Wednesday, June 27, 2012

O'Farrell: Less Money for Schools

NSW Teachers' Federation

The changes are being made under a policy called Local Schools, Local Decisions. The Government wants you to believe that your child will be better off if more decisions are made locally.

That may seem OK on face value, but please don’t be fooled. The Local Schools, Local Decisions policy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It’s not about improving education; it’s all about cutting education funding, and shifting blame away from the government. It’s a failed strategy that’s been imported from America and it truly spells disaster for our local schools.

Wherever these changes have been made overseas and interstate like in Victoria, governments spend less on public schools – which means fewer teachers, bigger class sizes and less individual support for students.

Students will lose

Currently the Education Department staffs schools with a guarantee that a school with a certain number of students will receive a certain number of class teachers, executive teachers, specialist teachers and administrative and support staff.

It’s a government guarantee that all students will receive a fair go wherever they attend a public school – from the bush school out west to the school in the centre of Sydney. No guarantee with a local budget

By getting rid of a staffing guarantee and giving schools a local budget instead, what will determine the number of teachers at a school, will be the amount of money in the staffing budget, not the number of students. Once this change is in place, politicians then can cut the budget over time and blame the local principal for not being able to make it stretch to meet student needs.

This is really why the O’Farrell government is pushing these changes – to spend less on your child’s education. So please don’t be fooled. Support your school’s teachers when they take action to stop these changes. When governments do the wrong thing, teachers will stand up for students’ rights to a well funded, good quality public school education.

Unions call for asbestos authority

SMH 27 June 2012

Unions will push for the establishment of a National Asbestos Authority to protect people and to remove asbestos from homes and public and commercial buildings.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union acting national secretary, Paul Bastian, will meet the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, this afternoon to push the case. He is a lifelong campaigner against asbestos.

Mr Bastian says more Australians have died from exposure to asbestos than in World War II.
"Surely we've had enough people die now, enough heart-wrenching diseases and enough legal acknowledgment that this must stop," he said.

The union's solution is a federally funded authority to "find, educate, remove and protect people from the dangers of asbestos."

The authority would educate and raise awareness within the community of the existence of asbestos in private homes, businesses and public buildings.

"As part of the authority, an urgent audit and plan for the removal of asbestos from all government premises is required".

"State governments regularly report low levels of compliance with asbestos regulations and we call on the federal government to treat its removal as a national issue of critical importance - including asbestos in schools."

Mr Shorten's spokesman said it was a critical issue for the government.

"Which is why we commissioned the asbestos management review - the minister and the government look forward to receiving the report's recommendations" he said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NSW: O’Farrell rolled – firefighters Workers Comp saved

22 June 2012

“If you think I am angry, you are right” thundered Premier Barry O’Farrell yesterday. Unfortunately for O’Farrell and his Government, the hundreds of striking firefighters with their appliances outside were proof that he was not alone.

Ordinarily, bills of this sort of complexity are tabled for several weeks to allow the Opposition and others the opportunity to properly review them but this rotten Government, knowing just how crook its reforms really were, rammed them through within two short days. The Government set the timetable, not us. If O’Farrell hadn’t tried to ram through these reforms overnight, we would have been able to meet with them and work through the issues without the need to strike.

O’Farrell also slammed yesterday’s strike as “one of the most irresponsible actions I have ever heard of by a public sector union in the history of this State” – a big call by any measure. What the Premier did not know was that it would soon become one of the more successful actions by a public sector union when, at 0230 hours this morning, Parliament voted to exclude firefighters and paramedics from the reforms.

The Union welcomes Parliament’s decision to exempt us from these savage new laws, but insists they must still be scrapped for all workers. The FBEU will continue to wholeheartedly back Unions NSW, other affiliates and the broader labour movement in the ongoing campaign to defend sick and injured workers in this state.

It was also widely misreported that we have been ordered not to strike for the next three months and further, that the Union’s officials have agreed to this. The somewhat different truth is that the IRC yesterday made an Award which requires that if we do strike again within the next three months, that skeleton staffing is to be provided.

The decision to strike without skeleton crews was a difficult one. The State Committee did not recommend it, nor the members vote to support it, lightly. But our decision was vindicated by the result.

