Friday, January 31, 2014

Eden-Monaro: National Broadband "Royally Shafted"

The Eden-Monaro Member of Parliament, Peter Hendy, has given an assurance the New South Wales south east will be included in the National Broadband Network's rollout of fibre optic cable.

There are concerns that NBN Co's plans to set up infrastructure for a fixed wireless network on the south coast would exclude most of the area from receiving fibre to the home or node.

But Dr Hendy says the wireless technology is designed specifically to service remote areas.

He says fibre is already being laid at two places in the region.
“Fibre to the premises is actually being rolled out right now in parts of Eden-Monaro,” Dr Hendy said.

“There's the new development in the Googong area around Queanbeyan and they're rolling our fibre right now and there is also a new development down near Tomakin at Barlings Beach and that's happening now.

But not everyone agrees...

An Information technology specialist says he will believe the National Broadband Network is delivering a fixed wireless network for the south coast when he sees it.

NBN Co has announced it is searching for locations to set up transmission towers to service the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla.

Karl Auer is a Bega Valley computer consultant and says fixed wireless is better than nothing, but it still will not be as good as fibre optic internet.

But he says he is not convinced it will even happen.

“I must say that I've become very cynical about the whole plan,” Mr Auer said.

“I will believe what we get when I see we've got it.

“ And until then I'm afraid I'm not prepared to believe any pronouncements sadly by the NBN Co or by the Government because I think that once again we are about to get royally shafted.”

Abbott's Right Royal Ommission

Tony Abbott and his new Coalition government have long planned a Royal Commission into the union movement.

This, of course, was not a policy that the Coalition took to the 2013 election.

Such a naked attack would have ‘scared the horses’, exposing what the Coalition has been desperate to hide—its plan to reinstate WorkChoices.

Instead, the LNP took to the election plans for a single judicial inquiry into allegations, now decades-old, about a ‘slush’ fund once run by officials from the Victorian branch of the Australian Workers Union. The Murdoch press hounded Prime Minister Gillard about her involvement long after the public lost interest in this issue and even after nothing substantive eventuated. Of course, this judicial inquiry was always intended as a stalking horse for a later and much wider inquiry.

The Prime Minister and his Minister for Workplace Relations, Eric Abetz, needed some trigger to justify a broader Royal Commission into trade union activities. The Government might have seized on any leads from their planned judicial inquiry.

But suddenly came this week’s allegations. Fresh from his skiing holiday in France, the Prime Minister could barely contain his excitement at these new claims. In a piece of political theatre, Mr Abbott contrived the necessary haste, gravity and purpose required to prepare the groundwork for a Royal Commission into ‘union corruption’. Such an inquiry is likely to have such a broad brief that it will investigate activities across the entire union movement.

There have been royal commissions before into unions before—the last one was the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry set up by the Howard government. It was also established in an orchestrated frenzy of suspicion about the extent of union corruption in the building industry.

Let’s look at the Cole Commission’s record of achievement.

The Commission’s investigations led to not one single prosecution of a union official or delegate. Not one. Yet the Murdoch press routinely dragged the affected individuals and their unions through the mud. And not surprisingly, the unions targeted by the Commission had to divert time and resources (very considerable legal fees) to defend their representatives.

And for what?

Innocent people had their reputations smeared and lives shattered. Unionists who had dedicated their lives to standing up for others were subject to intensive investigation and periods of cross-examination in the witness-box, and they had their faces splashed on the front pages of  newspapers and on TV news.

Despite the Cole Commission’s failure to find corruption, the Howard government used the Commission to set up a special police force for the building industry, which the Abbott government is now bringing back—the ABCC. With little to do, the ABCC became little more than a menace to building workers, spending their time harassing rank and file union members. Construction bosses were delighted.

Why is the Coalition such an eager instigator of royal commission witch hunts?

Such commissions represent a ‘win-win’ for conservative governments keen to attack unions. There does not need to be any wrong-doing for the labour movement to be forced to divert time, money and organisational resources into defending their unions, their volunteer delegates and their leaders. And such a distraction couldn’t come at a better time, with the Coalition planning to impose an aggressive austerity program on working people, to dismantle Medicare, and to resume their attack on workers’ rights.

A wide and extensive inquiry might deliver additional benefits if it was to somehow cast doubts on the federal Labor opposition through its union links.

But here is the irony.

