Thursday, July 28, 2016

CPSU STATEMENT RE NT JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

July 26, 2016

Statement:

The CPSU is shocked and appalled at the shameful actions within the Northern Territory juvenile justice system as revealed on last night’s edition of the ABC’s Four Corners Program.

The union fully supports the establishment of a Royal Commission into youth justice in the Northern Territory in response to disturbing and unacceptable behaviour and also believes that immediate steps must be taken to ensure the welfare of children currently being held in detention, including moving youth justice out of the NT Department of Correctional Services.

The CPSU also believes that any inquiry must also have a national focus to ensure children being held in custody are being treated humanely around the country.

We will actively encourage members and staff to be part of the Royal Commission and any other process.

We have been calling for several years for the closure of the Don Dale detention centre and the construction of a purpose-build facility that properly serves the needs of children including the provision of adequate rehabilitation services, respects their rights and ensures the safety of children in custody, staff and visitors.

The union has had to fight the NT Government for even the most basic amenities including first aid kits and fire extinguishers in the current centre, as well as proper training for staff and the introduction of proper operating procedures.

NZ: Welfare Experts Warning to Australia

New Zealand welfare experts have slammed the Australian government’s decision to copy their welfare system, saying the changes are unproven and are causing New Zealand’s most vulnerable to “check out” of any relationship with the state.

“In New Zealand our welfare system operates the same way as our prisons – it treats beneficiaries as a threat to society, to be policed and managed,” said Darrin Hodgetts, a professor of societal psychology at Massey University and an expert on poverty in New Zealand.

“If Australia want to abuse and brutalise their people, then sure, copy our system.”

In 2012 the National-led government initiated a wave of welfare changes, with an emphasis on “social investment” – using data collected on welfare recipients to predict their “future liability” and cost to the state.

“We owe it, at least to the taxpayer, but absolutely to the people needing our help, to use every tool available to change lives,” said the deputy prime minister, Bill English, in a data conference this year. “Lives which are described by the data.”

The New Zealand government believes that increasing use of predictive modelling techniques based on personal data from beneficiaries (incorporating data from child, youth and family payments, work and income, and the criminal justice system) will help it identify the most vulnerable in society and intervene at an earlier stage so they do not become long-term or lifetime beneficiaries.

The government says in the four years since implementing the regime, it has saved the welfare system $12bn it would have otherwise had to spend in the future.

This model – called “actuarial valuation” – is what the Australian government want to emulate.

But poverty experts in New Zealand say the Australians are signing up to a system that is routinely harming, rather than helping, New Zealand’s most needy.

“Any of these data modelling tools – trying to predict the future – they are notoriously wrong,” said Louise Humpage, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Auckland.

“And they are hugely dehumanising as well – people become a statistic and not an individual.”

New Zealand's welfare system ... treats beneficiaries as a threat to society, to be policed and managed
Darrin Hodgetts, professor at Massey University
Experts agree that increasingly New Zealand’s most desperate citizens are “opting out” of the state welfare system due to its complex administration requirements and hardline approach.

“The quest for more data seems to be spreading like wildfire, and it really concerns me, not least because it is a cold, hard method for a government agency that should be built on empathy,” Humpage said.

Social workers on the ground are also reporting that the thirst for more data is leading to overwhelming administrative duties and less face-to-face time with clients.

“If we get obsessed with data collection and data analysis it really takes away from a personalised, nuanced understanding of someone and their needs,” said Nicola Atwool, who coordinates the social worker program at the University of Otago.

“I don’t think the balance is right at the moment, people are dealing with administrative procedures at the expense of spending time with families.”

Nurses – Beds at Wagga Hospital close

Thursday 28th July 2016

Over 70 members from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s (NSWNMA) Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital branch met last night and resolved to close surge beds from Friday in an attempt to reduce ongoing staffing issues at the new hospital.

Inadequate staffing has resulted in nurses working up to 70 hours of overtime in a week, leading to exhaustion and threatening the level of care they can provide patients.

Full time equivalent (FTE) vacant nursing and midwifery positions are still too high despite the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s (MLHD) ongoing recruitment drive.

Judith Kiejda, Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA said nurses and midwives had finally had enough of the unsafe staffing from excessive overtime and were taking matters into their own hands to maintain safe standards of care.

“Our members have tried to resolve the issues with management on several occasions but it’s just not working. There’s still unreasonable overtime being worked,which leads to fatigue, stress and increased sick leave. Opening more beds than staff can manage leads to a reduction in safe patient care, which is unfair on the staff and patients,” Ms Kiejda said.

A fortnight ago branch members came to an agreement with management to implement a trial usage of the surge beds, rather than shutting them down completely,with the view to review its effectiveness in two weeks. The trial relied on a daily ‘huddle’ meeting with the designated management team to discuss the projected use of surge beds for that day with the plan to only open beds when there was safe staffing rostered for the next 48 hours. Unfortunately management did not follow through on its promise to implement these meetings.

“NSWNMA staff met with members yesterday to review the situation at the hospital and concluded there had been no improvement. The option to close the 16 surge beds was put to members, who voted unanimously to shut them down until the bed-block problem at the hospital improves,” Ms Kiejda said.

The NSWNMA will continue to work closely with the Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital branch and local management until the staffing issues are resolved.

UK – Labour Leadership

What Did You Do Mister Radical?

A retired miner confronted Labour leadership pretender Owen Smith yesterday and accused him of exploiting the tragedy of Orgreave by choosing to stage a media conference there in his bid to oust Jeremy Corbyn.

Orgreave campaigner John Dunn also accused Mr Smith of shamelessly copying policies put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and claiming them as his own. The event included an announcement by Mr Smith that he would introduce a Ministry of Labour if he led a Labour government — a proposal put forward by Jeremy Corbyn last year.

Orgreave, where the police brutally attacked miners during the 1984-5 strike against pit closures, is now an industrial estate.

But as Mr Smith left Mr Dunn confronted him and scolded him for using the tragedy as part of his leadership bid.

Mr Dunn worked at Markham colliery in Derbyshire before being sacked in 1990.

He said: “Owen Smith was staging a publicity stunt.

“I went up as an individual and politely asked him as a former striking miner to stop exploiting our struggle.

“He talked about his own mining heritage and tried to pass that off on me, so I told him that while he was making a pharmaceutical company rich we were struggling after the strike.”

Mr Dunn said he also asked Mr Smith why he had not signed a Commons early day motion calling for a public inquiry into what happened at Orgreave.
“His aides hustled him into his car and he wound the window up,” said Mr Dunn.

Earlier, in his address, Mr Smith shamelessly copied a series of policies which had been declared months earlier by Jeremy Corbyn and his team — and others from progressive group the Institute of Employment Rights (IER).

Mr Corbyn’s office graciously welcomed Mr Smith’s conversion to the Labour leader’s socialist policies.

