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.”

Campbell's Soups lockout

Campbell's Soups' Shepparton plant has been in lockdown since Friday, when about 150 workers were shut out of the plant.

They had rejected a company contract because it included a flexibility clause to negotiate individually with workers.

It is believed the company will put a different offer to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union this morning.

The union's Tom Hale says the dispute could go on for some time.

"It depends on how much stock the company's got in their warehouse, the shelf life of the product, the attitude of the supermarkets - in relation to what happens if their stock is no longer available," he said.

Barack Obama: AFL-CIO address

From AFL-CIO Convention

President Obama electrified the thousands of attendees at the AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh. He spoke powerfully about the importance of unions, and our urgent need to rein in insurance company abuses and for real health insurance reform. Building on this momentum, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka exhorted attendees to heed the president’s words and take action.

Delegates and activists responded by getting started right on the convention floor.

They are making calls to their friends and local unions asking them to put together actions to expose the big insurance companies that are blocking meaningful reform. It is truly inspiring to see so many union members in one place taking action together.

President Obama said:

"We’ll grow our middle class by finally providing quality, affordable health insurance in this country. Few have fought for this cause harder, and few have championed it longer than you, our brothers and sisters in organized labor. You’re making phone calls, knocking on doors and showing up at rallies—because you know why this is so important.

You know this isn’t just about the millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance. It’s about the hundreds of millions more who do: Americans who worry that they’ll lose their insurance if they lose their job, who fear their coverage will be denied because of a pre-existing condition, who know that one accident or illness could mean financial ruin."

President Obama knows we need health care reform. You know we need health care reform, but the insurance companies and their corporate front groups are fighting desperately to stop it. We're not going to let them do that. We need health insurance reform so that no one is ever denied coverage because of a "pre-existing condition." We need health insurance reform so that no one is ever dropped by their insurance company simply because they are too expensive.

Rich Trumka told the convention:

"Health care reform—our time is NOW! And we are FIRED UP! What we do in the next two weeks is going to make the difference between winning and losing on health care reform. Today, we’re going to kick off a campaign to really hold insurers accountable—for denying care and shutting people out and using our members’ premium dollars to try to kill a public health care option."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Unions are growing

The political climate under the Rudd government and less hostile workplace laws have helped unions defy historical trends and record membership increases across a range of industries.

Ged Kearney, the federal secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation, said the union had recruited 7000 new members in the first six months of this year, a result she described as "unprecedented".

Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, said the union had achieved growth in the mining and construction sectors, with its Queensland branch membership rising by 14 per cent.

"We were anticipating substantial losses in membership this year," he said.

"In February, we had our national conference and our national executive and we were actually predicting substantial losses in membership primarily through redundancies. We have had a lot of redundancies across the country, but we put in place a range of recruitment strategies to try and minimise the effect and, in fact, we're tracking to grow this year. We grew last year as well."

Linda White, assistant national secretary of the 120,000 member Australian Services Union, said branches in South Australia and the Northern Territory had grown by 6 per cent in the past 12 months.

Ms White said the union's fastest-growing membership area was the non-government community services sector, but airline branches had lost members because of job cuts.

She said Labor's new laws had assisted unions as employers could no longer refuse to negotiate with unions.

"I think that everyone is finding their feet with the bargaining rules but certainly people do understand that you can't just cross your arms and say 'no' in relation to bargaining," she said.

"I think it's fair to say that in the private sector the atmospherics have changed".

Dean Mighell, the Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary, said the union had achieved a "steady increase" in union membership.

"We were really surprised that our membership figures have held despite there being a downturn, particularly in construction," he said.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said many workers were seeking to join or rejoin unions because of the security they could provide during the economic downturn. The most recent ABS data in April showed there were 1.75million union members, a 3 per cent rise in membership, after many years of decline.

"Although the Fair Work Act has been in operation now for several months, the legacy of Work Choices and the Howard government's anti-union approach will exist for some time," he said.

"Hundreds of thousands of workers are trapped on Australian Workplace Agreements until they expire years into the future. Delegate networks and union membership in hundreds of workplaces have been frayed," Mr Lawrence said.

"However, the ACTU is confident that over time, with the removal of barriers that breached international standards, union membership in Australia will again grow, particularly as more workers become aware of the gains and benefits available through belonging to a union."

