Friday, March 26, 2010

State of the Climate - Snapshot

Australia's two leading climate science agencies – the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology - have produced a snapshot of the state of the climate to update Australians about how their climate has changed and what it means.

Fast Facts
  • Australia will be hotter in coming decades
  • Much of Australia will be drier in coming decades
  • It is very likely that human activities have caused most of the global warming observed since 1950
  • Climate change is real
This snapshot provides observations and analysis of Australia’s climate and the factors that influence it. Two organisations, CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have combined to present this current picture of Australia’s climate.

The Bureau of Meteorology has been observing and reporting on weather in Australia for over 100 years, and CSIRO has been conducting atmospheric and marine research for over 60 years.

The snapshot is sourced from peer reviewed data on temperature, rainfall, sea level, ocean acidification, and carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dangers of US "free trade"

Kenneth Davidson: The Age Mon 22 Mar 2010

Why is the Rudd government entering into new free trade negotiations with the Obama administration?

Australia has nothing to gain except a further erosion of our sovereignty and Barack Obama lacks authority from Congress to undertake a binding agreement.

The US wants to open up the rest of the world to US investors on a privileged basis, sanctioned by binding international agreements, and backed up by domestic laws (including criminal laws to protect intellectual property rights). In this, Obama is carrying on the trade policies of previous administrations.

One way or another, the US has been trying to shape the world along the lines of the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US andMexico, even though this agreement is electoral poison in all three countries.

Obama was elected on a promise to abandon the Bush administration’s free trade strategy and even roll back some of the more obnoxious provisions in the North American template for the rest of the world.

The central aim of the strategy (insofar as Wall Street and ‘‘big pharma’’ is concerned) —to get China, Japan and ASEAN countries to come on board in North American-style free trade agreements—seems likely to fail. In all these countries, government plays a strategic role in economic development, and while exportled growth has been a hallmark of the Asian economic miracle, opening up their domestic economies has been very much on their terms. These countries haven’t forgotten that the ones that did best during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 were the ones that resisted pressure from the US and the International Monetary Fund to open up their financial markets.

It is only six years since the free trade agreement with the US was made. Where is the evidence that it has made Australia better off? There is none.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicka Dixon: 1928 - 2010

MUA News
Waterside worker and long time Aboriginal activist Charles "Chicka" Dixon has died in Sydney aged 81 - struck down by asbestos he contracted working on the wharves.

Chicka Dixon Aboriginal of the Year, tent embassy activist, builders labourer, wharfie, university lecturer, recovered alcoholic, and former chair of the Aboriginal Arts Board - a man who has represented his people around the world, studied with the Canadian Native Americans, done a bit of gaol, been mate with prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke and addressed 10,000 Chinese in the Great Hall of the People - has died.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin paid tribute to Chicka Dixon's as political and labour warrior.

"The MUA adds their sympathies and condolences to the many voices in our national and the international labour movement on Chicka's passing," he said. "A man of character, substance and unwavering courage he reflected the finer traits Australians aspire to and seek after for a society that is decent inclusive and fair to all.

"Chicka was a worker, leader and activist who was determined to turn around racism and elitism and gain proper recognition for the extraordinary culture and character of his people and the great injustice done to them.

"His asbestosis related death brings into even clearer focus this great injustice to working men and women in this country and the long campaign led by the MUA in many ways to find remedy and restitution.

"Our membership officials and staff in particular farewell one of our own. Vale comrade."

Mount Isa: Lead contamination from mines

Macquarie University research reveals there is unequivocal evidence that the environmental lead source at Mount Isa, Queensland, is derived from the mining and smelting activities.

The research findings have important and significant implications for current and future residents of Mount Isa – particularly for children under age five. The research demonstrates that the current educational advice given to Mount Isa residents to minimise their exposure to environmental lead by reducing dust in the home environment is inadequate because it does not address the primary cause and source of the problem – the mining and smelting operations.

