Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vale Ray Gietzelt: Sept 1922 - Oct 2012

Ray Gietzelt AO was a key figure in Australia’s union movement and Labor politics throughout the second half of the 20th Century. A war veteran who trained as a chemist, Gietzelt led the fight to democratise and modernise what was the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union (FMWU) and which is now United Voice, one of Australia’s biggest unions.

Ray Gietzelt was born on 29 September 1922 in Sydney to Arthur Anton Gietzelt and Ida Caroline Gietzelt (nee Stoward). Ida had been employed as a stenographer in Townsville when she met Arthur, operator of a taxi service in the town. When they moved to Sydney Arthur established a tyre business in Newtown. The tyre business collapsed when the Great Depression struck in 1929 and the Gietzelt family struggled financially, often finding it difficult to pay the rent despite the resourcefulness of his enterprising father.

Gietzelt was the middle of three children. His older brother Arthur was also active in politics and was elected as a Senator for NSW in 1970 and served as a Minister in the Hawke government.

In 1940 Gietzelt joined the FMWU, the union which covered chemical workers. He worked a 44 hour week at a chemical company he was studying chemistry two nights a week at Ultimo Technical College.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, Gietzelt joined the Army, becoming a member of the Transport Company of the Australian Military Forces. He was 19 at the time. When his training ended in 1942 he applied for a transfer to the 9th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers and within weeks was transferred to Papua New Guinea where he served until his discharge in September 1945.

On 18 December 1945, just months after returning home, Gietzelt married Violet May Hinchliffe in Sydney. They had met in 1942 and their romance continued for the rest of their lives.

In 1945 when the war ended Gietzelt re-joined the union and he soon became embroiled in its internal struggles. These struggles are set out in his memoirs Worth Fighting For, published in 2004.


NSWTF: Council wrap-up

31 October 2012 - From NSW Teachers Federation

Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, gives an update on the decisions of council. Maurie discusses the endorsement of a staffing agreement, the restructuring of TAFE and issues around salaries for schools and TAFE. He also briefly speaks about the 18 November community day of action around the state.

CFMEU: Thousands rally for a world without asbestos

ANDEVA - Pour un monde sans amiante

The Labor Senator for Tasmania, Senator the Hon Lisa Singh recently returned from the ANDEVA (National Association for Defending Victims of Asbestos) conference where the Senator shared the story of Australia’s asbestos legacy and attended the rally for the 'International Day for Victims of Asbestos' held on October 12 and 13.

Senator Singh told the CFMEU:  “It was an honour to be invited to address the conference in my capacity as an Australian Senator and co-convenor of the Parliamentary Group on Asbestos Related Disease (PGARD).

“The conference and rally was attended by workers, unions, victims, politicians, medical professionals and anti-asbestos advocates from 20+ countries from six continents.”

Senator Singh found that Australia is leading the way in addressing the issues surrounding asbestos, especially in light of the Gillard Government’s commissioning and response to the Asbestos Management Review.

“However, we have comrades in many countries who are yet to fully tackle this insidious substance and continue to need our support,” the Senator said.

During the ANDEVA Conference, a roundtable session was held, during which the working group authored and agreed upon two documents.

An appeal to the Brazilian Supreme Court: The Court was called on to expedite the judgement regarding the unconstitutionality of the federal law permitting the mining, sale, use and transport and export of asbestos. Brazil Declaration

A letter to Premier Pauline Marois: Qubec Premier, who was in Paris at the time of there conference for meetings and was congratulated by conference delegates for the courageous position taken by her government in withdrawing the financial assistance promised to the Jeffrey (Asbestos) Mine.

The rally, promoting the theme 'For a world without asbestos' attracted more than 5000 people, despite rainy conditions.

For a world without asbestos - Pour un monde sans amiante
The Asbestos Management Review’s proposed National Strategic Plan includes a continuing leadership role for Australia in the global ban on asbestos.

Read more of the Asbestos Management Review's report and Gillard Government Response from Asbestos Summit 2012.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Working without fear: Sexual Harrisment Survey

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has released Working without fear: Results of the sexual harassment national telephone survey 2012.

The research, which is the only national and trend data on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, shows that sexual harassment is widespread in Australian workplaces and progress in addressing it has stalled.

Commissioner Broderick said the results show that “approximately one in five people aged 15 years and older were sexually harassed in the workplace in the past five years.”

The research shows that one in four women (25%) and one in six men (16%) have been sexually harassed in the workplace in the past five years. If a person’s entire lifetime is considered, the gender gap is even more profound with a third of women (33%) and less than one in ten men (9%) experiencing sexual harassment.

Targets of sexual harassment are most likely to be women under 40 and harassers are most likely to be male co-workers. Women are at least five times more likely than men to have been harassed by a boss or employer. Men harassing women accounts for more than half of all sexual harassment, while male harassment of men accounts for nearly a quarter.

Commissioner Broderick said that one of the most encouraging parts of the research concerned the role of bystanders - people who witnessed or later became aware of sexual harassment.

“Fifty-one per cent of people who were bystanders – that is over half - took some action to prevent or reduce the harm of the sexual harassment they were aware of,” she said. “Bystanders have an extremely important role to play in confronting and combatting sexual harassment.”

Commissioner Broderick said that bystanders can help to prevent and reduce the harm of sexual harassment and ensure safe work environments for themselves and their colleagues, but they needed to be supported and empowered.”

“Eradicating sexual harassment from our workplaces will require leadership and a genuine commitment from everyone – government, employers, employer associations, unions and employees,” Ms Broderick said.

The survey is available at:

21 November 2012: Go Home On Time Day

Put it in your diary – Wednesday November 21 is this year’s national Go Home On Time Day – the day Australians are encouraged to say ‘no’ to last-minute meetings, avoid out-of- hours emails and calls, and claim back some work/life balance.

Now in its fourth year, Go Home On Time Day is an initiative of The Australia Institute, a public policy think tank based in Canberra. The day was conceived as a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about the impact of poor work/life balance on our health, relationships and workplaces.

The Go Home On Time Day website can be found at The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Dr Richard Denniss said for many Australians leaving work on time is actually harder than it seems.

“Whether it’s not knowing what time you’re supposed to finish work, or feeling guilty if you’re the first to leave the office, getting out the door can be a daily battle for many Australians. National Go Home On Time Day provides at least one day of the year on which people can achieve a better work and life balance,” said Dr Denniss.

The Australia Institute is delighted to be working with beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative this year to highlight the social and economic costs of job-related stress, which can lead to depression and anxiety. beyondblue is developing a range of new workplace resources to help managers discuss these issues with employees.

CEO of beyondblue Ms Kate Carnell AO said she was delighted the initiative was participating in Go Home On Time Day and highlighting what business could do to improve employees’ well-being. She said overwhelming evidence showed a direct link between mental health and working conditions.

