Thursday, April 30, 2009

US Unions: Obama 100 days


It's remarkable! In just 100 days, President Obama and Vice President Biden, with your help, have laid down a foundation of change for America's working families.

Obama has taken major steps on the economy, health care and the protection of workers' rights that will lead to a more prosperous and fair future for working people and America.  And he has dealt simultaneously with international crises and begun to reset the opinion about our country around the world.

Given the perilous state of the economy and the world, there remains much to be done. But today is a time for a brief reflection on what the Obama administration has accomplished and what lies ahead.

For starters, President Obama has shown his commitment to strengthening the middle class and making the economy work for working families by:

    * Signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that women earn equal pay for equal work;
    * Working with Congress to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to cover an additional 4 million children;
    * Creating the Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, so workers have a direct input into policymaking;
    * Appointing Hilda Solis, a champion for workers, as secretary of labor; and
    * Protecting America's workers by rescinding some of the most damaging anti-worker executive orders put in place by former President George W. Bush. 

More broadly, with the Economic Recovery Act and the budget, the Obama administration, together with Congress, is rebuilding our economy by:

    * Investing in the rebuilding of our infrastructure and creating good jobs;
    * Providing aid to state and local governments, so they can avoid layoffs and continue to provide essential services;
    * Funding the development of "green technologies" that will create good-paying jobs while protecting our environment; and
    * Setting aside resources for real health care and education reform.

The Obama administration focused its first 100 days on putting down an important foundation for change, and many challenges remain. We look forward to helping the administration meet those challenges by passing the Employee Free Choice Act and comprehensive national health care reform so our economy truly works for everyone.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Wallsend Aged Care Facility is the largest care centre of it's kind in the Hunter Valley. The NSW State Government are seeking to abolish this facility by removing it from under the umbrella of the Department of Health and sell off the beds like cattle to the private sector. You can help prevent this disgraceful act by signing our petition and participating in the forums. Become an active part of this protest - don't stand by and let the State Government destroy the rights of our aged and disabled residents.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

91,000 young Australians jobs lost

Measures must be taken to prevent a generation of young Australians becoming victims of long-term unemployment as a result of the Global Financial Crisis, say unions.

Commenting on the release of an OECD report, Jobs for Youth, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said avoiding a blow-out in the ranks of unemployed young people must be a major priority for the Australian economy in coming months.

She said employers had a special obligation not to retrench trainees and apprentices at the first sign of tough times as this could lead to them not finishing their qualifications and finding it hard to secure decent work.

Ms Burrow said unions welcomed the recent $300 million Federal Government program to enable young people to complete their apprenticeships.

Unions have called for a job compact for young Australians unemployed for 18 months or more.

This would involve a six to 12 month job placement, primarily in the private sector, to all who have been on unemployment benefits for more than 18 months.

Intensive help must also be provided for people aged under 18 to search for suitable full-time work, training or education through the Youth Training Initiative.

Ms Burrow said the latest data showed that 91,000 young Australians in full-time work lost their jobs in the past year.

"We must ensure that young people beginning their working lives are not left behind by the GFC," she said.

"It would be a tragedy if a generation of young Australians were trapped in long-term unemployment and poverty as a result of this downturn."

Ms Burrow said improved industrial relations protections for young workers were also very important and should not be undermined by the Global Financial Crisis.

Vulnerable young people featured prominently among the victims of WorkChoices with AWA individual contracts stripping away wages, conditions and rights for thousands of young people, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors.

The recently-passed Fair Work Act will provide better protection for young workers, and Ms Burrow cautioned against any roll back of the new industrial relations laws that would leave young workers more exposed to being ripped off by employers.

"We must not go back to the days when young workers were exploited and ripped off under a system that gave them few rights at work," Ms Burrow said.

Proud and Strong

A Song by The Eureka's©2009 Eureka's

They can't cheat us, they won't shake us
They can't beat us, they won't break us
With their tricks and legal laws
And there's notheing they can do
Cos we're union through and through

We're proud and strong, we do no wrong
Keep the workers safe out of harms way
We built this city for a fair day's pay
We can take the knocks, solid as a rock
We're union through and through
We're union through and through
We are the CFMEU
We're union through and through
We are the CFMEU

They can't stop us they won't shut us
They can't top us and they can't gut us
We've got the workers on our side
And we've got nothing to hide
And there's noteing they can do
Cos we're union through and through

Our members do a great job, it's hard and tough
And we stand by them when to going gets rough
The pollies couldn't care, the law is unfair
But we will always be right in there
Fighting for better pay and conditions
It's always been our tradition
We're the CFMEU
And our members won't be screwed

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Australian automotive industry not dead

By Dave Oliver, AMWU national secretary

Australia's automotive industry is far from dead or dying. The industry comprises not just the major car manufacturers Ford, Holden and Toyota, but also a large number of auto-component companies and retail dealerships across the country that continue to employ over 200,000 Australians.

Australia remains one of only 15 nations whose auto sector comprises all phases of the value-adding process from concept/design through final assembly and testing. The industry drives innovation across the economy both directly (accounting for nearly 20 per cent of manufacturing R&D) and indirectly (through the dissemination of new management techniques and systems of work organisation).

