Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Economics: IMF killer prescriptions

Among the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prescriptions for the Australian economy is a dose of GST tax increases. Australia beware!

In 2008 Cambridge and Yale university researchers observed that countries which received IMF loans between 1989 and 2005 experienced on average a 16 per cent spike in TB death rates after accepting the aid, followed by a 30.7 per cent dip after the loans were paid off.
The researchers found that the size of the loan was proportional to the mortality rate. Deaths rose 4 per cent for every year of repayment and 0.9 per cent for every 1 per cent increase in IMF lending.
Tuberculosis is a good test because it has long been viewed as a social indicator. When your society breaks down, tuberculosis rates rise pretty quickly, particularly death rates from TB. 
The IMF this year joined the European Union to lend Greece €110 billion when its economy nearly collapsed in the wake of the bankers' crisis. As a result, Greek civil society has faced huge stresses, because of conditions attached to the loan.
Demonstrators in The Hague respond to the call of the
European Trade Union Confederation for a day of protest against austerity programs

Public sector wages have been slashed, employment reduced, employment protection provisions demolished, pensioners' income reduced or capped, their pension age changed, sales tax lifted by 2 per cent and tiny public-sector bonuses abolished. Millions have been on strike, the Acropolis has been stormed and unrest continues to grow as cuts bite ever harder.
In 2008, the IMF approved a 23-month stand-by arrangement for Pakistan of US$7.6 billion. In return it required Pakistan to raise its power tariff by 24 per cent during the fiscal year in three phases - 6 per cent in the October-December quarter, 12 per cent in January-March and 6 per cent in the April-June period. A 4.4 per cent tariff increase was announced in October 2009,6 and an additional 13.6 per cent increase was implemented in the last quarter.
The IMF also demanded a rise in interest rates and high rates are now choking Pakistan's economy. Small and medium-sized businesses and farmers cannot afford credit and are often forced out of business. Pakistani farmers are forced to sell their land, leading not only to less productive agriculture but environmental devastation.
At present, Turkey is seeking an IMF loan to see it through the aftermath of the world bankers' crisis. An IMF delegation is in Ankara today to negotiate terms and conditions which are expected to include the country rejigging its tax systems, raising the level of personal taxation dramatically and reducing government expenditure.
In Britain the IMF has just praised the slash and burn economic plans of the Con-Dem coalition government's handling of the economy, saying that it is "on the mend."

Keep the IMF quacks away from any economy near you!

Oakeshott backs Grafton Telstra fight

CPSU: 27 September 2010

The CPSU has warmly welcomed the support of regional independent MP Rob Oakeshott in the campaign to save 108 Telstra call-centre jobs in Grafton.

CPSU Assistant National Secretary, Louise Persse said: "It is fantastic to see Mr Oakeshott join with staff, unions, community groups, the Chamber of Commerce and local politicians from a wide range of parties to stand up for regional jobs.

"We agree with Mr Oakeshott that it makes no sense to centralise this work to Brisbane and Melbourne.

"Telstra's plan to close the Grafton call-centre is a slap in the face for the local community.

"But it is also a warning for other regional call-centres. If you applied the same logic Telstra is using to close Grafton, call-centres in Lismore, Bathurst, Townsville, Moe and Ballarat would also be wound up," said Ms Persse.

Telstra is understood to be making a final decision about the future of the call-centre tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Mr Oakeshott's involvement today will be a boost to the growing community campaign in support of Grafton call-centre jobs. Action so far includes:

  • More 6000 local signatures for a petition organised by Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin (ALP)
  • hundreds of people attended a rally in Grafton on Saturday
  • local businesses closed their doors at 11am today in an act of solidarity with Grafton Telstra workers.
  • A Facebook page has been set up and now has 1700 followers

The CPSU is now calling on Federal and State politicians from all parties to follow Mr Oakeshott's and Ms Saffin's lead and stand up for regional jobs.

"The new political paradigm is happening right here, right now in Grafton. Local politicians from a wide range of parties are working together to save jobs. It would great to see the same commitment to regional employment at the federal level," said Ms Persse.

ACTU: Abolish ABCC

28 September, 2010 | ACTU Media Release

The departure of the head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission clears the way for the abolition of the ABCC.

The ABCC was set up by the Howard Government and has been an abject failure which has led to poorer safety standards in the industry, said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

"Under John Lloyd the ABCC engaged in politically partisan behaviour that is inconsistent with its obligations as a statutory body," Mr Lawrence said.

"Mr Lloyd has constantly overstepped the line required of a public servant, making comments that betrayed the bias of both himself and the body he headed.

"Any pretence of fairness was long discarded under Mr Lloyd’s tenure. His legacy will be an ordinary building worker, Ark Tribe, facing the prospect of jail simply for exercising his right to silence.

"The end of his term today is an appropriate time for the Government to begin abolishing the ABCC, which is one of the final remnants of WorkChoices still standing."

Mr Lawrence said a report by the International Labour Organization earlier this year found that the ABCC was likely to be in breach of a number of international labour standards, including freedom of association, the right to organise and collective bargaining.

"Industrial laws are intended to protect the rights of workers, not undermine them," Mr Lawrence said. "The priorities of the ABCC should be to strengthen workplace health and safety in the building industry, and to stamp out dodgy contractors who avoid their obligations to employees and to the tax system.

"But overwhelmingly, the ABCC has investigated and prosecuted workers for exercising their rights rather than employers.

"Both the injury and fatality rates in the construction industry are much higher than for all industries – the death rate is twice that of the rest of the workforce.

"In the year to date, an appalling 17 construction workers have been killed on the job.

"And just last week, there were reports of migrant Korean tilers being worked to death by unscrupulous employers who hire illegal workers. But again there was silence from the ABCC.

"The ABCC has wasted millions of dollars while health and safety in the industry has not improved. There should be one set of laws for all workers, regardless of the industry they work in.

"The Federal Parliament must vote to abolish the coercive powers that impinge upon civil liberties and the right to be members of a union."

Monday, September 27, 2010

28 September: World Maritime Day

The Maritime Union of Australia has urged all Australians to recognise today (September 23) as World Maritime Day, as designated by the United Nations.

The Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary and President of the International Transport Workers' Federation Paddy Crumlin said the MUA would mark World Maritime Day this year by

  • celebrating 2010 as the Year of the Seafarer
  • urging the federal government to implement its shipping and seafaring revitalisation package
  • highlighting the worldwide campaign against piracy
  • and commemorating the 65th anniversary of union bans in support of Indonesian independence.

Mr Crumlin said the MUA would officially celebrate World Maritime Day next Tuesday (September 28) with a march across Pyrmont Bridge in Sydney and a ceremony at the Anchor Memorial outside the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.

The MUA has invited Hanafi Rustanda, the Indonesian Seamen's Union/International Transport Workers' Federation Asia Pacific chair, and Gary Yusuf, the Consul General for the Republic of Indonesia to the celebrations.