My congratulations again to all members, and particularly to the hundreds of members who stopped work yesterday. Make no mistake, the media attention that your action generated fueled the political pressure that followed. Every firefighter who, from this day on, suffers a workplace injury (a regrettably inevitable fact of life in our profession) is now in your debt. The Union’s Fighting Fund will again provide financial relief for striking members whose pays are docked. Further details to follow.

While we can be rightly proud as a Union that through strong action we have been able to successfully defend our existing workers compensation rights, members should remain mindful that further attacks are coming. The O’Farrell Government is busy shifting the wealth of the State from those who work for a living to the top end of town. That’s why they’ve attacked workers comp, why they’ve slashed our budget and why they’re slashing wages. We’ve won this round only.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Union NSW: Workers comp campaign to continue

Unions NSW Friday 22 June

The State's trade unions have vowed to continue campaigning against draconian new laws that slash the rights and entitlements of sick and injured workers.

The State Government's workers compensation cuts were passed by the NSW Parliament early this morning, with only minor amendments that fail to address the concerns of working people across the State.

"We will continue to campaign against the O'Farrell Government's attack on sick and injured workers in workplaces and communities across the State," Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said.

"The O'Farrell Government is plunging the State into industrial chaos. Until they end this war on working people further industrial action can not be ruled out."

The NSW trade union movement stands firmly behind the Fire Brigade Employees Union and fully endorses yesterday's unprecedented strike.

Mr Lennon, said the Government's legislation was the catalyst for yesterday's action - the first such strike in 56 years.

"Firefighters run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out. As a community we need to extend the best possible support to heroic frontline workers who put their life on the line every single day.

"Our campaign now intensifies - politically and industrially."

Media Unions take Fairfax to court

21 June, 2012 | ACTU Media Release

Fairfax Media has breached its legal obligation to consult its workers, and failed to explain why it plans to sack thousands of workers, unions will tell a hearing in Fair Work Australia today.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said workers represented by the MEAA, AMWU, ASU, CEPU and USU did not accept Fairfax’s announcement this week it would cut about 1900 positions across all areas of its operations, including all metropolitan printing jobs.

The ACTU will today join the unions representing Fairfax employees, and argue that the company’s decision is in breach of requirements it consult about major business changes, including redundancies.

“The company has not met its obligation to discuss the planned job cuts with staff before they went in and wielded their axe, which is in breach of their responsibilities,” Mr Oliver said.

“We are extremely concerned that Fairfax failed to consult about the changes and the redundancies, and showed no respect for its workers,” he said.

“The workers at Fairfax have many outstanding questions which we will seek to get answers to through the process in FWA today. The way Fairfax has gone about this is wrong.”

Mr Oliver said he would also seek an urgent meeting between Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood and unions representing the workers.

“Fairfax must commit to consult with their staff from now on, and stop breaching their agreements,” he said.

Mr Oliver said management must accept responsibility for the crisis Fairfax now finds itself in.

“Management is hoping everyone will believe that technology has changed and there’s nothing they could have done to stop their planned redundancies, but we don’t buy that for a minute. We want to see the full business case and the workers have a right to know what options the company has before we accept any redundancies.

“We don’t accept unilateral decisions to slash jobs when they have an obligation to consult staff. The process of informing staff through the media is a disgrace.

“There is little doubt strong competition in the media marketplace presents challenges but slashing jobs is not a panacea.

Mr Oliver said he would also seek a meeting with Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to discuss the company’ plans.

Qantas Engineering: unpiloted mystery flight

21 June 2012

Unions today questioned what strategy is in place at Qantas, as the company announced further job losses in aircraft maintenance ­ this time at its Sydney

120 Component Maintenance Engineers face an uncertain future following Qantas' announcement that it will close the Sydney component maintenance facility, transferring 747, and 767 component maintenance to Melbourne.

AMWU National Assistant Secretary Glenn Thompson said the cutbacks came just one month after Qantas announced the closure of its heavy maintenance facility at Tullamarine, with the loss of some 400 jobs.

No Strategy

"For Qantas maintenance workers, it feels like their jobs have boarded an unpiloted, mystery flight with no strategic flight plan programmed in," Mr Thompson said.
"One month jobs are going from one area, next month jobs are arriving but being lost elsewhere.
"Our concern is firstly for these workers and their families but more broadly about a lack of strategic thinking for Australia's national aviation engineering and maintenance capacity."
"We have called upon Minister Albanese and the Government to convene an Aviation Industry round table to discuss the direction of the industry and to ensure that Australia has a capacity to maintain aircraft into the future."

