Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ACTU President: Ged Kearney

New ACTU President Gerardine (Ged) Kearney takes office today.

Ms Kearney replaces Sharan Burrow, who last week was elected General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Ms Kearney has been a member of the ACTU Executive since April 2008, when she was elected Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said he looked forward to working with Ms Kearney to advance the union movement's agenda in the lead-up to the federal election later this year.

"Everyone at the ACTU welcomes Ged aboard to continue the work that is well underway to prevent a return to WorkChoices under Tony Abbott and to deliver on our agenda to improve the lives of working Australians and their families," Mr Lawrence said.

Ms Kearney said she was honoured to be entrusted with such an important role.

"I am committed to representing the interests of working Australians and to making sure their voices are heard in public debates over our nation's future," she said.

"I intend to work with all unions, big and small, to put our agenda into action, grow the movement and achieve positive change for workers and their families."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blue Mountains Hospitality Workers

complete online > Hospitality Employees Survey <

Amid concerns that hundreds of young hospitality workers in the Blue Mountains are unaware of their basic rights at work a campaign is being launched to gauge the depth of the problem, raise awareness and improve conditions.

The joint initiative of the Liquor and Hospitality Division of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union and Blue Mountains Union Council will start by surveying workers in the industry throughout the mountains – from Lapstone to Mount Victoria.

"Whether they’re serving in the pubs, clubs, hotels, restaurants or cafes of the Blue Mountains they’re the front line of the biggest industries in the area. They deserve a fair go," said LHD Secretary Tara Moriarty.

"Hospitality employees are among the most exploited in the region. Some turn up to work to find their shift cancelled and if they make a complaint they are seen as trouble makers. Bosses sometimes deal with such employees by reducing their shifts."

"What is particularly alarming is that many young people don’t know their rights," said Ms Moriarty.

"They know that Workchoices is supposed to have gone, but they’re confused about what’s replaced it – whether it’s an award, a collective agreement or something else. They know there’s been changes to the unfair dismissal laws, but unsure about exactly what’s happened," said BMUC President Kerry Cooke.

"This means that they’re open to exploitation. While there are many decent employers in the Blue Mountains prepared to give young workers a fair go, we’re also getting reports of rogue bosses taking advantage of the situation.

"In the worst instances - there are cases of young workers being taken ‘on trial’ – working for a week - and not then not receiving any pay.

After the survey, the union will offer free workshops where hospitality workers can learn more about the current industrial laws and seek advice about individual problems at work.

Copies of the survey can be obtained at the Liquor and Hospitality Division of the LHMU by ringing 1800 801 594 or emailing LHMU or downloadable at the Blue Mountains Unions Council website.

email BMUC

Abbott's self-deception

Opposition leader Tony Abbott boasted to yesterday's Liberal federal convention in Canberra he had received a call from former Liberal prime minister John Howard on Wednesday night as the leadership coup played out congratulating him for the demise of Kevin Rudd.

''He said: 'You have achieved the greatest prize that any opposition leader can, you have secured the scalp of a prime minister.' '' Mr Abbott said.

Talking to others last week he was claiming that "the unions got rid of Rudd" or he was recycling Bob Menzies' old catch cry claiming that "the faceless men of the Labor Party" were the ones.

With Abbott what he says depends on who he thinks he's talking to! Then again he's warned us that he doesn't necessarily always tell the truth. Here he is eye-to-eye with his best mate, the former opposition leader he shafted just a little while back, Malcolm Turnbull:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Paul Watson: Interpol blue notice

Interpol has placed the head of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson, on its international wanted list.

The request to place him on the list was issued by Japan.

Interpol has issued a so-called blue notice, asking national police forces to pass on information about Mr Watson's whereabouts and activities.

But it has not issued a notice requesting his arrest.

Mr Watson says the notice does not make any sense.

"It's a blue notice which means it's not an arrest warrant, it's just so they can keep tabs on me. But they needn't have wasted their time, they could have just followed our website," he said.

"One thing that it does mean to me is that we're certainly getting to them. We cut their kill quotas in half and they're really desperate that we not go back down there this year.

"But I can tell them we'll certainly be back down in the Southern Ocean harassing them again in December."

Fewer than 5 per cent of Japanese admit to even eating whale meat.