Mr Crumlin said while World Maritime Day was a time to reflect on the progress of the industry in Australia, it was also a time to pay attention to issues such as piracy in the Asia Pacific region, and the development of the Federal Government's shipping policy.

"While World Maritime Day is being marked in London with the handing over of a 920,000-strong petition to end Somali piracy, we also need to recognise that we have a real problem right here on our doorstep," Mr Crumlin said.

"In recent months we have seen a spate of attacks on shipping in the Asia Pacific which marks the unfortunate return of piracy in our region.

"The MUA is also looking forward to working closely with the Federal Government, and Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in particular, to develop their shipping policy which was announced during the election campaign."

Mr Crumlin said he was heartened by comments from Ms Teresa Hatch, the Executive Director of the Australian Shipowners Association, who said the shipping policy would be 'an exciting new chapter to reinvigorate a vital Australian industry'.

Program for World Maritime Day celebrations on Tuesday, September 28, 2010

12 midday: Assemble Pyrmont Bridge (Cityside)
12.30: Jazz band leads march across Pyrmont Bridge to the Anchor Memorial outside the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour

Speakers include:
Mary-Louise Williams, Maritime Museum
Ian Bray, MUA
Paul McAleer, MUA
Hanafi Rustanda, Indonesian Seamen's Union/ITF Asia Pacific chair
Gary Yusuf, Consul General, Republic of Indonesia

Wreath laying
Food and refreshments

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Latest Election Results!

SMH September 11, 2010

One upshot from this election result is that for the first time in a very long time, millions of Australians are able to say that they know how many members there are in the House of Representatives and how the numbers fall among the 150 men and women elected to that chamber.

Governments are made and unmade on the floor of the House. As for the national vote, all seats are decided on preferences, not primary votes. On Thursday, Labor overtook the Coalition on the progressive count. At 5.30pm yesterday, Labor was on 50.09 per cent of the vote - 22,000 votes ahead of the Coalition.

It's not the final total, of course, and the difference is trifling when you consider that almost 12 million votes have been counted. But it seems to have become an accepted fact, because Liberal frontbenchers keep saying it, that the Coalition attracted more votes than Labor and thus has a moral right to power.

At this stage, the Coalition has fewer votes. Does it matter? Well, the truth should matter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

USA: Billionaires attack Public Schools

Union buster and education privatizer Bill Gates is a major backer of the new anti-labor film "Waiting For Superman". He was also invited as the guest of honor by AFT President Randy Weingarten to their 2010 AFT national convention.
Weingarten is a major backer of charter schools in NYC and Washington DC. where she received millions of dollars from the Wal-Mart Walton Foundation to help privatize the schools. She defended her support of Green Dot charter schools in NYC as well.

Oprah Winfrey has backed the film on her TV show which led to this letter from a teacher:

Why don’t you, with your great forum for change, invite real classroom teachers to talk about what it’s like to teach homeless students with no resources (students or teachers)? Why don’t you ask my son, who recently graduated with a Master’s of Arts in teaching, what it’s like to teach students living in foster homes for drug abuse, rape — both victims and perpetrators — violence, assault? Why don’t you ask him how he struggles to be a “good” teacher? And wonders — daily — what that even means in the context where he finds himself?

If you want to change education, Oprah, don’t make the mistake everyone else has. Ask teachers. Would you have a conversation about the national state of medicine and health care without asking for the input of doctors, nurses and patients? And yet we have left parents, teachers and students completely out of this critical talk.

If you want real change, invite real teachers to your show, Oprah. The irony is that the conversation seems to valourise teachers, saying that “good” teachers can change things for kids. So can smaller classrooms, food, adequate resources, the freedom to teach according to a child’s needs. But then, that’s not what the “experts” are saying, is it? Unfortunately, the “experts” have no real experience with students. Or teaching. Or classrooms. They only know how to tell the teachers in the trenches what to do?


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Andrew Wilkie and Howard's Iraq War Lies

SBS TWO: Friday 24 September 2010 8.30pm
A Logie Award-winning series that delves deep into the murky world of government misconduct, crime, corruption and the ordinary citizens who try to expose it all. Through extraordinary first person narratives, this is a blow-by-blow account of what happens when whistle-blowers take on the authorities. The first episode tells the story of Andrew Wilkie, the only Western intelligence officer to speak out before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture 5 Oct

'Re-inventing Social Democracy for the Twenty First Century'.

Date: Tuesday, October 5
Time: 6pm
Venue: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney

Please make a note in your diary and promote this important public lecture through your networks. This is a free event.

In honour of the late Ted Wheelwright, a founding academic of the Political Economy Movement at the University of Sydney, PE alumni, staff and students present:

The 3rd E.L 'Ted' Wheelwright Memorial Lecture.

Building on a proud legacy the renowned American sociologist, Professor. Fred Block from the University of California will present this year’s Memorial Lecture on 'Re-inventing Social Democracy for the Twenty First Century'. ...

As the future of our great nation hangs in the balance and in the context of great uncertainty, reflection and soul searching, no topic could be more relevant to the current political debate.

This event is not to be missed!

The lecture will be followed by the PE tradition of wood-fired pizza and beers at Hermanns Bar, the Merewhether Building, the University of Sydney kindly provided by the students and PE Alumni. All Welcome!

This event is proudly brought to you by the Political Economy Staff, Students and Alumni with the assistance of the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney and the University of Sydney Student Union.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unions visit Villawood

Date: 17 September 2010

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the overseas humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU, will take a second delegation of union officials to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on 19th September 2010.

The delegation will include:

Jenny Diamond & Michelle Rosicky , NSW Teachers Federation
Paul McAleer, Maritime Union of Australia
Sally McManus, Australian Services Union
Michael Wright, Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union
Greens NSW Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon and Riz Wakil from the Australian Hazara Council will also be joining the group.
The group will meet with asylum seekers and refugees from a range of countries to better understand why people flee to Australia, the conditions of immigration detention, and the mental health effects of prolonged detention.

The visit comes during ongoing calls for the Federal Government to end its freeze on the processing of Afghan asylum seekers as ethnic Hazaras continue to be persecuted amidst escalating violence in Afghanistan.

Click here for a letter to the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from 20 Trade Union and affiliated organisation leaders, expressing concern at the growing stance of indifference towards asylum seekers by both sides of politics.

For further information

Contact: Brami Jegan
Union: Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Phone: (02) 9264 9343
Contact Mobile: 0433 054 712

Monday, September 20, 2010

Qld Rail: Not for Sale

September 10th, 2010 John Quiggin

The decision by Queensland coal companies to drop their bid for the track assets of Queensland Rail hands the state’s Labor party one last chance to hang on to office. There is still time to dump the economically silly and politically suicidal idea of a public float for QR, either because the Premier and Treasurer suddenly announce that circumstances have changed (as they did, going the other way, immediately after the last election) or because the Caucus decides that taking a chance on a new leadership team is preferable to the certain oblivion to which Bligh and Fraser are leading them.