Unions in the manufacturing and finance sectors that have suffered significant job losses have recorded a net reduction in members. However, unions in these industries have successfully recruited thousands of new members in the past 12 months.

Dave Oliver, national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said his union's membership levels had recorded a "slight dip", primarily due to car industry job losses.

"We've had an 80 per cent increase in the new members we've recruited this year from two years ago," he said. "We're talking thousands. I put it purely down to we've had a greater focus on growth."

Leon Carter, national secretary of the Finance Sector Union, said it had lost 11,000 members through job cuts and a further 5000 jobs had gone offshore in the past year.

However, the 45,000-strong union had recruited 8000 new members over the past 12 months.

"There is a different climate out there is terms of the notion that joining a union isn't an evil thing to do," Mr Carter said. "One of the things about Work Choices was to demonise unions and union membership. We have seen a change in the attitude of some employers to things like access and organising."

He said Labor's new workplace laws had helped the union bargain with employers that had previously refused to do so.

"When you've got the (Howard) federal government making it crystal clear they want the country de-unionised, then employers ... are caught up in that," he said. "That has certainly changed in a cultural sense since the Labor government's been in.

"We're not saying they are doing anything in particular that's promoting union membership, but they're certainly not out there every second day demonising the trade union movement."

The Community and Public Sector Union recruited 8000 new members in the past year, an increase of 1000 on the previous 12 months. However, the gain has been negated by an estimated 8000 members leaving the public sector as a result of redundancies and resignations.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

AMWU: Copyright and mill jobs

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) is concerned about another threat to jobs at a paper mill in Tasmania's north west.

The Federal Government is considering whether to adopt a Productivity Commission recommendation to remove the copyright protection for Australian book printers.

Workers from the Australian Paper mill at Wesley Vale met with Federal Labor MPs yesterday to raise concerns about job losses if the government removes the copyright protection.

The mill employs 265 people and produces a type of coated paper for the book publishing industry.

AMWU representative Lorraine Cassin says if copyright protection is scrapped, it will allow large retailers to import American and UK editions in large volumes, instead of printing locally.

"They wouldn't bother using the Australian printers and so therefore they would tack it onto a big run that was overseas, rather than using the local printing market, which has a direct effect on the jobs which is what our main concern is obviously," she said.

"Both big book printers - McPhersons and Griffin Press - get the majority of their paper from Australia."

There are already concerns about job security at the Wesley Vale mill; Australian Paper is undertaking a review of the mill's operation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

25% Wage Cut Threat for Aged Care Nurses

Aged care nurses in NSW will be among workers hardest hit by the Rudd Government's award modernisation process - with some facing a drop in their pay of nearly $300 per week.

Last Friday (September 4) the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) released details of 49 new awards as part of the award modernisation process introduced by the federal government.

Assistant Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation, Lee Thomas said the new award for aged care was a perverse outcome that no one in the community would support.

"As people begin to understand the ramifications of this decision they will feel disillusioned and angry that the Rudd Government could allow this to happen. Asking nurses who earn as little as $738 a week to take a pay cut of $88 a week is beyond belief. These cuts will undermine the quality of care for many older Australians and place real financial pressure on nurses and their families. It is of great concern that the largest cuts are directed at the most qualified and experienced nurses - with a registered nurse with eight years experience losing nearly $295 a week."

"This decision will affect over ten thousand aged care nurses in NSW alone. Some nurses may be protected by enterprise agreements but thousands rely on the award and it is unfair to expect these nurses to take a pay cut of up to 25% over the next five years. The effect will be to drive nurses out of the system and make it even more difficult to attract and retain quality staff to work in aged care facilities," she said.

Ms Thomas said Australians voted decisively against the Howard Government's Workchoices legislation at the last election and it was time for the Rudd Government to deliver a fair outcome.

NSW Nurses' Association General Secretary, Brett Holmes said the Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Julia Gillard must step in as a matter of urgency.

