Friday, April 30, 2010

Rupert Murdoch and Teachers' Unions

From Sydney Morning Herald February 1, 2009

In February 2009 at a high-powered panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rupert Murdoch said the American public schooling system had failed its students and the greatest challenge to ensure US competitiveness in world markets was the investment in human capital.

"This is the greatest test for President Obama because this will be a great confrontation with the teachers' union . . . they are a very, very rich union and a number one contributor to the Democratic Party," he said.

"The President must have the courage and the strength to take on the teachers and win . . . if the United States is going to continue to lead the world over the next 30 or 40 years, education must be the way."


Where Obama has largely ignored Murdoch's advice it seems that Julia Gillard has accepted it with glee. "Take on the teachers and win", Murdoch's mantra, now appears to be Australian government policy.

Politicians educated in schools where teachers had a say in curriculum and testing, now want full control themselves. Without training as educators they eagerly espouse the latest fad from the US or Britain, fads that are pushed by the media, and pushed hardest of all by the Murdoch empire, an empire dedicated to propaganda and profit not education.

The simple fact remains that where teachers have no say in education there can be no education.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Obama proclamation: Workers Memorial Day


Providing safer work environments will take the concerted action of government, businesses, employer associations, unions, community organizations, the scientific and public health communities, and individuals. Today, as we mourn those lost mere weeks ago in the Upper Big Branch Mine and other recent disasters, so do we honor all the men and women who have died on the job. In their memory, we rededicate ourselves to preventing such tragedies, and to securing a safer workplace for every American.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2010, as Workers Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those who have been killed due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sydney May Day 2010

Struggle for your rights, peace & socialism

March on May 1
Assemble 12 noon Hyde Park North
Rally at First Fleet Park, Circular Quay

Ark Tribe – unionist facing 6 months prison at hands of ABCC
Lee Rhiannon – NSW Greens
Andrew Ferguson – State Secretary, CFMEU Construction
Paul McAleer – Sydney Branch Secretary MUA

International Day of Workers Rights and Peace
Repeal all Anti-Worker Laws


Authorised by: Stuart Holt, Sydney May Day Committee, Lvl 2 365 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000.

Annual May Day Toast
Friday April 30, 6.30pm

1st Fl, Cyprus Community Club
58-76 Stanmore Rd, Stanmore

MC: Charmaine O’Sheades, NSW Teachers Fed
Mover: Mark Lennon, Unions NSW
Guest Speaker & Live Band

$35. Three course meal and drinks

President: George Gotsis. Secretary: Paul McAleer
Enquiries 9265 8438.

Workers’ Memorial Day 2010

28 April, 2010 | ACTU

Unions, community groups and grieving widows of those killed at or because of work will gather at rallies and memorial events around Australia today.

International Workers Memorial Day is the day unions globally mourn the dead and fight for the living. Unions are highlighting the positive effect they have on workplace health and safety – and the need to ensure current rights and protections are not eroded.

The ACTU is calling on the federal government to make further improvements to national workplace health and safety laws and immediately disband the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
“Bad laws cost lives,” said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

“The proposed new national workplace safety laws reduce requirements for an effective standard of risk management. We’re also concerned that workers who put their hand up to be an OHS representative won’t have the same protections that exist currently in some states.

“Unnecessary red tape is also being put in the way of OHS Reps get proper training and being able to issue notices to protect their fellow workers. We say no to second rate safety.”

“The federal government also needs to urgently disband the ABCC, which has caused a decline in safety in the construction industry by preventing health and safety issues in the construction industry from being addressed in a timely fashion.”

There has been an increase in deaths from 3.14 per 100,000 workers in 2004, before the ABCC commenced, up to 4.27 in 2008 in the construction industry.

Ms Burrow said union research the six deaths have occurred at BHP sites in WA alone in the last two years showed the need for a greater union presence in the workplace.

“Workers need to be able to raise safety issues without fear of recrimination or punishment,” Ms Burrow said. “The presence of a union in the workplace provides workers with the support they need to speak out when there is a health and safety risk.”

Globally, over 2 million workers die from work related causes each year.

In Australia, there are estimates that up to 7000 workers die each year from work-related injuries and illnesses. Every three minutes someone in Australia is injured seriously enough to lodge a worker’s compensation claim. The economic cost of work-related injuries and illnesses is more than $50 billion a year.

International Workers Memorial Day was started by Canadian unions in 1984. Over 14 million people took part in over 10,000 activities in over 100 countries in 2009.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ABCC threatens $22,000 fine

The Age April 27, 2010

Electrician Mirek Grzegorek was stunned to receive a letter from the building industry watchdog warning him he could be fined $22,000 for attending a couple of short union meetings.