A spokesperson said: “We are delighted that he has echoed John McDonnell’s call for the reinstatement of a Ministry of Labour, made last month at the IER, and Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a ban on exclusive workforce recruitment from abroad, made during the referendum campaign, among other policies.

“Owen’s speech shows the leadership that Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated in placing economic justice and fairness back at the heart of Labour politics.”

IER director Carolyn Jones said: “We are pleased yet another Labour MP has adopted some of our ideas.”

IER chairman John Hendy QC added: “Our proposals for a Ministry of Labour will provide a voice for 31 million workers at the heart of government.”

When challenged, Mr Smith said that Mr McDonnell’s call for a Ministry of Labour had “passed [him] by.”

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We welcome Owen Smith’s decision to speak out for working people, but this Damascene conversion must be greeted with caution given that just one year ago he supported the public-sector pay freeze, which is now affecting our firefighter members for the sixth consecutive year.”

Don Dale, NT v Abu Ghraib, Iraq – Spot the difference


July 26, 2016

The fallout from the shocking footage of state-sanctioned child abuse in the Northern Territory has been profound, with support flooding in for PM Malcolm Turnbull’s promise of a royal commission into the outrage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda was reduced to tears when speaking about appalling images of boys being held at a juvenile detention centre, which has been compared to scenes from Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Twenty-five years after Australia’s first royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, Mr Gooda said: “This is a hard day for me, a hard day for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a hard day for all Australians.”

His comments came as Mr Turnbull set out a speedy timetable for a royal commission into the mistreatment of boys at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.

The royal commission could begin hearing evidence as soon as September and deliver findings early next year.

But there are already calls for the commission to have broader terms of reference to also take in juvenile detention centres in other states, and for criminal charges to be considered against the officers involved.

The royal commission was called after graphic CCTV footage showing youths being isolated and strapped hooded to mechanical chairs and six boys being tear-gassed at Don Dale in 2014 was aired on the ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday night.

A clearly emotional Mr Gooda told reporters it was a “disgrace”.

“Our people have known about things like this,” he said. “We’ve advocated so hard. And to see it laid bare in front of us . . . this must be a wake-up call for everyone in Australia that something’s got to be done about the way we lock our people up in this country and particularly the way we lock our kids up.”

He questioned why three past inquiries into the Don Dale centre had not prevented the abuse.

“The modus of operandi of the Northern Territory government is this — shoot the messenger, discredit the report and demonise these kids,” he said. “So people out on the street think it’s okay for that treatment to occur. Well, I’ll tell you right now, it’s not okay for that to happen to any children in this country, be they Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.”

In a day of fall-out from the revelations;

Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles stripped his Attorney-General John Elferink of the Corrections portfolio, which covers Don Dale. He has assumed responsibility for the portfolio himself and by-passed cabinet in announcing a new juvenile facility will be built;

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Trigg said if laws had been broken then criminal charges should be laid;

Mr Turnbull said the royal commission would be charged with getting to the bottom of the extent of the abuse and to determine if a culture of cover-up exists at the facility. A “distinguished” Australian would be appointed to the role of commissioner soon and terms of reference announced;

The government set a cracking pace for the royal commission with a directions hearing to be held next month and evidence to be heard during September, October and November and findings early next year;
Indigenous and legal groups said the abuse was an international scandal. They welcomed the royal commission, but many called for it to include a state-by-state review of the juvenile justice system.

Ms Trigg fronted a media conference in Sydney with Mr Gooda and National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell. She told the media she was “shocked to the point of speechless” by the CCTV footage.

“We at the Human Rights Commission have a long history of responding to questions of juvenile detention,” she said. “We have indicated, as have many others in the community both children’s commissioners, human rights bodies and the media, journalists in the Northern Territory, we have been reporting on this question of Indigenous incarceration, particularly of juveniles, for many, many years.

“We have had many, many reports that have outlined the disproportionate effect on Indigenous children and also on the appalling conditions in which they are held. “But with this CCTV footage yesterday we must come to terms with a failure to address a problem that we’ve all understood has existed for a long time.”

Ms Trigg said the international human rights community “was alert to the concerns for Indigenous Australians”.

“We’ve been a good international citizen but in the last 15 years or so we’ve seen a decline in our commitment to the rule of law and to human rights in Australia,” she said.

Asked if criminal charges should be laid she said; “If you or I were to treat our children that way we would be prosecuted criminally. These children are in a relationship with the State that is essentially a parental relationship. A strong duty of care is in place with the children the State chooses to incarcerate.

“Where there has been a failure in relation to those children, the full force of the law should apply. I have to say that carefully, because all I have seen is that footage.”

Ms Mitchell, who has visited Don Dale, said the ageing centre was originally designed as an adult maximum security prison. Conditions for those held inside it were poor.

She questioned whether it should be closed down.

“There are cultural issues in that facility and in the juvenile justice system which means there is a pervasive sense of violence and aggression and use of force routinely and isolation used routinely,” she said. “This all creates a powder keg in there.”

Mr Turnbull announced the royal commission after contacting NT chief minister Giles, Attorney-General George Brandis, and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

In Townsville, Mr Turnbull told reporters; “We’re determined to get to the bottom of this”.

Mr Scullion said any allegations prison staff have acted inappropriately should be investigated by the relevant authorities and appropriate action taken.

He said an inquiry needed to establish why two investigations into the incidents alleged to have occurred at Don Dale in 2014 had failed to uncover the evidence presented to Four Corners.

Reaction to the royal commission was swift.

The Aboriginal Family Law Service in WA called for a royal commission with broad terms of reference.

“We believe this is not an issue specific to Don Dale Detention Centre or even the Northern Territory,” it said. “There have already been three inquiries into Don Dale, suggesting something more extensive is required.

“It is our experience that similar violence is perpetrated on Aboriginal people in many situations – in their homes, in institutional care, in the general community. “This violence is embedded in the way Aboriginal children are treated in school, while playing sport or on the street.

“Simply put, racism exists in our society and is a vital consideration in the exploration of the Australian youth justice system.”

The Youth Affairs Network of Queensland called for the royal commission to be expanded to include that State.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NAACHO) said the royal commission should be the starting point for a wider inquiry looking at the effect of detention on mental health and also the suicide rate of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance also supported broader terms of reference.

NSWTF: Smart and Skilled Fees Drive Up Crime

Smart and Skilled fee hikes risk driving up crime, new study shows

Submitted by NSW Teachers Federation on 27 July 2016

A new university study showing that crime decreases significantly when people have access to affordable vocational training has reinforced Federation’s protests against fee hikes forced on TAFE students by the Smart and Skilled policy.

The Baird government’s Smart and Skilled policy has made vocational education unaffordable for many students with NSW losing half its vocational students in the past three years, NSWTF Deputy Secretary (Post Schools) Maxine Sharkey said.

“Without gaining skills that could help them into employment these men and women risk being drawn into crime, a University of Melbourne report today says,” Ms Sharkey said.

