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)