My guess is that corrupt practices occur in Australian unions on a lesser scale than those that take place across other institutions in Australia, such as sporting clubs, charities, governments, and political parties. Serious corruption tends to follow the circuits of money and power. The union movement does not represent the rich and powerful, and we are not the rich and powerful. What goes on behind those closed doors is something about which most Australians know little–but we can be assured that a Coalition Government would never subject these elite interests to the investigative intrusions of a Royal Commission.

But, of course, Abbott’s Royal Commission is not about corruption. It is purely political strategy.

The Coalition wants to nobble the union movement, delegitimising it in the eyes of the Australian public. Despite the continuing efforts of the right-wing media and conservative governments, Australians continue to support and see the need for unions. Australians also believe we are better off as a country for their presence and activity. This ongoing public respect is an endless irritation to CEOs and the Coalition, who want an American-style labour market with little protection for workers, and who gave Australia a taste of such reforms with WorkChoices. An active and popular union movement continues to be the biggest obstacle to a complete return to WorkChoices.

More than a ploy to distract unions, Abbott’s Royal Commission is designed to break the public’s trust in unions. And, on his side in this crusade will be the union-hating Murdoch press. This year will have its fair share of screaming anti-union headlines. Every little bit of mud, true or not, will be thrown.

More at Sally MacManus

Thursday, January 30, 2014

CFMEU: ABC 7.30 Report 28 Jan 2014

Dave Noonan's full interview for 7.30 Report 28 Jan 2014


ACTU president Ged Kearney said the Fitzpatrick matter had been referred to police, which was appropriate.

It was 'absolutely absurd' for the prime minister to suggest a royal commission was needed because of the allegations, she said.

'Taxpayers' money will be wasted - $100 million will be spent on what is nothing more than a political witch-hunt.'

The CFMEU's NSW construction division secretary Brian Parker insists the union's legal department called the police as soon as Mr Fitzpatrick had alerted them to the threats.

But the former official did not pursue the matter with police.

The man who allegedly made the threat, Darren Greenfield, denied having done so, so the union could not form a conclusion on the truth of Mr Fitzpatrick's claim, Mr Parker said.

'The CFMEU does not employ gangsters or members of motorcycle gangs and our office is not infiltrated by criminals,' Mr Parker said.

A spokesman for Labor leader Bill Shorten said police should be allowed to investigate.

'They're the best people to do it,' he said, adding if Mr Abbott and Senator Abetz were serious about the issue they should let police get on with their job rather than play 'pathetic politics'.

WWF: Save the Reef
Time is fast running out to influence the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority’s decision on whether to allow 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil being dumped in the Reef's waters off Abbot Point.

Environment Minister Hunt said ‘yes’ to the appalling plan. Industry is also putting on pressure for the green light in a matter of hours.

So in these final hours we need GBRMPA to hear from as many of us as possible that they should reject dumping in the Reef’s waters.

Email GBRMPA now.

GBRMPA’s mission is clear: "Our fundamental obligation is to protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the World Heritage Area".

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ditch the Witch-hunt Mr. Abbott !

Abbott's proposed royal commission into alleged union corruption has been labelled a “witch-hunt” by the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has used allegations of corruption, bribery and intimidation in the construction industry to advocate for the return of the the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and flag a potential royal commission into unions.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Dave Oliver said a royal commission would be motivated by politics and the police were the best people to deal with allegations of corruption.

"We think a royal commission would be totally unnecessary and it would be a political witch hunt," he told ABC Radio in Melbourne.

"We know that Tony Abbott and his government don't like unions, and a royal commission would be designed to tie up not only taxpayer resources, but be a drain on union resources, which is something that would be totally unnecessary."

Oliver said a royal commission was part of a Coalition game plan that began after the 2007 election campaign when the union movement successfully campaigned on workers' rights.

"From that day onwards Tony Abbott and his government have had the trade union movement in their sights and they are determined to disempower the movement, and this will be one step, a way of trying to blemish the reputation of the proud trade union movement in this country and drain their resources," he said.

The Greens have echoed Oliver’s accusations of a “witch-hunt” with deputy leader Adam Bandt saying Abbott is gearing up for an attack on workers’ rights.

“The witch-hunt is starting. First Tony Abbott will go after unions, and then he’ll come for people’s rights at work,” he said in a statement.

“Isolated allegations of wrongdoing in one industry should be investigated by the police but should not be used to justify a full-scale assault on the union movement.”

Pete Seeger: 3 May 1919 - 27 January 2014

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94.

Pete’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10, from college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Pete, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ACTU: Unions launch national tour

28 January, 2014 | Media Release

ACTU President Ged Kearney will today begin a national two-week tour of workplaces to discuss the dangerous direction being set by the Abbott Government for 2014.