Skilled workforce being lost

ETU National Industrial Officer Matt Murphy said Qantas has continued, without pause or any consultation, to further reduce its highly skilled and dedicated engineering workforce.

"Sooner or later, the question needs to be asked: with major Australian companies continually announcing restructures and cuts is this just the latest attack on Australian workers and their employment conditions?" Mr Murphy said.

Time for Qantas to come clean

AWU National Assistant Secretary Scott McDine said Qantas employs almost two­thirds of Australia's total aircraft maintenance workforce and is responsible for providing more than 50 per cent of the training and know how in the sector.

"We have major concerns that Qantas has no long term vision for its engineering operations," Mr McDine said.
"Qantas engineering is vital to Australia's ability to build and maintain its skills base in this sector.
"This is another blow to Qantas workers and their families and highlights the continued uncertainty that they face. It's time for Qantas to come clean with its long­term plans for its engineering operations".

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Queensland teachers vow to fight

Queensland teachers have gathered in number outside Parliament House to protest against the State Government's latest pay offer

More than 500 teachers and other union members have rallied outside State Parliament to protest the LNP Government's 2.7 per cent pay offer.

The Queensland Teachers' Union led the noisy protest which could be heard inside the Legislative Chamber. State secretary Graham Moloney told the crowd their fight "was the fight every public servant was fighting at the moment".

"This is a hellish time to get you together, last week of term, reports to be done, but we're glad you're here, well done," Mr Moloney said.

He said the 2.7 per cent on offer was in return for "trading off or at least putting in jeopardy everything that we've fought for over the last 18 years".

"Will you ever accept the government offer?" he asked the gathering. "No," they replied.

"Good, we're going to fight." He said the fight would be the "toughest in living memory" but they "would win in the end".

Unions NSW: Attack on Workers' Compensation retrospective

The Premier's claim on morning radio that his attack on workers compensation is not retrospective shows that he does not understand the law he is introducing, Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said.

Even the Chair of the Committee inquiring into workers compensation change, Liberal MP, Mark Speakman has expressed concerns about the scheme's retrospectivity.

The proposed act states very clearly at Schedule 12, clause 3: Except as provided by this part of the regulation, amendment made by the 2012 amending act extends to an injury received before the commencement of the amendment.

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said in its current form, the changes would therefore apply to the vast majority of people injured before today.

"How can working people in NSW have confidence in this Government when it clearly does not understand its own legislation?

"This is cruel, retrospective legislation that pulls the rug from under sick and injured workers.

"We know of specific cases where grieving widows who were set to seek compensation for nervous shock will now be denied the right to even make a claim.

"Cross bench MPs need to take heed - how can they have confidence in laws that the Government doesn't even understand?"

High Court: School Chaplancy Program invalid

The Federal Government's school chaplaincy program has this morning been declared invalid by the High Court.

The court has also said in its two-page decision this morning that payments made to the Queensland scripture body by the Government were not in line with the constitution.

The case was bought before the court by Queensland father Ronald Williams, whose four children were enrolled at a state school in Toowoomba where a chaplain had been employed under the scheme for four years.

"The High Court unanimously held that Mr Williams had standing to challenge the validity of the Funding Agreement," the judgment said. The court said in its decision that the Government's executive power "extends to the execution and maintenance of this constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth" and that this didn't authorise them to make the payments to Scripture Union Queensland.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said in a statement released just after the judgment that "the Government is carefully reviewing the reasoning of the High Court to determine what, if any, wider implications the decision may hold.''

The Howard government introduced the scheme in 2007, offering schools up to $20,000 a year to introduce or extend chaplaincy services.

One of Australia's leading constitutional lawyers George Williams said the implications of the case were massive and could potentially affect any program directly funded by the federal government.

This would include the local government Roads Recovery program and even direct funding of private schools.

''This sets down very significant limits on the ability of the Commonwealth to spend money,'' Professor Williams said.

''I suspect this decision will embolden people to challenge Commonwealth expenditure in other areas.''