"The Federal Government must ensure that we have a minimum wages system that does not cut wages nor lead to a wages freeze which would result in a real wages cut as a result of inflation over the next five years," Mr Holmes said.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rotten to the core

A Lurkers Song©Martin Cubby and Mithra Cox 2009

The banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
Ripping off the workers
The farmers and the poor
Giving credit come and get it
Isn't that what banks are for
But they know you can't repay it
And they're beating down your door

And the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the monument of capital
Is rotten to the core

Down on dirty Wall Street
The truth is hard to find
Lay a dirty greenback down
You've got a dirty lie
Up on hollow Main Street
The truth is what you're told
A happy life it can be bought
A happy life is sold

The vultures at the top
Are in their towers of glass and steel
Hard hands at the bottom
They're scrounging their next meal
The ones who built the mansions
Pressed the suits and parked the car
They can't afford the rent
And so it's on the credit card

So lay your money down now
Don't you worry be at ease
Snort another line of credit
From the nice Chinese
Keep buying shoes and TVs
Pay it back another day
Everyone's got to keep shopping
Or they'll take your house away

From The Lurkers CD: Shoot to the Moon
Visit The Lurkers website at

ACTU: Workers doing it tough

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the rise in financial stress is clearly a result of the global downturn and the fact that many workers have lost their jobs or have been forced to reduce their hours of work.

According to recently released ABS data, almost 900,000 Australians wanted to work more hours but were unable due to loss of working hours or unavailability of full time jobs, said Ms Burrow.

“Working Australians are still doing it tough and there are hundreds of thousands of workers who are worse off now than they were a year ago.

“There is a lot of personal hardship despite positive signs in some of the economic indicators — with a bounce in job ads in August, research showing positive employment signs in some regions and Australia’s positive economic growth, as revealed in last week’s GDP figures.

“While home loan interest rates remain relatively low, personal loan rates and credit cards loan rates do not.

“At the same time, many families have to cope with lower incomes as people lose their jobs or have their hours of work cut back.

“What this means is that families who are working fewer hours are struggling to repay high personal debt while also managing grocery and household bills,” Ms Burrow said.

“Growing financial stress combined with uncertainty remaining around the job market illustrates the importance of maintaining the Federal Government’s stimulus package and policies to assist families throughout the downturn.

“The IMF told the G20 meeting that winding back stimulus is the wrong approach.

“With unemployment trending upwards it is wrong and dangerous for the Coalition to advocate a winding back of the Federal Government’s stimulus and infrastructure investment.

“We will be carefully watching the labour force figures due to be released this Thursday to assess the impact of the current financial climate on part time workers and the unemployed,” Ms Burrow said.

ACL Bearing: redundancy anger

Anger among workers at ACL Bearing in Launceston has boiled over, after revelations two directors took redundancy payouts at the height of the company's financial turmoil.

Former ACL executive directors Michael Saward and John Capuano were made redundant following a restructure of the company in the middle of last year, while the company's workers worked four days a week in exchange for a 20per cent pay cut.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Dave Oliver said it was "morally corrupt" for the pair to receive their redundancy payments when workers at the company were owed $30m in entitlements and would receive only 30c in the dollar.

"The workers are shattered -- they feel like they've been kicked in the guts because they've given their loyal service to the company for many, many years only to find that the directors have been looked after and they've been left basically with nothing," Mr Oliver said.

The survival of ACL is crucial for the car industry, especially Ford, which does not have an alternative supplier of bearings for its locally made cars and is owed $3m by the company.

Toyota also relies on bearings and gaskets produced by ACL. The company received a $7m federal bailout in June, of which $5m was banked. It also received a $2m federal grant in May last year and $300,000 from the Tasmanian government.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Beware retail super!

Retail superannuation funds, which pay commissions and are most often recommended by planners, were at the bottom of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's first league table.

In contrast, industry and not-for-profit funds, which do not pay commissions and tend not to be recommended by financial planners, appeared at the top of the league table.

Industry Super Network executive manager David Whiteley said the results showed showed the industry was corrupt, and it was time for the government to stamp out commissions and conflicts of interest

Retail superannuation funds hit back, arguing that the tables did not fully reflect the performance of the funds because they averaged returns across all investment options and were outdated.

The results come just days after the Australian Securities & Investments Commission called for a ban on upfront and trailing commissions, as well as soft dollar and volume-based incentives for financial planners.

Superannuation Minister Chris Bowen said he supported industry moves away from commissions. "The government believes that the removal of conflicts of interest is vital, and reserves the right to legislate if industry reforms do not go far enough," he said.

