Saturday, April 30, 2011

UK: Hands off May Day

Mr Cameron and his Cabinet of millionaires are hoping to make this Monday's May Day bank holiday one of the last.

Plans are afoot to abandon the holiday on the first Monday in May, and replace it with a holiday on St George's Day April 23, or the anniversary of the bloody Battle of Trafalgar on October 21.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner urged the labour movement to band together "to ensure that we keep the May Day flags flying as they do across the world."

Mr Skinner warned: "In sharp contrast to the pomp and circumstance and organised happiness around the royal wedding, the Tory establishment is now turning its attention to ruining the workers' traditional May Day celebrations.

"True to type, Cameron wants to create more unhappiness for working class people who are struggling to keep a job.

"He wants to stop them from enjoying the May Day bank holiday and from celebrating International Workers' Day along with people across Europe and around the world."

Rail union RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The most important events this weekend are the annual May Day celebrations - not the bread and circuses that were rammed down people's throats."

Declared Mr Crow: "Forget all the diversions. The trade union and socialist focus is on marking International Workers' Day at a time when the working class is under unprecedented attack."

He warned that the Tories were not only attacking the workers, but were also gearing up for an assault on May Day itself.

"Send out the message to the Con-Dems and the bosses loud and clear - la lucha continua!" urged Mr Crow.

Left Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, who spent today tramping the streets of Luton delivering election leaflets, accused the government of blatant right-wing tactics in seeking to ditch the May Day holiday.

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The Tory attack on the May Day holiday is to be abhorred and it's another reminder that this government has scant regard for the working people of this country."

May Day was an accepted holiday in many countries to commemorate workers' struggles, said Mr McCluskey, who suggested an extra bank holiday in October during the "long stretch" between August and Christmas.

General union GMB general secretary Paul Kenny had a blunt message for the government of millionaires: "Keep your hands off our May Day. Keep your hands off workers' day."

Mr Kenny added: "May Day is an important celebration of the achievements of humanity. We have got to fight to save the bank holiday."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

UK: Save our libraries!

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticised library closures during his Easter Sermon, delivered at the weekend.

Speaking on the wider topic of happiness—which is to be the subject of the first "happiness index", conducted by the Office for National Statistics—the Archbishop reflected on a recent stop-off at a local library on a "rather devastated" Manchester council estate. Williams said his visit had "revealed a lively group of teenagers who were regular users, welcomed by staff, glad of a place to do homework, gossip and feel secure."

The Archbishop continued: "Space, opportunity, the time to discover a larger world to live in—where are the clearly articulated priorities in public discussion that would spotlight all this, so as to make us think twice before dismantling what's already there and disappointing more hopes for the future?"
He concluded: "Talk about the happiness of the nation isn't going to mean much unless we listen to some of these simple aspirations—aspirations, essentially, for places, provisions or situations which help you lay aside anxiety and discover dimensions of yourself otherwise hidden or buried."


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Economy: Tough budgets won't work

IMF Gross Funding Needs April 2011
The IMF figures above show how hysterical is talk of needs for cuts in Australia. With less than 3% of GDP required to fund debts the Australian economy is in better shape than that of most of the comparable nations.

Austerity measures in Greece, Portugal and Ireland have had devastating effects on those economies. In each case they reduced growth, pushed up unemployment and ultimately increased the debt burden on the afflicted economy leading to a loss of market confidence.

Ireland adopted austerity measures in 2008 and was eventually forced into seeking a bailout last year. In the past year, since tougher measures were adopted, Greek growth has collapsed, unemployment has soared and the interest rate on government bonds is consequently much higher.