Sharan Burrow: ITUC President

Sharan Burrow: Opening speech to ITUC 2nd World Congress

Union Power - Global Justice

Four years ago we met and took an historic decision to build a new international organisation a new internationalism. Delegates came to Vienna give birth to the ITUC; to strengthened global unionism.

Our commitment was to a new internationalism to tackle poverty, unemployment, violations of human and trade union rights and the power of corporate globalisation; an exploitative globalisation that was driving a crisis in food security, precarious employment, and the increase in the informal economy.

We also recognised the need for union influence in other areas such as action on climate change – in short we committed to the ITUC with renewed determination to deal with all areas of growing inequity and insecurity.

We warned then of the challenges of creating employment, of economic migration, of the declining wage share relative to corporate profits, of social exclusion, and of an unfair trading system.

Sadly we were right and the global imbalances evident then were only set to deepen as the world was plunged into the Global Financial Crisis, a crisis created by extreme corporate greed and weak regulation on behalf of governments, too often captured by the power of the boardrooms.

From crisis to global justice: this journey we are committed to requires an economic and social transformation that means putting people first. Hence our theme: “Now the people”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Julia Gillard: Prime Minister

Julia Gillard has been elected unopposed to the Labor leadership after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decided not to contest the leadership ballot.

Gillard made history today as she became Australia's first female Prime Minister, joining a roll call of female world leaders that stretches back 50 years.

In the Federal seat of Macquarie, which includes much of the Blue Mountains, the 3 main candidates are all women:

Greens: Carmel McCallum
Labor: Susan Templeman
Liberal: Louise Markus


Ark Tribe case

The case has now been adjourned and will reconvene July 20-22 for further hearing

keep up to date with Rights On Site

Mining Tax: the facts

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence says mining companies and the Coalition have been misleading about the industry’s wealth and should withdraw their relentlessly negative advertising campaign against the Resource Super Profits Tax.

“Once the facts are examined objectively, it becomes indisputable that mining companies can afford to put more back into the Australian community,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The mining sector has been incredibly profitable over the past decade because of soaring commodity prices. Official ABS data shows pre-tax profits for the mining industry have increased by 530% - more than eight times the rate of wages growth for mining workers.

“It’s time the mining companies put more back into the Australian community and stopped gilding the lily about the truth of their profits.

“These natural resources belong to all of us, and everyone should get a fair share from selling them. The workers who dug them out of the ground haven’t, and neither have the rest of us.

“All working Australians will benefit from the mining tax through increased superannuation, more infrastructure and tax cuts.”

The Australian mining sector has been Australia’s most profitable industry over the past five years, earning a total of $204 billion in pre-tax profits since 2004-5 (ABS catalogue 8155.0). Yet less than 10% of the total income earned from mining has been paid in wages and salaries to its workforce.

A national poll of 1066 Australians conducted for the ACTU by Essential Research finds:

53% of people, once told that mining is the most profitable industry, agree that mining companies should pay a higher rate of tax than other industries.
Only 13% felt that average Australians benefited from mining and 23% that mining workers benefited, while 70% believed that mining owners and management benefited.
93% agree that mining companies should put something back into the local community.
61% agree that the wealth generated by selling Australia’s natural resources should go towards better superannuation for working Australians.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bloody Sunday Report exonerates victims

Families of Bloody Sunday victims celebrate report

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry, also known as the Saville Inquiry or the Saville Report after its chairman, Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after campaigns for a second inquiry by families of those killed and injured in Derry on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972). It was published 15 June 2010.

The long-awaited report turned the disgraceful Widgery report (19 April 1972) on its head by exonerating the victims and delivering a damning account of the conduct of soldiers.
It concluded soldiers had fired more than 100 rifle rounds, killed 14 people and injured more without justification. The report's key findings were:

"The firing by soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury." This also applied to the 14th victim, who died later from injuries. The report added: "We found no instances where it appeared to us that soldiers either were or might have been justified in firing";
"Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers." The report added that no one threw, or threatened to throw, nail or petrol bombs at soldiers;

The explanations given by soldiers were rejected, with a number said to have "knowingly put forward false accounts";

Members of the so-called Official IRA fired a shot at troops, but missed their target, though crucially it was concluded it was the paratroopers who shot first on Bloody Sunday;

The report recounts how some soldiers had their weapons cocked in contravention of guidelines, and that no warnings were issued by Paratroopers who opened fire;

Speculation that unknown IRA gunmen had been wounded or killed by troops, and their bodies spirited away, is also dismissed. There was no evidence to support it, and it would surely have come to light, the report said.