According to this poll report, Labor’s primary vote has fallen to a horrendous 29 per cent. Looking at the dismal performance of Federal Labor in Queensland at the recent election, in which the LNP campaigned against Bligh rather than Gillard, there’s no reason to doubt that this would be translated into reality unless something changes. Certainly, on current policies, I’ll be preferencing the LNP ahead of Labor.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More Greed: Which Bank?

CBA's Ralph Norris has become the nation's highest-paid CEO after his pay packet increased this year by 75 per cent to $16.2 million.

Long-term incentive payments pushed Mr Norris just past the likes of Westfield group founder Frank Lowy on $16m, Leighton Holdings' Wal King on $12.6m and BHP Billiton's Marius Kloppers on $12m.

ANZ Bank's Mike Smith was Mr Norris's closest rival among the big four banks on $10.9m, with Westpac's Gail Kelly third on $10.6m.

CBA's annual report, released yesterday, revealed the $9.2m in share payments that Mr Norris was awarded this year was almost triple the equivalent amount he was granted in the 2008-09 financial year.

Mr Norris also received short-term cash incentives totalling $3.7m, although half of that amount was deferred for one year.

Finance Sector Union national policy director Rod Masson said CBA staff would "rightly be outraged" by the pay rise. "All we can do is express outrage and bewilderment," Mr Masson said. "We've just signed off a 12-month deal that delivers to CBA staff 4 per cent pay increases."

Grafton Telstra Jobs

Vulnerable Grafton employees facing the Telstra axe have expressed gratitude for the public campaign aimed at saving their jobs.

Two union meetings held in Grafton, one on Thursday night and the other yesterday morning, have seen stories of potential devastation aired by the affected workers.

The meetings were organised by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), one of the unions representing the Telstra workers, and were aimed at providing a forum for members employed at the call centre to voice their concerns.

CPSU lead organiser Teresa Davison said the mood among the members in attendance was of frustration and real concern for their futures.

"They want the centre to stay open; there was a lot of talk about the personal impact and the impact on their colleagues and their families," Ms Davison said.

"If the centre closes most of them will have to leave Grafton so they’re pretty devastated."

"There was a consensus; the people want to do everything they can to keep the centre open; that's the first priority," she said.

She also said the members present were overwhelmed by the flood of community support for them since the announcement.

"They're feeling pretty vulnerable; it's their jobs on the line so they're just really grateful for the community campaign and being able to be part of it. It's been amazing to see," she said.

Home insulation safety fine

Unions say employers have the ultimate responsibility to keep workers safe, not governments.

Central Queensland company Arrow Property Maintenance was yesterday fined $135,000 over the death of 16-year-old Rueben Barnes in November last year.

The teenager was electrocuted while installing insulation at a house near Rockhampton.

It was one of four fatalities linked to the Federal Government's axed insulation scheme.

The company says the Federal Government should shoulder some of the blame, but Craig Allen from the Queensland Council of Unions says it needs to stop passing the buck.

"As the court said, we're not in the industrial revolution era, we are in the 21st century," he said.

"There is an expectation of communities that workers come home alive after they go to work each day.

"We have had Workplace Health and Safety legislation in Queensland since 1995 - there are clear protocols in that legislation of what the responsibilities of employers are in this state.

"Do not blame federal governments, blame yourselves".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Malcolm Turnbull's impossible task

Harold Mitchell in SMH

"Australia is in an extremely enviable position to benefit from this Asian explosion. If we're clever, and I don't doubt that we are, we will continue to hook ourselves into this region of incredible growth across all sectors, from education and trade to cultural and scientific exchange.

To do this we will need to fully embrace the explosion of new technology, including new systems like the 4G and 5G phone, a phone that is eight times faster than the present one and a sixth of the cost. But it needs a highly advanced broadband system.

No one at the conference could understand why we should not be at the top end of the world in broadband. The 5G phone in America will connect 95 per cent of the country. Louise says that anyone who can get 95 per cent should be at the top of the class.

While I was away, I see that Malcolm Turnbull got the job to oppose the construction of a world-leading broadband network for Australia. Malcolm is a good friend and one of our most intelligent and persuasive politicians. His wife, Lucy, is equally clever and totally hooked into the IT world.

... behind every great man there is an even greater woman. I hope that Lucy Turnbull is able to convince her husband that Australia needs a broadband better than anyone else in the world."

UK Lib Dem mask slips

Nick Clegg showed his true colours on Thursday when defending the government's welfare cuts, claiming benefits are not there to "compensate the poor."
The UK Deputy PM made the "outrageous" comments after Lib Dem backbenchers attacked the coalition for targeting the vulnerable and accused Mr Clegg of breaking promises to ensure all cuts were fair.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to slash billions of pounds from the welfare budget next month when he unveils the coalition's spending review.
Left Lib Dem activists are expected to make their anger heard as the party gathers in Liverpool tomorrow for its annual conference, the first major Lib Dem gathering since the party's pact with the Tories.
Mr Clegg said: "Welfare needs to become an engine of mobility, changing people's lives for the better, rather than a giant cheque written by the state to compensate the poor."
Around £11 billion has already been slashed from benefits in June's emergency Budget.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has admitted there will be even more savings in the forthcoming spending review, although he has denied claims he has already lined up £4bn of welfare cuts.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn branded Mr Clegg's comments "disgusting" and "outrageous."
He said: "Mr Clegg would be well-placed on the Tory front bench of 1909.
"It is shocking that he has made these comments as a leader who supposedly supports the welfare state. He should read more about the history of his party and what it supposedly stands for."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grafton outrage: Telstra jobs plan

Telstra's plan to close its Grafton Business Call Centre has been met with condemnation from unions representing telecommunications workers.

The plan has so far earned criticism from the local community and businesses, local politicians, Unions NSW, and now one of the unions representing telecommunications workers, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has weighed in on the issue.

CPSU assistant national secretary Louise Persse said the plan to close the Grafton Business Call Centre was an outrage.

"This decision is a direct attack upon Telstra workers, their families and the services they provide to the Australian community, particularly in regional Australia,” Ms Persse said.

"Job losses of this size are very bad news for local economies. The impact on Grafton alone will be massive."

Ms Persse was also concerned by comments made by a Telstra spokesman who indicated a reason the Grafton call centre was chosen to be closed was because of its high unionisation and also that high staff turnover could benefit efficiency with younger, keener workers getting jobs.

"Both of those things in our view, those reasons for closing the centre, would constitute adverse action under the Fair Work Act and are not legal," Ms Persse said.

Ms Persse said the CPSU would be pursuing the matter with Telstra if these reasons were in fact the company's stance.