“Ensuring employees are not overloaded and have a good work life balance is one thing that business can do to improve mental health,” Ms Carnell said.

“It’s important employees see that good mental health is as important as physical safety in the workplace and that good mental health in the workplace relies on good leadership, communication, support and balance.

“Employees should leave work on time on Go Home On Time Day to highlight the link between overwork and stress with depression and anxiety in the workplace. Employees and employers alike benefit from a happy and healthy workplace,” said Ms Carnell.

MUA: National Day of Action


The bosses — led by Shipping Australia, the representative of foreign shippers — are standing in the way of a fair safety code. At the last minute, they blocked a code that will save lives and make conditions safer — so our comrades can come home to their families after work, safe and sound.

We must act now to ensure that safety on the waterfront is secured.

National Day of Action

MUA rank & file and concerned members of the community are coming together on Tuesday 30 October to demand a national stevedoring code of practice.

It is a basic right for a worker to be safe on the job. Let’s rally to send a strong message to employers.

Branch Rally Details:

Port Kembla/Newcastle/Sydney: The March will commence outside the Sydney Branch office, 365 Sussex Street, Sydney at 11.30am after the monthly stop work meeting. We will march to Shipping Australia, 101 Sussex Street.

Queensland: Buses will leave at 12.20pm from 73 Southgate Avenue, Cannon Hill, QLD at the end of the monthly stop work meeting for rally at 397 Queen Street.

South Australia: March from the SA Branch Office, 65 St Vincent Street, Adelaide at 11.00am. The rally will take place outside Patricks - Corner of St Vincent St and Timpson St, Port Adelaide at 11.30am.

Victoria: Noon. Oceanic Shipping 6 Riverside Quay Southbank. They are the Agents for AAL in Melbourne.

Western Australia: Rally to follow stop work meeting. Contact the branch for more details. PH: 08 9335 0500

Monday, October 29, 2012

Greece: Corporate Culture attacks messenger

Greek police arrested the editor of a weekly magazine for publishing a list of more than 2,000 names of wealthy Greeks who have placed money in Swiss bank accounts, police say.

The so-called Lagarde List, which led to the arrest of editor Costas Vaxevanis on Sunday, was given to Greece by French authorities in 2010 with names to be probed for possible tax evasion - a topic of heated speculation in the Greek media.

It is named after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was French finance minister when the list was handed over.

The Hot Doc magazine published the list of 2,059 names, including some well-known business and political figures, on Saturday. The magazine said it had been sent the list anonymously. Authorities did not confirm if the list was authentic.

A prosecutor ordered the arrest of Vaxevanis on Saturday for violating laws on releasing private data, police said. He was released pending trial after appearing before a prosecutor on Sunday.

"He published a list of names without special permission and violated the law on personal data," a police official said.

"There is no proof that the persons or companies included in that list have violated the law. There is no evidence that they violated the law on tax evasion or money laundering," the official added.

Impoverishing Greece

The list has inspired heated discussion in near-bankrupt Greece, where public anger at politicians and the wealthy elite grows as austerity measures take a toll on the poorer sections of society.

In a video sent to the Reuters news service by his magazine, Vaxevanis appeared on camera to defend his decision to publish the list.

"I did nothing other than what a journalist is obliged to do. I revealed the truth that they were hiding," he said in the video.

"If anyone is accountable before the law then it is those ministers who hid the list, lost it and said it didn't exist. I only did my job. I am a journalist and I did my job."

He said he had not committed any wrongdoing and accused authorities of trying to muzzle the press.

"The important thing is that a group of people - when Greece is starving - make a profit and try to create the Greece they want," he said.

"Tomorrow in parliament they will vote to cut 100-200 euros in pay for the Greek civil servant, for the Greek worker while at the same time most of the 2,000 people on the list appear to be evading tax by secretly sending money to Switzerland."

NSW: Appin Mine Managers prepare for action

Supervisors at Illawarra Coal's Appin Mine have voted overwhelmingly to support a range of protected industrial action, from brief stop-work meetings to week-long stoppages which may stop mining production.

Ninety-eight per cent of supervisors voted in favour of supporting protected action in the ballot, which was held on Friday.

About 50 mine managers are pushing for pay increases including an 18 per cent "market adjustment", plus four per cent rises each year, as part of a new enterprise agreement.

Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia collieries staff division director Catherine Bolger said the result of the ballot was due to parent company BHP Billiton’s refusal to pay market rates.

Ms Bolger said supervisors were told by the miner last week that there was “no money in the bucket” to bring their base salary up to current market levels, despite having been in enterprise negotiations for five months.

"This is a last resort for these supervisors," she said.

"They are incredibly frustrated at BHP’s hardline antics. They deserve to be paid fairly and in line with other mines in NSW and QLD."

"These supervisors deserve to be paid properly. They are responsible for the safety of all mine workers, the handling of explosives and making sure mine production is smooth - their work delivers huge profits for BHP.

"Industry pay rates for mine supervisors have increased over the last four years, yet Appin supervisors haven’t received their fair share of that growth. They are now seeking an adjustment."

NSW: Coal Dust Pollution misery

The health impacts of coalmining on Upper Hunter residents had probably been significantly underestimated, a new report based on studies of coalmining communities around the world has found.

The report, released today, coincides with the latest state government data showing Upper Hunter air quality has deteriorated dramatically over the past five years.

Air quality in most other parts of the state has improved in the same period.

dusty Hunter region
The Health and Social Harms of Coalmining in Local Communities report: Spotlight on the Hunter Region report analysed 50 peer-reviewed papers about the health impacts of mining in 10 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and China.

It found recurring adverse health problems in coalmining communities including increased rates of cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease and birth defects.

Lead author Associate Professor Ruth Colagiuri from the University of Sydney’s Health and Sustainability Unit said that while several studies examined the social harms of coalmining in the Hunter, relatively little research had been done into the health effects of mining and coal-fired power stations in the region.

‘‘Local research evidence about the impact of emissions from coalmines and power stations in the Hunter Region is urgently needed so that governments and community can make informed decisions and develop policies to minimise health harms,’’ she said.

The Beyond Zero Emissions environment group commissioned the study in response to growing community concern about the health impacts of coalmining and power production in the Upper Hunter.

‘‘The Hunter Valley has the highest concentration of coalmines and power stations in Australia,” group spokesman Mark Ogge said.

‘‘With plans for 30 new or bigger coalmines, an independent authority is urgently needed to monitor emissions in the region and for an in-depth health study to take place.’’

The group has also called for the introduction of 10-kilometre buffer zones around new coalmines and port facilities until independent studies into the health effects of mining and coal transport have been done.

The concerns are reinforced by the Environment Protection Authority’s NSW Air Emissions Inventory, which assessed 850 air pollutants in the greater metropolitan regions of Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, including dust emissions from mines.