Mr Whiteley said by pushing investors into underperforming funds, financial planners were costing people thousands of dollars and stripping billions from the economy. He said the league table showed industry super funds outperformed retail funds over the long term by about 2.7 per cent. There were no retail funds in the top 40 performing funds, while 47 of the top 50 funds over five years were not-for-profit funds.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Demand for better safety laws

A national poll of 1,013 respondents was conducted by Essential Research between the 25th and 30th of August. It found nearly seven out of ten workers (67%) are not aware that the governments are working together to standardise the nation’s occupational health and safety laws.

AMWU Health and Safety Officer Deb Vallance said unions are concerned the proposed new laws will reduce the existing rights and protections for many Australian workers.

"The changes will reduce the power of employees while giving greater power to employers, but the poll shows the Australian public don’t want workplace safety rights undermined."

"It is essential that the Federal Government does not cave in to pressure from major employers and business lobby groups on this fundamental issue for workers."

The poll shows there is significant support in the Australian community for stronger rights and protections for workers and an ongoing role for unions in checking workplaces where employees are worried they are in danger.

Eighty one per cent of those surveyed agreed workers should have the right to call in help from a union to check on health and safety issues regardless of their employer’s approval.

"There is also strong public resistance to moves by employers to deny injured workers the right to prosecute employers under workplace health and safety laws," said Ms Vallance.


Storm and CBA: Sales and bonus culture

The aggressive sales-and-bonus culture that triggered the financial crisis overseas hit Australia hard, too, a Parliamentary Inquiry learned this week. Hearings in Townsville heard how Commonwealth Bank ramped up sales targets, hoping to wring more and more business from Storm Financial.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into financial products and services was told that Northern Queensland area Commonwealth Bank sales targets soared by $170 million in 2008-09. The target of $750 million in lending was equivalent to Brisbane city, which had more than twice as many lenders.

The Inquiry, which has hearings in Sydney on Friday, also heard how a Commonwealth audit of 600 Storm Financial-related lending files found no discrepancies in bank procedure.

“What the Inquiry heard this week completely undermines the bank’s claim that one or two rogue lenders caused this financial pain,” Finance Sector Union National Secretary Leon Carter said. “It blows the lid off a systemic, sales-and-bonus culture that pervades our industry. It triggered the US mortgage and global financial crisis and cost thousands of Australians their savings. It needs to stop.”

Mr Carter noted the bank’s claims that the problems associated with Storm are simply an isolated problem are clearly wrong. The sales targets for North Queensland were imposed by the State Manager in full knowledge of the business Storm was providing. The manager in turn would have been responding to head office executives’ growth targets.

He said the hearing is revealing serious shortcomings in the finance sector directly related to remuneration models, much like the US experience, and must be taken on board by Treasurer Wayne Swan, who is attending G20 talks in London about strengthening financial regulations.

“This week, we heard evidence of systematic failure caused by pursuing aggressive sales targets,” Mr Carter said.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

NSW: Tafe Teachers Rally

Four thousand TAFE teachers and supporters from across NSW rallied outside Parliament House in Macquarie Street today.

The participants voted unanimously to continue their campaign to ensure the NSW government delivers proper salary increases without destroying the quality of TAFE education in the state.

The meeting carried the following resolution:

"This stopwork meeting of TAFE Federation members at NSW Parliament on 2 September 2009 has no confidence in the Director-General Michael Coutts-Trotter.

"We are determined to fight to maintain quality TAFE teaching and learning conditions, and reject proposals made by DET to increase teaching hours and destroy professional development."

The meeting was addressed by Bob Lipscombe, President NSW Teachers Federation; Rob Long, President TAFE Teachers Association; Linda Simon, AEU Federal TAFE President; Josie Keeley, TAFE teacher from Goulburn, and several politicians: Shadow Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli; Greens Education Spokesperson, John Kaye; Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, Independent Richard Torbay; and Upper House Independent, Reverend Gordon Moyes. All supported the TAFE teachers.

Federation President Bob Lipscombe said "It is time for the Minster to take charge of this matter from the Department of Education and Training and to enter into negotiations with the Federation to resolve the dispute."

Union Climate Connectors

Held at Unions NSW on Monday August 31, the launch of the campaign was a great success!
As the campaign was officially launched, over 750 workers had already signed up to take action in their workplaces, community and homes.
Union Climate Connectors campaign launch L-R: ACTU President Sharan Burrow, PSA General Secretary John Cahill, PSA Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner, CPSU National Secretary Stephen Jones, LHMU National Secretary Louise Tarrant, and ACF Executive Director Don Henry.
Union Climate Connectors campaign launch L-R: ACTU President Sharan Burrow, PSA General Secretary John Cahill, PSA Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner, CPSU National Secretary Stephen Jones, LHMU National Secretary Louise Tarrant, and ACF Executive Director Don Henry.