Ms Kearney said she will visit postal workers in Sydney, healthcare workers in Melbourne and manufacturing workers in Perth, who are among the hundreds of thousands of Australians shut out by the Government but who want their voices heard.

“The Government has misread the community if it thinks it can pursue an extreme agenda of privatisation, cuts to jobs and services and do it all behind closed doors with the help of Corporate Australia,” she said

“Many Australians will have spent the Australia Day long weekend reflecting on what makes our nation great - the quintessentially Aussie fair go, a strong social safety net that includes a health system that cares for all Australians and a minimum wage that is a living wage.

“Yet in looking to make extreme changes to the services government provides, Mr Abbott has said that everything is on the table.

“We are on the knife edge of change in Australia and we cannot afford to allow the deep social changes underway to occur without real scrutiny.”

Ms Kearney said that the Abbott Government has handed the reins of government over to business and, via the Commission of Audit, tasked them with an extreme agenda of privatisation and cuts to jobs and services.

“Despite the Abbott Government cutting workers out of the loop, we will give them a voice,” Ms Kearney said.

“I will be visiting and talking with as many workers as possible to hear what they need from their government and what they have to say about work and their livelihoods.

“If people are unsure what the Commission of Audit is or they didn’t know that Corporate Australia is solely responsible for advising the Government on Australia’s future then I will be discussing this with them.

“Tony Abbott has repeatedly said that business must be given free rein to lift their profits both locally and globally. At the same time he has put them in charge of advising on the 'role and scope of government' and asked them how tax dollars should be spent. A blatant conflict of interest.

“The direction the Government is taking with the exclusively business-run Commission of Audit, the constant language around workers bearing the brunt of any cost cuts while Corporate Australia is encouraged to increase profits and the staggering misinformation about wages growth and the state of the economy all spells bad news for workers and communities.

“Allowed to continue, the impact of the extreme right turn the government is taking will be felt for many, many years to come.

“Australians don't want to be treated like a number on a balance sheet. They want a government that effectively and efficiently manages the economy in a way that creates local jobs, supports local industry and provides for a better life for all Australians.

“Sadly, at the moment it seems our government is only there for the business community.

“We will be using this tour to make sure the voices of ordinary Australian workers are heard.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

CFMEU: Dave Noonan Statement

Statement from National Secretary Dave Noonan

The CFMEU acts in the interests of workers in the construction industry at all times.

Our officials work hard to recover millions of dollars in pay and entitlements for workers every year.

The vast majority of our officials are hardworking people who are dedicated to improving the lives of construction workers.

If the leadership of the CFMEU is made aware of improper, illegal, corrupt or criminal activity by any official of the union, we act immediately. The union has terminated the employment of officials who have engaged in such activity in the past. We would not hesitate to do so in the future, if warranted.

There are many challenges in our industry, chief among them being health and safety, non payment of wages, phoenix companies and the insecure nature of employment in Labour Hire.

It is on the public record that the CFMEU has battled these challenges industrially and politically in the interests of our members.

We are deeply concerned about any criminal activity in the industry where hundreds of thousands of people work and it is also on the public record that we have called on anyone with information about such activity to go to the police and for the police to investigate.

The CFMEU is not the corporate regulator to approve which individuals and which companies can and cannot operate in the industry nor are we the body that can investigate criminal matters. These are issues for ASIC and the police force and we have consistently called on them to do their job.

The CFMEU has adopted new governance rules for our officials which have been ratified recently.

The governance rules clearly set out the responsibilities of officers of the union in disclosing any material interest or remuneration that they receive in relation to their position.

Any officer who is in a position of decision making relating to the union’s finances must undergo training in the next six months.

These rules apply to all branches of the union both nationally and in every state.

Some branches already have a Code of Conduct in place and we are currently coordinating a Code of Conduct across the national union in every branch.

Any breaches of these rules are treated very seriously and dealt with pursuant to the rules of the union.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cambodia - Unions Protest at Murders and Gaol

Canberra's shoppers are being urged to think twice about buying products made in Cambodia following the shooting of garment workers protesting in Phnom Penh about low wages.

Unions ACT Members in Cambodia Protest - Canberra
Protesters gathered outside the Cambodian embassy in Canberra on Thursday to call for an end to the violence and for freedom for the 23 workers who were imprisoned while protesting for a rise in the minimum monthly wage of $90.32 to $112.91.

A letter calling for an end to the ongoing violence against the workers was hand delivered to the embassy. However, the ambassador was not present to receive the letter, leaving a visibly hesitant spokesman to collect the document on his behalf.