Mr Grzegorek said the meetings were to discuss workplace entitlements, with claims his employer, Maxim Electrical, was trying to escape its award obligations to pay redundancy when its work finished at the ANZ project in Docklands.

''Obviously a lot of guys were concerned. We had a couple of union meetings in relation to that,'' he said.

''At the time there was an understanding if you go on a union meeting during working hours then your employer rightfully can deduct up to four hours of your time, even if the meeting takes 10 minutes.''

But the letter warned that Mr Grzegorek could face a much bigger penalty for attending an unauthorised union meeting.

Mr Grzegorek said the two meetings ran only a short period into work time. He said it was after he had lost his job and had to visit his sick father in Poland that he received the letter from the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

He said he had ''some big expenses because we went to Poland''. He said the letter also wanted him to provide evidence of what was said at the meeting.

''Such things really upset me in a democratic country … I didn't even realise such a law exists in Australia,'' he said.

Electrical Trades Union assistant state secretary Troy Gray said the letters were aggressive. He said the union had tried to get an authorised meeting on the issue of entitlements but that had been rejected by the employer.

Newcastle Trades Hall stand

The Herald
27 Apr, 2010

State and Federal Hunter MPs, and potentially NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, have been urged to boycott the opening of Newcastle's new $1 billion coal loader because of a non-union agreement governing its operations.

Newcastle Trades Hall has written to the MPs asking them not to turn out for the official event and photo opportunity on May 3 at the BHP Billiton-backed Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminal, in a sign of support of unions' concerns.

It is understood Ms Keneally is at this stage expected to attend, but senior union officials are to approach the Government about the issue.

Trades Hall secretary Gary Kennedy said the infrastructure group's five-year non-union agreement had been registered in the "dying days" of the WorkChoices legislation, despite the region's history of "minimal industrial action".

"We're saying to the politicians, show your support by not going," Mr Kennedy said.

Trades Hall also sought last year the support of the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Unions TV campaign

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rio Tinto workers demand respect

Mining and Maritime media release 22 Apr 2010

Rio Tinto was again warned today of growing financial exposure if the company refuses to respect communities, the environment and workers.

Comparing the company to the mining interests in the film Avatar, protesters in costumes from the film stood with workers outside Rio Tinto’s Melbourne headquarters, alerting the public to on-going abuses of the environment, indigenous people and workers.

Kalgoorlie bullying exposed

A Kalgoorlie Super Pit supervisor is under fire for comments on Facebook that made fun of workers who complained of bullying and intimidation on site, after the problems were raised in WA State Parliament.

An assistant and sometimes acting supervisor at Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, Tony Brown, used a Facebook site for Super Pit employees to ridicule some workers as "wimps and sooks".

Mr Brown also said on Facebook that some workers who raised their "ugly little heads" would have them "smashed in".

The comments come amid widespread concern over safety in the resources sector, which has had five fatalities in 15 months.

The revelations follow complaints lodged in WA State Parliament by Greens MP Robin Chapple that supervisors at KCGM victimised, intimidated and bullied workers at the Super Pit and Mt Charlotte gold mining operations. Mr Chapple said that the bullying and intimidation prevented workers from complaining about safety issues.

UK Teachers boycott league table tests

23 April 2010
NSW Teachers Federation

The UK's National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association
of Head Teachers (NAHT) executives have decided to boycott the national
Standard Attainment Tests (SATs) following a successful ballot of both
unions' leadership members. It is not strike action as schools will be
open and children will be taught.

SATs are misused to compile meaningless league tables which only serve
to humiliate and demean children, their teachers and their communities.
The NUT and NAHT are supportive of a system of assessment that
highlights what children can do rather than focussing on failure.

The UK has had national testing since 1991. Similar to Australia's
NAPLAN tests the data has been used by the media to create simplistic
league tables. After years of damage to public education the league
tables were scrapped in Wales and Northern Ireland in 2001. As the
former Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and
Training, Dr Ken Boston has said, the UK primary school curriculum has
become a "dry husk" as teachers focus on national testing.

NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said "I am very pleased that we
have reached this decision. Not only are we boycotting SATs but we are
saying to schools that this is finally the opportunity to do the
exciting things you always really wanted to be doing in the classroom.
We can make sure SATs week is a really brilliant week, a creative week,
which is what we would want every single week of the year to be".

This article can be found on the Web at:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ABC TV: Union banner collection

The Collectors: At the Trades Hall in Sydney, Gordon finds a display of union banners that beautifully record in paint, a reminder of our Labour Day holiday!