According to Ms Persse, the CPSU was encouraging its local members to get involved in influencing Telstra to reconsider its plan.

Unions NSW has also strongly criticised the plan and secretary Mark Lennon said it was at odds with Telstra’s regional-friendly image.

"It's astonishing to hear that Telstra, a company that prides itself upon its support for regional areas, is planning to close the Grafton call centre," Mr Lennon said.

"Telstra can't claim to be a friend of regional Australia whilst simultaneously slashing jobs out of regional areas.

"Unions will be rallying support not only within the community of Grafton but across the State to demand that Telstra doesn't turn its back on regional communities."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who wants the ABCC?

Any reasonable person who has looked at the powers of the ABCC knows it is a truly radical and extreme outfit.

When it was introduced in 2005 by then-Industrial Relations Minister Tony Abbott it was sold as a sensible measure, which would have the backing of at least the conservative side of Australian society.
But fast-forward to today and who is willing to stand up and defend this unnecessary and unfair organisation?

The odd newspaper scribbler is prepared to claim that removing the ABCC would be bad for the construction business.

That argument might hold water - until somebody actually asks a construction giant CEO like Lend Lease's Steve McCann how worried he is about the prospect of the ABCC being removed.

When interviewed by ABCC cheer-squad leader Robert Gottliebsen over the impact the removal of the ABCC would have on his bottom line, Mr McCann couldn't have been more lukewarm in his endorsement of the commission.

"The reality is I think the bigger drivers will be the amount of commercial work that's on," he said.
"Material costs and everything else, when you factor in all those contributions I'm not sure that that is a bigger driver in any way."

So Lend Lease isn't prepared to stand up for the ABCC, but you would think that our leading right-wing think-tank would go into bat for John Lloyd's mob, wouldn't you?

The Institute of Public Affairs has been hand in glove with the Liberal Party since it was established in the 1940s. It traditionally champions privatisation and deregulation, climate change scepticism and attacks on the role of unions. But this time I have to say I couldn't agree more with the IPA.

In an article published on September 4, Chris Berg from the Institute says union members targeted by the ABCC deserve their civil liberties, which are currently being denied.

He goes on to note the Commission constitutes the use of "coercive and unjust state power."

The ABCC singles out construction workers and strips them of their rights. In return it offers no benefit to anyone.

If the Institute of Public Affairs and Lend Lease aren't prepared to back it, why on earth should the Australian Government?

Dave Noonan, CFMEU C&G Division National Secretary and the Rights on Site Team

Monday, September 13, 2010

Miners support Greg Combet

Greg Combet's previous role as a union negotiator will help him as the new climate change minister, the mining union says.

Mr Combet has vowed to bring "common sense" to the climate change debate, and has warned that he will fight for coal industry jobs as he pursues a price on carbon.

The former ACTU secretary represents an electorate in the NSW Hunter region that is home to mining workers.

The General President of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Mining Division, Tony Maher, said he agreed with Mr Combet's assessment that measures to reduce carbon emissions needed to be compatible with a growing economy and resources sector.

"It's going to be a tough job," Mr Maher told ABC Radio today.

"He'll have to deal to the left and deal to the right but he's the best negotiator in Parliament."

Mr Maher cited Mr Combet's role in the James Hardie asbestos dispute and the 1998 national stevedoring strike as examples of the minister's negotiating experience.

Ark Tribe on Trial

Ark Tribe is back in front of a judge in Adelaide today.

His ongoing trial should serve as a reminder to every fair-minded Australian of why the ABCC needs to be dumped immediately.

The ABCC was a dud policy in 2005 when it was pushed upon the Australian people by then-Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott.

But since then it's steadily lost even more community support, to the point now where no one is willing to stick up for it.

These days even the CEO of Lend Lease, Steve McCann, has acknowledged the removal of the ABCC won’t have a significant affect on his company's bottom line.

Right-wing thinktanks like the Institute of Public Affairs reckon the ABCC constitutes ‘coercive and unjust state power.’

The ABCC was a rogue policy, introduced by a rogue Workplace Relations Minister.

It costs a fortune, provides no real advantage to anyone and strips basic civil liberties from construction workers.

Ark is facing trial today because he stuck up for safety and then allegedly refused to be forced into an ABCC interrogation.

That’s nothing short of a national disgrace.

We should all be urging the Australian Government to dump the ABCC like a hot brick.

Thanks for your support.

Dave Noonan, CFMEU C&G Division National Secretary

Nurses Union success

The Australian Nursing Federation revealed that its membership had jumped 13 per cent to 192,000 and was likely to reach 200,000 members by Christmas.

It is believed the ANF is now the second-largest union in the country, with the shop assistants union believed to have the biggest membership.

The ANF's federal secretary, Lee Thomas, attributed the rise to the union's focus on campaigns that were relevant to workers in the health and aged-care sectors.

"We would put it down to being very credible and visible and running good, solid campaigns relevant to members and non-union members," she said.

Ms Thomas recently succeeded Ged Kearney, who left to assume the ACTU presidency.

Ms Kearney highlighted the ANF's membership surge when reiterating the need for unions to campaign on social issues.

"You know it's the question of getting young people to join the movement too," Ms Kearney said in an interview on ABC radio's Sunday Profile. "How can you be relevant to those people? What can we campaign around?

"If you campaign around social issues, the community gets behind you. You appeal to that broader sector and you ultimately get better industrial outcomes and better services.

"So I think we can pick some social agenda. It might be affordable housing. It might be, you know, something that's as important to workers as their wage."
12 September, 2010 | ACTU Media Release

Unions welcome the announcement of the new Gillard Government Ministry with its emphasis on securing jobs for working Australians, building a stronger, more sustainable economy and delivering good schools, decent healthcare and better services for all Australians, including those in the regions.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence congratulates Senator Chris Evans on his appointment to the position of Minister for Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations.

"Senator Evans has had a long association with working people and understands the pressures they face," he said.

"The renaming of this portfolio shows a welcome focus on jobs and skills as the key drivers of Australia’s economic growth. The Labor Government has made important investments in this area which have contributed to Australia’s rapid recovery from the economic downturn and protected working families from the GFC."

ACTU President Ged Kearney congratulates Greg Combet on his elevation into the Cabinet as the new Minister for Climate Change.

"Mr Combet has the proven skills from his career in the union movement to handle this sensitive and critical portfolio," Ms Kearney said.

"We will work with him on the opportunities for new clean energy jobs posed by the transition to a low-carbon economy.

"I am confident that Mr Combet understands the importance of protecting existing jobs and creating new ones during the transition to a low-carbon economy, and unions look forward to working with him to capture the opportunities for new jobs and industries posed by action on climate change."

Crew half starved on Newcastle coast

Date: 10 September 2010

Clergy raise alarm over crew conditions on coal ships queueing off Newcastle.

