Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Germany to ditch Nuclear Power

Germany has announced plans to shut all nuclear reactors by 2022, in a policy reversal drawn up because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Massive demonstrations (200,000 people in four large cities) have brought the nuclear safety issue to the forefront and Germans tend to have very strong opposition to nuclear power.

Meanwhile the Fukushima crisis grows with a spineless press and outright lies from Tepco the close to bankrupt Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO has shares in Victoria's privatised brown coal power companies)

Huge cost

Since the plant was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, it has leaked radioactive substances into the environment. The tsunami left more than 15,200 dead and some 8,600 missing in north-eastern Japan.

The estimated cost includes 4.3 trillion yen to purchase all land within 20 kilometres of the plant - the current no-go zone - some 630 billion yen for compensation payments and 740 billion to 15 trillion yen to scrap the plant's reactors, run by TEPCO.

The government needs to undergo a drastic review of the country's nuclear energy policy in order to secure the costs.

Book Launch: A Little History of the ALP

On the eve of the 120th anniversary of the NSW Labor Party's first election contest, the book will be launched on Thursday June 16 by NSW Labor MLC Luke Foley at Balmain Town Hall. See the flyer and below for rsvp information.

WHEN: 6:30pm for 7pm, Thursday June 16, 2011
WHERE: Balmain Town Hall, 370 Darling Street, Balmain
RSVP: phone - (02) 9036 7596/0411262934

The Australian Labor Party is one of the oldest labour parties and was the first in the world to form a government. 2011 marks its 120th birthday. This short and lively book tells the story of the ALP's numerous successes in winning government at all levels and making policy that has transformed lives.

The book also shows how the ALP has attracted an extraordinary range of members, parliamentary representatives, leaders, unionists, activists and, indeed, opponents. The book also shows how the ALP has attracted an extraordinary range of members, parliamentary representatives, leaders, unionists, activists and, indeed, opponents.

Whether their audience are Labor voters or not, writers Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno argue that it has been such a central force in Australia throughout the twentieth century that its history should be known.

Unions expose 'Work Partners'

Staff at union recruitment company Work Partners are threatening to strike and have taken legal action.

The National Union of Workers has applied to Fair Work Australia on behalf of the staff to conduct a ballot to take industrial action at the company.

The NUW has lodged a dispute notice with the tribunal in a bid to speed up the payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in superannuation it claims the company owes to current and former staff.

A range of unions pay Work Partners, run by former ALP activist Stuart McGill, to recruit thousands of members in workplaces.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence last week demanded the unions cut ties with the company after it was revealed that on top of owing superannuation entitlements, Work Partners had outsourced Australian jobs overseas and devised plans to set up a call centre in The Philippines, a country with a history of repressing workers.

CEPU national president Len Cooper said last night his union had decided to review its relationship with Work Partners, particularly as the union was campaigning against telecommunications jobs in Australia being outsourced to The Philippines.

"The union's committee of management decided the matter of offshoring of jobs and the proper payment of entitlements to all employees are fundamental issues for the union whichever private-sector company we deal with," Mr Cooper said.

Mr McGill claims he is "catching up" on the superannuation payments, but NUW organiser Godfrey Moase said the staff were frustrated at the "continued postponement" of the payments.

"Members have told me they do not appreciate being made involuntary investors of the company," Mr Moase said.

"Members felt they could not continue to live with the uncertainty; that they could not continue to live with the risk of carrying all responsibility for whether their superannuation, and other minimum lawful entitlements, get paid."

Monday, May 30, 2011

ACTU: Myths about wages

Myths about wages, the Fair Work Act, and skills shortages that have been generated by employer groups are distorting national debate and damaging public policy outcomes, say unions.

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Minerals Association’s national conference today, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence will call for business groups to move on from their obsession with dismantling the Fair Work Act, and instead engage with workers and unions to meet the shared challenges faced by the resource sector and the national economy.

But Mr Lawrence will say the first step must be for employer groups to cease spreading inaccurate myths and instead deal in honest facts.

In his speech, Mr Lawrence will highlight four damaging myths being circulated by commentators and some in the business community: that there is a wages breakout; that the Fair Work Act is damaging the economy; that large-scale temporary migration is the only solution to the skills shortage; and that unions are not prepared to engage constructively with business.

Mr Lawrence will say that all objective evidence shows that wages growth of 3.8% over the past year has been moderate and consistent with long-term trends.