It found dust emissions containing particles equivalent to 10 microns (PM10) had increased in the Hunter from 40,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes, or 50per cent, between 2003 and 2008.

Industrial pollution in other areas, including Sydney, had steadily declined in the same period.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

TWU: 'One Toll' must be more than words

Management at the Toll Group have the opportunity to show that their ‘One Toll’ policy for a productive, efficient and safer workplace for all Toll workers is more than a public relations exercise by implementing this at all Toll sites across the globe.

That’s according to Michael Aird, Senior Official of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).

Mr Aird was speaking outside the Toll Group annual general meeting (AGM) in Melbourne today (26.10.12) where he joined Australian and American Toll workers and representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) to call on Toll management to sign a commitment to the ‘One Toll’ policy at this year’s AGM: “Management at Toll have put forward a ‘One Toll’ agenda to ensure that all Toll workers across the world experience the same standards, practices and workplace values – but have yet to implement it across their international workforce.”

The TWU and Teamsters conducted a recent survey of Toll workers across worksites in Australia and the United States to review Toll workers’ views on the ‘One Toll’ vision. The results of the survey show that not providing workers with a voice can have serious consequences. The survey showed:
  • 67% of United States drivers are concerned about even reporting safety concerns.
  • 55% of workers across Australia and the United States believe Toll management put profits AHEAD of safety.
Mr Aird stated:

“The survey results show that Toll management aren’t listening. For ‘One Toll’ to be more than just rhetoric, Toll workers need to have a voice on safe and efficient workplace conditions. Toll workers here and in the United States know that better consultation and respect from management not only improves safety standards but it also benefits the company and ultimately shareholders with more productive, efficient and safe workplaces.”

Toll Driver and Teamster member Karael Vallecillo, travelled all the way from Los Angeles to speak to management and address the AGM;

“One Toll is about every Toll worker having their voice heard. Me and my work mates in America want management to commit to the ‘One Toll’ policy so we can improve safety for ourselves, our customers and our community.”

Australian Toll driver, Mark Trevillian commented;

“All Toll workers, no matter where they are in the world or what their accent is, should have the same workplace standards and conditions. I’ve seen first hand the conditions that workers at US Toll work in. It’s not right that an Australian company, which I am proud to work for, should treat workers like this. Toll management need to make good on their word and actually commit to the ‘One Toll’ policy they created.”

Mr Aird concluded:

“We’ve seen here in Australia that by creating better standards and conditions in the workplace, Toll can achieve better results. It’s time Toll management make their commitment to the ‘One Toll’ policy more than just words.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

AWU: Miners' Outrage at 2 days notice

The workforce at Southern Middleback Ranges has been left outraged, after they received only two days notice that their contracts would not be renewed.

It was announced in April that BGC Contracting had won a contract to service Arrium Mining's mine at Southern Middleback Ranges, replacing existing contractor HWE.

In the lead up to BGC assuming the contract, existing HWE employees were asked to reapply for their positions at the site.

However, it is believed that the company did not provide adequate notice to existing employees that they had not received a contract.

Prior to the contract tender change, HWE had employed about 500 workers at the site, while BGC is expected to require 350 to 400 when it assumes the contract in November.

Australian Workers Union (AWU) organiser Scott Martin said he understood that BGC would need to cut the workforce at the site, but believed BGC had not been transparent with the existing employees.

"For a majority of the HWE employees that wanted to get a job through BGC, most of them went for their medicals and interviews six to two months ago," he said.

"And then they weren't hearing any feedback in terms of whether they had the job, not had the job or needed to start looking somewhere else for work.

"They were ringing BGC up and basically getting a similar response, being told that they would get back to them in a couple of weeks."

Japan: Fukushima Contaminated Water Crisis

About 200,000 tons of radioactive water used to cool the broken reactors are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume will more than triple within three years.

"Our land is limited and we could eventually run out of storage space," said water treatment manager Yuichi Okamura.

Nuclear engineer Masashi Goto said the contaminated water build-up poses a long-term threat.

He said that the radioactive water in the basements may already be getting into the underground water system, where it could reach far beyond the plant, possibly into the ocean or public water supplies.

"You never know where it's leaking and once it's out you can't put it back," he said.

He added that the Tepco roadmap for dealing with the problem was "wishful thinking."

"The longer it takes, the more contaminated water they get."

World Teachers Day 2012

World Teachers Day 2012 - Download Poster (pdf)

Vic: Visy canned by worker solidarity

AMWU Oct 25, 2012

AMWU organiser Dinh Nguyen calls for a show of hands at the meeting which ended the strike
Workers at Visy’s canning plant in southern Melbourne have won a stunning EBA victory by refusing to crumple during a six-week strike despite company threats.

The gritty unionists repeatedly voted down management proposal to effectively cut the wage of night shift workers by at least 30 per cent at its Clayton South plant.

The 32 AMWU members showed fierce solidarity as the company tried to engage replacement labour under the stare of security guards and cameras. The action eventually stopped production of two million soft drink and beer cans per day.

Delegate Jerry Landolfo and organiser Dinh Nguyen only became more determined when Visy served them with a $500,000 Supreme Court writ for damages.

The members’ reward came when the company dropped its bid to take away the nightshift allowance, then agreed  to a wage increase of four per cent and a guarantee to pay the employees WageGuard insurance cover.

Mr Landolfo said a $500 implementation bonus was final proof vindicating the AMWU and Electrical Trades Union, fellow delegate George Saik leading members back to work with their heads held high.

Mr Landolfo  said Visy had provoked the strike by locking them out for three days as attempted punishment for a one-hour industrial action, fully expecting them to return to work.

“We gave them 10 times that back, it was difficult at times but I think the solidarity got stronger the longer it went, ” he said.

“We’re pretty happy, the guys have a lot of pride in what we achieved and now the company knows for next time we won’t be intimidated.”

Donations of cash, food and firewood poured in from neighbouring businesses, with the AMWU supplying a caravan and a barbecue to fortify the strikers camped outside the plant.

Visy three times brought on votes to get the attempted wage cut approved, twice being overwhelmingly defeated and abandoning its own attempt to run a ballot.

The day after the last of its hat-trick of defeats, Visy asked the AMWU and Electrical Trades Union to begin conciliation in Fair Work Australia. It dropped all its claims plus the Supreme Court action.

Organiser Dinh Nguyen said Visy had suffered the consequences of its own provocation with warehouses empty of stock when the workers finally returned to the site.

“They thought we were weak, the strike would fold but they didn’t know their own workers down here,” he said.

Fairfax: Jobs before Executive Bonus

ACTU Secretary, Dave Oliver, said that it was a particularly bad look for Fairfax to be voting to boost the salary of CEO, Greg Hywood with a $420,000 bonus payment at the same time that the company rejects efforts of Tasmanian newspaper workers to save the jobs of four of their colleagues who are being made redundant.