Friday 23rd April at 8.00pm (ABC 1) and again on Monday 26th April at 6.00pm (ABC 2)

Australians like a fair go and a battle that never waned was fought and won at home in 1855!

The basic idea of the eight-hour day was that each worker should undertake eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Bans Illawarra

"A Celebration of Community Unionism"
Thursday 29 April at 6pm
Regent Theatre, Wollongong

The South Coast Labour Council invites you to a special event celebrating community unionism in our region and to honour the struggles of unionists and our partners in the community to preserve our natural and cultural heritage. The Wollongong Town Hall, Regent Theatre, Killalea State Park and Sandon Point are all examples Green Bans placed on inappropriate developments by the union movement working together with our communities.

The night will feature the screening of the inspirational film "Rocking the Foundations" about the Green Bans movement in the 1970s. The film will be introduced by Jack Mundey, the former Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Builders Labourers Federation and Life Member of the South Coast Labour Council.

Tickets to this event will be available only through the SCLC Office on a ‘first come first served’ basis with a $10 donation to cover costs.

For more information, call the SCLC office on 42 292888 or email

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NSW hotel workers victory

Some 60 jobs at the Ramada hotel Ballina have been saved through the collective efforts of LHMU activists and the local community.

Members got local businesses and community to sign petitions and postcards in support.

By acting together, LHMU members at the Ramada won a significant victory against property developers who were proposing to rezone the hotel as residential units.

Ballina Council yesterday found approving the development application would not be in the public interest.

LHMU activist Leanne Cawley says it was a "brilliant" win. "It's such a relief because now we don't have to worry about it and can get back to work," she says.

"The big thing with the decision was the opinion from the public - that had a big impact on [councillors' decisions], knowing that the public was so against it."

The proposal would have also impacted on surrounding local businesses that relied on the tourist trade.

For further information

Contact: Mark Boyd, Secretary

Saturday, April 17, 2010

AFL-CIO: jobs campaign

AFL-CIO Online Mobilization

While Wall Street bankers and other Big Business titans bring home millions, the story for everyday working families is not so good. Job furloughs, wage freezes and layoffs are rampant across every sector of our economy.

Today, millions of teachers, police and firefighters, the backbone of our communities, are in trouble due to massive state and local government budget problems. We need to act now and act fast to save the good jobs people still have, while we rebuild our economy and create even more good jobs.

The Local Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4812) will do just that by pumping $100 billion directly into our communities to save and create more than 1 million jobs. Sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the bill would give America’s economy a shot in the arm and safeguard essential local services.

One hundred thirty-nine representatives already have signed on as co-sponsors. Tell your representative to co-sponsor the Local Jobs for America Act today.

We need to show there is broad support in Congress for this important bill. We can’t afford any more job losses. We need to create and save good local jobs and we need to do it now.

From saving teachers’ jobs and keeping class sizes manageable to keeping thousands of law enforcement officers on the beat, the Local Jobs for America Act will help ensure the services that make our communities livable and keep the unemployment rolls from growing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fair Work: Overtime remains protected

Unions have welcomed an important Fair Work Australia test case backing the principle that workers should be paid overtime when they request to work flexible hours.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said the full bench decision in the case involving aged care provider Bupa Care Services "confirms when employees volunteer to work overtime, they should not be disadvantaged".

"It reinforces our view that long-established conditions and community standards remain protected under the new Fair Work laws," he said.

"Workers spent many years campaigning for the 38-hour week, and those who volunteer to work overtime should be properly compensated."

Employers had appealed the Fair Work decision that rejected a deal between UK owned Bupa health conglomerate and two unions that would have allowed flexible hours without paid overtime.

ABCC intimidates workers over Easter

CFMEU Date: 15 April 2010

The intimidatory tactics of the ABCC have sunk to a new low with the news that dozens of workers were served threatening letters by the agency on the eve of the Easter break.

Workers at two Bovis Lend Lease jobs were visited at their homes by process servers and served letters threatening them with prosecution and fines of $13,200 if they did not contact the ABCC and agree to act as informants against their workmates and union officials.

The timing was no accident. According to the letter, if they did not agree to become informants by Easter Tuesday, the ABCC would prosecute them. This gave workers no reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice by the deadline.

What the ABCC was attempting to do was obvious - they wanted to use the threat of fines to split the workers from each other and their union. And they wanted to intimidate working families on their holidays.

To their credit, the workers met on their return to work and resolved not to buckle under to ABCC intimidation. They will have the full support of their union in standing up to the tin pot Hitlers at the ABCC.