“Far from a wages breakout – working Australians are struggling to keep pace with the fast-moving Australian economy,” Mr Lawrence says.

He will point out that fewer days have been lost to industrial disputes in the 18 months of operation of the Fair Work Act, than in the 18 months prior to its introduction. And it would be “fundamentally dishonest” to blame the Act for the decade-long slowing of Australian productivity growth.

Mr Lawrence says the current disputes at Qantas and Patrick Stevedoring are the usual rounds of bargaining that occur as agreements come up for renewal.

“Unions will always bargain hard on behalf of their members, but industrial action is always a last resort,” he says. “In any event, there is no doubt that agreement will be reached through negotiation in good faith by the employers and workforce.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

IR Commission: O'Farrell's shackles condemned

The President of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission night warned that judges and tribunal members will be "placed in a straitjacket" as punishment for the state government's public sector wages settlements.

Speaking at the inaugural Jeff Shaw Memorial Lecture at Trades Hall, Justice Roger Boland paid tribute to the former attorney-general and Supreme Court judge who died in May last year. He used the lecture to attack the government's approach to new workplace safety and wages laws.

Justice Boland said it was clear that the government blamed the commission.
"I think it was grossly wrong and unfair to have done so," Justice Boland said.
"What I strenuously object to is the government laying blame for the failure of its wages policy on the commission and using that as the excuse to shackle the commission's independence."

A bill introduced by the Finance Minister, Greg Pearce, on Tuesday night would strip the commission of its independent power, forcing it to abide by any government policy contained in a regulation issued by the minister.

"The truth is that the commission, by various means, implemented the wages policy. That there was a failure to fully achieve offset costs, if that was in fact so, is not a failure that can be sheeted home to the commission," Justice Boland said.

He said that between 1995 and 2007 only the nurses and the teachers had arbitrated wage claims in the commission, while all other public sector wages were agreed between the government and the relevant union.

"That Parliament would directly fix wages and salaries for government employees rather than an independent tribunal is a novel proposition in Australia. No other state or territory does so; neither does the Commonwealth," he said.

Justice Boland also said he was puzzled why the government kept its plans for the workplace laws a secret, including that the commission no longer hear occupational health and safety cases, until the bill was tabled.

"I have been criticised for having the temerity to express my concern to the relevant ministers at not being advised about a change that will have a profound effect on the industrial court's jurisdiction," Justice Boland said.

Justice Boland said Mr Pearce had conceded that his relationship with the commission had not begun well.
''I hope that discussions between myself and and the minister will put matters back on track,'' Justice Boland said.

Read more: 

Workplace Democracy: Corporate Style

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NSW Teachers Statement

Changes to the state wages policy announced by the O'Farrell government could result in cuts to the real income of teachers, police, firefighters and other NSW public servants.

On May 24 the government introduced legislation into NSW Parliament to restrict the role of the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) in matters relating to public sector wages and conditions. It could diminish both pay and leave entitlements.

Any increase in pay above 2.5 percent would have to be funded from 'employee related savings', which must be achieved before any rise is paid.

Teachers are not in a position where reasonable 'employee related savings' are possible. This leaves the IRC unable to grant any more than 2.5 percent, unless conditions are sacrific ed. As inflation is predicted to be above 3 percent in coming years, the government is really imposing annual pay cuts on teachers.

The NSW Teachers Federation totally opposes this legislation.

President of the Teachers Federation, Bob Lipscombe, said today:

"In an unprecedented move, the Coalition has taken upon itself the right to determine whether public sector workers will receive a pay increase or maintain their conditions. No other employer in Australia has that power.

"This legislation attacks the rights of workers to negotiate a fair outcome on pay and conditions.

"It attacks the independence of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission by removing its ability to act as an independent umpire when the negotiating parties cannot reach agreement.

"It will allow the government to reduce the entitlements of public sector workers to hard-won leave and some other conditions, and prescribe a cut in real terms in the pay of teachers and other public sector worke rs.

"The O'Farrell government is on notice that, should this legislation be passed, teachers in public schools and TAFE colleges will not accept such an attack on their industrial rights. Pay cuts of this kind will make it increasingly difficult to both attract and retain the new teachers we need over the next few years to replace those who are retiring."

Daryl Melham speaks out against cuts

Labor MP Daryl Melham has spoken out against his party's policy saying the funding cuts are damaging cultural institutions such as the National Library.