Saville said British soldiers should not have been ordered to enter the Bogside area as "Colonel Wilford either deliberately disobeyed Brigadier MacLellan’s order or failed for no good reason to appreciate the clear limits on what he had been authorised to do". The report stated five British soldiers aimed shots at civilians they knew did not pose a threat and two other British soldiers shot at civilians "in the belief that they might have identified gunmen, but without being certain that this was the case".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ABCC - Star Chamber

Across the country, thousands rallied in support of Ark Tribe.

Inside the Adelaide Magistrate's court, lawyers began their defence of Ark Tribe, a normal construction worker accused of nothing more than failing to attend an interrogation by the Construction Star Chamber for the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Ark's lawyers argued that the ABCC had not correctly begun the prosecution - because the person authorising the prosecution did not have the power to do so. As a result they said the charges should be thrown out.

Lawyers for the Commonwealth DPP contested the argument and the magistrate moved for an adjournment.

Both sides will now make written submissions on the matter, with the court reconvening today, Wednesday 16th June at 2pm.

It is expected that the magistrate will tomorrow make a determination on this particular issue.

If the arguments of Ark's lawyers are upheld, the case will end. If not, it will continue with both sides making arguments on substantive issues.

Workers, members of the broader community and unionists, were out in force outside and inside the court in support of Ark and against the ABCC

If Ark goes in, construction workers across the country will go out.

Dave Noonan and the Rights on Site Team

Over 7000 people have signed our petition, Don't Jail Ark. Will you help us reach 10,000?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tanaka film goes to Melbourne

Asialink Winter Series: 6:00pm – 7:30pm Thursday 10th Jun 2010
Yasuko Myer Room, Level 1,
Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne

Tanaka-san Will Not Do Callisthenics is a documentary from Maree Delofski about a man whose refusal to do early-morning company callisthenics led to his sacking. He’s since maintained a daily protest vigil outside the company gates for more than 25 years.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mining tax facts!

If the price of iron ore in 2004 was $100 a tonne, today it is $600 a tonne.

If the price of hard coking coal in 2004 was $100, today it is $400 a tonne.

If the cost of labour in the mining industry in 2004 was 100, today it is just 127. Labour makes up 15 per cent of costs in the mining industry. Fuel and machinery costs have also increased in these last five years, but again, nothing like the prices gained.

In 2004 the iron ore export industry and the coking coal export industries were enjoying huge profits. So today they are enjoying profits beyond their wildest dreams – because costs may have also increased in these last six years, but nothing like the prices. For example, BHP Billiton alone declared a profit of $10.7 billion in 2009, and predicts a profit of $23.5 billion in 2011.

The mining bosses are going berserk at the Rudd Labor government – which has been very friendly to them – because they see this super-profits tax concept in Australia as the start of a global move by governments to increase the public share in the global minerals boom.

It is a global conflict between huge mining corporations like BHP-Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata on the one hand, and hundreds of millions of people in mineral rich regions in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Australia.

  • Norway has a super-profit tax of 78 per cent – and the multinationals pay.
  • Chile- the largest copper producer - is proposing a new mining tax to take an extra $12 billion this year. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Anglo-American are investing $48 billion there to 2017.
  • Brazil – the largest iron ore producer – is planning a bigger tax take from mining.
  • India is proposing a windfall profits tax on non-fuel resources.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Robert Fisk: Israeli propaganda

The Independent 5 June 2010

I have, of course, been outraged at armed men boarding ships in international waters, killing passengers on board who attempt to resist and then forcing their ship to the hijackers' home port. I am, of course, talking about the Somali pirates who are preying on Western ships in the Indian Ocean. How dare those terrorists dare to touch our unarmed vessels on the high seas? And how right we are to have our warships there to prevent such terrorist acts.