“The shareholders of Fairfax should not take the decision to award an executive bonus lightly. A company undergoing redundancies should not be handing out extra payments to their management.

“If they have enough money to pay bonuses, their obligation should be to instead use it to assist their staff,” said Mr Oliver.

Unions are calling on the company to:

  • Pay workers in the customer contact centres whose jobs are to be outsourced their full redundancy entitlements, based on their actual earnings;
  • Negotiate decent redundancy packages with workers on minimum redundancy arrangements in good faith;
  • Genuinely make every effort to work with employees and their unions to mitigate job losses, particularly in regional operations where unemployment levels are high;
  • Commit to develop a fair process for implementing redundancies and provide resources to assist workers to maximise their re-employment opportunities;
  • Respect the Recommendations made by Fair Work Australia designed to ensure a fair and transparent process of implementing redundancies ; and
  • Guarantee employee entitlements.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NSW: Notification of dispute with the TAFE Commission

25 October 2012

The NSW Branch of the AEU is appalled at the actions taken by TAFE Institutes in relation to “reviews” which are occurring and the cuts to positions which are proposed.  AEU NSW Senior Officers met with the Deputy Director-General, TAFE and Community Education and the Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services on 22 October to raise these concerns.

The Deputy Director-General, TAFE and Community Education agreed to extend the consultation timeframe for Sydney Institute and provide to the AEU NSW  timeframes for other Institutes.

This response is totally inadequate.  It does not address concerns raised by members subsequent to the meeting about the Human Resources processes which may be adopted following the review.

The TAFE Enterprise Agreement includes specific clauses around consultation and dispute resolution.  The AEU NSW has notified the TAFE Commission of a dispute in relation to the failure to consult with the AEU NSW in relation to the review process, the changes proposed and any further changes related to “Smart and Skilled” reforms.

The AEU NSW is seeking a negotiated timeframe and process for consultation and any relevant Human Resources processes.  These processes must be applied consistently across Institutes.  The dispute procedures require a meeting to be held within five working days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

United Nations Day 2012

NSW Ombudsman Taser Report

NSW police need to overhaul their use of Tasers after numerous incidents of brutality, misuse and two deaths involving the weapons in the past two years, an ombudsman's report says.

NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour tabled his report - How are Taser weapons used by the NSW Police Force? - in state parliament on Tuesday.

The report reviewed 556 incidents between June 2010 and November 2010 and found the devices were used inappropriately on 80 occasions.

In 27 cases, police were not under serious threat and should not have fired the weapon at all.

Police tasered people who were handcuffed or fleeing, and in some cases victims were tasered repeatedly - actions that Mr Barbour said should be outlawed.

The report makes 46 recommendations about how police should use a Taser and how they should improve Taser training for general duties officers.

"(Taser) can present significant safety and medical risks, and there is a justifiable public concern about the potential for unsafe and inappropriate use," Mr Barbour states in the report.

A recent coronial inquest into the death of Brazilian student Roberto Laudisio Curti, which was not considered in the ombudsman's report, heard the young Brazilian struggled with 11 officers who fired their Tasers up to 14 times.

Some of those instances were drive-stuns, a practice Mr Barbour also condemned.

Such usage involves applying the Taser directly to the skin, as opposed to discharging the barbs from a distance.

NSW Greens MP and justice spokesman David Shoebridge said it was "remarkable" the ombudsman's report had failed to consider the evidence given at the Curti inquest, which wrapped up hearings on Friday.

"One of the clear options for limiting Taser use by police is to withdraw them from general duties officers and limit them to specially trained squads," Mr Shoebridge said in a statement.

Mr Curti's family issued a statement in response to the ombudsman's report.

"The family said many of the recommendations related to the way in which Taser (sic) was used on the night Roberto died," Mr Curti's brother-in-law Michael Reynolds said.

"The family feels that several of the ombudsman's recommendations are a step in the right direction."

Unions Service Industries Report

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) together with the Australian Services Union (ASU) has released a new report by the National Institute for Economic & Industry Research (NIEIR) on the future of Australian service industries in a global economy.

The report, Off-Shore and Off Work, reveals that more than 80,000 services jobs have been offshored since 2008, and up to 1 million jobs are at risk in coming decades without immediate policy intervention.

Read the report here:

If you work in the Australian finance sector, FSU is your union. Become a member today:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Greece: Austerity Destroying the Economy

Unemployment in Greece hit a record 25.1 per cent in July, with more than 1000 jobs lost every day over the past year.

54.2 per cent of young people are unable to find work, latest official figures reveal.

Because of forced austerity cuts that are linked to so-called bailouts to lower the country's budget deficits, it is certain that unemployment in Greece will be head even higher.

A spiral of deliberately slashed demand that is impoverishing the most vulnerable people in Greece has driven the economy into what economists usually describe as a Depression. The same prescription that was enforced in the 1930s is working the same way it did back then.

To illustrate the extent of Greece's recession, the out-of-work figure rose from 24.8 per cent in June. In July 2008, a year before Greece's financial crisis broke, there were about 364,000 registered unemployed.

"This is a very dramatic result of the recession," Angelos Tsakanikas, head of research at Greece's IOBE economic research foundation, he did not expect employment to pick up for at least a year.

The BBC's correspondent in Athens, Mark Lowen, said: "The figures have bolstered the anti-austerity argument here, giving fuel to those who believe the entire strategy of Greece's international lenders is wrong, and that pressure for ever more cuts is pushing the country to breaking point and stunting growth.

"They point to the fact that before Greece was bailed out in April 2010, and began its austerity drive, unemployment stood at just 11.8%," he said.

TUC - A Future That Works

Tens of thousands of people from across the UK will be coming to London this weekend to take part in A Future That Works - the march and rally organised by the TUC to protest against the government's austerity policies and to call for an alternative economic strategy that puts jobs, growth and people first.

A Future That Works takes place in the capital on Saturday 20 October and follows on from the hugely successful March for the Alternative organised by the TUC last spring.

A particular focus of this year's march will be trying to secure a better future for the UK's young people, one million of whom are currently without work. The TUC hopes that young people from across the country will make up a significant proportion of the marchers.

Marchers will begin to assemble on the Victoria Embankment on the north bank of the Thames from 11am, between the Hungerford Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.
Hundreds of coaches have been booked to transport people to London from Truro to Newcastle and unions have chartered special trains to bring people to the capital from all parts of England and Wales.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Billy Bragg in Melbourne

As is his wont, the man who declared There is Power in a Union will also detour into local issues, singing outside Southern Cross Station this morning to highlight the plight of Australia's working poor, those trapped in precarious and low-paid jobs.

Bragg was invited to perform by the National Union of Workers at a protest organised to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week.

Guthrie was born 100 years ago and, says Bragg, sang about ''ordinary people needing to earn proper money - that ordinary people should be taking part in the success of a society''.