He says there should be another way of finding savings from institutions.

"This is one of those instances where in my humble opinion Mr Deputy Speaker, one size doesn't fit all," he said.

"That's why the operation of the efficiency dividend in my humble view needs to be looked at in relation to these cultural institutions.

"And I want to note Mr Deputy Speaker, this is the first time in 22 years that I've spoken against an effective measure from a Labor point of view."

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood says Mr Melham should be applauded for fighting the cuts.

"It's an unusual step for a Labor member of parliament to take. I think it's gutsy and I think he's right. This is doing real damage to our cultural institutions and its time to find a better solution than the so-called efficiency dividend," she said.

"We've identified that almost every institution is cutting jobs and most of them are also cutting exhibitions and acquisitions.

"This is doing real damage and we certainly continue our calls on the government to actually take notice."

Partick's Howard era plan

24 May, 2011 | ACTU Media Release

Patrick Stevedores’ hardline refusal to negotiate fairly with its workforce will shut down Australia’s shipping terminals and sabotage the Australian economy.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the Maritime Union of Australia’s plan to take legally-protected industrial action at Australia’s major ports had only occurred as a result of Patrick’s refusal to engage in genuine negotiations.

“And now we know why. Patrick’s agenda had been exposed thanks to an accidental phone message warning the company plans to lock out workers for taking legal and limited action,” Mr Lawrence said.

“Like all workers, wharfies are under the pump from rising costs of living.

“This week’s work bans would not even occur if Patrick had agreed to negotiate fairly with the Maritime Union of Australia on behalf of its workforce.

“Instead of talking to its workers, Patrick would prefer to lock them out – all the while masquerading in the media as the victim.

“In reality, Patrick appears to want a fight to return it to the dark days of 1998 waterfront dispute, when workers’ rights were savaged by the Howard government.

“Patrick’s commentary on the MUA’s plan for legally protected, limited industrial action was based on a hyperbolic scare campaign to turn the public against workers who merely want a fair go in the face the of ever-rising costs of living, and threats to their long-term job security.

“Today it has been revealed that Patrick is planning a month-long lock out of its workers, which would stop the Australian economy in its tracks.

“If the national shipping industry lobby group wants to know why 13 years of peace on the waterfront is under threat, it need go no further than the phone message left by Patrick’s chief negotiator. Patrick should cease the battle talk now and agree to negotiate in good faith.”

Mr Lawrence said the MUA’s action would be limited to overtime and transfers, with no closures of the ports as a result.

“The only threat to close the ports is from Patrick’s plan to lock out its workforce,” he said.

“We call on Patrick to stop this game right now and treat its workers with the dignity they deserve.

“This is 2011, not 1998. The MUA has attempted to negotiate with Patrick and has revised several of its claims, yet the company is refusing to bargain because it is spoiling for a fight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MUA condemns Patrick stand down

The Maritime Union of Australia has condemned Patrick Stevedores' action to stand down workers at its container terminals in Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle.

Patrick employee and MUA member Gavin Bostick

MUA workers showed up for work at 6am in Sydney this morning, ready to work, only to find that Patrick had stood down the workforce.

MUA workers are exercising their right to take limited industrial action by only working within their job description - with no overtime or transfers.  This is legally protected industrial action granted by Fair Work Australia.

MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said Patrick has refused to allow workers to undertake their duties, and have stood down the workforce.

"Patrick Stevedores needs to abandon its war on workers and behave in a constructive, co-operative fashion," Mr Doleman said.

"MUA workers are ready to return to work - it is Patrick that is causing chaos.  We call on them to allow our workers to get back on the job.

"Instead of working constructively with the union to find a resolution, Patrick has instead resorted to hysterical spin to cover the fact they are not bargaining in good faith."

O'Farrell goes feral!

Unions NSW has serious concerns that the State Government’s public sector workplace policy amounts to WorkChoices New South Wales.

The proposal represents the most radical change to workplace laws in more than a century.
If passed, NSW public sector workers would be banned from negotiating their rights at work.

The Industrial Relations Commission would be sidelined, and the conditions of public sector workers would potentially be determined at the whim of the government.

“This is an unprecedented assault on the rights of public sector workers to have their day in court to determine their wages and conditions,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said.
“The Government has offered to discuss the legislation with unions this week and we welcome that opportunity.
“But at the moment we are looking at a policy that will unravel more than a century of hard won rights and conditions at work.
“It will also mean poorer public services. You can’t cut jobs, wages and conditions for police, teachers and other public sector workers without cutting services.”