Cambodia media reported earlier this month five clothing workers were ''killed by AK-47 gunfire from military police'' at a protest in Phnom Penh.

At the protest outside the embassy, Michele O'Neil, national secretary of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union, voiced her disappointment at the locked gates, large police presence and lack of reply from the embassy. Unions ACT Secretary Kim Sattler urged shoppers to hold large retailers like Big W, Kmart, Target and Pacific Brands responsible for stocking products made in Cambodia.

''If you [the retailers] choose to make your profits on the back of injured and dead workers, then you are responsible,'' she said.

Two of the crowd sat at sewing machines wearing bulletproof vests to pay tribute to the workers and officials killed in Phnom Penh. A large black coffin was also carried by the protesters to highlight the deaths.

The group called on the federal government to add diplomatic pressure to free the 23 imprisoned workers.

Protestors asked where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was, to which one in the crowd replied, ''buying clothes.''

Dismal Record: Unfair Dismissal Laws - 1.09 % chance

If tomorrow when you arrived at work your boss suddenly and unfairly sacked you, how strong do you think your legal protections would be?

Do you think they would be strong enough that you could reverse the sacking and win your job back? To answer that question, we really need to look at the latest data published in the Fair Work Commission’s recent annual report.

It reveals that of the 13,945 unfair dismissal applications finalised in 2012-2013, just 20 orders of reinstatement were made while 132 others settled for reinstatement at conciliation.

This means in all of Australia, only 152 people out of 13,945 people were able to win their job back through the Fair Work Commission after being unfairly sacked. So to answer our question, this data tells us if you believe you have been unfairly sacked, you stand just a 1.09 per cent chance of winning your job back under our current industrial relations system.

Almost impossible to get your job back
Even after the abolition of WorkChoices these figures show us that the truth remains no matter how unfairly your employment is terminated, it is nearly impossible to get your job back – regardless of the circumstances of your termination; regardless of your length of service; and regardless of any appeal process.

One of the main reasons so few working Australians are able to win their job back is because too many people are forced to settle unfair dismissal applications at or before conciliation for small amounts of compensation.

It is within the statistics that the hardship stories of those who attempted to get their jobs back are told. People like National Union of Workers’ member, Pakpao, a Thai migrant with limited skills in English who worked daily as a casual employee at a processing plant for four years.

She was in her late-40s with two adult children who still live with her and earned just above the minimum wage. She was loyal to her employer.  She always did what was asked of her.  She worked with care, quickly, courteously and without complaint.  For four years she was by all accounts the ideal employee.

Pakpao thought she had a job she could count on.  It was hard work – as a casual she had no personal leave or annual leave – but she counted on her job not only for financial security but also because she understood the insecurity that went with her race, her difficulties with the English language and being the only female in that area of the factory.

It was when a new supervisor was employed who bullied her to tears that she complained to management. After a quick company investigation, Pakpao was sacked for ‘causing trouble and not meeting her productivity targets’.

Davos: Abbott's Privatisation Obsession

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ACOSS response to Social Security Review

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie responded to the Federal Government's announcement that it is reviewing Australia's social security payment system, expressing support for a review provided it improves job seekers' prospects and isn't used as a short-term budget fix.

Speaking to reporters Dr Goldie emphasised the following:

  • ACOSS' support for a comprehensive review of the income support system to simplify the system and improve payment adequacy and support to get a job, as well as to improve the fairness and equity of the system.
  • The review should not be conducted behind closed doors, with policy outcomes announced on Budget night.
  • The process needs to be open and transparent, allowing dialogue between community organisations, employment services, and employers, so that we can develop and back policy changes that will work to improve the job prospects of people disadvantaged in the labour market, and to provide adequate income support for those who need it.
  • The need to increase support for those receiving Allowance payments (reiterating ACOSS' call for a $50 increase to allowance payments and improved indexation to be linked to wage rises).
  • Our support for reforms to create a simpler system, including support for a single base payment with supplements for additional costs where relevant (costs of disability, rent, job search, and so on).
  • Our concern about proposals to introduce a tiered payment structure, which will only increase the complexity and inequities in the system.
  • The need to ensure that reform of the welfare system is complemented by increased support to assist people to find paid work, particularly people who are long-term unemployed, older people, single parents, carers and people with a disability. 


"This could be a fantastic opportunity to get the most out of the dollars we are spending and to put the whole system on a more sustainable footing."