Sharan Burrow President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions spoke about Union Climate Connectors:

"Union members want to be part of the solution to climate change. We can make a big difference in our workplaces – from universities through to hospitality and manufacturing – and we will also be at the forefront in urging our political leaders to adopt a strong and decisive set of policies to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and create clean energy jobs," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

And Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation spoke a few words on the part workers will play in the lead up to December:
'These union climate connectors can play an important role in convincing our politicians to strengthen and pass the emissions trading legislation before Copenhagen to show Australia is prepared to walk the talk on climate change," he said.

24 Hour TAFE Strike and Rally

Wednesday 2 September 2009
Rally, Parliament House, Macquarie St - 11:00 am
Assemble Hyde Park North (near Archibald Fountain) – 10:30 am

Federation members in TAFE will stop work for 24 hours on Wednesday 2 September. A TAFE rally will be held outside Parliament House. Members should gather at Hyde Park North (near Archibald Fountain) at 10:30 am. A short march down Macquarie St from Hyde Park North will commence at 11 am, and rally outside Parliament House.

The Federation Executive met this morning, Monday 31 August 2009, and resolved the following:

“Executive expresses its grave concern that neither the Premier nor the Minister of Education and Training have responded to urgent requests by the Federation on 20 August seeking their intervention in the dispute over TAFE teachers’ salaries.

Executive notes that the Department of Education and Training persisted with its application in the Industrial Relations Commission which, if granted, will result in the effective abolition of the equivalent of over 500 full-time teaching positions in TAFE and the erosion of a significant range of working and learning conditions.

This appears to be little more than a crude attempt to have TAFE teachers fund shortfalls in the government’s general revenue at the expense of the TAFE system. These cuts will enable the government to save in excess of $50 million per annum to fund salary increases for TAFE teachers which are only worth, on average, $15 million per annum.

As a consequence of the failure of the Premier and Minister to take action to resolve this dispute, Executive determines that TAFE members will stop work for 24 hours on Wednesday, 2 September. A rally of TAFE teachers will be held outside the NSW Parliament House on that day.”

It’s time for all members in TAFE to take action to safeguards jobs and maintain TAFE quality.


John Irving
General Secretary
NSW Teachers Federation

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Equal Pay Day: Equal Pay Alliance

A woman starting work today will retire having earned $1 million less than a man doing the same job unless decisive employer and government action is taken to end the scandal of pay inequality, say unions.

Launching an alliance of 135 organisations to mark Equal Pay Day (September 1) ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“It is unacceptable that working women are still being short-changed in their pay packets.

“Many Australians believe women won equal pay in the 1970s - but they are wrong.

“It’s almost 40 years since Australian women were officially granted equal pay for equal work. Yet women still earn 17% less than men or $1 million less over a lifetime.

“For the first time a broad coalition of organisations will campaign to close the pay gap between men and women,” said Ms Burrow.

On average, it takes women 14 months to earn the same amount that men earn in 12 months. This year, Equal Pay Day is 1 September, which commemorates the day when women’s earnings "catch up".

“Our labour market and social structures continue to discriminate against women in employment,” Ms Burrow said.

“On one hand, women have access to unprecedented levels of education and employment. Yet women continue to shoulder most of the unpaid housework and care of children.

“A critical lack of childcare options and inflexible work practices is stopping them from successfully combining work and caring responsibilities.”

While women are now more likely to have a tertiary qualification than men, women graduates will earn $2,000 less than male graduates and $7,400 less by the fifth year after graduation;

Fewer than 2% of ASX 200 companies have a female chief executive officer and only 1 in 12 board directors are women.

Women retire with less than half the amount of savings in their superannuation accounts compared with men.

And, it’s predicted that rather than improving, the gender pay gap between women and men’s earnings is set to increase over the upcoming years.

“We look forward to the support of the Rudd government, employers and the community to achieve these reforms so our daughters don’t need to work an extra two months to earn as much as their brothers,” Ms Burrow said.

The Equal Pay Alliance includes a diverse range of organisations including community, business and welfare peak bodies who are pledging to promote equal pay and employment opportunity for all Australians.