If the laws pass in their current form, the Government would effectively have a blank cheque to determine workplace rights and conditions for its own employees.
The Industrial Relations Commission would be banned from enforcing existing awards.

“All Australians should be entitled to negotiate a payrise or have it determined in the Industrial Relations Commission. Why is the Government singling out police, nurses and other public sector workers for WorkChoices-style laws?”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fair Work Australia: community pay gender-based

Fair Work Australia has upheld a pay equity claim which argued community services workers are paid less largely because most of them are women.

About 200,000 community sector workers are seeking a 25 per cent pay rise to bring their wages in line with the public sector.
Australian Services Union - public campaign alongside the test case
The federal industrial tribunal concluded that there is not equal remuneration for male and female workers in community services in comparison with state and local government employees who perform similar work.

Fair Work has also found that gender has been an important, although not the only, factor in creating the gap between pay in the community services sector and comparable state and local government employment.

The tribunal has now invited the various parties involved in the case to present further submissions to help it determine how much of the pay gap is caused by the gender differences between the community sector and comparable government employment, and how much is due to other factors.

It will then determine the amount to be added to community sector wages, either in dollar terms or in percentage increases.

We have to be sure that we keep the pressure on the State and Federal governments that its time to pay up. No more excuses! The court has confirmed what we already knew – our work is undervalued.
See you on June 8th.

Sally McManus,
Branch Secretary
Australian Services Union
NSW & ACT (Services) Branch

Unions press for wage rise for low paid

15 May, 2011 | ACTU Media Release

New research showing Australians strongly favour a more equal distribution of wealth bolsters the case for a $28 a week wage rise for the nation’s lowest paid workers.

Unions will tomorrow press the case for a $28 wage rise for the nation’s lowest wage earners, as new research shows overwhelming support from Australians to reduce wealth inequality.

The ACTU will present the research into attitudes towards wealth, inequality and the minimum wage when Fair Work Australia Minimum Wage Panel begins its hearings into the annual wages review.

The claim on behalf of about 1.3 million workers is for a $28 a week increase in the National Minimum Wage and in other award minimum wages up to the benchmark tradesperson’s rate; and a 4.2% increase for other award workers. It would lift weekly wages from $569.90 to $597.90 – a 74c/hour increase from $15 an hour. The ABS’ cost of living index jumped 4.5 per cent in 2010.

“This is a modest claim to ensure the one in six workers who are dependent on awards are not left behind by Australia’s economic prosperity,” said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

Mr Lawrence will present the Panel with the new research to investigate what Australians believe the minimum wage is and what they believe it should be.

“The research shows Australians dramatically underestimate the degree of wealth inequality within society,” Mr Lawrence said. “It reveals that Australians understate the wealth of the richest among the community and even more dramatically overstate the wealth of the poorest people.

“When asked what they believed the minimum wage was, Australians overstated it by an average of $1.80 per hour, or $68.40 per week. More than 80% also believed it should be even higher.

“This research adds to our case the fact that people in society are genuinely surprised to learn what the minimum wage actually is and believe Australia should be much fairer. But while the average Australian is shocked, the reality is 1.3 million people survive each week on minimum wages – that’s almost 2.5 times the population of Tasmania.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ACTU: No punitive crackdowns!

10 May, 2011 | ACTU Media Release

Tonight’s Federal Budget must focus on Australia’s long-term economic challenges through a considered plan that also delivers improved opportunities for working Australians and their families.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the Government should use Australia’s strong economic position to invest in long-term challenges facing the country, such as skills, infrastructure, and workforce participation.

“Since last year’s Budget, the Australian economy has continued to outperform most of the developed world. More than 300 000 jobs have been created in the past year, and wages growth is solid but sustainable,” Ms Kearney said.

“This is the result of the Government’s strong economic management and unions now call on our leaders to focus on the long-term challenges facing Australia, including ensuring we have a clear plan for skills development which will support both Australia’s long-term fiscal stability and provide a better future for Australian workers.

“The Government’s already-released forecast that unemployment will fall to 4.5 per cent and 500,000 jobs will be created by mid-2013 is a result of strong economic management.

“The deficit is modest by any standards, and we call on the Government to ensure any spending cuts in this year’s Budget are equitable and consistent with the values of fairness and opportunity.”