The research found that surface soils within 2km of the mining operations were significantly enriched with cadmium, copper, lead and zinc compared to sites at greater distances. The researchers tested their hypothesis that the Xstrata Mount Isa Mines operations had caused surface contamination by examining soil profiles in and around Mount Isa. These investigations confirmed that it was only the top few centimetres of soil that were enriched with metals. At depths of 10-20 cm, soil metals were close to normal concentrations. The study also demonstrated that surface lead and copper concentrations were highly correlated, indicating that they must have a common source of origin.

Previously, Xstrata Mount Mines and various Queensland Government agencies have contended that the primary source of contaminated urban soils was a result of natural mineralisation effects from local geology. However, the study shows that elevated copper concentrations associated with the surface soils cannot be derived from the copper orebody, which is found at a minimum of ~240 m below the surface.

These facts reveal that the surface enrichment of soils with both lead and copper can only have been derived from atmospheric emissions from Xstrata Mount Isa Mines.

Sharan Burrow: ITUC nomination

ACTU President Sharan Burrow has been nominated for election to General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The ITUC is the world's peak union body, working to protect and advance workers’ rights across the globe.

It directly represents 175 million workers from 155 countries and territories.

The ACTU was one of several national peak union organisations to nominate Ms Burrow for the position.

Nominations closed at midnight on Sunday, Brussels time.

Ms Burrow said she was grateful for the support shown by her union colleagues in Australia and overseas.

"I am humbled and honoured at being nominated for the position of General Secretary of the ITUC,” Ms Burrow said.

"However, the election will not be held until the ITUC Congress at the end of June.

"Until then, I remain fully focussed and committed to the ACTU and to ensuring that Australia does not go back to WorkChoices."

Ms Burrow has been President of the ITUC and its predecessor, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, since 2004.

She has been President of the ACTU since May 2000 and was elected for a further three-year term last year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

USA: Historic win on health


In an historic vote more than 60 years in the making, the House of Representatives late last night voted to approve (219-211) what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls a ”momentous step toward comprehensive health care.”

The bill survived a $100 million lie-and-distortion campaign by Big Insurance to kill it-the same kind of tactics these groups have aimed at health care proposals for six decades. Trumka says the bill is not “a baby step or half measure,” but a solid step forward to set our country on a path to health care that actually works for working families.

After personally calling dozens of House members on Friday, Trumka spent the weekend meeting with House members to firm up votes in favor of the bill. On Capitol Hill today, Trumka joined two workers-among the millions in this nation for whom passage of this health care bill means the difference between food and health care.

One of the workers, Liz Stender, lost her job in August while four months pregnant, and described how COBRA, which extends her health coverage, will run out next month. Now working part-time, Stender, a member of the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America, won’t be able to afford health coverage for herself or her small daughter–and today’s passage of the health care bill literally means the difference between groceries and insurance. Judy Cato, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans, who also joined Trumka, described how the legislation will allow her and other Medicare beneficiaries to get mammograms and other preventive screenings without co-payments.

In a letter Friday to House members urging passage of the bill, Trumka wrote “the bill is not perfect.”

But we are realistic enough to know it’s time for the deliberations to stop and for progress to begin. And we are idealistic enough to believe this is an opportunity to change history we can’t afford to miss.

Union Members Made the Difference

Throughout the health care battle, mobilized union members provided a strong and visible counterpoint to the insurance giants’ television and lobbying blitz. Union members made more than 4 million phone calls and sent more than 1 million emails to lawmakers. Leaders flew to Washington and visited members of Congress in their districts, making more than 10,000 contacts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Business attack on low paid

ACTU: 19 March 2010

The demand by big businesses for a two year delay in any wage rise for about 1.4 million workers would drive down living standards and harm the economy, say unions.