For further information

Contact: Dave Noonan, National Secretary

Monday, April 12, 2010

Parents and Citizens: NAPLAN test supervision

The Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of NSW are outraged with the federal government’s suggestion to use parents in the role of supervisors in the NAPLAN testing next month.

'It is not the role of parents to supervise the implementation of such testing. This lies in the hands of government who have the responsibility of the education of our children', said Di Giblin, President of the NSW P&C. ‘Such action can only lead to the driving of a wedge between the key partners in a child’s formal educational experience, the parent and the teacher.'

Despite the Ministers assurances to the contrary, we do not see an open dialogue between the government and the Teachers Union. To suggest that parents can fill the gap in the delivery of the NAPLAN testing only divides local communities and fails to resolve the real issues at the heart of this dispute. This is about a responsibility of government to work with all stakeholders in order to deliver the best possible outcomes for education in this country.

If the government is truly committed to a genuine partnership with parents and education, they would not place parents in this difficult position.

NAPLAN Morotorium

The Australian Education Union Federal Executive today voted unanimously to impose an immediate moratorium on the national NAPLAN tests.
AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the decision means the national tests will not go ahead in May unless the Federal Government addresses the concerns of the profession about the misuse of student data to name and shame schools.
"Teachers cannot hand out the tests until something is done to stop the results being used to publicly brand students and schools as failures in league tables," he said.
"That is damaging for students and school communities.
"No other test, student assessment or report will be affected by this decision.
"The primary concern of teachers is the fact that nothing has been done to stop test data being taken from the My School website to create damaging league tables in which schools are ranked on test results alone.
"We also have serious concerns that the NAPLAN results are being used on the My School website in a way that is misleading for parents.
Mr Gavrielatos said it was disappointing that the Federal Government had so far rejected the AEU’s plan to stop league tables and improve the My School website so it would provide more accurate and comprehensive information to parents.
"Parents, teachers and principals have all called for the Federal Government to stop the test data being used to name and shame schools and students but it has been unwilling to act," he said.
"The opportunity exists for Ms Gillard to meet with the profession to resolve these serious concerns."

ACTU: Don't demonise asylum seekers

10 April | Media Release
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Australian unions strongly support a humane approach to asylum seekers and that their rights are respected.

"There should always be an open and informed public debate about immigration and asylum seekers, but we would be concerned if refugees genuinely fleeing for their safety became the victims of political football in an election year," Ms Burrow said.

"We again call for strong leadership from all sides of politics to counter views that seek to demonise asylum seekers or encourage Australia to abrogate its international obligations.

"The most fundamental obligation for Australia under the Refugee Convention is to ensure that asylum seekers are not returned to a situation of serious risk, and this cannot be done without a proper assessment of their claim.

"Indefinite, prolonged mandatory detention has in the past worsened the anguish and suffering of asylum seekers who have already endured traumatic experiences.

"The issue of boat arrivals attracts inordinate political and media attention, considering our current refugee intake of about 13,000 a year is small by international standards and forms less than 10% of our total permanent migration intake.

"There needs to be international action to deal with the push factors that cause people to seek asylum. Australia can play an international leadership role by working towards peace, equitable development and decent work for all.

"Australian unions are longstanding supporters of multiculturalism and the role of immigration in Australia's development," said Ms Burrow.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Tasmania: voters reject Gunns

The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc
Media Release 31 March 2010

Several supporters of native-forest logging and Gunns' proposed pulp mill have failed to be elected in the recent Tasmanian election, signaling an end to old-style politics which put the interests of big businesses above those of the community and the environment, according to the Wilderness Society.

Forestry Minister David Llewellyn has lost his seat to newcomer Rebecca White, who campaigned on the slogan of 'renewal'. Daniel Hulme and Graeme Sturges, both vocal supporters of the logging industry and the pulp mill, also failed to be re-elected, and forestry union official Scott McLean was rejected by voters.

"The Tasmanian public has sent a strong message that they do not support old-style thinking when it comes to logging by rejecting high profile candidates who vocally advocate for the continuation of native-forest logging,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

"Forestry Minister Llewellyn has been the most vocal supporter of native-forest logging policies and the pulp mill, but the loss of his seat shows that Tasmania is looking for a new approach to these issues.”

As Forestry Minister, Mr Llewellyn has administered policies that continued the controversial logging of native forests, including oldgrowth and rainforests. Meanwhile the logging industry has fallen into crisis, with job losses, massive levels of public subsidy, a rejection of Tasmanian forest products overseas and a general inability to keep up with changing world demands.

"Labor voters should be congratulated for demanding a new approach and rejecting old-style thinking.