Ms Kearney said the Government must also invest further in health and education, infrastructure, the extension of workers’ rights, and the delivery of higher superannuation.

Measures to improve workforce participation will be welcomed, but they should not involve punitive crackdowns on the long-term unemployed, the disabled, or young people.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Illawarra 100th May Day March

Illawarra Mercury 09 May 2011

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said hundreds had walked through the Wollongong CBD in "a fantastic display of worker solidarity".

Guest speakers included president of the Copper Miners' Union in Chile, Christian Cuvas, who spoke about the lack of OH&S standards in his country and the battle for reform.

May Day Committee life member Fred Moore provided a history of May Day marches in the region and the fact that even the right to march in Wollongong had been earned.

"The first president of the South Coast Labour Council, Paddy Molloy, was jailed for 12 months for attempting to march at May Day," Mr Rorris said.

"We reflected on the gains of the last 100 years, the fact that the conditions we now enjoy, everything from sick leave through to superannuation, even the funding of Medicare, all of these things have been won through the sacrifices of the trade union movement and the workers who lead it."

Mr Rorris said the march was also about facing the challenges of the future together.

"The overriding message was that we will stand side by side with our traditional industries, and the workers in our new industries and the ones that will come on board in our region.

"No-one will divide our movement; steelworkers will be side by side with our teachers and our university academics and others; we'll face those challenges together.

"The biggest lesson we can learn from our past is that unity is strength."

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Miners tackle Rio Tinto on safety

Newcastle Herald 05 May, 2011

The mineworkers’ union will use today’s Rio Tinto annual general meeting in Perth to highlight what it says are worrying safety trends at the company’s three Hunter Valley mines.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union northern district vice president Robin Williams said ‘‘a significant number of accidents and incidents don’t appear in Rio’s 2010 annual report’’.

Mr Williams, who flew to Perth yesterday with union lodge officials from each of the Mount Thorley/Warkworth, Hunter Valley Operations and Bengalla mines, said Rio was using an outdated, adversarial approach.

He said the union was especially concerned about a substantial increase in accident rates at Mount Thorley/Warkworth

‘‘A culture of fear is permeating through Rio Tinto mines, which puts at risk the safety of mine workers,’’ Mr Williams said.

‘‘An adversarial approach to mine safety, where bosses threaten workers with disciplinary action, is outdated and should have no place in modern Australian mining.

‘‘If Rio Tinto is genuinely interested in mine safety, they should listen to the workers and have a culture of open reporting. We do not want a situation where workers are uneasy about speaking out in case they face disciplinary procedures.

“If there is an accident or incident at a mine site, we want a proper investigation to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, not a scapegoat who is disciplined for their actions.’’

Save Tasmanian Forests

Environmentalists, unions and the logging industry have formed a rare agreement to save most of these ancient forests. But because of the Tasmanian Forestry Act 1920, these trees will be felled anyway -- unless the Federal Government can step in and buy out the logging licenses.

Enter your details on the GetUp page to send your Labor representative a message to let them know you want the federal government to support the rare opportunity to fund the protection of Tasmania's forests.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

ACTU: Low pay campaign

Economic figures show Australia can afford a decent wage rise for our lowest paid

04 May, 2011 | ACTU Media Release

Despite scare-mongering from big business, Australia’s strong economic figures confirm a $28 a week pay rise for Australia’s lowest paid workers is modest and affordable.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said business groups’ opposition to a fair wage rise for the one in six Australian workers dependent on award minimum wages was motivated by self-interest.

The ACTU has lodged an updated submission to Fair Work Australia’s annual wage review, in reply to other interested parties, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group.

“Business groups are this year effectively saying exactly what they said last year – that allowing the lowest paid workers to participate in economic growth will send business to the wall,” Mr Lawrence said.

“Not only did that not happen last year when Fair Work Australia lifted the minimum wage by $26 a week, but the Australian economy has continued to outperform most of the developed world. Economic growth continued around the long-term average, unemployment is on the decline, wages growth is solid but sustainable and productivity has risen.

“If this is what happens when business groups say Australia cannot afford to fairly pay our workers on the lowest incomes, then they need to change the broken record.”

Mr Lawrence said independent research conducted by the Workplace Research Centre shows that employers generally don’t budget for minimum wage increases and that the $26 increase awarded in 2010 had very little impact on award-reliant businesses.