But whoops! At least the Israelis have not demanded ransom. They just want to get journalists to win the propaganda war for them. Scarcely had the week begun when Israel's warrior "commandos" stormed a Turkish boat bringing aid to Gaza and shot nine of the passengers dead. Yet by week's end, the protesters had become "armed peace activists", vicious anti-Semites "professing pacifism, seething with hate, pounding away at another human being with a metal pole". I liked the last bit. The fact that the person being beaten was apparently shooting another human being with a rifle didn't quite get into this weird version of reality.

Turkish family protests that their sons wanted to be martyrs – something which most Turkish family members might say if their relatives had been shot by the Israelis – had been transformed into confirmation that they had been jihadis. "On that aid ship," a Sri Lankan texted me this week, "I had my niece, nephew and his wife on board. Unfortunately Ahmed (20-year-old nephew) got shot in the leg and now treated (sic) under military custody. I will keep you posted." He did indeed. Within hours, the press was at his family's home in Australia, demanding to know if Ahmed was a jihadi – or even a potential suicide bomber. Propaganda works, you see. ...


Monday, June 07, 2010

200,000 reasons to join CEPU

(7 June 2010) The CEPU’s recent success in helping a Telstra employee win thousands of additional superannuation dollars highlights the benefits of union membership.

The member had started working for the PMG (as Telstra then was) in 1966. His superannuation problems arose as a result of his leaving the company (then Telecom) in 1980 and returning to it sometime in 1981, about 9-months later.

When he left Telecom the first time he was told to sign the superannuation papers by the payroll clerk and receive the funds, that was it. He was not told that he could roll his superannuation over or given any other advice.

After returning to the company and then finally leaving it in 2008 he was given a redundancy payout inclusive of the first period of employment, as was correct. But his superannuation status was more of a problem.

In 1990 he had transferred from the Commonwealth to the Telstra superannuation scheme.

Having the earlier 14.5 year period of employment (1966-1980) counted as service would now greatly add to his defined benefit payout from Telstra, outweighing any benefit he had had from the earlier cash payout.

After a lot of letters back and forth to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) tribunal to explain what had occurred he was successful in obtaining a late election for preservation, and repaid the original amount. This gave him a CSS pension.

The problem now was to convince Telstra Super of the continuity of service and therefore payment for the 14.5 years from 1966 to 1980. The member approached the CEPU at this point and the union helped him draft his claim to the Superannuation Appeals Tribunal. It then continued to support him while many letters went back and forth as Telstra Super investigated the claim thoroughly.

In late May, the member received a call from Telstra Super to inform him of their decision. He was told that after an exhaustive investigation Telstra had directed Telstra Super that they would fund the lost period of service and that Telstra Super would be depositing an amount of approximately $209,000 into his super account that day.

Needless to say he was overjoyed at the news and immediately called the CEPU to thank the union which had assisted him over the years.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Mining CEOs / Tales of Woe

Xstrata: non-existent jobs at risk

CFMEU: 3 June 2010
There is much breathless reporting today of Xstrata’s announcement it is suspending investment in two major Queensland projects over the resources super-profit tax (RSPT): a thermal coal operation at Wandoan and expansion of the Ernest Henry copper mine near Cloncurry.

“The RSPT has created significant uncertainty for the future of mining investment into Australia,” declared Xstrata boss Mick Davis in the announcement.

But this ‘announcement’ smells to high heaven of scare-mongering over the proposed tax reform.

The Wandoan project was a very long way off and highly speculative. Xstrata’s February announcement of the project – which it claimed could potentially produce 100 million tonnes a year – was part of a cynical ploy to intimidate other potential investors in the area. (Australia currently exports about 270 million tonnes of coal per year, so the idea that this operation would bring on 100 million tonnes of capacity was always fanciful.)

Just as cynically, Xstrata has four months later declared the project to be ‘suspended’, claiming 3,000 as yet non-existent jobs are ‘at risk’.

As for the Ernest Henry Copper mine – we know that world copper prices are on the way down – a much more likely explanation of today’s announcement 60 contractors’ jobs would go.

But Australian coal is still going strong – as we saw last week our major coal players including Xstrata are willing to pay well above market rates to buy Queensland Rail’s coal lines.

Kevin Rudd made an obvious point today when he remarked it was ‘passing strange’ that the suspension announcement would be made today, with 12 months to go before the legislation was drafted and 24 months before it was introduced.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Minimum Pay: $15 per pour

3 June 2010

Fair Work Australia today increased the minimum wage by $26 a week, lifting the minimum weekly pay to $569.90.