Crew on ships at anchor off Newcastle are running out of food supplies, The church-run Mission to Seafarers told the Newcastle Herald.

Reverend Garry Dodd told a monthly shipping lunch at the Newcastle Club last Friday he believed the situation was created by a new vessel arrival system that stopped coal ships from anchoring off Newcastle more than seven days before loading, the Herald reported.

As many as 40 ships are waiting on average 12 days to load in Newcastle. However if the ship was up to standard there should be adequate provisions on board and it is easy to get supplies to the vessels while they are at anchor.

The MUA Northern NSW branch and International Transport Federation, both asked why they had not been told at the time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gunns backdown

After years of fighting to protect Tasmania's precious old growth forests we've finally convinced Gunns to get out of the business of native forest logging.

The writing has been on the wall for Gunns for some time now, and this victory is thanks to your efforts and those of our partners at organisations like The Wilderness Society and Environment Tasmania.

GetUp members have funded full page newspaper ads in Australia and abroad. We've mobilised shareholders and customers to influence the ANZ bank and scare off all other Australian banks from financing a destructive pulp mill.

GetUp members like you then took the fight to the world's biggest financial markets with ads in European and Asian newspapers. Over the years we've written to Environment Ministers, placed thousands of phone calls and sent tens of thousands of emails to our politicians to keep this campaign alive.

This victory has proven that when we can demonstrate that the community's attitudes are ahead of those of our decision makers we can create major change in our nation - and you are an integral part of this process.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

MUA welcomes Gillard Govt


"For maritime workers a Gillard Government means our two key, long fought for government policy commitments - Australian shipping and national safety regulation in stevedoring are once again back on track," said National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. "But there is more work ahead. None of the independents has given Labor a blank cheque and the union will need to renew its lobbying to ensure the policies are delivered."

The union's expectation is that Labor will now move quickly to implement its election policy announcement on national shipping reform ratification and establish a high level Stevedoring Safety Task Force to undertake an urgent and independent review of industry safety.

The union is also urging government to deliver on its pledge for Commonwealth funds to support national stevedoring training programs and ratify the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (Seafarers' Bill of Rights).

The national secretary said that while the MUA could count on the Greens both in the Senate and the lower house to support the policies, work lay ahead in insuring the support of independents Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie.

"I would say that we would not have any trouble in convincing Green MP Adam Bandt or former security official Andrew Wilkie of the importance of shipping to the Australian economy, security and environment," he said. "But the union will need to seek discussions with all independents in the coming month, as well as continuing to lobby Labor to make good on their promises."

Bacchus Marsh Green Ban

Building workers are set to withdraw their labour to ensure Bacchus Marsh's Avenue of Honour remains roundabout-free.

VicRoads wants to remove nine trees and build a roundabout on the historic Avenue for the Western Highway Realignment Project.

But the proposed Woolpack Rd extension, which VicRoads insists is the best option to remove heavy truck traffic from Bacchus Marsh’s main roads, has raised the ire of local residents who have alerted the union movement to the fight. Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Brian Boyd said union workers were prepared to take industrial action by refusing to work on the Woolpack Rd section.

"We passed a resolution at a recent executive meeting calling for a rethink on the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour by VicRoads," he said. "Historically the trade union movement is opposed to wars but that still doesn’t stop us from paying due respect to our war dead.

"The Trades Hall Council represents 40,000 building workers statewide and we would consider looking at some sort of industrial action if necessary."

National Trust Conversation manager Paul Roser welcomed the union's pledge.

"The Greens locally also made a commitment to seek an alternative route for this project so we will be going back to them now they are so prominent in the balance of power federally," he said.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Unions welcome Independent's decision

Unions today welcomed the decision by the majority of the regional independents to back Julia Gillard and a Labor minority Government.

The decision gives the Australian community both stable and effective government and the opportunity to pursue new agendas on climate change, a more democratic Parliament and a renewed focus on inequality in the Australian community.

A national broadband network, decent hospital and health care wherever you live, better schools and training as well as a stronger economy that delivers job opportunities for all, are priorities the independents have singled out and which unions also strongly support.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

"Independents Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie have each made a well-considered decision. We look forward to consulting with them on issues of mutual concern.

"We welcome the improvements they are achieving in parliamentary and democratic procedures, recognition of Indigenous Australians and acknowledgement of regional Australians' concerns.

"The continuation of a Labor Government offers political stability and a ready-made platform to build upon stronger rights and services for working people and their families throughout Australia.

"Working Australians will be relieved they are not facing a change to a Government led by Tony Abbott and the parties which brought in WorkChoices. In this election unions succeeded in obtaining a commitment from the Coalition to maintain fair work laws and not go back to WorkChoices. This is now the second election in a row in which WorkChoices has been decisively rejected by the Australian public.

"However, it was Julia Gillard who actually got rid of WorkChoices and it is her Labor Government in which working Australians can have most confidence.

"The ACTU believes that there is more to do in restoring workers' rights – and we will pursue further improvements to the Australian industrial relations system that promote protections in an open and global modern economy."

ACTU President Ged Kearney said:

"Union members around the country – nurses, teachers, public sector workers, building workers, university staff, manufacturing workers, mining workers and many others — will be excited by the opportunities created by the independents and this new Government.

"We have hopes and dreams for what they should deliver — decent and secure jobs, strong workplace rights, support for families, a sustainable economy and a tolerant and safe community.

"And we are determined to continue campaigning to make these dreams a reality."

Rally of Ark Tribe


CFMEU member Ark Tribe back in court

The building and construction industry continues to be a dangerous workplace. Since the introduction of the Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) there has been a 95% increase in fatalities on building sites.
On 13 September 2010, Ark Tribe, a South Australian rigger and CFMEU member, is again going to appear in the Adelaide Federal Court of Australia - and he is still facing a six months jail term.


Ark Tribe was charged by the ABCC for failing to attend a compulsory interrogation about his involvement in a safety meeting called to improve safety on the Flinders University site.
A worker should never be intimidated by anyone for discussing his workplace's safety. Such intimidation causes fear of reporting when there are safety hazards, which could easily lead to yet another workplace death.


The Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) was created by the Howard Government in 2005 to enforce its laws and 'criminalise' much union-related activity on construction sites.
Its predecessor, the Building Industry Taskforce, was set up in the wake of the politically driven Cole Royal Commission into the building and construction industry. While its brief is to oversee adherence to industrial law, the ABCC conspicuously fails to investigate or prosecute employers underpaying workers or breaching safety regulations. Rather, it targets individual workers involved in union activity.

Under these unjust laws, even if a worker is killed on site, workers must be able to prove they had a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to themselves to legally stop work and assess the safety situation.

Passersby can also be interrogated by the ABCC for witnessing activities on a building site. The ABCC has the power to seek fines against individual workers of up to $22,000 and gag interviewees. Anyone who refuses to cooperate fully faces a potential 6 month jail term. More than 92 construction workers have been secretly interrogated by the ABCC.