Professor Williams said that, while the Commonwealth could still provide funding, it may have to be through the states, rather than funding programs directly, which had been its preference.

''This may lead the Commonwealth to engage in a major rethink of its budgetary processes - what it spends money on and how it does that,'' he said.

"This is very likely to be the biggest High Court case of the year."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

USA: Unions Jobs Campaign

AFL-CIO | bring jobs home

Desmond Tutu: Message of Solidarity with Iranian People

Hello my Iranian sisters and brothers. I am Archbishop Destmond Tutu.

Three years ago the world witnessed millions of you standing up against repression, demanding democracy and human rights.  The spark that you lit in Iran has inspired unprecedented change in the region.

However, in Iran, your demands have yet to be realized. Oppression continues.

Many great nations have gone through such struggles, which often take decades to resolve. If South Africa could change, change, therefore, is possible any and everywhere. Continue on your path. Remember it is always darkest before dawn.

To the rulers of Iran: bend to the will of the people. Your Excellency, Ayatollah Khameni, set the children of Iran free. Ayatollah Larijani, close Evin prison, just as Robben Island prison was closed in South Africa.

To Iran’s religious leaders: oppose the use of imprisonment, torture, and murder in the name of religion. These actions do not reflect the Muslim faith.

To all world leaders on this anniversary: let us renew our commitment to support the Iranian people and their struggle for democracy and human rights. Imprisonment should not be the reward for courage and dignity.

To Iranians abroad, and indeed all people everywhere: our lives and future are intertwined. Use your freedom to demand theirs.

Change begins with people of great courage. My children Narges and Majid, you are in our hearts. Hossein Maleki, our prayers ring out for you. And to the rest of brave Iranians striving for a better Iran, continue on your path. We are with you.

“fardA az Ane mAst.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fairfax to slash 1900 jobs

As part of the restructuring of the business 1900 jobs will be shed over three years and major broadsheets the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will be downsized to tabloid format.

It will also fall in line with its main competitor, News Limited, and introduce paywall subscription services for its flagship online services in 2013.

Printing facilities will be closed at Chullora in Sydney and Tullamarine in Melbourne by June 2014.
In a statement, Fairfax said the plants "have significant surplus capacity which is no longer required".
Fairfax says the total saving is expected to be $235 million on an annualised basis by June, 2015.
The papers will prioritise online reporting in a "digital-first editorial model" aimed at increasing flexibility.

Last week, the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart increased her interest in the company to 18 percent and earlier this year the company announced it was moving some jobs offshore to New Zealand.

Former editor of The Age Michael Gawenda says "it may be too late" for Fairfax Media.
"It is a sad morning," Mr Gawenda said.
"It's not good news for journalism, it's certainly not good news for people who love newspapers, but it's not surprising."
"I think it's too late to do that, nothing like that will save print," Mr Gawenda said.
"My view is that you will find that the Monday to Friday print versions of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald will cease to exist."
"This is a mantra from all the newspaper companies now: 'We will maintain quality journalism while we cut our staff in half.'
"How are they going to do that? It's a meaningless mantra unless you can explain how you're going to do it."

Vale John Hospodaryk

Sad to hear that John Hospodaryk died after a battle with cancer on 28 March 2012

His contribution as a singer/songwriter is profound ... his 'Black Arm Band' is undoubtedly one of the most insistent and passionate songs documenting the backwardness of the Howard years.

This song was first released on a collection recorded by Wobbly Radio for the Labour Council of New South Wales. It was later released on the CD of MUA songs and poems 'With These Arms'.

He won a songwriting award from the MUA for his 'Bucket O Rust' in 2002 and won the Rail Tram and Bus Union 2009 song competition with his 'Don't Close That Depot Down'

you can find these songs on the Union Songs collection

John was a highly respected historian and history teacher who chose to work in schools that had a tough reputation. Find out more about his remarkable life online

Eulogy for John Hospodaryk by Robert Darlington
Vicky Hospodaryk: A Tribute to My Dad