He says his involvement in the protest is a gesture to highlight the link between the increasing numbers living in poverty and the simultaneous rise of insecure employment models such as labour hire, where safety vests are often standard attire.

Those attending the concert have been asked to wear fluorescent vests.

The union asked Bragg to take part in the event because he was in town touring his Guthrie tribute as part of the Melbourne Festival. He was only too happy to help.

''I'm here to celebrate the legacy of Woodie Guthrie,'' says Bragg. ''But it has to be more than just singing the songs. So, if I was to live up to Woodie's example, I had to do more than just do some gigs.''

National Union of Workers Victorian secretary Tim Kennedy says Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 825,000 households are considered ''low economic resource households''.

He says workers employed by labour-hire companies regularly tell his union about being moved from job to job daily.

''Sometimes they are waiting on a text message to know if they have a shift the next day, or that they are 'no longer required' by a labour-hire agency after being injured at work.''

Bragg says secure jobs are the key to a strong economy, along with a guarantee that people will get a proper wage. ''There should be a living wage, not a minimum wage,'' he says.

''Particularly major companies making huge profits, we should be encouraging them to pay a living wage. It's ordinary working people spending their money in shops that make the economy grow.''

Armed with his guitar, Bragg says he ''would be surprised if I don't play There is Power in a Union this morning. And one of Woodie's songs.''

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Anti-Poverty Week 14-20 October 2012

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural.
It is manmade and can be overcome and eradicated
by the actions of human beings.

Nelson Mandela 14 October 2012

‘Let them eat bread’ demonstrations photo opportunities: Sydney CBD 10.30am Tuesday 16 October
PLUS Adelaide and Brisbane

City workers and shoppers will be offered free bread and jam at an Anti-Poverty Week breakfast demonstration by shopping centre cleaners and their supporters in Sydney this week.

Cleaners will host the breakfast in Martin Place at 10.30am on Tuesday, the day before International Anti-Poverty Day - the day when we are all encouraged to recognise and help reduce poverty.

Louise Tarrant, National Secretary of United Voice, the cleaners’ union says “Australia’s shopping centre cleaners have plenty of both poverty and hardship despite our great wealth as a nation.

“At the ‘Let them eat bread’ breakfast cleaners will talk about life when you earn only $17.05 an hour and about the hardship endured by cleaners who look after the assets of one the world’s richest banks.

“The Commonwealth Bank Group owns and manages more than 30 shopping centres across Australia.
“Sadly, the Commonwealth Bank has come a long way since the days when it was The People’s Bank.

“Most Australians would find it disgraceful that despite its enormous profit of $7.1b the
Commonwealth Bank refuses to act to overcome poverty within its own ranks. It is refusing to take any responsibility for the poverty wages and unrealistic workloads of the cleaners who contribute to those profits.

“That’s not good enough. The bank can fix this injustice. We believe it also has the responsibility to act, as Nelson Mandela said, to eradicate poverty within its financial empire,” says Louise Tarrant.

On Tuesday the ‘Let them eat bread’ breakfast demonstration will be held in Sydney at Martin Place from 10.30am to 11.30am.

‘Let them eat bread’ demonstrations will also be held on Tuesday in:
  • Adelaide – from 8.30am to 9.30am outside 96 King William Street - contact Carolyn Smart 0439 933 229
  • Brisbane – at 12 noon outside 240 Queen Street - contact Susan Butler 0428 189 130
Interviews/information: Nada Vlatko - 0425 242 691

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

David Hicks demands investigation

Former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks has demanded a full investigation into his jailing after a landmark US court decision, as lawyers said his conviction should be quashed.

Hicks was returned to Australia in April 2007 following a plea deal that saw him serve a nine-month sentence at home for providing material support for terrorism after nearly six years in Guantanamo.

But his conviction was cast into doubt after the US Court of Appeals ruled that material support for terrorism was not a war crime, and could not in any case be applied to Hicks because the relevant law was passed only in 2006.

The ruling was made as the Washington appeals court threw out the conviction of Osama bin Laden's former driver Salim Hamdan -- also once jailed at Guantanamo -- on the same charge.

"We have always said the conviction was doubtful and shouldn't stand," Hicks said.

"I want a full investigation. The Australian government knew for years that the system was not fair, but it put me up before it anyway."

Mike Mori, who represented Hicks at his Guantanamo Bay hearings, said the court decision meant his conviction was unlawful, although the US government is reviewing the ruling and could still appeal.

"It (the charge of material support for terrorism) is null and void for conduct prior to 2006," he told ABC television.

"The foundation is rotten and the house is starting to crumble."

Mori said it was now up to Hicks's current lawyers to decide if they would formally seek to have his conviction overturned.

"I think it would be great for some official recognition that what he was put through was not fair and was not just," he said.

New Laws to Protect Workers' Entitlements

The ACTU has today welcomed new legislation that will increase the protection for workers who lose their entitlements when companies go under.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said that unions had been campaigning to make sure that the improvements to protect workers' entitlements like redundancy pay, annual leave and long service leave the Government had previously introduced were guaranteed in legislation.

The new legislation was introduced to the Federal Parliament today.

“When companies go bust, many workers miss out on payments they are legally entitled to,” Mr Oliver said.

“Workers often have little or no say during bankruptcy proceedings, and end up losing their entitlements through no fault of their own.

“This bill closes the gaps and ensures that redundancy entitlements are paid up to four weeks per year of service.

Under the new legislation, employees will be protected if their employer is subject to deed of company arrangements, or equivalent bankruptcy proceedings.

Mr Oliver said the Bill contained safeguards which ensure the system can only be used in cases of genuine insolvency.

“The Gillard Government has shown that it understands the concerns of workers, who rely on these entitlements to pay their mortgages and support their families if their employer fails.”

Unions: Compulsory Quad Bike Rollover Protection

Rollover protection devices must be made compulsory to stop quad bike fatalities, say unions

17 October, 2012 | ACTU Media Release

Mandatory crush protection devices must be installed on all new quad bikes in Australia to prevent any more fatalities from rollovers, say unions.

Ahead of a national forum on quad bike safety later this week, the ACTU is calling for roll over protection devices to be compulsory for all new quad bikes sold in Australia.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said the death of a 58-year-old man in a quad bike incident at Murchison in northern Victoria on Sunday highlighted just how dangerous they are.

The man is the 160th quad bike fatality since 2001, and the tenth in Australia this year.

Mr Borowick said the manner of the man’s death, which was caused when the quad bike flipped over and trapped him underneath, was all too common and was preventable, Mr Borowick said.

“There are about 220,000 quad bikes in use in Australia, and they are the single biggest cause of workplace fatalities on farms,” Mr Borowick said.

“Quad bikes have grown in usage as work vehicle, particularly in the agricultural sector, but they are killers.

“Last year a record 23 deaths were recorded, and 18 of those deaths were on farms. Tragically, 10 people have already lost their lives this year.