With businesses and the economy recovering from the downturn and major companies posting $1 billion-plus profits, the push for an extended pay freeze is motivated solely by greed and self-interest.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said low-paid workers have not had a wage rise since 2008, and employer submissions to the annual wage review would extend this freeze up to January 2011.
The health of the Australian economy and rising company profits shows a further pay freeze extension is totally unnecessary and blatantly unfair. It would dampen consumer demand and slow economic growth.

"That would make it more than two years since the low-paid got a wage rise," Mr Lawrence said.

"People earning less than $15 an hour should have to wait that long without a pay increase."

The ACTU is calling for a $27 a week, or 71 cents an hour, increase to minimum wages for about 1.4 million award-reliant workers. If granted, it would lift the National Minimum Wage from $543.78 to $570.78. The ACTU claim represents a pay increase of 4.2% for the average award minimum wage worker.

"Australia's largest corporations are just being greedy by denying low-paid workers a decent wage rise.

"Major employers such as Woolworths made a $1.1 billion profit in the last six months.

"They can clearly afford to give low paid workers a decent pay rise - much more than what they are offering.

"While the cost of living has gone up the incomes of low-paid workers have been frozen thanks to WorkChoices and the so-called Fair Pay Commission. Without a catch-up in minimum wages, they and their families will slip further behind the rest of the community and will face a big drop in their living standards.

"As Australia recovers from the economic downturn and company profits strengthen, it's time to give workers on award minimum wages the pay rise of $27 a week that unions are seeking. Big employers should move on from WorkChoices, and the new system of setting minimum wages must properly recognise the contribution of employees that are reliant on award wages."

Mr Lawrence said the ACTU would oppose any attempts by employers to link the wage review to award modernisation.

"Award modernisation is having widely different effects on workers across different industries and states and should not be used as an excuse to oppose a decent rise in minimum wages," he said.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Abbott: history of disrespect

Tony Abbott has long held the view that he should disrespect traditional landowners by not acknowledging them at official events. During the last federal election campaign, he started his speech at Ryde TAFE, in the electorate of Bennelong, by saying, "I'd like to acknowledge John Howard as the traditional owner of this land." Let's hope he joins Mr Howard on the political scrapheap.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Green Ban victory: Pirrama Park

Pyrmont residents gathered yesterday to celebrate their success in creating a new public park.

Pirrama Park came to fruition because of the hard work of residents and the help of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union green bans, Sydney City councillor Marcelle Hoff said.

Before being elected to council, Cr Hoff was the founding president of Friends of Pyrmont Point, which campaigned to create the park.

In 2002 the state government started planning to sell a site on the foreshore at Pyrmont that had been home to the Water Police.

Some residents believed the land should be kept in public ownership rather than sold for private housing.

Cr Hoff said 12 people were soon joined by many other residents and a diverse mix of schools, churches and business people.

She was also influenced by an early meeting with Jack Mundey, who is considered by many to be the father of the green ban movement of the 1970s that stopped many building projects that would have damaged important environmental and heritage sites.

With the help of the union and state Labor MP John Robertson, a green ban was placed on the Pyrmont site, so that no unionists would agree to work there.

The park – named Pirrama because records show that was the name Aboriginal people gave to the area – cost more than $37 million to create. It features native trees, sandstone artefacts and a playground for children. It has also won numerous design awards.

Union secretary Andrew Ferguson said undertaking green bans was not risk-free for unions.

"I have been a union leader for 30 years and the laws today compared to then are horrific," he said. "There are very serious consequences for the unions now."

In the case of Pirrama Park, the union did not suffer any ill consequences.

After the 2004 Sydney City elections, a newly elected council voted to purchase the site from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and use it as a public space.

"I think the ban had clear merit and a lot of broad community support. The last thing we need is a Hong Kong-style shoreline with high-rise developments everywhere," Mr Ferguson said.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Greek workers resist wage cuts

Under pressure from Brussels and the US-dominated International Monetary Fund, Athens has announced an additional 4.8 billion euros (AUD $7 bn) in savings through savage public-sector wage cuts, recruitment and pension freezes and consumer tax rises to deal with its ballooning deficit.