Pig Iron Bob

On November 15, 1938 the steamship Dalfram berthed at No. 4 jetty Port Kembla to load pig iron for Kobe, Japan.

Japan was at war with China and reports were making their way back of the brutalities carried out by the Japanese Imperial Army - "the Rape of Nanking."
Ted Roach, Branch Secretary, addressed the men at the labour pick up for the Dalfram. He told the men of the destination of the pig iron and the obvious use the Japanese would make of it: bombs - first to be used against the Chinese and eventually against Australia.

At 11 am the men walked off the ship declaring they refused to load pig iron for Japan to turn into weapons. It led to a nine week lock-out, with incredible pressure and threats applied by the government of the day, leading the Attorney General and future Prime Minister Robert Menzies from this time on being known as Pig Iron Bob.

Rupert Lockwood wrote in his book War on the Waterfront: "180 men in sweaty singlets and hobnailed boots sacrificed pay packets in favour of conscience rather than become unwilling providers of munitions metal for Japan."

Now local film maker Sandra Pires has produced a short clip with the long term aim of making a full length doco drama on the dispute.

Why Documentaries has already produced an important film on Australia's worst mining disaster in the Illawara Beneath Black Skies which is showing at Trades Hall in Sydney during History week this week.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It's Labor

2010 Election

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia's political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Two critical reasons given for their decision to support Labor were Climate Change and the National Broadband Network

Their decision followed that of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.

Collinsville mine agreement

A long-running industrial dispute at a north Queensland coal mine has ended with workers voting in favour of a new employment agreement.

The two-year row between workers at Collinsville's open-cut coal mine, north-west of Mackay, and its operators Thiess, came to a head with a three-week strike and blockade of the mine's rail line last month.

But after a secret ballot, workers have voted in favour for a raft of new changes, including a better package for housing for local employees and more job security.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) spokesman Steve Smythe says it could set a precedent for similar mines across Queensland.

"I wouldn't like to think that's going to be the outcome, but it's possible that we could have the same type of action in other mines as well," he said.

Thiess management says the new agreement still needs to be ratified by Fair Work Australia.

Mr Smythe says the workers were disappointed that it took a rail blockade to bring the company to discussions.

"At the end of the day, where we agreed on this agreement was approximately where we were two-and-a-half years ago," he said.

Monday, September 06, 2010

WA: Barnett's invasion

"Another invasion" -- Mick Dodson, former Australian of the Year

It beggars belief that this is even legal in Australia.

Aboriginal land in one of our most fragile ecosystems has just been earmarked for compulsory acquisition by the Western Australian Government. The reason? Energy giants including BP, Woodside, Chevron and Shell want to build a gas pipeline, and they don't want to wait for Indigenous consultation.

Some traditional owners are in favour of the pipeline, others disagree. But one thing is clear: compulsory acquisition means no genuine consultation, and far less compensation if the project goes ahead.

We need to respond quickly and make sure Premier Barnett's announcement is met with national outrage. Locals are delivering a petition to the Premier's office next week. Can you back them up by adding your name today, and asking your friends to do the same?

The nation is talking about hung parliament negotiations in the marble halls of Parliament House. But far away, in the red dirt of James Price Point, 400km from Broome on the Dampier Peninsula, there is another power struggle going on; pitting the profits of BP, Shell, Woodside and Chevron against the rights of Indigenous Australians. You can help shift the balance.

There are numerous registered Aboriginal heritage sites in the vicinity of James Price Point (Walmadan). Locals tell of Indigenous burial sites and ancient rock art; in some areas you can actually see the footprints of prehistoric birds, long extinct. But the Western Australian Premier wants to bypass Aboriginal elders in what's been called "colonialism all over again" by Wayne Bergmann, Kimberly Land Council CEO. And what's more, the project hasn't even received environmental approvals required by State or Federal law.

This is about more than one site, or one gas pipeline. Compulsory acquisition in WA would put the profits of multinationals above the rights of traditional owners -- and threatens decades of progress on land rights.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Profiteers suck up our water

The formation of a company established solely to speculate on Australian water, and specifically that in the Murray-Darling Basin, will heighten public concerns about the current water reform process, according to public water rights and environmental advocacy group, Fair Water Use.

Fair Water Use reveals today that Causeway Water Limited is currently on a global fundraising drive to procure an initial $100 million from investors in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific and thereafter intends to focus on the purchase of Murray-Darling water.

National coordinator of Fair Water Use, Ian Douglas, stated this morning, “Yet another company is adding its name to the list of those being allowed to profiteer from Australia’s natural water resources, whilst contributing little or nothing to the country itself.”

“Causeway Water states that it expects a 12-15% annual return on the permanent water entitlements that it acquires; once again it will be the public and environment of Australia that will bear the brunt when it comes to providing these corporatised profits”, Dr Douglas continued.

He added, “There is a growing belief that the commoditisation of the nation’s water contravenes Section 100 of the Australian Constitution, which defines pubic rights to water and is based on the principle that rivers are common property.”

Dr Douglas concluded, “Nationwide demands for transparency in governance, now echoed by independent and Green MP’s, are of great relevance to Australia's water future. The major parties have misled Australians about the consequences of water reform, including the promotion of private and foreign control over the waters in our rivers”.

Fair Water Use believes that community concerns should be resolved by referendum, to determine whether water remains the common property of Australia or if the Constitution should be amended to allow water privatisation.

NAPLAN questioned

Should we trust the results of the NAPLAN language test? when students were asked misleading, ambiguous and ungrammatical questions?

Analysis by language experts Fiona Mueller and Elizabeth Grant suggests that students could be forgiven for making mistakes on the ''language conventions'' test, which confused adverbs with conjunctions and used punctuation incorrectly.

Dr Mueller, an English teacher at the Australian National University, said that up to half the questions were flawed in terms of their accuracy or usefulness for teaching.

''I would suggest that parents and students take the results with a huge grain of salt,'' Dr Mueller said. ''They are a bad measuring instrument and unable to do what they were supposed to do, which is guide teachers.''

In one question, year 5 students were asked to choose ''which group of words can all be conjunctions'', but the only plausible answer contained the word ''then'', which is an adverb.

Other questions were illogical. In another year 5 question, students were asked to select words and punctuation to ''complete this sentence'', but the correct answer forms two sentences.

''It's absolutely unfair to expect students to sit these flawed tests in this environment,'' Dr Mueller said.

Flinders University literacy lecturer Barbara Nielsen said the tests ''cannot be considered diagnostic because they don't indicate why a child has not achieved any individual task''.

Guy Bayly-Jones, president of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, said the usefulness of the tests had been overestimated.

''They were designed to identify primarily those students who were falling by the wayside … In most cases, of course, these students were already known to teachers,'' she said.