Gulgong: Louisa Lawson Address 2112

28 July | Louisa Lawson Address 2112 | Gulgong Labor Party
Louisa Lawson was the driving force behind the suffragette movement in Australia.
Louisa established The Dawn, a journal to ‘wind out audibly the whispers, pleadings and demands of the sisterhood’. It advised on women’s issues, including divorce, the age of consent, and women’s right to vote.
Louisa was also Henry Lawson’s mother.
Saturday 28 July 2012
6pm for 6.30 start
Gulgong Opera House
Mayne Street, Gulgong
Guest Speaker
Ged Kearney, President ACTU
Louisa Lawson Introduction
Chris Cooke
Henry Lawson Society, Gulgong
$65 waged. $60 concession
Includes 3 course meal (BYO)
Tickets are limited to 100
Book early to avoid disappointment
RSVP: No later than 15 June 2012 to Margaret
on (02) 6374 1615 or Alex on 0428 330 338

Sunday, June 17, 2012

IndusriALL: Foundation of new Global Union

A new global union to fight for human rights of working people will be founded on June 19 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
More than 1,000 unionists from every corner of the globe are meeting in Copenhagen June 18 to 20, 2102 to form IndustriALL Global Union, representing 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors.

"Among the delegates are heroes who have been on the front-line of the fight for democracy and workers' rights," said Jyrki Raina, the in-coming general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.

"Bashed, imprisoned and their lives threatened they come to Copenhagen to adopt a new Action Plan to ensure globalization delivers for the 99 per cent not just the 1 per cent.

"Workers and their unions, members of IndustriALL, have been at the forefront of the Arab Spring fight for democracy, the struggle against despots.

"In Copenhagen we will form a new union family of heroes, with strong bonds, ready to stick together through thick and thin - a new force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.

"IndustriALL will challenge the power of multinational companies like Rio Tinto and BHP," Jyrki Raina said. "We hope to negotiate on a global level with the global giants.

"IndustriALL will fight for a new model of globalization, a new economic and social model that puts people first, based on democracy and social justice."
On 25 May 2012 , the flag of IndustriALL Global Union was installed on Mount Everest by the courageous climber Dorje Khatri, member of the central committee of the Union of Trekking Travel Rafting and Airline Workers in Nepal.
IndustriALL will be founded in Copenhagen on 19 June 2012. The new organisation will bring together affiliates of the former global union federations: International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and International Textiles Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF).

IndustriALL Global Union will represent workers in a wide range of sectors from extraction of oil and gas, mining, generation and distribution of electric power, to manufacturing of metals and metal products, shipbuilding, automotive, aerospace, mechanical engineering, electronics, chemicals, rubber, pulp and paper, building materials, textiles, garments, leather and footwear and environmental services.

The new website, , will go live on 19 June 2012.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stiglitz: After Austerity

This we should know by now: markets on their own are not stable. Not only do they repeatedly generate destabilizing asset bubbles, but, when demand weakens, forces that exacerbate the downturn come into play. Unemployment, and fear that it will spread, drives down wages, incomes, and consumption – and thus total demand. Decreased rates of household formation – young Americans, for example, are increasingly moving back in with their parents – depress housing prices, leading to still more foreclosures. States with balanced-budget frameworks are forced to cut spending as tax revenues fall – an automatic destabilizer that Europe seems mindlessly bent on adopting.

There are alternative strategies. Some countries, like Germany, have room for fiscal maneuver. Using it for investment would enhance long-term growth, with positive spillovers to the rest of Europe. A long-recognized principle is that balanced expansion of taxes and spending stimulates the economy; if the program is well designed (taxes at the top, combined with spending on education), the increase in GDP and employment can be significant.

Europe as a whole is not in bad fiscal shape; its debt-to-GDP ratio compares favorably with that of the United States. If each US state were totally responsible for its own budget, including paying all unemployment benefits, America, too, would be in fiscal crisis. The lesson is obvious:  the whole is more than the sum of its parts. If Europe – particularly the European Central Bank – were to borrow, and re-lend the proceeds, the costs of servicing Europe’s debt would fall, creating room for the kinds of expenditure that would promote growth and employment.Europe’s single-minded focus on austerity is a result of a misdiagnosis of its problems. Greece overspent, but Spain and Ireland had fiscal surpluses and low debt-to-GDP ratios before the crisis...

Giving lectures about fiscal prudence is beside the point. Taking the lectures seriously –  even adopting tight budget frameworks – can be counterproductive. Regardless of whether Europe’s problems are temporary or fundamental – the eurozone, for example, is far from an “optimal” currency area, and tax competition in a free-trade and free-migration area can erode a viable state – austerity will make matters worse.