"But if it becomes a behind-closed-doors, short-term fix to find budget savings, we will strongly oppose it."

"The process of this review is vital. We need to have an open process, clear terms of reference, we need to have a discussion paper to highlight where the thinking is going."

"We cannot have a review of a major, vital part of our social infrastructure done behind closed doors with the policy changes announced on budget night."

AMWU: SA Holden response puts Abbott to shame

The AMWU has welcomed the South Australia Government’s plan to cushion the blow from Holden’s planned exit as a comprehensive and responsible strategy to sustain the state’s manufacturing sector and create extra jobs.

The union’s national secretary Paul Bastian contrasted the $330 million that the SA Government is seeking from the Federal Government with the inadequate offering of $60 million from Prime Minister Tony Abbott for both South Australia and Victoria.

The union is also backing the call from Premier Jay Weatherill for the Commonwealth to fast-track $3.1 billion of infrastructure projects which require $2.63 billion in federal funding.

“This option presented by the SA Government takes a realistic look at what the state will need to keep its manufacturing sector in business and boost infrastructure to prevent a decline in skilled jobs with Holden’s departure in 2017,” Mr Bastian said.

“The package really shows how woefully lacking the Abbott proposal is, that $60 million in federal funding is nowhere near enough to stop South Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry shedding thousands of jobs.

“It shows that Mr Weatherill’s Government is in touch with its community.

“The challenge is there for Tony Abbott to now step up to the plate by providing the investment that South Australians need.”

The state’s proposal comes after the AMWU has calculated it will cost $4.7 nationally in federal and state support to restore the economic activity and jobs placed in jeopardy from Holden’s exit.

AMWU Acting SA State Secretary Colin Fenney said it was important the SA Government would itself contribute $60 million, but all re-training had to prepare workers to give them both the skills and on-real-world experience to be job-ready for prospective employers.

He also said accelerated infrastructure projects needed to provide secure, full-time jobs for South Australians, particularly those displaced due to the Holden closure.

“Some careful, viable solutions are in this plan which will give SA businesses the opportunity to innovate and create new full-time jobs that our members will need,” Mr Fenney said.

“There is real funding for re-training and skills recognition of members likely to lose jobs in the auto sector, but we have to make sure the training arrangements will equip them to step into new full-time positions.

“This package shows the ideas that are generated when a government makes a real effort to consult the expertise of business, unions and the financial sector together – that’s something the Coalition Government in Canberra are yet to understand.”

Vic: More than 2000 hospital beds disappear

Thursday 23rd January, 2014

A statewide audit conducted by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation's Victorian Branch reveals a massive shortfall of 2017 hospital beds available to patients.

Since the ANMF's last audit in 2011, more than 100 extra beds have disappeared and over 1100 beds are closed. Many lie unoccupied due to Health Department budgetary cuts.

Further, an additional 800 beds promised by the present government in pre-election material have not been provided.

That broken promise puts the total shortfall at 2017 beds.

Lack of beds is a catalyst for much of Victoria's health crisis including:

1.       almost 10,000 additional patients added to Victoria's elective surgery waiting lists since 2011
2.       terrible incidences of violence perpetrated against health professionals
3.       a growing crisis in ambulance ramping
4.       more delays in ambulances reaching people waiting for emergency care
5.       growing mental health woes
6.       Emergency Department chaos.

Unless the Napthine Government acts now the Victorian community's health will increasingly be put at risk.

"We can't care for patients safely and provide for their needs if there are not enough beds available to accommodate them," Acting Secretary of the ANMF Victorian Branch, Paul Gilbert, said.

"The frustration and anger the community is feeling is understandable. Sadly this frustration is directed towards the nurses, midwives and other health professionals.

"The 800-bed promise was welcome news at the time but we have suffered a double hit since then; the loss of 1217 beds, which was not revealed by the government at the time, and the non-delivery of the 800 beds.

"This is not a numbers game. It's about patients not being able to have their elective surgery; there are now almost 10,000 more people on the waiting list than there were in 2011.

"And it's about treating people safely and with the levels of care they deserve, not in an atmosphere of disorder and chaos, which exists in emergency departments today while beds lay empty." he said.

Mr Gilbert said the Health Department's record over the past three years has fallen far short of the mark under Health Minister David Davis' watch.

"In April, 2011, Minister Davis admitted that inadequate bed numbers in key public hospitals were a key cause of the long wait times.

"Yet, since that time, he has fudged the figures, at times claiming to have opened more beds when in fact they were being closed down.

"The people of Victoria deserve better. And they deserve the truth," Mr Gilbert said.