Tough austerity is a self-defeating strategy. It will push up unemployment and make the lives of the least well off more precarious. If there are to be cuts start at the top and encourage those who shout loudest for them them lead the way. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spending Cuts: false economy

Special Keynesian message for Gillard, Swan and would be Budgeteers

Cuts Are Not The Cure from Unionfilms

Fukushima: beyond our imagination

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists April 2011
  • Severe accidents at nuclear reactors have occurred much more frequently than what risk-assessment models predicted.
  • The probabilistic risk assessment method does a poor job of anticipating accidents in which a single event, such as a tsunami, causes failures in multiple safety systems.
  • Catastrophic nuclear accidents are inevitable, because designers and risk modelers cannot envision all possible ways in which complex systems can fail.
The multiple and ongoing accidents at the Fukushima reactors come as a reminder of the hazards associated with nuclear power. As with the earlier severe accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, it will take a long time before the full extent of what happened at Fukushima becomes clear. Even now, though, Fukushima sheds light on the troublesome and important question of whether nuclear reactors can ever be operated safely.

If there is one weakness of the probabilistic risk assessment method that has been emphatically demonstrated at Fukushima, it is the difficulty of modeling common-cause or common-mode failures. From most reports it seems clear that a single event, the tsunami, resulted in a number of failures that set the stage for the accidents. These failures included the loss of offsite electrical power to the reactor complex, the loss of oil tanks and replacement fuel for diesel generators, the flooding of the electrical switchyard, and perhaps damage to the inlets that brought in cooling water from the ocean. As a result, even though there were multiple ways of removing heat from the core, all of them failed.

Fukushima also demonstrated one of the perverse impacts of using multiple systems to ensure greater levels of safety: Redundancy can sometimes make things worse. At Fukushima, as with most reactors around the world, zirconium cladding surrounded and protected the fuel. But when the cooling systems stopped working, the zirconium cladding overheated. Hot zirconium interacted with water or steam, producing hydrogen gas. When this hydrogen came into contact with air in the containment building, it caused an explosion that reportedly damaged the suppression pool beneath the reactor, another protective system. In other words, in complex systems such as nuclear reactors, redundancy may have unexpected and negative consequences for safety.

The lesson from the Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island accidents is simply that nuclear power comes with the inevitability of catastrophic accidents. While these may not be frequent in an absolute sense, there are good reasons to believe that they will be far more frequent than quantitative tools such as probabilistic risk assessments predict. Any discussion about the future of nuclear power ought to start with that realization.

Alexander Cockburn New Left Review

In political terms, nuclear power has always been a war on the people, starting with the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, going on to the Marshall Islanders, ranchers and kindred inhabitants of test sites across the West, Native Americans, poor Latinos and African Americans (the usual involuntary neighbours of waste dumps), people in the path of ‘accidents’ or deliberate secret experiments, and most recently Fukushima. Not the executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. They are in Tokyo or heading further south. It is ‘worker heroes’—who know perfectly well they are doomed. It is the Board of tepco that should be sent to the front lines.

Look at the false predictions, the blunders. Remember the elemental truth that Nature bats last, and that folly and greed are ineluctable parts of the human condition. Why try to pretend that we live in a world where there are no force 8–9 earthquakes, tsunamis, dud machinery, forgetful workers, corner-cutting plant owners, immensely powerful corporations, permissive regulatory agencies, politicians and presidents trolling for campaign dollars?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Climate Change is Union Business

Climate change is union business. Here’s what you can do:

1. Find out more
Visit to learn more about the future of clean energy jobs.

2. Spread the word
When you’ve finished with this booklet, pass it onto a friend or colleague, or send them the link to download it from

3. Be heard
It is crucial that we tell the government and the opposition that we support a price on pollution. Sign the petition to let our politicians know that Australian workers want action on climate change at Climate-Change-and-Jobs.aspx

4. Get connected
Join the online Your Rights at Work community. Connect with other union members and supporters to help all of our campaigns at:

Action against polluters

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ACTU: Unions on Climate Change

19 April, 2011 | Media Release

A price on pollution is the most effective way of tackling climate change, but there must be adequate compensation for households, job security and drivers for investment in clean energy.

Releasing the union movement’s guiding principles for the implementation of a price on pollution, ACTU President Ged Kearney said the benchmark test would be support for jobs, households and communities.

Ms Kearney said there was unanimous view across the union movement that delaying action on climate change would only prove more costly in years to come, and that scaremongering by the Coalition and from self-interested polluters was a risk to Australia’s environmental and economic future.