As the national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, one of the major unions that represents auto workers, and as a member of the Automotive Innovation Council, I can state with authority that Australia's automotive industry is alive and has a bright future.

We have a Federal Government that has a vested interest in maintaining capacity (witness the saving of the Geelong engine plant), building innovative responses to the global financial crisis (as exemplified in the financial support extended to car dealerships as the global credit squeeze worsened), and encouraging further research and development to assist the industry adapt to the changing environment.

Australia's automotive sector has been given a substantial overhaul with the Bracks Review in 2008. The outcome of that inquiry was a commitment of $6.2 billion in Government investment over the next 13 years, which will leverage up more than twice that sum in direct industry investment. It is new investment which is the lifeblood of this industry and the establishment of the Green Car Fund in particular will help reposition the industry's investments for the lower emission vehicles of the future.

These substantial commitments by Government, and the efforts of auto industry employers, unions and their members to work together in the face of the global recession to secure jobs and industry capability augur well for the industry's future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ACTU: Nanotechnology concerns

Nanotechnology is hailed as a having enormous potential in the creation of new products and devices and is now used in over 800 everyday items including some sunscreens, cosmetics, bed sheets, building materials and paints.

Unions are concerned that there is mounting evidence showing some nanomaterials are potentially hazardous yet the industry is growing without adequate worker protections.

The nanotechnology industry is projected to grow from US$32 billion to US$2.6 trillion over the next decade.

Currently there is no mandatory register in Australia of who is importing, manufacturing, supplying or selling nanomaterials and no obligation to label products. But there are moves afoot internationally to introduce regulations (see factsheet).

Nanotechnology involves using materials at the nanoscale (one billionth of a metre), which poses challenges for occupational health and safety regulators.

Research has shown that some nanomaterials may act in similar ways to asbestos.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Geoff Fary said:

“With animal tests showing some nanomaterials share the same characteristics and reactions as asbestos fibres, governments and business must not repeat the painful lessons of the past and allow another tragedy to occur again.

"Existing laws and regulations were not designed with the unique properties of nanoscale materials in mind. A recent report from the NSW Parliament recommended this be addressed and we believe it should be done nationally too.

“Until we know more about nano materials, we should regulate as if it is dangerous to human health. It is the only safe option.

“Workers in manufacturing, retail, health, laboratories, textiles, and outdoor workers are potentially exposed to nanomaterials, and the list will grow as the industry grows.”

Mr Fary said that introducing regulations by the end of 2009 was a sufficient timeframe given the pace of industry development and would coincide with the introduction of Australia’s new nationally harmonised health and safety laws that are scheduled in under a year.

More information
Read the fact sheet by downloading the file below

Nanotechnology fact sheet

Thursday, April 09, 2009

NSW Government flogs ‘licence to print money’

The NSW Government’s addiction for privatisation is worsening with the announcement that State Lotteries is the next asset on the sell-off block.

The Government today announced that State Lotteries would be sold off - despite delivering more than $400 million to the government every year.

NSW Public Service Association assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the decision defied logic - coming at a time when the government was arguing it needed to sell jails to save just $16 million a year.

"On the one hand we have the government selling off a central part of the justice system on the basis of costs, while on the other it is giving up a licence to print money.

"Selling off lotteries is like hocking off the family silver. About a third of the cost of ticket sales is funnelled straight back into government coffers each year.

In 2007/2008 total payments to Government amounted to almost $412 million, and assisted in the provision of a range of community services.

"At a time when Governments around the world are nationalising assets and services, this Government stands alone in its determination to flog off everything that's not nailed down," Mr Turner said.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Voices from the Ships: 7 April

Voices from the Ships: Australia's Seafarers and their Union
Diane Kirkby
UNSW Press

Book launch
07 April 2009 5.30pm
The Australian National Maritime Museum

Australia’s seafarers claim a long and distinguished history of political activism and union organisation. Theirs is more than just a job. It is a way of life in which union membership is inseparable from their identity as world citizens.

For more than fifty years a commitment to a socialist vision of world peace and democracy, combined with strong and continuous leadership, made the Seamen’s Union a distinctive force in Australian industrial and political history.

In their struggles to replace harsh conditions with safe and liveable workplaces, financial security and dignity, the SUA fought for principles of equality, democracy and social justice for all workers and all people. In Voices from the Ships seafarers tell their story of these events and the role that unionism played in changing their lives for the better.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Financial Crisis and Climate Change

Where: Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills
When: 02 April 2009
Start time: 10.30am

A meeting of Retired Union members and their guests are invited to a meeting on The Financial Crisis and Climate Changes.


Dr John Kaye, Greens MLC

Prof. Frank Stilwell, Political Economy, Sydney University

Dr Mark Diesendorf, Institute of Env. Studies, University of NSW

All interested persons are invited to attend.

Authorised by NSW Alliance of Retired Trade Unionists in cooperation with Council of Retired Union Members Association (CRUMA)