“Half of these fatalities were from roll-overs when the victim was crushed or trapped by their quad bike landing on top of them, or pinned underneath a quad in water and drowned. There are also hundreds of serious injuries each year.

“Quad bikes have inherent problems with stability, with some evidence indicating that they may roll over even on apparently flat terrain.”

The rate of fatalities could be dramatically reduced through the simple installation of a crush protection device – such as a u-shaped or T-bar shaped metal bar – which would reduce the risk of being crushed, with only minimal additional cost. Similar roll-over protection devices that have been compulsory for tractors since 1992 have reduced fatalities by 80%, Mr Borowick said.

“We don’t want to see quad bikes banned, but they must be made safer,” Mr Borowick said.

“We cannot wait for more people to die while more research is conducted into the effectiveness of crush protection devices. There is enough evidence now to show there is a cheap and effective solution that would save lives.

“Crush protection devices are available already but are not mandatory. We need to ask ourselves how much is a life worth, as opposed to the small extra cost of a crush protection device.”

Unions will raise the proposal for mandatory safety devices at a national forum chaired by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten in Melbourne on Friday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WA: Barnett 'Forest Destruction Plan'

Western Australia's forest conservation groups have vowed to coordinate a major public campaign to protect our forests from the huge logging increases signaled today by the Barnett Government.

WA Forest Alliance Spokesperson Jess Beckerling said, “The draft Forest Management Plan (FMP) released today reveals that the Barnett Government is considering huge increases to native forest logging in WA, right when we should be protecting our forests and completing the transition to sustainable plantation industries.

“The document presents a range of scenarios including increasing karri woodchipping by as much as 50 per cent and increasing the logging of marri trees, which are critical for black cockatoos, by as much as 37.5 per cent.

“The Barnett Government has shown its hand: it wants to increase native forest logging despite the industry already being unsustainable and highly destructive.

“Another 10 years of clearfelling and intensively logging our much loved karri and jarrah forests and destroying threatened species habitat to produce woodchips and firewood, is simply not acceptable.

“Our forests need a scientifically robust protection plan that is able to deal with the impacts of climate change and the various threats our forests are facing. Another 10-year plan for logging, clearfelling and poisoning our native forests will be vehemently opposed by West Australians.

“Our black cockatoos, numbats and other forest dependent endangered species are in crisis yet the Barnett Government is planning another decade of clearfelling and intensive logging of their last refuges.

“We have also discovered that behind our backs the Government has been pre-committing our forests to logging companies before the draft Forest Management Plan was even released.

“In an effort to lock in unsustainable logging levels the Government has promised six saw millers up to $57 million in compensation if their log allocation is decreased. And government agencies have been looking for buyers for 800,000 tonnes of logs a year that could be burnt to produce electricity.

“The Barnett Government has some serious work to do to convince West Australians in the lead up to the election that it is a government which listens to stakeholders and the broader community.

“This hasn't been a good start for them on this issue which has a tradition of causing big problems for Liberal Coalition governments come election time,” she concluded.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Principal speaks out - NAPLAN useless

Kevin Pope, the principal of Meadow Heights Primary School, says the standardised tests, which are held every May in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, do not contribute positively to education.

''It dumbs down learning and narrows the curriculum. What about thinking, curiosity, music? Its narrow Anglo focus also means it's not inclusive,'' Mr Pope says in a set of papers to be launched tonight as part of the Say No to NAPLAN campaign.

Earlier this year Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said NAPLAN was a powerful tool that meant the government now had detailed data on how schools and students were performing, identifying where extra support was needed.

He said the $2.5 billion Smarter Schools National Partnerships provided targeted funding to boost teacher quality, improve literacy and numeracy and provide extra support for disadvantaged schools.

But Mr Pope says that in his 20 years as a principal in disadvantaged schools, he has never received one cent more based on the results of testing.

''We have been wasting time based on the myth that test results get deserving schools extra money … Why waste money on useless testing? NAPLAN is an obscene waste of public funds.''

Eighty per cent of the 620 students at Meadow Heights Primary, north of Broadmeadows, live in poverty and 75 per cent are from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
About 42 of 100 new prep students could not speak English this year.

''Some of the children from our 80 refugee families have had no schooling [or minimal schooling] before coming to Australia. However, once they have been here for two years, they are told they too must do NAPLAN,'' Mr Pope said. ''Why can't the school determine whether or not it's appropriate for refugee children to take the test?''

Mr Pope said the school used to hand out official test exemption forms at parent-teacher interviews but the Education Department told the school it was being ''too political'' and had to stop.

Parents have the right to withdraw their children on the grounds of philosophical objections or religious beliefs. Students can also be exempted if they have a significant intellectual disability or have recently arrived in Australia from a non-English-speaking background.

The My School website shows that Meadow Heights Primary students performed substantially below the Australian schools' average in almost every NAPLAN test in 2011.

Mr Pope said if people asked questions about the school's results ''we have to speak from a position of defence''.

''Why can't the government honour the journey these children have made and acknowledge the work of the teachers?''

The paper, one of eight to be launched tonight, will be published at


and sent to Mr Garrett and education ministers in each state and territory.

More than 100 academics from universities around Australia earlier this year signed a letter of support for the Say No to NAPLAN campaign.

Vic: CFMEU - Lend Lease agreement

Building giant Lend Lease faces being banned from billions of dollars of Victorian government work after signing a new deal with the construction union.

Lend Lease's four-year workplace agreement with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has been described as being in defiance of the Baillieu government prohibition of normal negotiated deals in the building industry.

The Baillieu government has said it will ban builders from bidding for government-funded work if they sign deals with unions that do not comply with its new code.

The new rules, which took effect from July, apply to deals signed in the private and public sectors, appear to be deliberately designed to undermine a number of provisions of the Fair Work Act.

Baillieu's ideologically driven code even prohibits the genrations long union cultural practice of flying Eureka flags on cranes in Victoria, or wearing union badges or union stickers on hard hats.

The new CFMEU - Lend Lease deal simply ignores the more extreme rantings of Baillieu's anti-union code.

The Baillieu code, based on discredited Howard government anti-union provisions and massaged by ideologues who set up the ABCC kangaroo court, aims to enforce workplace deals that place restrictions on normal union activities.

As the Sydney Morning Herald puts it:

"Neither Lend Lease nor the CFMEU have done anything wrong under federal law - where workplace relations are now regulated.

But by trying to change industry behaviour through a state code, Baillieu will need to show if his attack on unions and costs is real or just rhetoric. If one more big builder cuts a union-friendly deal it is hard to see the code surviving".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

NSW: Vandals Cut TAFE Support for Fine Arts

The NSW Government’s recent decision to cut support of Fine Arts education throughout TAFE colleges will abandon many people with disability and their current access to art education statewide, writes Accessible Arts NSW.

The planned cuts also contradict the NSW Government’s own goals set down in the State Plan 2021.