The cutbacks, which add to a previous 11.2 billion euros austerity plan, seek to reduce the country's budget deficit from 12.7 per cent of annual output to 8.7 per cent this year.

The long-term target is to bring overspending below the EU-dictated ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP in 2012.

The regressive measures have sparked a major upsurge of union-led working-class resistance.

Yesterday's general strike was the second major walkout in a week.

On the eve of the latest strike the European Trade Union Confederation expressed its "whole solidarity" with Greece.

In a statement, the ETUC, which represents 60 million individual trade unionists, said that it stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the strikers because "workers are losing their jobs in the hundreds of thousands because of the greed and the speculation of the 'lords of finance.'"

The ETUC roundly condemned unelected EU institutions for "giving an entirely wrong message - speculators are not to be touched while workers and governments are pressed to cut wages, social benefits and public services."

The confederation demanded a "new social deal" for the EU, including a financial transaction tax, a common euro bond, a European rating agency and a European Central Bank which also supports public policy and public finances.

MUA: Year of the Seafarer

MUA: 09 March 2010

As the Minister for Transport officially launched the International Year of the Seafarer today, the head of the Maritime Union of Australia warned that the country would pay dearly if it not take urgent measures to revitalise the Australia shipping industry - main employer of merchant seafarers.

"Minister Albanese continues to support Australian shipping seafarers but it's now time to urgently act on a package of reforms that have now been before Government for more than a year", said Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA.

"Ironically, in this International Year of the Seafarer our merchant seafarers are struggling for survival. Their workplaces, Australian ships, are largely dilapidated with numbers are down from 75 to 46 in 10 years.

"Mr Albanese has been proactive with the completion of the parliamentary inquiry into coastal shipping, commitment to a total re-write of the Navigation Act and moving towards a single national regulator for all commercial vessels, but there are fiscal and regulatory decisions that need to be taken to refloat the domestic industry.

"Foreign ships now carry 99 percent of our international trade and 30 percent of domestic trade. There is a great opportunity here to substantially boost are GDP and see that more ships pay tax in Australia", said Crumlin.

"The crucial incentives that our shipping industry needs to keep it afloat and actually make a valuable contribution to our economy include:
  • the introduction of a tax on ship tonnage rather than company profits
  • tax concession for seafarers working mainly in the international trades and
  • changes to laws and regulations so that Australian ships and crews are used, wherever possible in domestic trades.
"Minister Albanese was right on the money with an implicit warning about the '4,000 ships - including 200 oil and chemical carriers - navigating our waters every year, many near environmental icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef'. The oil spill that hit Queensland's pristine beaches last year care of the Hong Kong-flagged Pacific Adventurer showed the pollution potential.

"As the Minister says Australia has a strong interest in making sure these vessels continue to be manned by highly trained and dedicated seafarers. These people should, of course, be Australians. The Government's announcement of last week of $2.1 million to the Australian Maritime College's budget to lift maritime skills is the right sign", said Crumlin.

Equal Pay Alliance lodges case to Fair Work Australia

ACTU 11 March 2010

The newly-formed Equal Pay Alliance will today call on all political parties and employers to
properly value women’s work and close the 17% wage gap between men and women once and
for all, as it launches a national equal pay campaign in Canberra.

“The pay gap is still so big that on average Australian women have to work 63 days more a year
just to earn the same income. Over a lifetime, women end up earning on average about $1 million
less than men,” said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

The Equal Pay Alliance includes 150 organisations across business, unions and the community.
As part of the campaign, the Alliance is supporting a national test case to secure fairer pay rates for social and community sector workers who look after the homeless, the disabled, refugees, domestic violence victims, children at risk, the elderly and other vulnerable people in our society.