The new minimum hourly wage is $15.

The union movement had been pushing for a $27 a week increase, using the profits of Australia's mining magnates to argue their case for a wage rise for low-paid workers.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the minimum wage claim was reasonable and economically responsible.

"It's a question of a fair share and minimum wage workers deserve that fair share," he said.

"All our evidence shows that it would not have a negative impact on the economy.

"In fact as Government stimulus is actually withdrawn from the economy it's important that there continues to be that purchasing power from workers."

Equal Pay Day of Action 10 June

Send Julia Gillard a kiss for equal pay:

Federal Election Special

Saturday, 17 July 2010, 3.00 pm
Family Hotel,
15 Parke Street,

Politics in the Pub: Federal Election Special

Meet the candidates for Macquarie - Australia's most marginal seat

The Candidates

Greens: Carmel McCallum
Labor: Susan Templeman

Each candidate will be given ten minutes to make an opening statement of their policies, and then the meeting will be thrown open to questions from the floor.

Carmel McCallum | Susan Templeman

Liberal: Louise Markus:

Liberal candidate Louise Markus was also invited to speak at the politics in the pub several months ago. While she told the BMUC at the time she would "very much like to take part", she also said that there was always a possibility because of her position as Opposition spokesperson on Veteran's affairs that she could be called by the leadership to attend other events. On July 7th she emailed BMUC to say she would not be attending the July 17th event. Her electorate office explained that Mrs. Markus would be attending a "portfolio related responsibility" in Queensland on the 17th.

The politics in the pub event will go ahead as planned, with the ALP and Green candidates.

For more information, call Deb Smith on (02) 4787 1401
or email BMUC

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Shame • Israel • Shame


Mabo Day: 18 years

On 20 May 1982, Eddie Koiki Mabo, Sam Passi, David Passi, Celuia Mapo Salee and James Rice began their legal claim for ownership of their lands on the island of Mer in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The High Court required the Supreme Court of Queensland to determine the facts on which the case was based but while the case was with the Queensland Court, the State Parliament passed the Torres Strait Islands Coastal Islands Act which stated 'Any rights that Torres Strait Islanders had to land after the claim of sovereignty in 1879 is hereby extinguished without compensation'.

The challenge to this legislation was taken to the High Court and the decision in this case, known as Mabo No. 1, was that the Act was in conflict with the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and was thus invalid.

It was not until 3 June 1992 that Mabo No. 2 was decided. By then, 10 years after the case opened, both Celuia Mapo Salee and Eddie Mabo had died.

Six of the judges agreed that the Meriam people did have traditional ownership of their land, with Justice Dawson dissenting from the majority judgment. The judges held that British possession had not eliminated their title and that 'the Meriam people are entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands'.

Following the High Court decision in Mabo No. 2, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Native Title Act in 1993, enabling Indigenous people throughout Australia to claim traditional rights to unalienated land.

ABS shines light on mining claims

Not only did the mining industry not help with the tax payer funded recovery, but the mining and finance industries now stand to benefit most from the recovery. No wonder the government is demanding some of that tax payer funding now be returned via the proposed tax changes:

SMH 1 June
Gross mining profits bounced 9.2 per cent in the quarter to $15 billion in their first rise since September 2008, as economy-wide profits rose by 3.9 per cent, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates published yesterday.

The figures cast doubt on the mining industry's claims it helped keep Australia out of recession while also highlighting the patchy nature of the economy-wide recovery.

In its attack on the proposed resource tax, the mining industry has argued it played a critical role in supporting growth.

But the Bureau of Statistics numbers underline the heavy hit miners took from the slowdown - their quarterly profits remain almost 40 per cent below the pre-crisis peak of $24.4 billion.

Across all industries, company profits grew by their fastest rate in 18 months, though they are still 14 per cent below their pre-crisis peak. In the months ahead, analysts expect mining to play an increasing role as higher commodity prices filter through to earnings, while the outlook for domestic-focused industries is rather more cautious.

RBS chief economist Kieran Davies said mining profits were set to ''dramatically accelerate'' next quarter, which will take into account annual price increases of 50 to 100 per cent for the nation's biggest exports. ''The mining sector will be the standout, and outside that I think the recovery will be slower,'' Mr Davies said.