“Working-age men and women desperately want to be employable but are being shut out of the job market because many can’t afford to take up TAFE courses any more. This has dreadful implications for their future.”

The Baird government is closing down TAFE colleges, cutting courses, increased fees and put more than 5000 TAFE teachers and support staff out of work – moves that cut right across good policy settings, the new report indicates.        

“We found that for every extra dollar spent on VET, the community saved 18 cents in avoided crime costs, such as lost productivity, health and rehabilitation costs,” said the University of Melbourne’s report’s author, Dr Cain Polidano from the Melbourne Institute.

The crime rate, especially drug crime, decreases significantly when more 16-44 year olds have access to affordable vocational education and training, the report says.

The drug crime rate decreased 13 per cent when more people had access to a publicly-funded place in VET. The research also recorded a 5 per cent and 11 per cent decrease in personal and property crime respectively, including assault, theft and burglary.

 “We already know that investment in vocational education has widespread economic benefits, including increased employment and earnings, but policy makers should take note of the flow-on savings for the justice and health systems,” Dr Polidano said.

The report, Vocational Education and Training: A Pathway to the Straight and Narrow, also found that increased VET participation reduces crime by more among mature-age groups (26-44) than among young people (16-25) because mature-age people are more likely to use opportunities in VET to find jobs.

The research cross-referenced 2010-2013 crime rates in NSW and Victoria, with VET participation rates.

ACCC – Privatisation Damages Economy – Creating Unregulated Monopolies

Privatisation has damaged the economy, says ACCC chief

Selling public assets has created unregulated monopolies that hurt productivity and damage the economy, according to Australia's consumer and competition tsar, who says he is on the verge of becoming a privatisation opponent.

In a blistering attack on decades of common government practice, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said the sale of ports and electricity infrastructure and the opening of vocational education to private companies had caused him and the public to lose faith in privatisation and deregulation.  

"I've been a very strong advocate of privatisation for probably 30 years; I believe it enhances economic efficiency," Mr Sims told the Melbourne Economic Forum on Tuesday. 

"I'm now almost at the point of opposing privatisation because it's been done to boost proceeds, it's been done to boost asset sales and I think it's severely damaging our economy."


Deregulating the electricity market and selling poles and wires in Queensland and NSW, meanwhile, had seen power prices almost double there over five years.

Mr Sims said privatising ports, including Port Botany and Port Kembla in NSW, which were privatised together, and the Port of Melbourne, which came with conditions restricting competition from other ports, were examples where monopolies had been created without suitable regulation to control how much they could then charge users.

"Of course you get these lovely headlines in the Financial Review saying 'Gosh, what a successful sale, look at the multiple they achieved'," Mr Sims said.

"Well of course they bloody well did: the owners factored in very large price rises because there's no regulation on how they set the price of a monopoly. How dopey is that?"

Mr Sims, who recently launched legal action against Medibank Private alleging it concealed changes to health insurance policies to boost profits ahead of its privatisation, said billions of dollars had been wasted in the scandal-plagued vocational education sector since it was opened up to the private sector.


A deal to privatise the Port of Melbourne was struck in March with conditions that restricted competition from other ports.

Deregulating the electricity market and selling poles and wires in Queensland and NSW, meanwhile, had seen power prices almost double there over five years, he said. 
"When you meet people in the street and they say 'I don't want privatisation because it boosts prices' and you dismiss them ... recent examples suggest they're right," he told the room of influential economic and policy experts. 

"The excessive spend on electric poles and wires has damaged our productivity. The higher energy price we're getting from some poor gas and electricity policies are damaging some of our productive sectors."

Mr Sims said he was growing "exasperated" as governments including the Commonwealth became more explicit in trying to maximise proceeds from asset sales.

"I think a sharp uppercut is necessary and that's why I'm saying: stop the privatisation," he said.

Mr Sims also used the forum to continue a public stoush with opponents of a proposed "effects test", saying they were relying on "bogus" arguments against the Harper review proposal to give the ACCC powers to block action that had the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PSA: Government regulation will terminate redundancy entitlements of public servants

Premier Mike Baird has introduced a regulation that terminates the redundancy entitlements of public servants who are transferred to the non-government sector.

NSW Labor has moved to block the regulation and unions have vowed to fight the plan they say will treat public servants "like serfs".

"Clearly, this regulation has been put through so the government can privatise public services and do it cheaply," Public Service Association general secretary Anne Gardiner said.

"It's appalling that the biggest employer in the country would treat their workers like they are property and hand them over to the private sector without the employee having any say in the matter. These people are public servants, not public serfs, and the government should be the gold standard for employers."

Ms Gardiner said her 35,000 members, who are among public servants potentially affected, will fight the regulation .

The regulation strips public servants of entitlements to severance or redundancy payments if their services are transferred to the non-government sector.

The regulation says a government employee whose employment is transferred to the non-government sector "is not entitled to any severance or redundancy payment for the cessation of employment if the person is offered comparable employment by the non-government sector body".

The government said the regulation merely updates a similar memo introduced in 1992. However, unlike the new regulation, the old memo still provided an option for redundancy and redeployment provisions.

While the new regulation requires a new employer to recognise an employee's years of service, unions and NSW Labor's industrial relations spokesman Adam Searle fear a new employer is unlikely to pay the same level of redundancy payments that the government currently offers.

Mr Searle moved a motion in the NSW Parliament this week to disallow the new regulation, which was proclaimed on Friday.

He said the government was seeking to avoid its "obligations as a responsible employer" and it had introduced the regulation "without any announcement or consultation with affected employees or their unions".

"Mr Baird has drastically cut these valuable rights – that people have already earned – with the stroke of a pen. This will deprive workers of the means to obtain retraining for new work opportunities."

Mr Searle said the NSW government was in the process of privatising public works and transport operations and the Land and Property Information Service.

"This regulation means the government can transfer workers to non-government employment when it sells a business or outsources operations, so any redundancy payments are paid at the level of the new employer, which are typically much lower," he said.

Rita Mallia, NSW president of the CFMEU, said it represents 115 public works employees, some of whom have worked with public works for 30 years, facing privatisation of their jobs.

"The workers are being told their jobs are gone and they have to apply for whatever jobs are available in the private sector. But there is no redundancy payment available to them if they choose not to do that," she said.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said he was concerned public sector workers were being forced into the private sector without any guarantee of the same level of redundancy entitlements they had accumulated over years.

He said the government had until now offered "structural adjustment packages", which provided an extra payment in lieu of existing government redundancy provisions including access to retraining and redeployment within the public sector. He said there was no guarantee the non-government sector would offer entitlements similar to the government's in the long term.

"Our concern is that if private providers make them redundant, they will have no option to be retrained and will have lost an entitlement for a better redundancy package. It is retrospective and there was no consultation over this," Mr Morey said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the Greens would support Labor's disallowance motion "because no one should be forced to move from being a public servant to working for a private corporation against their will".