“This is difficult and demanding work, yet this female-dominated industry is one of the lowest paid in Australia because it has been historically viewed as ‘women’s work’,” said Linda White,
Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union, which will officially lodge the case today with Fair Work Australia.

“The skills and professional judgement of these 200,000 workers deserve to be recognised and
properly valued.”

The case will be the first to test the new pay equity provisions of the Fair Work Act which
acknowledge the right of men and women to be paid equally for work of comparative value. If
successful, the case will help establish an equal pay standard for other industries.
The Equal Pay Alliance is also calling for other measures to adopted to value women’s work and
help close the pay gap, including:

  • More flexibility in rostered hours and access to decent part-time jobs,
  • Accessible, affordable, good quality out-of-school care and childcare,
  • Improved reporting and auditing of equal pay and equal opportunity,
  • Pay equity cases to value and properly fund wages for work traditionally carried out by
  • women,
  • More opportunities to build skills and participate in the workforce, especially for mothers
  • and older women,
  • Superannuation gap to be addressed.

TAFE teachers settlement

11 March 2010
NSW Teachers Federation

A clear majority of TAFE teachers at meetings across the state have supported a settlement to the TAFE dispute negotiated between the NSW Teachers Federation and the State Government.

The settlement includes improvements in TAFE teachers' working conditions.

The settlement does not, however, address all the concerns of TAFE teachers and the Federation will continue to pursue these in discussions with the Minister of Education and Training, as well as in award negotiations next year.

Qld: Protest against rail sell-off

Privatisation Dangers

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ILO slams ABCC

In a report handed down this month, the ILO made a new ruling strongly criticising the role of Government Inspectors in the ABCC for abandoning their traditional role - which is, protecting workers and enforcing their legal entitlements. The ILO is the United Nations international body responsible for protecting basic work rights and is made up of representatives from governments, employers and workers.

In its most recent report the ILO Committee of Experts found:
  • the prosecution of workers should not be the primary duty of ABCC inspectors; that should be the protection of workers
  • the ABCC is biased in chasing workers not employers
  • the policy of prosecuting workers was made worse by the fact that the laws under which the cases were brought have themselves been repeatedly found to be in breach of fundamental labour standards
  • prosecution of workers by ABCC inspectors prejudices the authority and impartiality needed between inspectors, employers and workers.
CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan said the ILO has called into question the role of the ABCC and its inspectors who have been active in a policy of prosecuting workers and unions.

“The ILO has directly criticised the work of the ABCC and exposed its practice of prosecuting workers as a breach of international labour standards. These laws and the ABCC put the interests of big developers ahead of the rights of ordinary workers.

“New construction legislation due to be debated by the Senate will not meet ILO standards, leaving the Rudd Government internationally humiliated and embarrassed by its record on workers’ rights,” said Dave Noonan.

The ABCC annual report for 2006 – 2007 showed:
  • 73 per cent of investigations were of trade unions
  • 11 per cent of investigations were of employers
  • Not a single employer has been prosecuted by the ABCC for failure to pay minimum lawful entitlements
  • Only 4 employers were referred to statutory agencies for breaches
  • The overwhelming majority of individuals called to secret interrogations were workers as opposed to management representatives.
“In South Australia, construction worker Ark Tribe faces six months in jail, charged with not attending an interrogation with the ABCC. When Ark faces trial in June, the Rudd Government’s record on workplace rights will also be on trial,” said Dave Noonan.


Tanaka film at Mount Vic Flicks

Type of ticket: $15 or $11 (concession)

Sat 1 May 2pm ––– Mount Vic Flicks
Harley Ave Mount Victoria NSW
tickets $15 - concession $11
info: 0408 238 586 email:
includes discussion with filmmaker & afternoon tea


Tanaka-san Will Not Do Callisthenics 
some reviews

Doug Anderson [ Sydney Morning Herald 9 March 2010 ]
The revised corporate mindset demanded unswerving loyalty that amounted to submission. Tanaka said no, refusing to participate in compulsory calisthenics. He argued against other stupid company policies and stood up for unfairly dismissed workers. The firm responded by ordering his transfer to a distant regional facility. Again Tanaka said no and was sacked. For almost 25 years he has mounted a vigil outside the factory gates, demonstrating his individuality as an inspiration to others whose right to democracy within the workplace is being compromised. One determined man can make a difference.