Comparative summary

Beds removed - 101
Promised beds - 800
Closed beds (available but not utilised/funded) - 1116

Total missing beds - 2017

Victorian hospital performance data - Department of Health, Vic

Elective surgery waiting lists

Waiting list for elective surgery for Victoria has increased from 40,071 in Jan - March 2011 to 48,363 in Sept 2013 and peaked at 50,054 in March 2013.

Number of hours on hospital bypass - Department of Health, Vic

Jan - March 2011= 1,229 hours
July - Sep 2013 = 1,885 hours

NSWNMA speaker at defence of Medicare rally, 4 January 2014

Annie Butler of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association addresses a Sydney rally on Saturday 4 January 2014 to protest the suggestion of charging everyone a co-payment for GP visits. Money should never be a barrier to medical care in Australia.

The NSWNMA supports the international movement for the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT). A tiny levy on market-based finance trades, currency speculation, derivatives and share trading would provide ample funds to maintain the health services Australians expect.

NSW Teachers: Education standards

By NSW Teachers Federation 21 January 2014

Recent announcements by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli have sparked debate over the issue of teaching quality. The Minister and university representatives have expressed differing views  about ensuring high standards in the teaching profession.

Mr Piccoli was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying, “the main factor damaging the status of the profession was the perception that anyone can get into teaching.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Michael Spence said in the same article, “I think the question about the quality of the employees in the NSW teaching workforce is not an issue for the universities to solve, it's an issue for the NSW government as an employer to solve.”

In response to the issue, Federation Deputy President, Gary Zadkovich, said, “It should not be an either/or debate. The Federation believes quality schooling requires high standards of entry into university teaching courses and rigorous performance and development processes for practising teachers.”

A discussion paper on teaching quality was commissioned by the Minister in 2012.  The paper, entitled Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, addressed initial teacher education and entry into the profession. The paper describes the responsibilities of both universities and employers in developing teaching quality.

It says, “Teaching will attract more of the brightest and motivated school leavers and career changers. NSW teacher education programs will produce high quality graduates with personal attributes suited to teaching.”

In regards to the responsibilities of the department, it says, “All beginning teachers will receive a high quality induction program to support their entry into the teaching profession. All beginning teachers will receive high quality support to enhance their teaching skills during their first year of teaching.”

The Federation supports initiatives to ensure high standards in the teaching profession.

In March 2013,  Federation President Maurie Mulheron said, “For years we have called for action by governments to raise the status of the teaching profession. For too long, however, governments have not backed up their political rhetoric with policies that teachers can support, together with the resources necessary to implement them effectively.

“We look forward to working with the Government and the Department of Education and Communities to ensure that the highest standards apply at all points in a teacher’s professional preparation and throughout one’s teaching career.”

CFMEU: Cancel corrupt mining licenses, ban corrupt individuals

Tony Maher
Source:  CFMEU Mining and Energy News

Premier Barry O’Farrell should cancel corruptly-obtained mining licenses and make sure individuals found corrupt by ICAC never get their hands on a mining license again, the miners’ union said today.

CFMEU National President Tony Maher welcomed the Premier’s move to cancel the Doyles Creek, Mount Penny and Glendon Brook licenses without compensation and said corrupt individuals should face sanctions preventing their access to lucrative mining licenses.

“The ICAC’s findings on these matters were clear – a number of businessmen and government officials acted corruptly to get their hands on the very large sums of money the mining industry generates,” he said.

“Mr O’Farrell’s move to cancel these licenses is a strong and welcome measure – but he should go further and make sure these grubs never do business in NSW’s coal industry again.

“The mining industry is too important to risk the taint of corruption. The industry must be impeccably regulated and deliver returns to communities and taxpayers.

“The industry itself should fight for these licenses to be cancelled, to avoid losing public confidence.

“Those individuals found by the ICAC to have acted corruptly should be sent to the sin bin.”

The CFMEU consistently rejected lobbying to back the Doyles Creek training mine, said Mr Maher.

“This was never anything more than a get-rich-quick scheme cynically dressed up as a training initiative and we refused to have a bar of it.”

South Australia's Jobs Plan

21 January, 2014 | Media Release

The ACTU applauds the South Australian State Government's plan for re-skilling workers and providing opportunities to create jobs and calls on Mr Abbott to get on board and urgently follow the example nationally.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said today's announcement will help ease the uncertainty faced by many Holden workers who don't know what the future holds.

"A comprehensive jobs plan that positions the needs of workers front and centre has been put on the table by the South Australian Government today.