Broadband: Windsor backs Labor

Key NSW independent Tony Windsor has backed Labor's $43 billion national broadband network, criticising the opposition's cheaper alternative as a "retrograde policy" that would create a digital backwater in rural Australia. He believed Labor's national broadband network was the better of the two policies.

Windsor, who was briefed by senior officials from the Department of Broadband last week, said he had been convinced that "you do it once, you do it right, you do it with fibre".

The comments come as Mr Windsor and the other two rural independents, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter, remain locked in negotiations with both sides to determine who they will ultimately support: Prime Minister Julia Gillard or Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Two weeks after the election, Mr Katter and Mr Oakeshott were yesterday bunkered in their Parliament House offices in Canberra. Last night the two men were seen walking outside Parliament House in blustery conditions deep in animated conversation.

There are reports that Liberal and National Party members, along with the big mining monopolies, are mounting a campaign to bombard the independents' electorate offices with phone calls from voters threatening to dump them at the next election if they side with Labor.

Katter yesterday said "all sorts of tricky stuff" had been taking place to try to persuade him, although the calls were not a major issue.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Abbott's Budget blues

The inexcusable:

According to Treasury the Coalition counted the interest to be saved on debt from selling Medibank Private, but not the dividends it would lose as a result of the sale. It is a bit like deciding to sell a rental property without noticing you will no longer be able to collect the rent.

Also inexcusable was double-counting savings to be made by increasing the efficiency dividend, effectively double-counting savings already factored into the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This means measuring the wrong time period when calculating money to be made from the parental leave levy, and failing to update its savings from abandoning the National Broadband Network to reflect the smaller amount actually spent. All up they are worth $2.7 billion.

The inexplicable:

The Coalition announced spending from the Health and Hospitals Fund, the Education Investment Fund, the Building Australia Fund and the Nation Building Fund without apparently checking that there was enough free money in the funds. Treasury and Finance have examined what had already been allocated and found that adding on the Coalition's promises would more than empty the funds, pushing them $3.3 billion into the red. The departments acknowledge that it may be possible to cancel or defer projects to make room for the $3.3 billion but says the Coalition provided no such details.

Adds up to:

| Phoney Tony | Rubbery Robb | Sloppy Joe |

4 September: Equal Pay Day

ACTU 3 September 2010

The unacceptable pay gap between Australian women and men widened in the last financial year with full-time working women earning 18% less than men.

“Today we are marking Equal Pay Day – 66 days after the end of the financial year, which is the number of extra days women would have to work to earn the same as men in this country,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney on the eve of Equal Pay Day 2010.

“Women now make up half the workforce and are more skilled and educated than any other time in Australian history. Yet men are still paid more through overtime, penalty rates and bonuses. One worrying outcome is that women end up with less than half the superannuation savings of men when they retire, often after a lifetime of working and caring for family.”

Ms Kearney said the pay gap has a detrimental impact across the whole economy.
  • NATSEM estimates that the average Australian woman will earn almost $1 million less over her lifetime than the average Australian man.
  • Female tertiary graduates earn $2000 less than male graduates in their first job, and $7500 less after 5 years in the workforce.
  • Women are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men.
  • A new survey of 1100 professional women by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) found that nearly half (47.4%) said their career progress had been affected by a male-dominated workplace culture.
Women earned the right to equal pay back in 1972 after decades of having their wages set at a lower rate than men, however this has not translated into a fair and equal outcome.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Abbott's budget accountants under scrutiny

SMH  2 September 2010

After a complaint from Sydney University accountancy professor Bob Walker, the Institute of Chartered Accountants began an investigation into the Coalition's budget accountants.

The code of ethics requires members to ''make clients, employers or other users of their services aware of limitations inherent in the services''.

The standard on the compilation of financial reports suggests the inclusion of an explicit statement in mere reports that ''no audit or review has been performed and accordingly no assurance is expressed''. WHK Howarth has declined to comment in relation to the investigation.

Now that Treasury and Finance are also looking at the veracity of the assumptions (as part of the deal with the independents), the firm looks to have been unwittingly exposed to analysis not contemplated when it took on the assignment.

The plan was that no one outside of WHK Horwath and the Coalition would see the assumptions.

Which is odd when you think about it, because if the Treasury couldn't see the assumptions and the electorate couldn't see the assumptions, how could the first be expected to form a view as to whether it could implement the policies and how could the second form a view on whether it should vote for them?

None of this was meant to matter. After the election the policies and the assumptions behind the costings were to be old news, shredded if the Coalition lost, and superseded by events (most probably the discovery of a ''black hole'') if the Coalition won.

The University of Canberra is exposed to scrutiny as well. Its National Centre for Economic Modelling apparently also modelled some of the more tricky Coalition costings, or at least that's what Robb says. The centre itself has provided no details and released no documents, not even a Horwath-style one-page letter. Like Horwath, it has allowed its name and reputation to be used by the Coalition without releasing work that would make it accountable.

Gillard slams Abbott's economics

Julia Gillard has raised questions over Mr Abbott's ability to manage the economy.

"Mr Abbott was prepared to give Mr Wilkie $1 billion for a proposal that should properly cost the Australian Government about a third of that," she said.

"Now doesn't that tell you everything you need to know about Mr Abbott's credentials to be prime minister and why he got himself in an $11 billion black hole.

"He doesn't have $1 billion. Look at the Treasury numbers."

She also thanked the three rural independents for releasing the details of Treasury's costing of the Coalition's policies.

"I believe they have done the nation a great service by ensuring that Mr Abbott has finally had his election policies costed by Treasury," she said.

Abbott blackhole: TEN BILLION DOLLARS

The costings Tony Abbott took to the election have been shown to be a $10,000,000,000 miscalculation according to Treasury ... How might the vote have gone if we'd been told  this before the election? Is this the reason that Abbott was unwilling to submit the figures to the Treasury before the election?

Incompetent, Dishonest or What?
courtesy of
| Phoney Tony | Rubbery Robb | Sloppy Joe |
who do you trust?

Sydney Morning Herald 2 September 2010

Australia's "miracle economy" surprised on the upside again with the June quarter national accounts, beating economists' forecasts with seasonally adjusted gross domestic product growth of 1.2 per cent on the back of surging terms of trade, household spending and the construction industry. And the amazing thing is that the mining industry has a relatively quiet quarter, so there's much more to come.

The June quarter performance gave us economic growth of 3.3 per cent through the 2009-10 financial year – more than anyone dared hope. The tipsters can try to save some face by noting that their consensus forecast of 0.9 per cent matched the Australian Bureau of Statistics' trend series result – a less volatile and more reliable figure.

Seasonally adjusted, the Australian economy is in very solid shape, sailing out of the developed world's Great Recession with growth around its trend rate, with the terms of trade pouring money into the national coffers as shown by gross national income soaring 4 per cent, and with the promise of a further surge in private capital investment this financial year.