Daniel Bloom [ TVFIX 7 March 2010 ]
What makes this doco compelling viewing isn’t really the fact that one man has decided to challenge the status-quo in a country known for its strict and conservative ways. What’s more important is the journey into the human soul and how one man has never given up (despite the fact that he’s fighting an insurmountable battle). If there’s one thing we can learn from his battle it is simply this: the human soul is a mighty tool when utilised to its full potential.

The week’s best TV: Kerrie Murphy [ Australian 6 March 2010]
Tanaka Tetsuro was an engineer at Tokyo’s Oki Denko until he refused to participate in the company’s mandatory callisthenics programs, becoming a champion of employees’ rights. After refusing a transfer, he was fired and has since protested daily at the company gates for almost 25 years. That’s some hardcore windmill tilting. Australian filmmaker Maree Delofski explores his story within the bigger context of employee rights in a culture built on conformity.

EnhanceTV [ March 2010]
This emotional documentary follows Tetsuro’s life as an activist for human rights in Japan. Cameras capture his struggle as he stands outside the factory each day, discusses human rights with his peers, attends Oki Denki’s annual shareholders meeting, and rallies support for his life’s mission. Intimate interviews with Tanaka’s wife and sons reveal their admiration and support for his cause, yet also unveil their worries about his emotional and physical health as he refuses to give up on his dream.

for more information visit:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tanaka film on SBS

Believing he was sacked unjustly from his job as an engineer in a big Japanese corporation, Tanaka Tetsuro has protested outside the company gate every morning for twenty-five years. Is he an obsessive? What compels him? After meeting him on the internet the filmmakers travel to Japan in time for the 25th anniversary of his protest. They discover that in a world that places a premium on conformity, Tanaka-san has found a way to become himself. TV Highlights 8 March 2010

Monday, March 08, 2010

International Women's Day 2010 Sydney

IWD Poster Sydney 2010

International Women's Day (IWD) each year attempts to encapsulate the pressing concerns of women locally, nationally and internationally. From its beginnings early in the 20th century women have sought improvements to their and their children's lives. This year is no different.

The first IWD rally held in Sydney was in 1928, when women were calling for equal pay for equal work, an eight hour day for shop workers, no piece-work, a basic wage for the unemployed and paid annual holidays.

Eighty two years later, the theme for the rally is "Fair go for Women, in Australia and around the World".

More than a thousand women reclaimed the streets of Sydney for women's rights.

Community groups and individuals from around the country and abroad have come together to march ahead of International Women's Day, which takes place on Monday.

This year's local theme is Fair Go for Women, in Australia and Around the World, and the plight of women in Burma and the murder of hundreds of women in Jaurez, Mexico, were highlighted during march.

Closer to home, the issues of Australian women's pay, maternity leave, women in prison and abortion were also raised.

"This is a celebration, it's a protest, it's us women asking why aren't we there yet?" event organiser Anne Barber said.

"This is our 99th year celebrating International Women's Day. Women make up 52 per cent of the population, but we are still treated like a minority group."

The march, which was held at noon (AEDT) on Saturday, went from Town Hall to Martin Place, in the city centre.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

ACTU: Organising Conference 27 - 29 April

The challenge for this conference is how to build on the success of the last decade to build capacity and grow - to win industry campaigns, activate our base, engage the broader community to build strength. The conference will provide a forum for organisers, campaigners, educators and leaders to share ideas and learn from each other.  

The conference will showcase the latest successful approaches to growing and building union power in workplaces and across industries. You will hear from local and international speakers from within the union movement and community organisations. Online registrations will commence early 2010.