The NSW peak body for arts and disability, Accessible Arts, condemns the move as one which risks the growth of a robust arts and cultural sector in NSW. “TAFE Fine Arts courses currently provide access to a quality arts education for people with disability to move into the creative industries”, says CEO, Sancha Donald.

The NSW Government’s abandonment of support to TAFE Fine Art courses will mean commercial fees will be charged from January 2013. “The withdrawal of support for TAFE Fine Arts education in NSW will affect many of our stakeholders who are on limited incomes due to ongoing disability support needs,” said Ms Donald. “People with disability often experience interrupted education and face barriers to employment within the arts and cultural sectors.”

Ms Donald highlights the recent announcement is also at odds with the NSW Government’s own State Plan Goal 27 which recognises the role played by the arts in community development:  ‘Enhanced participation in arts, sporting and recreation activities contributes to economic, social and cultural development across the State and delivers benefits to the community and the economy.” (NSW Government 2021 State Plan, Goal 27)

Accessible Arts calls on Premier O’Farrell and the Minister for Education, Mr Adrian Piccoli to reverse the decision given the long-term costs to a vibrant artistic community promoting the inclusion of all people with and without disability.

Blue Mountains TAFE under attack

Blue Mountains Gazette 10 October 2012

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson and Greens MP John Kaye have joined the chorus of opposition to the threats to close the Blue Mountains TAFE guides course .

Dr Kaye said the outdoor education course provided “critical skills for the region’s economy”. Without the TAFE course, which trains up instructors for abseiling, canyoning and rock climbing, the industry’s future was “grim” he said.

“Taking the knife to the outdoor recreation courses will undermine the future of the region’s economy. This course, like many others set to go under the O’Farrell Government’s budget cuts, offers much more than just employment opportunities. It is a high quality education resource, valued by the local community,” he said.

Mr Robertson said “staff and students have been informed from next year the popular outdoor recreation course will cease to operate in its current format,” adding if cut the course may only be offered ‘commercially’ — an expensive option not available to most people.

Mr Robertson met with TAFE teachers and industry representatives including the director of the Blue Mountains Adventure Company, Dylan Jones, and other former students running adventure businesses in the area — people concerned about “the impact the loss of this vital course would have on the local tourism industry”.

Dr Kaye said the government’s grab for cash was short sighted and heartless.

“The Blue Mountains community is being ripped off by a government that cannot see beyond the next election . . . TAFE is about to lose five per cent of its workforce. That means five per cent less public sector vocational education and training and five percent less long-term economic benefits to NSW,” Dr Kaye said.

Students were being asked to “pay more in order to receive less”.

“Class sizes will rise, the ranges of courses will be reduced and time to help individual students will all but disappear,” he said.

Blue Mountains Liberal MP Roza Sage “must stand up for her community” and tell the Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to reverse the devastating cuts to TAFE, he said.

Hundreds of jobs relied on the adventure tourists attracted to the thrill of climbing in the Mountains, he added.

Dr Kaye said Labor had also made significant cuts to TAFE “slashing its funding by 48 per cent over 16 years in office” adding “Ms Sage cannot just stand by and do nothing while her government finishes the job and destroys TAFE to the detriment of her own constituents”.

Labor’s spokesperson for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle said “the proposed budget cuts to the Blue Mountains TAFE Outdoor Recreation diploma would see current students unable to complete their education, highly skilled teachers sacked and the local tourism industry suffer”.

TAFE NSW issued the following statement:
“All courses are reviewed annually by TAFE which is what makes TAFE so dynamic in further education.

"In response to recent NSW State Government funding reductions in education, Western Sydney Institute (WSI) is engaged in a consultation process with stakeholders to determine the best way forward.

Susan Hartigan, Institute Director, said: “Consultations are scheduled later this week to provide an opportunity for industry participants to give input into the qualifications most needed to support the Blue Mountains Outdoor Recreation Industry.

"WSI will provide feedback as discussions progress."

Murwillumbah: No to Coal Seam Gas

Up to 3,000 people have donned yellow clothing in the New South Wales north coast town of Murwillumbah as they march in protest to coal seam gas mining.

They were joined by about 1,000 protesters in Sydney's inner-west, who formed a human sign spelling out "Stop CSG".

Murwillumbah rally spokeswoman Amanda Shoebridge says comments by the New South Wales Government this week that coal seam gas mining is inevitable failed to dampen the community's resolve.

"People will really, after news like that, dig their heels in and say well 'actually mate, no, no we're not going to allow CSG in here and you don't have social licence to do it, you don't have the approval of the community and it's not going to happen'," she said.

Stop CSG Sydney spokeswoman Jacinta Green says there is nothing to prevent miners exploring the Sydney basin, water catchments and prime agricultural land.

"Not one inch of New South Wales has been left off limits to the coal seam gas industry," she said.
Similar protests are set to be held across the country as part of a national week of action against the CSG industry.

Protesters are concerned state governments are not doing enough to protect the environment from coal seam gas mining.

Solar farm opens in WA - Solar house take-up continues

Australia's first large-scale solar farm is open for business in Western Ausralia's mid-west.

The 10-megawatt project in Walkaway, south of Geraldton, will produce enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes.

The Water Corporation will buy all of the plant's power to offset operating costs at the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant near Binningup.

The solar farm has a field of 150,000 solar panels that are expected to displace about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

One of the site's developers, Verve Energy, say the 10-megawatt project will supply clean energy for 25 years.


Meanwhile solar take up hits the roof

Australian roofs now have a solar power generating capacity equivalent to half the Snowy Hydro scheme as consumers react to soaring power prices and sinking prices for photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Some 858,000 homes have solar PV panels with an installed capacity of just under 2 gigawatts, according to the latest data from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator (ACER). 

At the current rate of take-up, the millionth home will tap into solar power before the end of June next year, said Professor Ray Wills, chief adviser to the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA), an industry lobby group.

Significantly, the growth in demand for solar has largely weathered the slashing of generous feed-in tariff in 2011 — and subsequent dive in orders after the loss of the subsidy — to recover much of its expansion pace.

Intense international competition among suppliers, particularly from China, now means households can expect payback periods of as short as four years, with a typical 1500-kilowatt unit selling for $1500-$2000, Professor Wills said.

Anne Summers : Gillard speech

Julia Gillard's extraordinary speech on misogyny saw her return to her former debating finesse, writes Anne Summers. Only in Canberra, it seems, did her words fall on tone-deaf ears.

"After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia."

This was the judgement of The New Yorker magazine overnight in a blog post written by its managing editor, the Australian-born Amelia Lester.

Her summation, and the opinions which informed it, were in stark contrast to the consensus of most Canberra journalists, who stood virtually shoulder to shoulder in this morning's newspapers to condemn the Prime Minister for the same speech.