“It is time the debate about a price on pollution shifted from the distracting and self-interested scare campaign being run by big business,” Ms Kearney said.

“While they are sitting around the table with their hands out for taxpayers’ money, their industries are sending Australia’s carbon emissions up and up.

“New figures from the Climate Change Department show Australia’s emissions jumped 0.5 per cent last year - and that rise will continue if we do nothing.

“The result will be a loss of jobs in sectors such as agriculture and tourism. But if the Government acts and puts a price on pollution, we can make a difference.

“And if it’s done properly it will not only support existing jobs across all industries, but it will create new jobs now and for our children into the future.

“Unions believe the design of a price on pollution must include support for emission-intensive trade-exposed industries, measures to protect existing jobs, programs to attract investment in clean energy and production, and assistance to low income households.

“The task of shifting to a lower pollution future is urgent and if Australia doesn’t act now then we will miss out on the jobs and investment opportunities of the future.”

US Corporate tax burden!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ged Kearney: Because We Care

Union leader to speak in Blue Mountains about Aged Care

ACTU President Ged Kearney
“Because We Care”, the Blue Mountains Unions Council Inc is pleased to announce that the President of the ACTU, Ged Kearney will be speaking at “Politics in the Pub” at Blackburns Family Hotel in Katoomba on Saturday, 16th April in support of the Australian Nursing Federation's “Because We Care” campaign and the  Quality Aged Care Action Group Inc (QACAG Inc).

“Quality Aged Care benefits all those who receive care, will need care in the future, entrust the care of family to the aged care industry, work as aged care professionals and need support to provide unpaid care at home.” said Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU.

“The recent release of the Productivity Commission's draft report ”Caring for Older Australians” recognises that inferior Aged Care services are a burden on the Australian people and economy but underestimates the importance of those factors which put the “Quality” into Aged Care, the people, the resources and accountability.”

Ms Kearney became a Registered Nurse in 1985. She was elected Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation in 2008, being an elected official of the ANF since 2003. Before her election as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 2010 she was actively involved in the development of the “Because We Care” campaign which she will be speaking about at Politics in the Pub.

Also speaking are Stella Topaz of the NSW Nurses Association, Shirley Ross-Shuley and Annette Peters.

Stella Topaz will talk about the work of the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG) Inc which is made up of people from many interests and backgrounds brought together by common concerns about the quality of care for people in aged care. The membership includes nurses and retired nurses, people receiving aged care services, family and friends of people in nursing homes, people who work in aged care or health and other concerned community members.

Shirley Ross-Shuley is an Aged Care Trainer and Annette Peters is a Registered Nurse. They are Blue Mountains locals who will share their perspective from working “at the coal face” in Aged Care.

“Because We Care” Politics in the Pub
2.30pm on Saturday, 16th April 2011 
Blackburns Family Hotel, 15 Parke St, Katoomba.

The audience will have an opportunity to ask the speakers questions until 4.30pm. Further information is available on the Blue Mountains Unions Council website, the BMUC Facebook page or by contacting Debra Smith on (02) 47871401 or Shirley Ross-Shuley on (02) 47825062.

NSW election: Green from Orange blocks Hansen

Jeremy Buckingham
New State Parliamentary Member, Jeremy Buckingham, says he will fulfill his term as an Orange City Councillor.

The Greens candidate was elected to the second last seat on the Legislative Council when preferences where distributed yesterday.

Councillor Buckingham says he will continue to live in Orange and represent Central West issues in State Parliament.

He says he will finish his term as a councillor, but does not plan to seek re-election.

"I made a commitment to the people of Orange to serve them , I think I can do both roles," he said.

"I'll be raising the issues of Orange and the whole of country New South Wales and the Central West in parliament.

"I think that in the coming months that being tapped into my local community through council will be of enormous benefit."

He will join four other Greens candidates, 19 members of the Coalition, 14 from Labor, and two each from the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers party in the Chamber.

Councillor Buckingham says he will fulfill his current term on the City Council and then stand down.