“Business groups would have Australians believe that wage increases will stall economic growth, but the evidence proves they are not only wrong but they are trying to stymie any opportunity for the nation’s lowest paid workers to share in our strong economic prosperity.

“They are effectively calling on Fair Work Australia to slash the wages of those who need an increase the most.”

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gillard economic tangle

Julia Gillard told the Sydney Institute on April 13: "The social and economic reality of our country is that there are people who can work who do not."

As evidence she said, "We know there are 230,000 people who have been unemployed for more than two years."

The Bureau of Statistics March labour force survey found 52,664 Australians unemployed for two years or more, less than one-quarter the number quoted by the Prime Minister. Because the ABS surveys only a sample of the population it cannot be certain its estimate is correct but its tables suggest it is 95 per cent confident the true number of Australians unemployed for two years or more lies between 36,300 and 69,100.

Late yesterday, after two weeks of unanswered queries, the Prime Minister's office told the Herald the figure of 230,000 represented the number of people registered with employment services who had been on income support for at least two years. Defining these people as unemployed was a "long-standing practice".

Read more

US report : NAPLAN a dud

NAPLAN-style testing and reporting has failed in the United States by narrowing the curriculum and corrupting education standards, says a chief education adviser to the US President, Barack Obama.

Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, who headed Mr Obama's education policy transition team, said the US had learnt important lessons from the No Child Left Behind education reforms which president George Bush introduced a decade ago.

The reforms included mandatory national standardised testing each year - similar to Australia's NAPLAN. The US tests have been criticised for narrowing the curriculum to reading and maths and multiple-choice formats.

''We have learnt about the potential negative effects of very narrow tests, particularly when they are put in a high-stakes context,'' Professor Darling-Hammond said.

Schools and individual teachers have been judged and rewarded financially for improving student test scores and punished for poor ones. This led to many of the best teachers abandoning schools in the disadvantaged areas, with some teachers accused of teaching to the test and others of helping children cheat to improve results.

"We have seen growing student exclusion to get the scores up. Schools either prevent students from taking the test or encourage them to leave school," she said.

"Schools that have choices about who to admit will not admit low-achieving students because they will bring their scores down.''

"It doesn't serve society to say we got our scores up but didn't educate lots of children. At the end of the day, it hurts the economy."

Read more

Sydney May Day

photos courtesy of Scarlett Gray

Stop the NT Intervention, Jobs with Justice!

Two important events are coming up in the campaign to stop the NT Intervention.

i) Monday May 2 at 6pm: Come along to an organising meeting to plan a major demonstration around June 21, the four year anniversary of the announcement of the NT Intervention. Barb Shaw from Mt Nany town camp will be at the meeting as a guest speaker. Barb will provide an update on developments in Alice Springs and plans by people from Prescribed Areas to launch a programing outlining an 'alternative to the Intervention', based on self-determination and development of all communities, in Darwin on June 21.

ii) Thursday May 5 at 12 noon: Protest outside the offices of Indigenous employment Minister Mark Arbib demanding 'Jobs with Justice' for Aboriginal workers. 70 Phillip st, Sydney CBD. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and a representative from the CFMEU will launch a petition demanding back pay for Aboriginal people working for the BasicsCard under the NT Intervention and investment in proper jobs for all communities. The petition will go to parliament later in May.

Please find below the full details for both events. Hope to see you there!


i) Invitation to an organising meeting:

Help plan for a strong demonstration in June marking four years since the announcement of the NT Intervention.

Monday May 2, 6pm, Teacher Federation Conference Centre, Level 1,

23-33 Mary Street Surry Hills (turn off Elizabeth st at Albion St and left onto Mary street)

Guest Speaker: Barbara Shaw, Mt Nancy town camp Alice Springs Organised by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney

June 21 will mark four years since the announcement of the Federal Intervention into NT Aboriginal communities.

Walter Shaw, President of Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs, has described the Intervention as "one of the most significant disasters in the history of interaction between Aboriginal Australia and Government since colonisation".

Despite unprecendented investment of more $1.5 billion, social conditions have continued to deteriorate. Government statistics show incarceration rates have risen more than 20 per cent, school attendance has declined in many places, instances of suicide and self harm have increased and thousands of jobs have been lost as CDEP closes down. There are growing crises in urban centres such as Alice Springs as large numbers move in from the bush.