"Newly elected politicians should embrace the public’s mood for change. Voters want to see their forests properly protected and the timber industry transformed into one which all Tasmanians can be proud of," concluded Mr Bayley.

see also GetUp campaign

Katoomba: Parole office threat

Date: 07 April 2010

The NSW Department of Corrective Services has announced to staff that it intends to close down the Deniliquin, Narrobri, Junee and Katoomba probation and parole offices.

"This could have significant ramifications for public safety", says Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary of the PSA.

"The Probation and Parole Service plays a pivotal role in ensuring that offenders are effectively supervised within the community"

"We are concerned about the reduced level of contact with offenders. The proposed closures will mean parolees will be required to travel further to report. They will be visited at home less frequently. Consequently there will be more breaches of parole conditions, and less protection for the community."

"The parolees include offenders who can be steered in the right direction by proper supervision and assistance."

The head minister, Attorney General John Hatzistergos, says he wants to reduce the prison population by 10 percent by 2016 by improving rehabilitation services.

"How's he going to do this if he is abolishing probation and parole offices? Probation and parole officers are the foundation to good rehabilitation services" says Steve Turner..

"The future of the Probation and Parole Officers and support staff is also uncertain" said Mr Turner.

"They will face relocation and uprooting of their families or excessive daily travel. For instance closure of Deniliquin office will mean they will have to go to Albury, or Griffith as will reporting parolees. And following the Narrabri closure, the service will be provided from Moree. "

The Public Service Association calls upon the Department to ensure better services so that Hatzistergos' rehabilitation plans do work.

For further information

Contact: Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary
Union: Public Service Association of NSW
Phone: 9220 0970

Rock Against Racism: exhibition

‘A Riot of Our Own’ is the feature exhibition of the East End Film Festival. ‘A Riot Of Our Own’ revisits the energy of the Rock Against Racism (RAR) Movement, 1976-1981. It showcases the personal archive of Graphicsi—Ruth Gregory and Syd Shelton who were RAR (London) committee members. The archive is a unique repository of graphic and photographic material on this pivotal period in British political activism.


CND welcomes new START treaty

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament welcomed the signing of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia, describing it as "positive first step on the road to a nuclear-free future".

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said "This is a very significant day and a positive first step on the road to a nuclear-free future. The cut-backs are welcome but their real significance is in building the trust that can open the way to further rounds of cuts. World leaders must now build on this momentum, tackling nukes already kept in deep storage and bringing the other nuclear weapon states into the process. With both Obama's Nuclear Security Summit next week and the review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May, this is a timely advance which must be developed to the full."

She continued, "Britain has its role to play too. Gordon Brown has said that 'as soon as it becomes useful for our arsenal to be included in a broader negotiation, Britain stands ready to participate and to act' - now is that time [see note 3]. Were Britain to put Trident on the negotiating table at the NPT Review Conference this could be a real game-changer. Scrapping the ruinously expensive Trident and any replacement would put pressure on France and China to consider parallel cuts.

"It is a year this week since Obama committed the US to building a world free of nuclear weapons. Today's agreement is just the sort of concrete step needed to achieve that goal, but we will need to see many more such steps before the world is released from the threat of nuclear doomsday. All nuclear weapon states, Britain included, must show their commitment to Obama's worthy aim and push for the biggest strides possible at the forthcoming summit meetings. As the President has noted, this is exactly what the five long-established nuclear powers committed to when they signed the NPT, which came into force 40 years ago last month."


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Chile: Sydney fundraiser - Sat 10 April

MUA warns of more oil spills

5 APR 2010
Maritime Union warns of further environmental damage - unless steps are taken to revitalise Australian shipping.

The Maritime Union of Australia today declared the grounding of the Chinese coal ship Shen Neng 1 on the Great Barrier Reef a terrible outcome for the environment, but warned unless urgent and positive moves were taken to revitalise Australian shipping other disasters may be in store.

"This calamity unfortunately shouldn't come as a huge surprise. It comes at a time when an increasing proportion of our shipping trade is being handed to overseas flagged vessels. The deregulation of shipping through the Howard Government's years has inevitably weakened our control of our shipping task," said Paddy Crumlin National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

"Foreign ships have been responsible for all the recent shipping environmental accidents including when the Hong Kong flagged Pacific Adventurer spread oil onto pristine Queensland beaches last year and the Panama flagged Pasha Bulka was stranded on Nobby's beach, Newcastle in 2008.

"The statistics tell the story. Of the 10 major oil spills involving bluewater vessels since the Panamanian registered Kirki spilt 17,280 tonnes of oil off West Australia in 1990, only two have involved Australian registered ships", said Crumlin.

Foreign ships now carry 99 per cent of our international trade and 30 per cent of our domestic coastal trade.