"This is the Baird government trying to get privatisation on the cheap and making its workforce pay the savings," Mr Shoebridge said.

ANMF – National Survey Results

Over the last decade Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) members have been campaigning for improvements in aged care with increasing intensity in an attempt to ensure quality care for residents and decent conditions for those working in aged care. But despite multiple reviews, inquiries and investigations no real improvements have been forthcoming.

Consequently, safe staffing in aged care, including a mandated requirement for 24 hour registered nurse cover for all high care residents, was one of the ANMF’s four key issues for the 2016 Federal Election and was one of the central planks in the ANMF’s Federal Election campaign, If you don’t care, we can’t care.

Underpinned by research undertaken for the ANMF’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into The future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce and an economic analysis of the impact of the budget cuts announced in the 2016-17 Federal Budget, the ANMF’s Federal Election campaign included a national survey and phone-in of aged care workers and community members.

The survey explored how the funding cuts are, or would, impact the delivery of care in residential care facilities across the States and Territories, with the aim of gathering information to place aged care as a key election issue and gain the attention of voters, and thus, politicians.

The survey, which ran from 17 – 21 June 2016, was conducted primarily online with a national phone-in held on 18 June 2016. A total of 2,423 people, comprising 1,724 aged care nurses and care workers and 699 community members, mostly relatives of people in aged care, participated. This report provides an outline of their views on:

  •  current key concerns in aged care;
  •  the adequacy of staffing levels and staffing skill mixes in aged care;
  •  the adequacy of care delivery in residential facilities;
  •  improvements needed in aged care; and,
  •  voting intentions relating to aged care.

The overwhelming theme to emerge from both the aged care worker and community group responses to the ANMF’s aged care survey was the participants’ belief that the elderly deserve much better care than they are currently receiving. This belief related to care in every aspect: personal care, physical care, medical care, psychological care, and emotional and social care.

The picture of residential aged care painted by the stories and comments of participants is one approaching despair. Participants state that resources in facilities, both human and otherwise, are becoming so scarce that on many occasions it is just not possible for residents to be cared for safely or, as reported by many participants, even humanely.

Their accounts describe a situation of widespread substandard care which offers little or no dignity to the elderly at the end of their lives. A situation which shows no recognition or regard for the contribution the elderly have made to Australian society and which, they believe, represents a profound lack of respect for Australia’s elderly. They believe the elderly are not treated as individuals, not treated as real people or, on occasion, not even as human beings.


CPSU – STATEMENT RE NT JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM

JUL 26, 2016
Statement:

The CPSU is shocked and appalled at the shameful actions within the Northern Territory juvenile justice system as revealed on last night’s edition of the ABC’s Four Corners Program.

The union fully supports the establishment of a Royal Commission into youth justice in the Northern Territory in response to disturbing and unacceptable behaviour and also believes that immediate steps must be taken to ensure the welfare of children currently being held in detention, including moving youth justice out of the NT Department of Correctional Services.

The CPSU also believes that any inquiry must also have a national focus to ensure children being held in custody are being treated humanely around the country.

We will actively encourage members and staff to be part of the Royal Commission and any other process.

We have been calling for several years for the closure of the Don Dale detention centre and the construction of a purpose-build facility that properly serves the needs of children including the provision of adequate rehabilitation services, respects their rights and ensures the safety of children in custody, staff and visitors.

The union has had to fight the NT Government for even the most basic amenities including first aid kits and fire extinguishers in the current centre, as well as proper training for staff and the introduction of proper operating procedures.

CFMEU: ROYAL COMMISSION CAUGHT SHORT AGAIN.

22 July 2016

A decision handed down in the Federal Court found that the Royal Commission taskforce conducted themselves “unreasonably” in the raids carried out at the Queensland Branch of the CFMEU.

The Federal Police failed to fulfil their legal obligation to allow the CFMEU to make claims of legal professional privilege over any of the digital information seized in the raid. The court rightly identified this inexplicable departure from process as unreasonable conduct by the AFP.

In the judgment, Justice Reeves stated: “I do not consider the AFP provided a reasonable or adequate opportunity to the CFMEU to make whatever LPP claims it wished to over information in the data it had seized.”

CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said that the taskforce’s failure to take account of the union’s claims of privilege was further evidence of the extraordinary disregard for the law and proper process demonstrated by the AFP in pursuit of the political agenda of the Royal Commission.

“This is just one more example of the overreach that characterised the Heydon Royal Commission.

“People should be alarmed at the failure rate that the Royal Commission and AFP are experiencing in these ill-advised cases and raids brought against us – it is not only vindication for the CFMEU, but a stark demonstration of police resources being wasted”.

This development follows the dismissal and dropping of charges against CFMEU officials in seven other matters pursued by the Royal Commission taskforce, and the finding that the AFP raids on the Canberra offices of the CFMEU were “unlawful”.

“Just yesterday, the magistrate in one of these failed cases brought against the CFMEU by the TURC taskforce called the prosecution’s case “a dog’s breakfast."

“You’ve got to wonder how these cases, with no chance of success even get off the starting line. They’re either very bad at their jobs, or their objective is the arrest and headline - not the success of the case,” Mr Noonan said.

A further hearing, to address privilege claims and process has been set for the 4th of August. The CFMEU’s injunction was upheld in the meantime.

ACOSS supports Royal Commission into juvenile detention





The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) supports a Royal Commission into juvenile detention.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the treatment of young detainees in the Northern Territory revealed on Four Corners last night was horrific.

“Immediate steps need to be taken to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure it never happens again.

“The abuse of children is abhorrent and this case was particularly disturbing given it occurred when they were in the custody of the Northern Territory Government.

“ACOSS welcomes the swift action of the Prime Minister in supporting a Royal Commission and urge that he consults with community leaders and stakeholders on the Terms of Reference as a first priority.

“The actions of those individuals have no place in a modern justice system which should be focussed on rehabilitation and supporting young people to lead a life free of offending.

“The material shown on Four Corners reveals deeper problems within the criminal justice system in the Northern Territory and highlights yet again the appalling over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in juvenile detention and prison populations around the country.

“In the Northern Territory 96% of those in juvenile detention are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up over 54% of young people in detention.

ACOSS endorses the calls for action by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service for immediate action that must occur in the Northern Territory (link to their release) the call for a Royal Commission, and the call by the Change the Record campaign for Federal leadership to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system and end abuse and mistreatment of young people, including by taking immediate steps to:

  • Develop terms of reference for the Royal Commission in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and youth organisations;
  • Set targets to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system and to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
  • Immediately ratify the Optional Protocol for the Convention Against Torture to ensure independent monitoring of all places of detention.


ACTU: Employment minister must listen to working people on IR

19 July 2016

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) congratulates Michaelia Cash on retaining the employment portfolio but warns against pursuing the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ industrial relations agenda.

The ACTU will be constantly reminding working people that the Turnbull Government has no mandate for major and adverse industrial relations changes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Cash failed to provide a policy for industrial relations in the recent election campaign and cannot claim a mandate now.