The campaign against the NT Intervention has played a crucial role over the last four years ensuring that the voices of people from Prescribed Areas are heard and putting forward community demands for self-determination and serious investment in jobs, basic services and Aboriginal controlled programs.

But the Labor government has not wavered from the Intervention initiated by Howard. If we are to win change, the campaign must become more stronger, united and more focussed.

On June 21, people from Prescribed Areas will rally in Darwin to mark the four year anniversary and launch a program for an alternative to the Intervention.

Here in Sydney, we will rally in a strong demonstration against racism and for Aboriginal rights. Along with strong speakers from the NT, supportive organisations and the local community, we are hoping to mark the date with a concert and cultural performances.

Please come along to an organising meeting on Monday May 2 at the NSW Teachers Federation or ensure that a representative from your organisation attends the meeting.

Barbara Shaw, spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs will be a guest speaker at the meeting. She will lead a discussion about recent developments in the Intervention, the rise of racism in Alice Springs and plans being made by representatives from Prescribed Areas for the upcoming rally in Darwin on June 21.

For more information contact Graham 0413915334 or Paddy 0415800586

ii) Protest: Stop the NT Intervention - Jobs with Justice now!

Petition launch and rally 12pm Thurs May 5 70 Philip st - Sydney CBD


Senator Rachel Siewert (Australian Greens) CFMEU representative Dootch Kennedy (Illawarra Land Council)

In May, a petition sponsored Unions NT and the CFMEU demanding justice for NT Aboriginal workers will be presented to the Senate.

On May 5, the petition will be launched in Sydney by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and the CFMEU.

The petition demands backpay at award rates for Aboriginal people working for Centrelink payments, half quarantined on a 'BasicsCard', as part of the reformed Community Development Employment Program

(CDEP) introduced alongside the NT Intervention.

You can sign the petition online here


The petition has a particular focus on the use of 'BasicsCard' workers by the $672 million Intervention housing program (SIHIP). While contractors like Leighton's Holdings have made millions from SIHIP, Aboriginal people working on housing renovations have been paid as little as $6 per hour.

Thousands of NT Aboriginal workers have been made unemployed by reforms to CDEP and many others are suffering under the exploitative conditions of the new program.

Most remote communities have been deemed "economically unviable" by the NT Intervention and stripped of resources and employment in an attempt to force Aboriginal people into the "mainstream".

Living conditions are deteriorating in the these communities and enormous pressure is being put on urban centres like Alice Springs as people migrate to town.

In response to the mounting social crisis in Alice Springs, the federal Labor government has announced an extra 100 CDEP positions to complete jobs such as installing post boxes, cleaning graffiti and landscaping. This is continuing the gross discrimination against Aboriginal workers - people will only by paid Centrelink and the BasicsCard for what should be proper municipal work!

Take a stand against racism. Join the fight for an end to arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard. Demand investment in community based employment programs across all Aboriginal communities that pay proper wages and include the right to join unions.

Join the lunchtime rally and petition launch on May 5 at the offices of Indigenous employment Minister Mark Arbib

Organised by: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) contact Jean 0449646593 jobswithjustice.wordpress.com stoptheintervention.org

Sunday, May 01, 2011

IMF: Australia's debt very low

The IMF is urging the high public debt developed nations to reduce their net debt to levels of 60 per cent of GDP. Without this fiscal adjustment it has warned that they face adverse macroeconomic consequences. IMF research has found that if the G7 countries do not take measures to rein in their debt levels their interest rates could rise by two percentage points and potential growth could be half a per cent lower. This could also have a detrimental impact on the world economy and affect even low debt countries such as Australia.

In sum, Australia has negligible levels of debt (see graph) which pose little threat to the country’s economic outlook. However, Australia could be affected by the international implications posed by the G7.

General government net debt 2010

Excludes Norway, Sweden and Chile which have negative net debt.
(a) Australia refers to financial year 2009–10. Figures from 11 May Budget.
Sources: International Monetary Fund, Fiscal monitor: navigating the fiscal challenges ahead, 14 May 2010; and Treasury, Budget strategy and outlook, Budget paper no. 1, 2010–11.

Sydney May Day

Assemble - Hyde Park North        March to Rally -12 Noon 

Paul McAleer - MUA
Joan Lemaire - NSWTF
Mal Tulloch - CFMEU
Cristian Cuevas - Chilean Copper Workers