The consequences of Europe’s rush to austerity will be long-lasting and possibly severe. If the euro survives, it will come at the price of high unemployment and enormous suffering, especially in the crisis countries. And the crisis itself almost surely will spread. Firewalls won’t work, if kerosene is simultaneously thrown on the fire, as Europe seems committed to doing: there is no example of a large economy – and Europe is the world’s largest – recovering as a result of austerity.

As a result, society’s most valuable asset, its human capital, is being wasted and even destroyed. Young people who are long deprived of a decent job – and youth unemployment in some countries is approaching or exceeding 50%, and has been unacceptably high since 2008 – become alienated. When they eventually find work, it will be at a much lower wage. Normally, youth is a time when skills get built up; now, it is a time when they atrophy.

So many economies are vulnerable to natural disasters – earthquakes, floods, typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis – that adding a man-made disaster is all the more tragic. But that is what Europe is doing. Indeed, its leaders’ willful ignorance of the lessons of the past is criminal.

The pain that Europe, especially its poor and young, is suffering is unnecessary. Fortunately, there is an alternative. But delay in grasping it will be very costly, and Europe is running out of time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Free Trade Agreement: hidden licence to sue

Fair trade groups demand release of all text

“The leaked investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific trade agreement (TPPA) being negotiated between the US, Australia, New Zealand and six other Pacific countries contains special rights for foreign investors to sue governments for damages if a law or policy harms their investment," Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment network said today.

“However, the leaked chapter shows that the Australian Government has kept to its policy, and is refusing to apply the right of investors to sue governments for damages in Australia. We support the government's policy, but believe it would be more consistent if the government simply opposed the inclusion of this provision in the agreement,” said Dr Ranald.

“The right of investors to sue was excluded from the US Australia Free Trade Agreement, and more recently was not included in the Malaysia-Australia free trade agreement. We have long campaigned against this provision, because its inclusion in other agreements has allowed corporations to sue governments over health and environment legislation. The Australian Government's policy has been reinforced by its battle against the current attempt of Philip Morris tobacco company to sue the Australian government for damages over its tobacco plain packaging legislation under the provisions of an obscure 1993 Hong Kong Australia investment agreement,” explained Dr Ranald.

“Overall, the leaked chapter still gives increased rights to foreign investors. It limits the ability of the government to regulate levels of foreign investment, and does not permit governments to require foreign investors to contribute to the local economy by buying local goods or transferring technology. The chapter applies to all forms and areas of investment, unless specifically exempted by each government. These restrictions could tie the hands of government to regulate in areas like foreign investment in farmland, the expansion of the coal seam gas industry, or in some areas of taxation,” explained Dr Ranald.
“These issues should be debated publicly, not secretly negotiated in trade agreements. Currently, the text of trade agreements is kept secret until it is signed by Cabinet, and only then released publicly and to Parliament. We call for the release the negotiating text of the agreement, and the release of the text of the whole agreement for public and Parliamentary debate before it is signed by Cabinet,” said Dr Ranald.
The TPP investment chapter can be found online at:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jobs Board and Mining Sector

10 June, 2012 | ACTU Media Release  

The introduction of a new Resources Sector Jobs Board will provide greater assurances that Australians will have access to jobs in the booming mining industry as billions of dollars of new projects are developed, say unions.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said the application of the Jobs Board to the Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara would go some way to addressing concerns that more than 1700 guest workers would be brought into Australia without first offering positions to Australian workers.

He said the electronic Jobs Board would provide safeguards to ensure that resources companies explored options of employing Australian workers before seeking to use temporary migration.

“We are pleased that the Government has responded to the initial concerns raised by unions about the Roy Hill Enterprise Migration Agreement,” Mr Oliver said.

“Those concerns arose from a lack of assurances that any process was in place to assess the resources sector’s skilled and semi-skilled labour requirements.

“At the time of the announcement, there had been no independent evidence to back up claims by mining magnates like Gina Rinehart that there aren’t enough Australian workers to meet the needs of future resources projects.”

“We have also had concerns about temporary migration to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers and to ensure they are afforded the same rights, protections and conditions as Australian workers.