"There is a clear opportunity here for Mr Abbott to step up, support these workers and their communities and commit Federal funding.

"These workers deserve support from the Federal Government and want to see Mr Abbott help our economy to adjust in these times of change.

"It's extremely important for a nation's economic future that there is job creation and secure employment but the past few months have been all bad news."

"There are tens of thousands of job losses at Holden. The latest job figures show 32,000 full time positions were lost just in December and at least 12,000 more are in the Commission of Audit's sights. It's time to act."

"The South Australian Government has put forward a plan to support workers and their communities."

"We need to see this happen nationally," she said.

"We call on the Abbott Government's to reveal their plan. What will they do to assist workers today and ensure we have a robust employment sector into the future? How can young workers get fair pay, conditions and have enough opportunity to enter the workforce?"

"Australian workers have taken a hit over the past six months with job losses and industry pain and the government must now take a firm hold of the leadership wheel and lead Australia into safer waters."

"The Abbott Government must promptly break its policy silence and tell workers and communities what their plan for jobs will be."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Three Words Abbott - Stop The Cuts

Another 32,000 jobs gone. What are you doing about it Mr Abbott?

16 January, 2014 | Media Release

Despite more bad job numbers out today Australians are still in the dark over what Tony Abbott’s job plan is.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said with 32,000 full time jobs lost in December, 12,000 more in the Commission of Audit’s sights, not to mention massive job losses in the manufacturing industry, Australians are asking what Tony Abbott’s jobs plan is.

“Why isn’t Mr Abbott out today telling Australians how he is going to create jobs – because he has no idea how he is going to”, Ms Kearney said.

“Instead, all we’ve seen is the Government stand idly by as thousands of jobs have gone at Holden, SPC, Rio Tinto and Qantas just in the past month.

“As growth softens and unemployment rises, what Australians are looking for is a Government with a plan to address job creation and strengthen the economy.

“Instead the Government’s answer is to savagely cut public sector jobs, cut skills funding for trade training centres and get rid of the $10 billion clean energy finance corporation that would have created thousands of new high skilled, innovative local jobs.

“Mr Abbott said he wanted to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, at this rate, he’ll be the unemployment Prime Minister.”

Ms Kearney said job seekers will be disheartened by today’s Labour Force figures which show that the number of Australians in work fell by 0.2% in the second half of 2013 – that’s the worst fall in employment in any 6 month period since 2002.

“Increasingly Australians are working in part time or casual jobs with less job security and more uncertainty about the future. Tony Abbott’s promise of a million new jobs isn’t much use if you need to work three of them just to make ends meet.

“Once again Mr Abbott has shirked an opportunity to spell out where the jobs of the future will come from.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

NSW: Barangaroo Tragedy

CFMEU 9 January 2014

A young worker has tragically died after falling 30 metres from scaffolding at the Barangaroo construction site in Sydney this morning.

Emergency services were called to the site, just south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, at around 8.30am after Lend Lease construction workers reported that a man had plunged about 30 metres to the ground.

The young workers workmates attempted CPR on him but he was pronounced dead when the paramedics arrived on site.

At this stage, both WorkCover and the Union have not been able to gain access to the site as it is still being treated as a crime scene and being controlled by the Police. CFMEU officials state it’s still too early to say what made the young worker fall but it’s a tragedy. There are concerns though about the lack of supervision and mentoring for young workers on site as the young worker had only been on this site for a couple of weeks and was in an area he shouldn’t have been and was unsupervised.

The 500 workers that were on site, some of whom witnessed the tragic fall have walked off the job and are being assisted by the CFMEU and counsellors from Mates in Construction, a suicide prevention program for construction workers after discussions between the union and Lend Lease management.

There will be further investigations and meetings once the Police enquiries are complete.

State Secretary Brian Parker says “Another life lost at work is an absolute tragedy and something these workers will never forget. The safe return home from work is something that all workers should expect and demand and something we will always fight for. Abbott and O’Farrell are constantly looking to restrict union official’s right of entry to building sites and still looking to bring harsher penalties to union officials and workers that stop work due to serious injury or fatality at work rather than imposing harsher penalties on employers when their safety breaches and cost cutting result in the injury or even death of a worker. It’s appalling”.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Australian workers show solidarity with Korean Unions

08 January, 2014 | ACTU Media Release

Australian workers are today taking part in a global show of support for Korean union members facing ongoing attacks by their Government.

Last month the Korean Railway Workers Union (KRWU) began a strike to stop the privatisation of the Suseo KTX line which resulted in 4,600 riot police and 900 SWAT Squad raiding the headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).