"I don't think I could undertake both roles diligently into the future so this will certainly be my last term at Orange City Council but, I'll continue to live in the Central West, live in Orange and represent the concerns of my community in the parliament."

Safety first!

ACTU President Ged Kearney said that an estimated 7000 workers died from workplace injury or disease each year in Australia and another 640,000 were injured, and that eternal vigilance was needed to make workplaces safer.

“Attempts by employer groups to weaken the new regulations are yet another example of business putting profits before safety,” Ms Kearney said.

“Employer groups called for a national set of health and safety laws, and we would have thought that business would welcome a tough approach to OHS regulations.

“Workplace safety laws exist to make sure workers get home to their families safely at the end of each work day, and can go back to work the next day.”

Ms Kearney, who will today address the annual ACTU OHS and Workers’ Compensation Conference in Brisbane, said the employers were running a scare campaign that ignored evidence the changes would not make life harder for business

“This renewed opposition from big business has emerged despite a regulatory impact statement by highly-respected independent  consultancy, Access Economics, which found the new regulations would not increase compliance requirements or costs,” she said.

“The ultimate aim of the regulations must be to protect workers’ safety, not reduce the amount of work business must do to comply. It is baffling to think any business would want to risk the death of a mother, father, son or daughter for the sake of a little less paperwork.

“I doubt anyone who has lost a loved one or a colleague at work would have any sympathy for the views of business on this issue.”

Ms Kearney will also tell the conference that despite the important role of government regulators, improvements to workplace safety are best achieved through workers acting together.

“Academics can guide our thinking on safety, OHS specialists can measure hazards and Governments can make laws for safety, but the truth is workplaces will only get safer when workers have a collective voice,” she said.

“It’s only through unions that they can find that.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Joseph Stiglitz: "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%"

Joseph Stiglitz on Nuclear Power

In the US and elsewhere, even plants that have the same flawed design as Fukushima continue to operate. The nuclear industry's very existence is dependent on hidden public subsidies – costs borne by society in the event of nuclear disaster, as well as the costs of the still-unmanaged disposal of nuclear waste. So much for unfettered capitalism!

For the planet, there is one more risk, which, like the other two, is almost a certainty: global warming and climate change. If there were other planets to which we could move at low cost in the event of the almost certain outcome predicted by scientists, one could argue that this is a risk worth taking. But there aren't, so it isn't.

The costs of reducing emissions pale in comparison to the possible risks the world faces. And that is true even if we rule out the nuclear option (the costs of which were always underestimated). To be sure, coal and oil companies would suffer, and big polluting countries – like the US – would obviously pay a higher price than those with a less profligate lifestyle.

In the end, those gambling in Las Vegas lose more than they gain. As a society, we are gambling – with our big banks, with our nuclear power facilities, with our planet. As in Las Vegas, the lucky few – the bankers that put our economy at risk and the owners of energy companies that put our planet at risk – may walk off with a mint. But on average and almost certainly, we as a society, like all gamblers, will lose.

That, unfortunately, is a lesson of Japan's disaster that we continue to ignore at our peril.

Locked Out: Rio Tinto exposed

Joan Sekler's Locked Out is a welcome window into an otherwise easily missed tale of worker resistance to austerity.

On January 31, 2010, the mining giant Rio Tinto locked out more than 500 union workers at its Boron, Calif., plant. The workers, represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 30, had been negotiating for months. Rio Tinto demanded concessions on pensions, sick days, overtime, drug testing, promotions and seniority.

Locked Out brings to life the 15-week struggle--warts and all. It shows a side of America ignored by the media: rural, blue-collar and hammered by capitalism.

As the film shows, the struggle against Rio Tinto changed the mindset of the workers. One woman told the filmmakers, "We drew the line in the sand there because this company cannot continue with their corporate greed destroying working families, taking away their jobs not just in America, not just in Australia, but all around the world."
more at:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

MUA withdraws action against Patrick Stevedores


The Maritime Union of Australia has offered to withdraw its legally protected industrial action against Patrick Stevedores which was due to start this weekend (Saturday).

