: 30 September 2009

General President Tony Maher has issued an alert to all members of our Union as the mining companies embark on a jobs scare campaign throughout regional communities claiming that many thousands will be lost if coal does not get huge compensation for the emissions trading scheme proposed by the Rudd Government.

"It's a scam and a con", he warned. "A grubby grab to rip-off billions from the taxpayers. And mineworkers should have nothing to do with it". Tony Maher said that jobs would continue to grow in the coal industry with billions of dollars invested in new mines and infrastructure under construction right now. The Government minerals forecasting arm ABARE has listed $10 billion worth of coal projects that are at an advanced stage. And it has listed a staggering 59 coal projects worth almost $40 billion that are also on the drawing board.

Tony Maher pointed out that coal profits are at record levels. "BHP Billiton recently recorded $5.2 billion in profit on its Australian coal operations and Xstrata recorded US$4.5 billion in profit from Australian coal in 2008.

"In this context, the call for more compensation in the form of free permits for coal companies should be treated with the contempt it deserves. Companies making billions in profits, and falling over themselves to invest in new coal operations, should be the last businesses getting handouts from the Australian taxpayer", he said.

For further information

Contact: Tony Maher
Union: CFMEU Mining and Energy Division

TAFE funding crisis

Between 1997 and 2007, the NSW government cut its funding to TAFE so much that there was an annual shortfall of $550 million, representing a 35 percent cut.

The Commonwealth has also cut its funding by about $155 million (27.2 percent) since 1997.

These figures have caused Professor Peter Kell, who led the 2006 TAFE Futures Inquiry, to warn in an article on the front page of today's Sydney Morning Herald that 'Australia's under-investment in vocational education has undermined its international reputation and taken its toll on an ageing workforce and infrastructure, forcing increases in student fees.'

Figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research Ltd show that NSW has fallen well behind the rest of Australia in the funding of public vocational education and training. In the decade to 2007, NSW increased its funding by only 13.6 percent, while Australia overall increased by 60.5 percent.

The 2009-10 NSW Budget papers show that TAFE NSW increased its fees, charges and commercial revenue by $53 million (17.7%) above that of 2007-08.

In addition, Productivity Commission statistics show that TAFE NSW was the second most efficient of the states and territories in terms of being second lowest in the cost per student hour taught. When she was Minister for Education and Training, Carmel Tebbutt commissioned a private consulting firm to report on TAFE. It found that for every dollar invested in TAFE, $6.40 was returned in productivity.

These figures and analysis have been presented to the Industrial Relations Commission in the current TAFE Award arbitration.

Despite this, the Government, Department of Education and Training, and Director-General still continue to argue for a 10.4 percent increase in teaching loads of permanent and temporary TAFE teachers, as well as other serious working conditions changes, for an average 1.5 percent per year salary increase.

New Zealand: Vicious assault on Dairy workers

From IUF

The New Zealand Dairy Workers Union is engaged in a tough battle with Open Country Cheese, a ruthless employer assaulting fundamental workplace rights. When the union tried to bargain a first collective agreement to halt more casualization and the further deterioration of working conditions, Open Country told workers to quit the union or get the sack, set up a fake labour agency and put staff on its books to keep them out of the union, declared a six-week lockout, replaced the workers with scabs, dumped sewage sludge in the river and blamed the Dairy Workers. Open Country is bent on busting the union and further lowering standards by trampling on basic rights. The union is fighting back - and needs your support.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shipping and climate change

As maritime workers celebrated World Maritime Day's theme of Shipping and Climate Change by marching to the National Maritime Museum, they emphasised that new ships would bring even greater energy efficiency and CO2 reductions to the national freight industry.

"With a package of incentives to revitalise shipping being considered by Government, shipping's record as a more modest carbon emitter is a compelling reason for new incentives for investment in new ships", said Mick Doleman, assistant national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

"Shipping is universally accepted as having the lowest energy and emissions intensity of any of the freight transport modes. It accounts for more than 20 per cent of the freight task but only 4 per cent of emissions.

"There will be an opportunity for all freight modes to increase their market share, even with an emissions trading scheme, but it is predicted there will be some shift in modal share to rail and sea as a result of carbon pollution abatement measures.

"The potential for emissions reductions has been severely hampered by our ageing fleet, care of the neglect by the previous government, but there is a chance now to move with the international mood for a progressive reduction in carbon emissions through shipping.

"The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) believes there is range of technologies available that could reduce the emissions from new ships, per tonne/mile, by 15 to 25 per cent, depending on the ship type and size.

"We're watching the progress of the IMO as it looks to regulate shipping at the global level to contribute to the deceleration of climate change, including an Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships and a Ship Energy Management Plan for all ships.