Workers have since returned to work after an agreement was reached with ruling and opposition national assembly members that allows the KRWU to participate in an advisory capacity on a newly created ‘sub-committee on the development of the rail industry’ under the Korean National Assembly Committee on Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said around 100,000 people protested in the streets of Seoul against privatisation and repression of unions and now union members around the world are showing support for their Korean counterparts.

“Australian Union members stand by Korean workers and call on the Korean Government to respect their right to representation,” Ms Kearney said.

“Ten thousand workers maintained a 23 day strike to protect the railways - and their jobs, yet in response police raided union headquarters, have warrants out for 35 union leaders and hundreds of workers have been dismissed for their involvement in the strike.

“While Australian Unions welcome the settlement with the Korean Government that has ended the strike we remain concerned by the Government’s attitude towards the Korean Labour Movement.

“We want to see the Korean Government enter into dialogue in good faith and cease the repression of trade unionists.

“The International Labour Movement will continue to monitor the situation closely, in particular the continued repression of trade unionists.”

Korean Unions have called for Solidarity Actions by Unions worldwide outside Korean Embassies to protest the repression of Unions in Korea.

We are asking all members of unions and supporters of human rights to join the protest outside the Korean Embassy, 636 St Kilda Road, TODAY (Wednesday 8 January) at 12.30 pm.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Point Henry: Alcoa Aluminium Smelter 500 Jobs at Stake

Alcoa will complete a formal review of the long running Point Henry aluminium smelter at Geelong in March, with the futures of over 500 workers under a cloud, according to The Australian.

The smelter has been rumoured for closure over the past few years, though has continued to operate with help from the government. That assistance came largely in the form of a $40 million injection from the Commonwealth less than two years ago, which required Alcoa to keep the smelter open until at least June this year.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes told The Australian the union was fearful about the decision despite recent improvements at the facility.

“We are very concerned about the future generally of Australian aluminium but Point Henry in particular because it is under formal review," Mr Howes said, while noting the plant was performing “a lot better today than it was six months ago.”

If Point Henry were to close it would be another hit to the Victorian economy, which is already facing problems in the wake of the decisions by both Ford and Holden to shut local manufacturing operations in the coming years.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

ACOSS: Fight For Lives in 2014

Australia’s leading welfare advocates are gearing up for the ‘fight of their lives’ in 2014,  as the Government gets ready to consider its response to the Commission of Audit, amid talk of a further tightening of eligibility for disability pensions and additional co-payments for the sick to visit a doctor.

From January 1 2014, a number of social security payments will rise in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index.

However, it will not be a Happy New Year for everyone according to Maree O’Halloran, President, National Welfare Rights Network and Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

“Today marks 12 months since over 63,000 single parents were moved off the Parenting Payment Single and pushed onto the lower Newstart Allowance resulting in a 20 percent decline in the numbers of single parents receiving the higher Parenting Payment.”

“Raising children alone is a very tough job and there is no evidence that reducing a person’s income support will assist them into employment. Single parents who were already working have been made financially worse off under the lower earnings thresholds,” said Maree O’Halloran.

“Single parents on the maximum rate of payment are now over $80 per week worse off, and are struggling to get by on just $275 per week. With a further half a billion dollars due to be slashed over the next three years, this places enormous strain on some of Australia’s poorest households,” Dr Goldie added.

From today, young people over 18, mature age students and Disability Support Pension recipients under 21 will see their fortnightly payment modestly increase to between $272 and $414 a fortnight. This leaves young people who live away from home with just $30 per day.

“Young people continue to face ongoing financial difficulty and experience high levels of financial stress as they are poorly supported while searching for work or undertaking study,” Dr Goldie said.

“The maximum age for Youth Allowance job seekers increased from 20 to 21 in July 2012. This, and a deteriorating market for young people, has led to a massive 35.8% increase in young unemployed people looking for work since June 2012, rising from 83,802 to 113,804 in June 2013.” Dr Goldie said.

Today also marks the start of the Clean Energy Supplement for all youth-related income support payments. Depending on their circumstances, the supplement will range from between $3.90 and $11.70 per fortnight.

“Young people will need to make these small increases last, because their income support payments are only indexed yearly for cost of living increases, unlike pensions, which are indexed every six months, and to a higher, improved formula,” Ms O’Halloran explained.

Other changes beginning today will see single parents on Newstart eligible for the Pensioner Education Supplement of up to $31 a week to assist with the costs of study.