Not only did the Coalition refuse to release a formal response to the Productivity Commission’s report on workplace relations, but the only significant reference to industrial relations across the entire eight-week campaign was buried within a speech Minister Cash gave at the National Press Club on 17 June.

The government’s plan now will be to rush in the return of the debunked Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and the Registered Organisations Bill — a convoluted piece of legislation designed to penalise workers for taking part in union activities in order to achieve better working conditions.

The ACTU was also disappointed that the small business portfolio was downgraded from the front bench and moved to the outer ministry, making it clear the government’s only priority is boosting the coffers of multi-national corporations.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Minister Cash has her work cut out for her as the returning employment minister — she has no mandate for industrial relations changes and Australian Unions will be on watch to ensure working people are not disadvantaged when Parliament resumes in late August.”
  • “We now expect the Prime Minister to attempt to rush through the ABCC and Registered Organisations bills to hurt working Australians who choose to be members of unions and build themselves a better future.”
  • “The ACTU will work with cross benchers in the Senate to ensure they understand these bills are dangerous and deeply unfair to working Australians.”
  • “The government’s only industrial relations agenda for the past three years has been pro big business, but Australians want the new government to stop the same old anti-worker rhetoric and partner with unions to create jobs, champion education and training, and turn around the disturbing levels of youth unemployment.”
  • “It is small businesspeople who, like workers, rely on good government policy to achieve success. Big corporations on the other hand generally can look after themselves. Relegating small business to the outer ministry shows Malcolm Turnbull is turning his back on small business, as he is doing for workers.”

NT: John Elferink sacked from Corrections

John Elferink sacked from Corrections in wake of Four Corners report; Adam Giles alleges culture of cover-up

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has sacked his Corrections Minister John Elferink in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners, while alleging there has been a "culture of cover-up" within the Corrections system.
Key points:

John Elferink remains as Mental Health Minister, Attorney-General

  • Adam Giles alleges cover-up of video evidence
  • Staff seen in Four Corners report still in Corrections system
  • John Elferink, the minister responsible for young detainees in the Northern Territory, has been sacked in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners.

At a press conference today, NT Chief Minister Adam Giles announced he had taken over the portfolios of Corrections and Justice from Mr Elferink.

"Can I start by saying that anybody who saw that footage on television last night on Four Corners would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage. I sat and watched the footage and recognised horror through my eyes," Mr Giles said.

He said the footage aired in the Four Corners report had been withheld from him, Mr Elferink and "many officials in government" — with him only seeing it for the first time "on television last night".

"I think over time there has most certainly been a culture of cover-up within the Corrections system," he said.

"I think there's been a culture of cover-up going on for many a long year. The footage we saw last night [went] back to 2010 — and I predict this has gone on for a very long time."


ETU: Baird electricity privatisation and Ausgrid

The NSW Government is under pressure to close a potential loophole in legislation guaranteeing five year job protections as part of the Baird Government’s electricity privatisation program after Ausgrid revealed plans to overturn the agreement.

Christian Democrats MLC Rev. Fred Nile secured the five year employment guarantees as a condition of his support for the sale of majority stakes in Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy following concerns that jobs could be slashed by new private owners.

The Electrical Trades Union last week held urgent discussions with Rev. Nile after the largest of the companies, Ausgrid, wrote to the union revealing it would be pursuing a potential loophole which it believes will allow the introduction of forced redundancies.

The union welcomed Rev. Nile’s commitment to ensure the Baird Government lived up to the spirit of his negotiated job protections and indicated that he would be seeking to have a clause inserted into sale contract for the 99 year lease to ensure that the job protections are adhered to.

Rev. Nile also indicated that he would seek to amend the Electricity Network Assets (Authorised Transactions) Act when parliament resumes next month to close the loophole.

ETU secretary Steve Butler commended Rev. Nile’s commitment to ensure the job protection provisions he negotiated last year were adhered to by the NSW Government and potential buyers.

“When Mike Baird wanted his privatisation plans approved, he had no problem agreeing to the provision of five year job protections at Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy,” Mr Butler said.

“Yet a year on, and while Ausgrid is still in public ownership, we have already got management indicating they plan to exploit a loophole that they hope will allow unfettered cuts to jobs.

“The Baird Government needs to show good faith and ensure the job protections, which were negotiated by Rev. Nile as a key component of the privatisation going ahead, are in fact enforced.

“We welcome Rev. Nile’s proposed solutions, with the combination of a legislative amendment along with a strongly worded clause in the sale contract ensuring certainty for thousands of NSW power workers and the communities they serve.”

Mr Butler said Ausgrid had informed the union that it did not believe the job guarantees would be binding if it could succeed in having the Fair Work Commission agree to the introduction of forced redundancy, possibly through the termination of their current workplace agreement.

“This runs completely contrary to the intention of the NSW Parliament, which voted to support an amendment to legislation that unequivocally stated: ‘there are to be no forced redundancies of continuing employees during the employment guarantee period’,” he said.

Baird plans to sack drivers and privatise Sydney Trains


Liberals should come clean with plans to sack drivers and privatise Sydney Trains

No surprises that the Daily Telegraph is going after transport workers as the NSW Government starts their push to buy the driver-only NIF trains.

Below you can read the media release we sent out to set the record straight:

Today’s article ‘Sydney Trains drivers are off the rails with inefficiency’ Daily Telegraph 21 July is clearly the opening barrage of a Baird Government attack aimed at sacking drivers and privatising Sydney Trains.

Former Liberal Government staffer Brendan Lyon of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, who is heavily quoted in the article, has clearly been dispatched to demonise Sydney Trains drivers in order to facilitate the Baird Government’s wishes to move to driver-less trains and remove guards from the New Inter-Urban Fleet.

As Mr Lyons confirms in his comments, once this occurs the Government can then move on privatising Sydney Trains by “allowing private companies to compete for the management” of the rail network.

“Similar private involvement had improved the service of Sydney Ferries,” he said.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia has long held the view that Sydney passenger rail services should be privatised.

Its 2012 Report ‘Franchising Passenger Rail Services in NSW: Options for Reform’ recommended that ‘open access arrangements be adopted, with different operators competing on the same network’ or that ‘a private operator granted an exclusive franchise to operate all services on a network’.

However Mr Lyon minces his words, with all roads leading to privatisation.

“If Mike Baird and the Liberals want to sack drivers and privatise Sydney Trains they should just come clean and say it, Mr Claassens, Rail Tram and Bus Union NSW Secretary said.

“Sydney’s passenger train drivers do important work. Each day they do what they do best and help over 1 million commuters get to work, school and home again safely.

“Our train drivers are highly skilled and experienced, and with up to 1,000 lives in their hands on every train, they need to be.

“Sydney Trains have a strong safety record and the best ‘on-time’ running record in the country due in large part to the professionalism and dedication of Sydney Train drivers.