“All unions also share the same concerns that we want to ensure that Australian workers and Australian jobs benefit from the resources boom and are given opportunities for employment in WA’s mining sector.”

Mr Oliver said job losses in the eastern states meant working in the resources sector had become an attractive option to many Australian workers.

“There’s no doubt that there are skilled Australians keen and willing to work in the mining sector,” Mr Oliver said.

“Some will want to move to the resource-rich regions permanently, while others will want to fly in and out on a rotating roster.

“The forecast size of expansion of the sector may require employers to look beyond our shores, and unions have never opposed skilled migration, but it is essential that opportunities be given to local workers, and the Jobs Board will help to ensure that.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Greece: protest against fascism

Protestors across Greece have poured onto the streets of cities, denouncing the ''dark force'' of fascism as the spokesman of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party continued to elude arrest more than 24 hours after his extraordinary on-screen assault of two female left-wing politicians.

 ''People are becoming increasingly radicalised thanks to all the rhetoric in the EU [European Union] and here against the anti-austerity leftist majority and that is opening the door for Golden Dawn,'' a veteran activist, Petros Constantinou, said.

He is convinced it is the police who facilitated Golden Dawn.
''Without police cover and protection, Golden Dawn would not have survived,'' he said. ''And the proof of that is the failure to capture Kasidiaris.''

Mr Kasidiaris's assault on Liana Kanelli and Rena Dourou during a live TV debate of politicians representing the seven parties that won seats in the inconclusive May 6 election has shocked Greeks.

All day yesterday, TV channels replayed footage showing Mr Kasidiaris, a former commando in the Greek army, lashing out at Ms Dourou first, hurling a glass of water in her face before turning his fists on Ms Kanelli.

Dimitris Trimis, the head of the Greek journalists' association, ESEA, said right-wing extremists had done the police force's ''dirty work'' for years, mopping up migrants from the ghettos of Athens in exchange for protection.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

NSW: Rally 13 June - Parliament House

Say no to cuts to workers compensation.

Join us on Wednesday June 13 2012 at 12:30pm for a Rally outside Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney.

Visit and find out more.

Mark Lennon, Unions NSW, 4 Goulburn St, Sydney

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Mining monopolies: racist smear campaign

CFMEU challenges claims of ‘racist innuendo’

The Resources Sector is losing the argument about jobs in the court of public opinion, so they have resorted to a false smear campaign, claiming the issue is about racism.

The CFMEU rejects the smear.

The CFMEU and the Australian trade union movement draw workers from all over the world: we have certainly more diversity than the boards of the big mining companies.

The story of our country, our industry and our union is one of immigration. Most of us are either migrants ourselves, or we are the children and grandchildren of people who came to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

The CFMEU and Australian unions also have a proud history of opposing racism locally and internationally – in supporting Indigenous land rights and native title; in the fight against apartheid in South Africa: by ensuring anti-discrimination protections for workers in our legislation.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association, on the other hand, supports the return of the Liberal Party that used racism and xenophobia to drum up a dishonest fear campaign regarding asylum seekers.

The CFMEU certainly won’t be intimidated by the Resources industry and big mining houses 'racist innuendo' smear, from defending the right of Australian workers to a job or migrant workers to fair treatment and wages.

UK: Serfdom returns

The former deputy prime minister John Prescott has written to the home secretary to complain about a security firm that used unpaid jobseekers to steward the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations in London.

Lord Prescott said that he was "deeply concerned" by the revelations, published in the Guardian on Tuesday, that up to 30 unpaid jobseekers on the government's work programme were asked to sleep under London Bridge before the river pageant on Sunday. He is calling for Theresa May to investigate whether the company has broken the security industry's own employment standards and is urging the government to review the company's contract for the Olympics.

The firm, Close Protection UK (CPUK), has issued "sincere apologies" for what it called the "London Bridge incident", but insisted it had not been exploiting individuals but providing work experience.

Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth on Saturday ahead of the pageant on Sunday as part of the government's work programme.

Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, later told the Guardian that they had to camp under London Bridge overnight, to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.

In the letter, Prescott said the situation raised, "very serious questions" about the "suitability of using private security contractors to do frontline policing instead of trained police officers" and that the company had shown a "blatant disregard for the care of its workers".