The offer, which came following a conciliatory Fair Work Australia hearing this afternoon (Friday), was made in return for a revised offer on the union's existing log of claims.

After the hearing, MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said: "It seems now at the eleventh hour we have made some real progress."
"We have now secured a commitment from Patrick to provide a revised offer on our existing claims by next Tuesday.
"This is the commitment - this, at last, is the certainty - our members have waited for since the stalemate began in January.
"We have also secured a 30-day extension to our legal rights to industrial action as achieved by a ballot which was declared on March 16.
"With the company's offer on the table by Tuesday, negotiations can finally progress in good faith."

Rights at Work: Minimum Wage

Your Rights at Work - April Newsletter

It's becoming clear that 2011 will be another tumultuous year - and Australian unions are determined to ensure working Australians, their families and their communities are represented.

Unions are working on a big agenda around secure jobs, climate change, workplace rights, and an equitable economy, which we will pursue as an independent movement on behalf of our members and all Australian workers in workplaces, in the political arena, and in the community.

In this month's newsletter we cover:

  • Minimum Wages Case
  • Securing Jobs
  • Every Australian Counts
  • Climate Change and Jobs and
  • Union Awards Night
  • Minimum Wages Case 
  • We often hear about how well Australia's economy is faring compared to the rest of the developed world. We're riding the back of a resources boom but the truth is there are hundreds of thousands of workers who are not sharing in this wealth.

They struggle day-to-day and week-to-week. These are people who are working jobs with little security of employment and on minimum wages. We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that the low-paid are not left behind.

This year, the ACTU has lodged a claim for a wage rise of $28 a week for Australia's lowest paid workers - and 4.2% for the majority of award-dependent employees.

The outcome of this year's minimum wages case will, as always, be determined by the industrial relations tribunal, Fair Work Australia.

But we want to share the experiences of a few workers who are dependent on award minimum wages, telling us just how much they struggle to make ends meet, plan for the future or have money for possible emergencies.  They speak about how difficult it is when prices go up or unexpected expenses come in.

Without the unions' minimum wage case, the low-paid will just fall further and further behind. This is not about welfare, it is recognition that Australia's low-paid and award workers need greater financial security. What we are seeking will help bridge a gap that has become too wide.

Read more about our Minimum Wages Case.

Friday, April 08, 2011

MUA: Patrick up to old tricks

As Patrick Stevedoring, a subsidiary of Asciano, heads to the Fair Work Commission today to try to get an order against industrial action, the Maritime Union of Australia reiterated its intention to begin rolling bans and stoppages from Saturday night.

''Once again, Patrick has failed to negotiate in good faith, illustrating their total lack of commitment to achieving a result which is mutually beneficial. This process has been going for more than nine months - and Patrick has continually shown a reluctance to improve safety standards and a complete lack of genuine negotiating.'' said the union's national secretary, Paddy Crumlin.

The breakdown means wharfies will begin bans on overtime, transfers between worksites and acting in different roles to those specified in contracts, and a series of 24-hour and 48-hour stoppages from tomorrow morning at ports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle.

While Patrick complains that the union is not genuinely negotiating, a University of Adelaide industrial law expert, Andrew Stewart, said if that were the case, Fair Work Australia would not have approved protected industrial action. ''The provision on industrial action under this act is essentially the same as under the Howard government's law,'' he said.

Mr Crumlin said the company's main objection was to the union's demand for tighter safety standards. ''We have seen four deaths in five years - so the issue of safety on the wharves is very significant.

''Since Christmas, there have been nine safety-related incidents reported on Patrick's docks. With so many close calls, it's a miracle that no one has been killed this year.''

Mick Doleman, MUA assistant national secretary, said "Someone ought to remind Patrick that John Howard doesn't exist any more."

US unions: Over one million demonstrate

From Honolulu to Savannah We Are One Actions Continue

We Are One solidarity actions in support of workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and everywhere middle-class jobs are under attack continue throughout out the nation this week. The events coincide with the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn., 43 years ago this week where he was helping sanitation workers fight for justice, workers’ rights. 