Gillard's words were condemned as  "desperate" (Michelle Grattan), "completely over the top" (Jennifer Hewett), "flawed" (Peter Hartcher), and "defending the indefensible" (Dennis Shanahan). You can see other, but essentially similar views, reported here.

If you checked into social media yesterday while the Prime Minister was delivering her speech, you might have noted Mia Freedman tweeting that her entire office of young women were clustered around the television watching with enthusiasm:

The whole Mamamia office is gathered around the TV watching @JuliaGillard in full flight during #QT. Extraordinary performance.

There were many, many other expressions of delight at Gillard's words on Facebook and Twitter while she spoke and as the day progressed.

In the 24 hours since the speech was delivered, a clear polarisation has emerged between the mainstream media, particularly print, and a very large body of online opinion that has applauded the anti-misogyny contents of the speech and welcomed Gillard's return to her former debating finesse.

What we saw in that speech was an angry and offended Gillard finally unleashed. Gone was the forbearance, and the turned cheek. Finally she was telling us how upset she was at being called "a witch" and "a bitch".

She was seething as she told the House of Representatives, "I was very personally offended when the Leader of the Opposition, as minister for health, said, and I quote, 'Abortion is the easy way out'." And she was practically in orbit when she responded to Mr Abbott's taunt that she led "a government which should already have died of shame".

Watching her, you saw her eyes narrow and her shoulders almost shiver. It seemed, to someone watching on television as I was, that she was almost convulsing as she alternated between rage and disbelief. Here was the Leader of her Majesty's Opposition using the very same words that a shock jock had just a week earlier used against her father, who had died exactly a month earlier.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

ACTU supports hospitality workers

The ACTU today lodged its reply submission to the Fair Work Australia review of the Modern Awards system, which employers are using to seek the reduction or removal of penalty rates to workers in the fast food, retail and hospitality industries.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said workers in those industries were among the lowest paid and most Award-dependent in Australia.

“For some workers in these industries, their wage equates to less than half the average weekly Australian wage, so a cut to penalty rates would send many into poverty,” she said.

“Businesses in these industries are at their busiest after hours and on weekend, when other Australians are enjoying their leisure time.

“This is time that these workers give up to go to work, so that others can go shopping, or enjoy a meal with friends and family.

“For employers to argue that weekends and evenings are no longer defined as ‘after hours’ is flawed. Weekends are still weekends when it comes to sporting events, weddings, parties and long weekends away and evenings are still evenings when children have homework to do, or there is a family birthday to celebrate.

“Workers in industries like food, retail and hospitality miss out on many such events and occasions, working unsociable hours because it is often all that is available, or because they need the penalty rates just to make ends meet.

“Penalty rates have existed for decades to compensate award-reliant workers for the effects that working unsociable hours have on health, family and social life. Taking away their penalty rates would make life simply unaffordable for many of them.”

The ACTU’s submission to Fair Work Australia argues strongly against any attempt to cut or reduce penalty rates.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Corporate Culture undermined School Building Projects

Were the Building the Education Revolution projects run badly? Only in states where governments chose not to run them, according to new research published today that targets NSW and Victoria for special criticism.

The analysis by the Centre for Policy Development finds the Labor governments in NSW and Victoria performed the worst on just about every measure when it came to handling the funds doled out during the 2008 financial crisis to build new school halls.

In contrast, the Liberal government in Western Australia and the Labor government in South Australia performed well.

Only 1 per cent of the projects in the smaller states received complaints compared to 8 per cent in NSW and 4 per cent in Victoria. The costs in the big states were $500 to $1500 per square metre higher.

The study says the big difference is that NSW and Victoria contracted out most of the management to big building firms. South Australia and Western Australia used public works departments to manage the projects themselves.

''Victoria really had no choice,'' the lead researcher, Tim Roxburgh, said. ''The cutbacks in the Kennett era had stripped the place of engineers and architects. NSW did have the capacity to manage its program itself but didn't bother.

''Governments need enough expertise to interact skilfully with the private sector in order to achieve value for money.''

The study finds a similar pattern in Catholic schools, which generally did well making use of in-house expertise. The exception was Sydney, where a large area was contracted out and built expensively.

''We only know the Building the Education projects because records were made public. We don't know about other projects in which NSW and Victoria are getting bad value for money because they have lost their expertise,'' Mr Roxburgh said.

Gillard speech: Abbott a misogynist


OCTOBER 9, 2012

Australians living in the United States are accustomed to their American friends passing along “news” from back home about dingoes and crocodiles. Australia’s a long way away, after all. But this morning, something weirdly substantial made the rounds: a fifteen-minute clip of Australian parliamentary proceedings in which Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, calls the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, a misogynist, and does so with genuine anger. “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” Gillard said in her opening. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”

Gillard's speech has gone viral with newspapers and blogs around the world giving it headline ratings:
  • The Guardian  in the UK republished the videowhile a writer for The Spectator said there was "much to admire" about the speech which had left Mr Abbott "carved to pieces".
  • A blogger for the New Statesman compared Ms Gillard to the Incredible Hulk, beginning his report with "The Australian PM is angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry."
  • A blogger at the influential Business Insider linked to the video, with the headline "An Australian politician shrinks in embarrassment, as the prime minister destroys him for being a misogynist". 
  • The speech also made headlines in the Independent Online in South Africa,  Canada and India.
  • Social media helped spread news of the speech, with "Gillard" hitting the top ten Twitter trends in Australia and also trending internationally.
  • In the UK actor Chris Addison, from hit political satire The Thick of Itretweeted a link to the video saying "This is the best smackdown I've ever seen. Glorious. Advance, Australia Fair!"
  • The New Zealand Herald also carried the ABC video.
  • The British conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph called the speech "brilliant" and "blistering".
  • In probably the most bizzare mention of the PM's speech, Hollywood-centric movie website Movieline offers up five 'Oscar calibre' actors who could play Julia Gillard.
  • “If only the U.S. could borrow Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take on Congress’s misogynist caucus,” Natasha Lennard of says.
  • The Irish Times also took up the story and the video.
  • Viral news site Buzzfeed reports: “Julia Gillard spends 15 awesome minutes of Parliament accusing a lawmaker of sexism." 
  • Murdoch's Times in London comments As Mr Abbott slumped in front of her, she gave him the coup de grace: “I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch. I was offended by those things. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this Leader of the Opposition.” The entire 15-minute tirade appeared to be a brilliant lesson in how to cut through political hypocrisy and disingenuousness and after being uploaded on YouTube it resounded throughout the world.
  • The ABC video of her speech has had more than 500,000 views on the ABC News website and YouTube.
  • In less than a week Gillard's speech had crashed though to one and quarter million views online ... undoubtedly a parliamentary record. The Canberra press gallery and News corporation male reporters were left as the only critics of the speech screaming against the gale of public appreciation. You still don't get what's happening "do you Mr. Jones?"