Making up that 1.2 per cent growth, household expenditure had the biggest positive impact with 0.9 per cent, followed by net exports with 0.4 per cent as the terms of trade jumped 12.5 per cent seasonally adjusted, 14.4 per cent in trend terms. Taking 0.7 per cent off the growth figure was a run down in inventories – a factor that might reasonably be reversed as confidence builds.

The industry that contributed most to GDP was construction – all those school sheds helping to add 0.3 per cent to GDP. Mining and "professional, scientific and technical services" each contributed 0.1 per cent.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Protest shuts Sydney Nespresso shop

News 31-08-2010

Australian unions led by Unions NSW held a demonstration on August 30 in front of the Nestles-owned Nespresso shop in Sydney’s city center. The action, which resulted in the temporary closure by management of the Nespresso shop, was taken in support of the IUF-affiliated SBNIP representing workers at the Nescafe factory in Panjang, Indonesia. The SBNIP has been struggling since 2008 for the right to bargain a collective agreement including wage rates. Instead of negotiating, Nestles management has persistently sought to undermine the union, violating fundamental trade union rights by promoting a yellow union and harassing and intimidating IUF members.

Placards displayed at the rally demanded “Stop Nespressure: Stop the abuse of Nescafe workers in Indonesia”, “Stop Nespressure: Respect the Labour Rights of Indonesia Nescafe Workers” and “Nespressure: Behind the coffee, Nestles Squeezes Workers’ Rights”

Mark Lennon, Secretary of Unions NSW, who was present, said “Unions NSW will continue to support the efforts of the IUF to secure a collective agreement for Nestlé workers in Indonesia. We reject the anti-union tactics being used by Nestlé to undermine workers rights.”

Charley Donnelly, IUF-A/P Regional President and General Secretary of the National Union of Workers, Australia (NUW) said, “It's time Nestles stop giving Indonesia workers the run around and act like a responsible global company. Its time they stop Nespressure and start negotiating a new collective agreement with the IUF affiliate covering wage rates.”

Unions present at the rally with their banners included LHMU, AMWU, Teachers Federations, CFMEU, NUW and Unions NSW.

New Zealand union leaders James Ritchie (General Secretary, Dairy Workers Union), Neville Donaldson, (Assistant National Secretary, Service Food Workers Union) and Dave Eastlake, (General Secretary, Meat Workers Union) who were in Sydney for a meeting of the Trans Tasman Food Unions Group joined the demonstration in support.

“Nestles' abuse of workers rights to bargain collectively and have their union recognized in Indonesia will be exposed to workers and consumers around the world. On behalf of the NZ Dairy Workers Union I was proud to be part of today’s demonstration outside the Nespresso shop in Sydney. Nestles can expect public demonstrations anywhere any time until they respect international labour conventions in Indonesia” said James Ritchie.

IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary Ma Wei Pin had addressed a meeting of Unions NSW the week prior to the demonstration, following which some 40 union leaders present immediately signed a petition to Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke calling on management to immediately and unconditionally enter into genuine negotiations with SBNIP for a collective agreement including negotiation on wages. This petition was conveyed to Nestlé through the IUF Secretariat in Geneva.

Climate Active Conference


Education and Service Industry Union Members Respond to Climate Change
A free conference for union members to take action on climate change

Saturday September 18th, 2010
9.30am to 5pm
NSW Teachers’ Federation Conference Centre
Tim Noonan, Director of Campaigns and Communications,
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC):
‘Towards decent work in a sustainable, low-carbon world: The International Story’

Chile mine accident

The Chilean mining accident was the result of a race for profits by mine owners – who may face criminal charges – at a boom time in the price of two metals, combined with a scandalous disregard for safety, according to trade unionists.

Despite a legal requirement, there were no alternative exits from the San Jose copper and gold mine, which has left 33 miners imprisoned 700 metres underground since 5 August. Union efforts to permanently close San Jose and the neighbouring San Antonio mine have failed, despite a spate of fatalities.

The government ordered the closure of the San Jose mine after deaths in 2006 and 2007, but a year later a junior official, allegedly exceeding his powers, authorised its reopening without the owners having installed a stairway in the ventilation passages. This stairway would have saved the 33 men this month. Instead, employees were sacked and non-unionised labour taken on. On 3 July this year a man lost his leg in a rockfall, and later in the month the Labour Department warned of serious safety deficiencies.

Victor Jara: Canción del minero

Jane Bennett: Industrial Heritage Artist

MUA News

Sydney artist Jane Bennett has been artist in residence on the Hungry Mile for the past 5 years, documenting the end of an era with the closure of our working harbour

Paintings from "The Hungry Mile" at Miller's Point to " Barangaroo" Art by Jane Bennett.

Jane Bennett first exhibited her works with the union as part of the 2008 Laborfest held in conjunction with the MUA Delegates' Conference at Mining and Maritime international seminar in Darling Harbour.

She describes herself as Artist in Residence at the Hungry Mile, East Darling Harbour Wharves as a working port.

"I painted on the wharves; in the midst of the bustle of cars,trucks & forklifts, from the top of the Harbour Control Tower & even from the bridge of the ships," she said.

After the last cargo ship sailed, Jane painted the demolition of the wharves and World Youth Day 2008. Now she is painting the development of Barangaroo and the Hungry Mile commemoration of maritime history on the foreshore.

View a selection of Jane Bennett paintings Barangaroo Sydney

Jane also has a blog showing her works in progress on the wharf: "Industrial Revelation"

Monopolies: World food grab

BHP Billiton's bid for Potash Corporation and Canadian fertiliser company Agrium's play for AWB fit in with the growing issue of food security and food shortages. This strategy by huge monopolies, with money to spare and no intention to waste it on reasonable taxes, is a warning of how food shortages and famine may increase feral corporate power.

In "The Coming Famine", Julian Cribb warns we are headed towards global food shortages in the next 40 years because of scarcities of water, good land, energy, nutrients, technology, fish and, significantly, stable climates.

"The coming famine is also complex, because it is driven not by one or two, or even half a dozen factors but rather by the confluence of many large and profoundly intractable causes that tend to amplify one another," Cribb writes. "This means that it cannot be easily remedied by 'silver bullets' in the form of technology, subsidies, or single-country policy changes, because of the synergetic character of the things that power it."

Elsewhere Professor Cribb writes:

"The fall in Australia’s international standing in agricultural science is reflected the fact that we provided almost none of the 400 scientists asked by the World Bank to report on the challenges facing global agriculture. Only a decade or so ago we were world leaders in this field.

The solutions to this phase of the global food challenge are laid out in the IAASTD report, which Australia has refused to support (along with the US and Canada) because we did not like the claim that GM crops were not the “silver bullet” some insist them to be, especially for poor farmers. We are thus out of step with world scientific opinion about what needs to be done."