In over 1200 demonstrations across the US unions have demonstrated through a bottom-up, grassroots movement with its own momentum, a true spontaneous outcry against a prevailing winner-take-all political culture.

AFL-CIO: Richard Trumka speech

AFL-CIO President Trumka 4 April 2011

Sisters and brothers, I'm honored to speak to you today on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee. Some people don't know this, but Dr. King had traveled to Memphis to help win the rights of public employees to form unions and bargain for a better life. You see, the Memphis city sanitation workers had voted to join AFSCME, but the city refused to honor their union with a contract. Dr. King joined those striking workers, who carried signs that simply, but eloquently said, "I AM A MAN." Dr. King marched with them for the dignity of a union contract. And on the night before his assassination, he delivered his final and unforgettable "Mountaintop" speech.

So it is very fitting that we remember Dr. King today, that we celebrate his fearlessness and his vision, as we wage our modern struggles for the basic freedoms and rights of working people.

As we gather here today, just about every bill imaginable that undermines working people and our unions has been piled onto a legislative calendar somewhere, whether it's right here in Washington, D.C., in Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio or, yes, in Tennessee, or too often in all of those places at once.

When it comes to working people being under attack, we are truly one.

Instead of creating jobs, states are cutting unemployment insurance. Instead of training young men and women, states are slashing education dollars, and pushing students out of school and into the cruelest job market in generations.

Just last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made things even harder for young workers by cutting the state's flagship apprenticeship program.

We've been saying this until we're blue in the face: As a nation, we cannot cut our way out of a hole. We cannot slash our way to prosperity.

Attacking Davis-Bacon and PLAs on Capitol Hill and across America's heartland won't build a future for our children.

Cutting infrastructure spending out of our federal budget won't sharpen America's competitive edge.

The politicians in Washington insisted on tax cuts for millionaires. They insisted on keeping massive tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Yet we're on the verge of a government shutdown, and America has more than 13 million jobless workers.

This isn't fiscal responsibility! It's crazy! It's insane and it's got to stop now, and we – you and I – must stop it. Because do you know where this give-to-the-rich and take-from-working-families, so-called austerity leads? Down -- nowhere but straight down.

After the most profitable fourth-quarter in history, Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers this year collected some of the biggest bonuses in history—and took home even more of those bonuses, thanks to the millionaire tax cut deal. After nearly destroying our economy and killing 11 million jobs, they are back to business as usual.

And yet they say we can't afford good jobs. We have to learn to accept less---that the American Dream is dead.

The idea of national belt-tightening in this environment is truly mind-boggling. Economically, it's flat-out wrong.

Yet politicians here in D.C. are making it sound like Social Security and Medicare cuts are inevitable—like we have no choice. But destroying economic security for our seniors is disastrous policy, and it's just plain wrong. So, let me be perfectly clear: The AFL-CIO will oppose any and all cuts to Social Security or Medicare—no matter who puts them forward.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

ASU: same-sex marriage vote

The Australian Services Union is asking its members to make their views known on same-sex marriage so the union can endorse a formal position on the issue.

ASU NSW and ACT branch secretary Sally McManus emailed all ASU members across Australia on March 29, seeking their opinions.

“The ASU Executive which is made up of elected delegates from all the industries which make up the ASU, recently confirmed its support for equal rights for all and its opposition to discrimination,” McManus wrote.

“At the same time the Executive determined that it was time for ASU members to endorse a formal policy position for our union on marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

“The ASU … Executive has decided that the best way to allow the broadest possible number of members to be involved in this debate is by asking members to vote on this issue.”

The vote is being conducted through and closes on April 8.

Victoria anti-bullying laws

New penalties for workplace bullying to be introduced by the Victorian Government are welcome but employers must be accountable for providing safe workplaces in which bullying does not occur in the first place.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said employers, governments and workers had a shared responsibility to make workplaces safe, secure and free of harassment and an important signal would be sent by this week’s introduction to the Victorian Parliament of tougher stalking laws, which would mean bullies could face up to 10 years’ jail.