Mr Doleman also recognised the sacrifice of seafarers and merchant mariners during wartime conflicts involving Australia, particularly during World War 2.

"The merchant marine were an integral part of the Australian navy and defence forces. I think sometimes they were taken for granted,but they never failed their country and many paid the ultimate sacrifice", he said.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rally To Save Union Square

Rally To Save Union Square 4pm
Saturday, 26 September

On Saturday, a coalition of concerned community groups and local small business owners from throughout the inner city will put on their dancing shoes in Union Square to protect a row of terraces. The local groups oppose the State government’s plans to destroy four historic terraces at numbers 9, 7, 5, & 3 Union Street. The CFMEU has placed a permanent green ban on the site. Pyrmont residents' emphatically argue:

  • A false front is just pretend heritage for union square!
  • No respect for the union green ban
  • No respect for our 19th century heritage
  • Save small family owned businesses and saves jobs
  • The government does not respect the community’s wishes
  • Metro’s community consultation was just a sham
  • No proper documentation or costing of alternatives
  • Why not use the casino -- the transport hub of Pyrmont?
  • Or put the entrance on the vacant lot on 102 -136 Harris with frontage onto Pyrmont Street?
  • Will the pyrmont village business survive?
  • 5 Years of traffic chaos – 24 truck movements an hour bowling through the heart of Pyrmont 24/7. Sleep disturbance limits exceeded by up to 19 decibels.

We will not be rail roaded in Pyrmont!

For more information on the campaign visit:

Enquiries call co-convenors Jean Stewart (9660-6702) or Lawrence Gibbons (0425-218-960)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Critical Senate vote - help change the law

From Dave Noonan and the Rights on Site team

Ark Tribe could soon make history as the first man jailed under a Labor Government for standing up for his rights at work.

Yet as Ark's trial draws closer Australian Senators are considering the future of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and its coercive powers.

The laws the Senate passes will determine whether our politicians support one law for all Australian workers, and could bring an end to construction workers being singled out for harsher penalties in their workplace.

Now, more than ever, it's important you urge Senators Fielding and Xenophon to support the abolition of the ABCC and its coercive powers to ensure Ark doesn't make history.

Tell Senator Fielding and Senator Xenphon to take a stand for rights on site.

Ark Tribe is next in court on October 30.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Youth Decide: Climate Change

From Felix Riebl (Cat Empire), Dan Adams (Youth Decide) Joel Vanderuit and Darren Cordeux (Kisschasy) oversee the first Youth Decide voters at Federation Square

Youth Decide '09 is a national youth vote on climate change.

The more greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere the worse climate change will get.

This December countries will agree on a global limit on greenhouse gases at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Countries will each set targets for how much they will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. Australia will have to decide our target as well.

The targets that are chosen will determine the kind of world we will inherit.

There are three possible worlds. Each world is based on the target that Australia sets as part of a global limit on greenhouse gases and is referenced to the most credible science available.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ACTU: Curb corporate excess

One year after the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers and the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, governments must not drop the ball on business regulation to prevent financial mismanagement and corporate excess, say unions.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said governments in Australia and around the developed world had to strengthen business and the financial regulations to prevent any repeat of the GFC in the future.

“For the sake of millions of unemployed people around the world, we must regulate to stop executive greed getting out of hand ever again,” Ms Burrow said.

She said that at next week’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, government leaders needed to re-commit to reform to strengthen the economy, and to create sustainable and equitable economic development.

Ms Burrow said important reforms in Australia to rein in ‘golden handshake’ payments to failed executives needed to be passed by the Senate this week.

And she welcomed signs that a Productivity Commission review of executive pay could recommend giving shareholders more say over extravagant bonuses.

“One year after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the global economy is still struggling to recover,” Ms Burrow said. “That includes Australia, and until we can see solid proof of jobs growth, it is premature to wind back the stimulus program.

“It is also essential to continue a vital program of corporate regulation and reform to prevent a repeat of the GFC.

“In Australia there are 203,300 reasons why the regulatory reform must continue. That is the number of people who have lost their jobs in the past year, through no fault of their own.

“The thousands of unemployed Australians know who to blame for their predicament.

“Over-the-top executive payouts fed a business model that focused on short-term profits and greed at the expense of long-term viability and job security

“Legislation before the Senate this week will rein in outrageous exit payments that have been used to reward CEOs who have often left companies in worse shape than they found them.

“Further reforms are needed to cap executive salaries and bonuses. In recent days, we have seen some incredible payments to Australian CEOs as if the GFC never happened.

“It is totally self-serving for the business lobby to call for a halt to these reforms.”