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.