“These laws will hopefully help deter people from undesired behavior but it shouldn't suggest to employers that it's no longer their job to provide a safe workplace for all employees,” Ms Kearney said.

“Every workplace should have policies and procedures to deal with bullying and harassment, as it's essential for employers to provide a safe and harassment-free environment for all their workers.”

Ms Kearney said she hoped the increased penalties would deter people from bullying, but she wanted the Government to also send a strong message to employers that holding individual bullies to account would not absolve workplaces of their obligations.

“Bullying is a scourge in the workplace which unions are determined to wipe it out,” she said.

“We must all work together to stop it occurring, but employers cannot shirk their responsibility and turn a blind eye.

“Serious bullying should be treated as a crime, but it is also an occupational health and safety issue - everyone is entitled to a safe and secure workplace free of harassment and discrimination.

“Ultimate responsibility for providing a safe workplace is with the employer and in no way should new laws absolve them of that responsibility, or of their liability.

“Criminal sanctions alone will not necessarily change a poisonous workplace culture.”

Ms Kearney said she hoped other states would watch the impact of Victoria’s new law, named ‘Brodie's Law’, and consider strengthening their own legislation.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Equal Pay: Waiting for Fair Work Australia

ACTU Media: April 2011

A new working group to manage the outcome of a landmark equal pay test case is an important step towards closing the gender gap, but in the end it still depends on a positive decision from Fair Work Australia, say unions.

Unions welcome the opportunity to be part of the new Community Sector Wages Group announced today by the Federal Government to manage the implications of the Social and Community Sector test case.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said this was a solid demonstration from the Gillard Government of its commitment to gender pay equity.

But Ms Kearney said any real moves towards equal pay still hinged on the results of the test case, which is currently being heard by the full bench of Fair Work Australia.

Unions are seeking to use the equal remuneration principles in the Fair Work Act to lift the pay of about 150,000 workers in the female-dominated SACS sector.

Workers in the sector have historically been underpaid because the worker has been undervalued compared to traditional male-dominated jobs.

Final submissions were lodged this week.

“The announcement of a national consultative group to manage the funding implications resulting from a successful case is a welcome sign of the Gillard Government’s commitment to closing the 17% gender pay gap,” Ms Kearney said.

“Unions recognise that any pay increase will have budgetary implications, as the sector relies heavily on funding from governments, and we are prepared to work through these issues in a consultative way.

“But ultimately, this case is about overcoming an injustice that treats the work performed by women as less valuable than that performed by men."

“Equal pay is a workplace right and a human right, and Fair Work Australia must remember this when considering its decision.

“A pay gap of 17% should not be tolerated in a prosperous and developed nation like Australia.”

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Indonesia: Unions call for release arrested nurses

29 March, 2011 | ACTU Media Release

Australian unions have called on the Indonesian Government to respect international labour Conventions and human and trade union rights following the arrest of five nurses in West Papua.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said it was outrageous that the nurses had been detained for nine days and were reportedly subjected to long periods of police interrogation, simply because they had supported an industrial campaign to ensure they received their contracted entitlements.

“It is disturbing that at the same time as workers in North Africa are beginning to benefit from newfound democratic freedoms, repression of basic human rights including the freedom of association is taking place in our region,” Ms Kearney said.

“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail.

“I am advised that more than 1500 nurses took spontaneous and unprecedented industrial action in response to an announcement that the Government of the province of West Papua had withdrawn industrial payments.

“We are told that in an attempt to intimidate the nurses and to force them back to work, five nurses were arrested.

“The intimidation has failed and the nurses and their community are more resolute than ever in their determination to secure the release of the five nurses and to win the industrial campaign.

“However it is simply outrageous that this type of intimidation and violation of human and workers’ rights is occurring.”

Tokyo: No More Nuclear Power!

1200 Protest against TEPCO and the Government in Tokyo: No More Nuclear Power Plants!
March 27th, Tokyo Japan

Shot and edited by MASANORI YUMOTO