“Sydney train drivers don’t need a lecture on ‘hard work’ from Liberal lobbyists like Mr Lyon earning half a million dollars per year.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Indigenous rangers play role as leaders

As well as protecting the land, Indigenous rangers play an undervalued role as leaders in their communities. It’s never been more important to protect these jobs

Many conservative politicians and commentators argue Indigenous ranger jobs are not “real jobs”. This is perfectly illustrated by the recent leaking to Crikey of a secret federal Coalition government plan to radically change this successful Indigenous ranger program in order to “get participants into employment”. 
While the minister for Indigenous affairs, Nigel Scullion has denied he is planning an overhaul of the program, his government has not made a commitment to fund the program beyond 2018. 
This question of whether ranger jobs are “real jobs” can easily be put to rest. 
The Numbulwar ranger group in Arnhem Land was re-established in November 2015, having been forced into abeyance for the previous three years due to a lack of infrastructure funding to provide a ranger base and ranger coordinator accommodation. 
The Northern Land Council (NLC) manages and employs the rangers (along with 16 other ranger groups) and receives commonwealth working on country program funding for wages and operational funding but nothing for the provision of essential infrastructure (unlike most other government-funded regional service providers operating in remote communities).

Australia ranks 20th in the world

Australia ranks 20th in the world – well behind Canada and many European countries but ahead of the United States – according to a new index that compares different nations' performance on the SDGs, which were adopted last September.

Launched at this week’s United Nations SDG talks in New York, the index marks each country’s performance towards the 17 goals. These aim to put the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path, and feature 169 targets to be met over the next 15 years in areas such as health, economic growth and climate action.

The ranking, called the SDG Index and Dashboard and prepared by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the German think tank Bertelsmann Stiftung, ranks countries' performance using a set of 77 indicators.

Australia: good water, bad energy

Australia, with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions per person, rates poorly on the clean energy and climate change goals. It also falls down on the environmental goals, with high levels of solid waste and land clearing as well as loss of biodiversity.

Despite the long life expectancy and general good health of Australians, the index highlights that Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world.

As shown in the performance chart below, Australia rates relatively highly on lack of poverty, education and water quality. Inequality, while increasing, is not as bad as it is in the United States or the United Kingdom.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

SEARCH–Post-Election Environmental Justice Forum


When:–Sunday August 7, 1pm – 4pm.
Where:–University of Technology Sydney 
Rm 470, Level 2, Building 10

Speakers

  • Sean Sweeney (Trade Unions for Energy Democracy)
  • Mark Ogge (Australia Institute),
  • Moira Williams (350.org),
  • Vicki Findlay (Lock the Gate)
  • Amy Gordon (AYCC and SEED)

The crisis facing humanity and the planet from climate change and other environmental threats is only going to become more acute following the election, irrespective of which major party forms government.

Each major party is locked into policies that perpetuate untenable exploitation of people and nature, and a growth-addicted capitalist economy. Climate change is driving destruction of habitats and collapse of ecological systems on which all life depends causing food and water insecurity and natural disasters, with billions more facing ever-increasing levels of social, economic and safety threats.  We can’t stand by and let this happen. We need to build grassroots community action and campaigns.

Grassroots action for environmental justice

The SEARCH Environmental Justice Working Group is organising a national forum to provide an opportunity for SEARCH members and friends to share insights into the challenges we face post-election. We want to identify opportunities to build the environmental justice movement in our communities and in workplaces. We’ll be focusing on some key issues such as climate change and challenging the power of mining and fossil fuel companies, building democratic, equitable and ecologically sustainable energy systems and communities, and to learn from and contribute to each other’s’ work post-election.

Environmental justice is a useful frame for democratic ecological socialist and progressive politics as it links campaigns around ecology, class, race and gender. Environmental justice campaigns are about ’justice in the environment’ and focus on both the distributional and procedural inequity in environment hazards and risks. Unlike NIMBYism (the Not In My Back Yard)  where wealthy and powerful groups oppose developments in their localities only to support them being located elsewhere, environmental justice campaigns also focus on eradicating environmental hazards altogether by removing the underlying causes of environmental threats.

While held in Sydney people across the country can participate via video link and invitees include activists from union, youth, Aboriginal and environmental organisations from urban and rural communities.

Monday, July 18, 2016

LaborStart Global Solidarity Conference 2016


Published on 13 Jul 2016

In the spring of 2016, brothers & sisters from around the globe came together at the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Toronto, Canada to speak, protest & sing about labour campaigns & workers' rights.

Corbyn queries "unfair exclusion of new members"

Jeremy Corbyn is seeking to overturn a decision to stop new Labour members voting in the party’s leadership election, branding it “simply not fair.”

More than 130,000 people have joined the party in the last six months, but they will not be able to vote in the leadership contest unless they pay another £25 to become a registered supporter.

Labour’s national executive voted last week to exclude any member who had joined the party or affiliated trade unions after January 12, which was a boost to Mr Corbyn’s rivals who have less support among the party’s grassroots.

But Mr Corbyn said at the weekend that he hopes the decision will be overturned at the national executive meeting scheduled for this week and one trade union has threatened legal action.

“There’s going to be some quite intense discussions over the next few days, I suspect, and I hope our party officials and our national executive will see sense in this and recognise that those people who have freely given of their time and their money to join the Labour Party should be welcomed in and given the opportunity to take part in this crucial debate, whichever way they decide to vote,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

“I’m hoping there will be an understanding that it’s simply not very fair to say to people that joined the party in the last six months: ‘Sorry, your participation is no longer welcome because we’re having a leadership contest’.”

Rail union TSSA wrote to Mr Corbyn at the weekend to express its opposition to the “deeply regrettable” decision.

General secretary Manuel Cortes wrote: “In our union, the only requirement to get a vote is to be a member. There is no qualifying period.

“Sadly, I fear that, if this decision is not overturned, it may well take a legal ruling to end the disenfranchisement of our members.”

Mr Corbyn added that it was “not really reasonable” to ask people to pay £25 for a vote, warning that this meant shutting working-class people out of the election.

He also described the decision to cancel all party meetings until the conclusion of the contest as a “big mistake.”

EU warning to Turkey

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned the Turkish government on Monday  following a failed weekend coup.

"We were the first... during that tragic night to say that the legitimate institutions needed to be protected," she told reporters on arrival at an EU foreign ministers meeting, which was also to be attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country," she said in Brussels. "There is no excuse for any steps that takes the country away from that."

She also said: "The democratic and legitimate institutions needed to be protected. Today, we will say together with the ministers that this obviously doesn't mean that the rule of law and the system of checks and balances does not count."

"On the contrary, it needs to be protected for the sake of the country itself. So we will send a strong message."

Other ministers also expressed concerns about events after the coup. Mogherini's fellow EU commissioner, Johannes Hahn, who is dealing with Turkey's membership request, said he had the impression that the government had prepared lists of those such as judges to be arrested even before the coup took place.