When: 27-29 April 2010
Where: Sydney Convention Centre
Contact: Debbie Gower at or (03) 03 8676 7263


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chile: support concert 7 March

Our people, Our Land needs you

Solidarity Campaign for the Earthquake and Tsunami Victims in Chile

We are calling on the Chilean Community and on our Latin-American and Australian Friends plus all to join us in solidarity with Chile.

We will have our typical Latin-American Lunch on Sunday, plus BBQ, chicken, Spanish sausages, salads, cakes and Empanadas.

Music will also be provided by our community artists – Hugo Leal, Gema, and Jorge Badiola.

This Sunday 7th March 2010
From 11 A.M.
Place: Casa Latinoamericana. Marrickville Hall
142 Addison Road, Marrickville 2204

All donations will be sent towards the shipment of containers occupying emergency and survival resources for the earthquake victims in Chile.

If you are a musician who would like to support and perform on this event please contact Edilia, mobile: 0419164087.

Donated Gifts for raffles or consumer donations such as bread, drinks, water, salads for the fundraiser are also welcomed. Please contact Sara before Sunday, mobile: 0422352815.

Organiza grupo chileno: Memoria Viva Sydney. email:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Women's pay worse than in 1985

SMH March 2, 2010

Women'S lack of progress towards equal pay is to be placed on the federal election agenda, with unions set to conduct a public and political campaign calling for government intervention.

The ACTU executive will this week endorse a report stating that the issue of pay equity is to be the ''major union campaign priority'' this year, apart from the federal election itself.

Last year women in full-time jobs were paid just 82.5 per cent of men's pay - less than they were in 1985 - and the ACTU report highlights that fewer than 2 per cent of ASX 200 companies have a female chief executive and only one in 12 directors are women. The ACTU report says that, although women are now more likely than men to be university graduates, they earn $2000 a year less when they start work and continue to fall behind in wages and superannuation.

The union push will be a combined industrial, political lobbying and community campaign, the report says. It will demand improvements in paid parental leave and push for tougher government regulation of business.

The ACTU president, Sharan Burrow, said employers ''should be held to account where they fail to promote women or pay them the same as men''.

She said it was unacceptable that in a country as wealthy as Australia women's pay was on average 17 per cent less than men's. "Women continue to face barriers to fully participating in the workforce and it is unacceptable,'' she said.


Asbestos: Historic win

Date: 25 February 2010

Turner Freeman Lawyers had a historic win after an eight year legal battle that will not only deliver compensation to three asbestos widows, but also set a precedent that could allow hundreds or thousands of former wharfies to receive compensation for exposure to deadly asbestos.

For further information
Tim Vollmer
Mountain Media
Contact Mobile:
0404 273 313

MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance

For almost two years the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance members on the drill rig Nan Hai 6 have been trying to seal a deal with an iconic Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The big energy company Woodside thanked our members on the Nan Hai 6, for their excellent performance. In an email, circulated just a few weeks back, the company said they saved more than ten million dollars thanks to our members hard labour.

But Maersk thanked these same workers by doing a u-turn on a promise to an agreed pay increase to union members - backdated to July 1 2009.

Union members are angry that Maersk - who often enjoy the patronage of the boat-loving Danish Crown-Prince Frederik and his Australian-born wife Crown-Princess Mary - have shown they are not prepared to negotiate in good faith.

The company has been a keen user of the Howard-era WorkChoice laws to undermine workers' rights to a union voice, and to push workers onto the anti-union individual contracts.
For four years they've operated in Australia very successfully - both on the North-West offshore oil gas fields of Western Australia, as well as the Bass Strait oil and gas fields near Tasmania.

Despite the end of the WorkChoice laws Maersk continues to discriminate against workers who exercise their right to join a union and bargain collectively.

Maersk continues to show favourtism to workers on the Howard-era individual employee contracts who get longer annual leave and higher pay.