He wrote: "It is totally unacceptable that young unemployed people were bussed in to London from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth and forced to sleep out in the cold overnight before stewarding a major event with no payment.

"I am deeply concerned that a private security firm is not only providing policing on the cheap but failing to show a duty of care to its staff and threatening to withdraw an opportunity to work at the Olympics as a means to coerce them to work unpaid."


Sunday, June 03, 2012

UK: David Hare - Carnival of disillusionment

It's fascinating, isn't it? Here we are in the middle of a national carnival of disillusionment. Bankers and journalists have been sent to join politicians and payday lenders in the lowest pit of public opinion. Today, even our schools have to answer to an education secretary who, before ascending to office, had to return to the taxpayer £7,000 of our money, much of which he had spent at a furniture shop belonging to his party leader's mother-in-law. How low can we get? And yet there remain three institutions in Great Britain which have continued to command solid levels of respect more or less since the second world war.

In the new century, core members of the business-political elite still like to vent their spite on at least two of them. The widely admired BBC and the almost universally admired NHS have admittedly been fortunate in their enemies. At the end of their recent assaults on the unassailable, it is James Murdoch and Andrew Lansley who have ended up looking both childish and diminished. Even so, of the three contemporary objects of approval, it is the House of Windsor alone which, post-Diana, comes nearest to enjoying a free pass. For all Cameron's glib infatuation with what he calls "modernisation" – a non-policy if ever there was one – there is just one act of modernisation which remains too modern for him to contemplate.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

MUA: Shipping Reform Bill win

Following an impassioned speech in support from Minister Anthony Albanese, and other Labor members Jill Hall, Sharon Grierson, Melissa Parke, Deb O'Neill, Tony Zappia, Richard Marles and Independant Bob Katter, Shipping Reform passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 71 - 69.

As the Minister said in his speech: "When this mob [the Liberals] took over in 1996 we had 55 Australian vessels, now we have less than half. Either we do this today and get it done, or the Australian shipping industry is done. Without reform the Australian shipping industry will disappear "

All of the speakers made mention of the hard work of the MUA - its National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and all the members involved.

The Bills represent over 10 years of work by the MUA, especially National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, and follows the endorsed support from members at the recent Seafarers Conference and National MUA Conference.

A delegation of seafaring members joined National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, National Policy Officer Rod Pickette and National Communications Director Darrin Barnett in Canberra to see the Bills pass (pictured).

Mr Crumlin said this was the biggest reform of the Navigation Act in 100 years.

"What Australia has effectively done is has shown the way in international shipping, demonstrating that FOC shipping can be defeated and that all seafarers - particularly those from developed countires - have a right to work in the industry.

"Cabotage is back on the menu for seafarers worldwide.

"The support of the ITF was also critical to the political will to enact these wide-ranging and internationally important reforms, and the ITF is enshrined in this legislation," said Mr Crumlin.

Over the last month the core team has been working 24-7 to make sure the legislation was complete and presentable, and that there were sufficient votes the lower house.

This was not guaranteed until right before the Bills were passed.

"We knew we had to make sure that Shipping Reform was not just a good piece of legislation, but one that would be passed the Parliament," said Mr Crumlin.

"As a union, we've fended off the campaign by conservative shippers, foreign ship-owners and the federal Opposition to destroy the Act and the industry.

"It's an emotional day. We've been working on this since the election of the Howard Government. They destroyed Government support for the Australian shipping industry in their first weeks in office back in 1996.

"The union generally and myself personally have been at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that shipping and Australian seafarers have a future in this country," said Mr Crumlin.

"It signals the end of the 17 year war and the beginning of a new era of post-war construction.

"The work of Minister Albanese cannot be overstated. As maritime workers have said, he deserves the Order of Elliott Healy (EOH) named after Elliott V. Elliot and Jim Healy, the legendary leaders of the Seaman's Union and Waterside Workers Federation.

"No one has done more to deliver these reforms than Minister Albanese."

Today the MUA congratulates and thanks the Labor Party for delivering for Australian maritime workers.

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard committed to the legislation when she addressed the 2008 National Conference a few weeks after the Rudd Government was elected.
 Today, they have delivered on their promise and have been supported by the Independents and the Greens, without whom this legislation wouldn't have passed.