"It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage," Hahn said. "I'm very concerned. It is exactly what we feared."

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said he was also concerned about the arrests of judges and also about President Tayyip Erdogan's suggestion of reintroducing the death penalty for plotters. That, Reynders said, "would pose a problem with Turkey’s ties with the European Union".

Abolishing capital punishment, as Turkey did in 2004 before it could open the formal process of accession negotiations with the EU, is a prerequisite for holding talks on membership.

AMWU – Light rail consortium signs pay deal with construction union and workers union

The pay deal agreed by the tram consortium and key unions includes a $5.50-an-hour "productivity allowance" for all workers on the project, as well as a daily travel allowance of $32.75.

The enterprise agreement will cover all workers directly employed by the private Pacific Partnerships-led consortium that is building the $707 million, 12km tramline from Gungahlin to the city.
ACT ministers Simon Corbell, Meegan Fitzharris, Andrew Barr and
Shane Rattenbury turn the first sods of the tram project on July 12. 
The consortium has not given precise numbers for construction, Canberra Metro chief executive Martin Pugh saying between 200 and 500 construction workers would be employed, with 100 to 120 designers on the project at the moment. Separately, the consortium indicated it would employ about 500 construction workers, half directly and half through sub-contractors.

But the enterprise agreement signed on July 7 states a clear preference for direct employment. It says the consortium will directly employ workers covered by the classifications where it can, while leaving open the option of using sub-contractors as supplementary labour in times of peak demand to fill skill shortages and when employees are leave.

The decision to employ directly has outraged Canberra's civil engineering sector, which fears being locked out of the project and also complains of a distortion to pay rates in the territory from generously-paid jobs on the tram build.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union ACT secretary Dean Hall said the agreement would give "construction workers, their families and our community a chance to improve their lives through decent and fair pay and conditions".

"Not since the construction of new Parliament House has there been such an opportunity for construction workers and new entrants," Mr Hall said. "The agreement promotes life-changing opportunity for young workers, women and indigenous workers, real jobs with training and skills that will give prosperity and jobs well beyond this project."

Mr Hall said the project would create "full-time, secure jobs".

The CFMEU and the light rail consortium are holding public information sessions on work opportunities, with the first set down for 6pm on July 27 at the Woden Tradies club.

The agreement, some of which has been made public already, is signed between John Holland and CPB Contractors, and the CFMEU and the Australian Workers Union. It sets out basic wages of $30.23 an hour for an entry-level labourer with fewer than 12 months in the industry, rising to $31.44 by April, and 4 per cent each year after that. The pay rates move through nine levels, to $40.84 an hour for a crane operator and $42.55 for a materials coordinator. All pay rates increase 4 per cent a year.

Apprentices under 21 start on $17.03; adult apprentices start on $25.55.

Everyone gets the $5.50 hourly allowance and the $32.75-a-day travelling allowance. A meal allowance of $25 is paid after 90 minutes' overtime.

Workers whose home is more than 100 kilometres away are paid an allowance of $550 a week if they live away from home.

The working week is 36 hours, between 6am and 6pm, with time and a half or double time paid on weekends and for overtime. Afternoon and night shifts are paid a 50 per cent loading. Work on critical works during bad weather is paid at double time, and temperatures over 35C spark a safety review to check whether work can continue.

Workers get a fixed rostered day off following each of six public holidays.

The consortium has agreed to pay $2 a week per employee to the CFMEU's Construction Charitable Works, an organisation that supports workers with counselling, housing and retraining. It is also an organisation whose charitable status was questioned by the royal commission into trade unions, which suggested in December that it did not qualify as a charity at all, but was used to generate profits for the union – a suggestion referred for investigation, but rejected by Mr Hall.

The tram consortium will also pay $98 a week for each employee into the Australian Construction Industry Redundancy Trust and top up workers' compensation protection.

The deal provided for a consultative forum, with four managers and four employees, to meet at least four times a year to monitor the agreement.

The workers covered include labourers, steel workers, concrete finishers, forklift operators, riggers, scaffolders, crane operators, tractor, excavator, loader and other machinery operators, and other trades.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Statement from ACTU President Ged Kearney: Monthly jobs figures

Monthly employment figures released today show that unemployment rate increased by 0.1 pts to 5.8%.The unemployment rate is still above pre GFC levels and is a cause for concern. Youth unemployment is around 12% nationally and is higher - and approaching crisis point - in many areas.

Youth unemployment, which communities from Tasmania to the NSW Central Coast, Townsville and Cairns have been facing at crisis levels for years, must be addressed by this term of government.

Underemployment has also reached critical levels – it is the real sleeper issue. In May 2016 the underemployment rate had reached 8.4 per cent and was well above the unemployment rate.

A large proportion of previously unemployed people who make it back into the workforce have not been able to find full time jobs. They are stuck in involuntary part-time work and various casual and precarious work arrangements.

This combined with the decoupling of wage growth from productivity means that workers, when they manage to find a job, are being paid less for the same amount of work. While productivity continues to grow, wage growth is tanking.

According to the June Deloit Economics Business Outlook, wage growth has “curled into a ball and started rocking back and forth” Indeed in March 2016 we recorded the lowest wage growth since the wage price index series was created eighteen years ago.

The solution to these compound problems starts with improving wages. Better wages will drive down underemployment and give workers greater spending power, further stimulating the economy. We also know that higher wages are best achieved through collective bargaining, and through union membership. Unionised workforces earn more week by week than those without union representation.

The ACTU encourages the government to work with, rather than against the union movement in order to achieve what the government’s rhetoric would suggest is a common goal; more Australians in real, well-paid, secure jobs.

However, attacks on unions, increased labour market flexibility and programs such as PaTH - which exploit young people rather than offering much-needed training and ultimately employment - are not the solution. These poorly thought out schemes must be reconsidered and replaced with policies that will provide a real pathway to employment.

We stand ready to support any program put forward by the government that will reverse the concerning cuts to skills training and education, bring about positive results for unemployed people and generate jobs.

UK: £205bn cost of nuclear weapons replacement ‘better spent on industry’

Trident jobs are “some of the most expensive in the world” and could be replaced by green industry, a new report claims ahead of Monday’s parliamentary vote on Britain’s nuclear weapons.

The report, commissioned by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, looked into alternative jobs for the 2,000 workers currently employed at the refitting base for Trident submarines in Plymouth.

The report found “decommissioning Trident is both possible and desirable” and that the “current jobs linked with Trident are limited and can and should be replaced through a growing renewables sector.”
The report also found that well-paid and highly skilled green jobs could be created for a fraction of the cost required to replace Trident.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) estimates that the cost of Trident renewal is in the region of £205 billion, and will only safeguard 11,500 jobs, making them some of the most expensive jobs in the world.

Ms Scott Cato said the report disproves claims that Trident helps to sustain thousands of high-quality jobs.She said: “For far less public money, we could invest in socially productive employment to replace Trident-related jobs.”

Ms Scott Cato called on MPs to “see sense” and “reject the government’s plans to waste billions of pounds of public money on a weapons system that could never be used without creating an unimaginable humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.”

Protests against the Tories’ plans to replace Trident began on Friday in Manchester where activists braved the rain to release banners over busy roads.Action will continue over the weekend with protests planned in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol and Nottingham.

On Monday, representatives from CND will hand in over 40,000 signatures collected for a Stop Trident petition to the Ministry of Defence at 12 noon the same day, while a rally will take place outside parliament from 6pm as MPs debate Trident inside.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to break with this massively expensive yet redundant old technology and instead spend Britain’s valuable resources on meeting the security challenges we face today, like terrorism and climate change.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

UK: Theresa May replacing David Cameron

Sydney property developers donating thousands to ACT Liberal Party,

A group of Sydney property developers have donated thousands of dollars to the ACT branch of the Liberal Party despite appearing to have no connection with the capital.

Key points:

  • Four Sydney developers donated $20,000 to Canberra Liberals
  • Developers are banned from making political donations in NSW
  • ACT Liberal Party could transfer some money to the NSW branch
  • Developers are banned from making political donations in New South Wales, but are not in the ACT.

Since last month four companies registered to developers in Sydney have donated a total of $20,000 to the Canberra Liberals.

The ACT Labor Government said it had no record of any of the companies ever working, or applying for work, in the territory.

One of the developers, Tony Merhi, previously appeared before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over allegations he had bypassed his state's ban on developer donations by donating to a Liberal Party slush fund.

Mr Merhi also sparked interest when it was revealed he began donating tens of thousands of dollars to the federal Liberal Party following the NSW ban on developer donations in 2009.

In response to questions from the ABC, regarding the donations and the possibility the Canberra Liberals were being used to avoid the NSW ban, the party released a short statement.

"The Canberra Liberals receive donations from many different individuals and businesses. All donations are permitted under ACT donations laws," the statement read.

Merc Shoppingtown, Toplace, J&M Nassif Property Group and Statewide Planning all made one-off $5,000 donations to the Liberals in June.

Details on the companies are limited, but Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records showed they were registered respectively to Tony Merhi, Jean Nassif, John and Maroun Nassif, and Hoda Demian.

CFMEU Escalates Action Over Asbestos

The CFMEU is escalating their campaign for more action against illegal importation of asbestos after the discovery of the cancer causing substance on a major Brisbane project on the weekend.

The union is calling on all state governments to obtain information from Yuanda about products that the company has supplied on state government projects including two children’s hospitals in Perth and Adelaide.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor is also writing to Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton demanding action from the government.

“We want to know what action the government intends to take against Yuanda, given that they have broken the law.

“Are they going to let Yuanda get away with putting workers and the community in danger?”

“The system has failed workers and the community. We face a situation where asbestos could be present in buildings – including children’s hospitals – without our knowledge,” he said.

“We are completely in the dark about who has been exposed and where.”

Mr O’Connor said the issue of illegal importation of unsafe and poisonous building products has been raised in Parliament, was the subject of a Senate inquiry and made the front page of a national newspaper in the last twelve months, without an appropriate response from the government.

Yuanda has also failed in its legal obligations to provide documentation about any product that is imported to Australia.

“After all the work that has been done over decades of struggle by unions and the community to put an end to all the painful suffering and death of so many people, we don’t want to be in a position where we are back where we started, thirty, forty years ago.

“If this government doesn’t act immediately, they will be held responsible for the repercussions of asbestos exposure.”

Mr O’Connor said urgent action was needed immediately to end illegal importation and secure information about where Yuanda products are already in place.

“Doing nothing is putting people’s lives at risk.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ASU: Gannawarra Shire workers to take industrial action

ASU members at Gannawarra Shire Council have overwhelmingly endorsed a campaign of legally protected industrial action in support of their Enterprise Bargaining claim.


ASU Organiser Danny Harris said that in the face of threats, intimidation and bullying from senior management, members have refused to accept a ridiculous position put to them by an obviously out of touch and alarmingly misinformed CEO.


“Management’s offer would see substantial cuts to wages and conditions, including to some of the most vulnerable and lowly paid staff members. Our members deliberately developed a most reasonable EBA claim, taking into account all factors - including Shire finances - and are angered by management’s insulting attitude.”

“Workplace bans will be put in place this week, and will be strengthened more for each day this dispute continues. This is the first time that ASU members at Gannawarra Shire have been forced to take industrial action, thanks to a management representative who completely misunderstands Local Government, their community and their workers.”


“Our members remain steadfast in their endeavours to achieve a fair outcome and remain ready and willing to engage in meaningful negotiations, not an insulting cynical charade intended to waste time and ratepayers’ money.”

“Our members at Gannawarra Shire seek and deserve wages and conditions comparable to the majority of Victorian council workers, and they will fight to win this result.”

ETU: Chris' Story

CUB - CHRIS' STORY


55 highly skilled maintenance workers have been sacked from Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) and offered their jobs back with just 65% of their pay. In this video Chris Bowden talks about the impact on the workers and their families and their determination to stand firm in the face of corporate thuggery.
The workers have established a community protest outside the brewery in Southampton Crescent, Abbotsford where they intend to remain until they get their jobs back. 
You can show your support for the CUB workers:
- Make a donation to the fighting fund here: https://www.gofundme.com/CUBworkers

Yogurberry faces legal action for alleged short-changing of workers

Frozen yoghurt chain Yogurberry faces legal pressure to submit to a national audit after it was found to be allegedly underpaying overseas workers thousands of dollars.

Hot on the heels of Fairfax Media revelations about rampant underpayment of 7-Eleven workers, the national fair work watchdog is now taking aim at the national yoghurt retail chain.

Young backpackers were allegedly paid as little as $8 an hour at the Yogurberry frozen yoghurt outlet in the World Square shopping centre in Sydney's CBD.

The head of the Australian company and master franchisor of the Yogurberry chain faces legal action and tens of thousands of dollars in fines for allegedly short-changing four Korean nationals who speak little English.

The national fair work watchdog alleges the backpackers on 417 working holiday visas were allegedly underpaid almost $18,000 after being paid just $8 an hour initially and flat rates as low as $11 an hour. Each worker was underpaid around $2000 to more than $6000.

It is alleged YBF Australia formerly controlled the retail outlet through its associated company Yogurberry World Square Pty Ltd.

YBF Australia Pty Ltd, Yogurberry World Square Pty Ltd and CL Group Pty Ltd each face fines of between $25,500 and $51,000 for each breach of workplace laws. YBF Australia part-owner Soon Ok Oh is also facing legal action and fines.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said the employees should have been paid between $14.82 and $18.52 an hour under the Fast Food Industry Award. It said the workers did not receive a clothing allowance or superannuation entitlements and that unlawful deductions were made from their wages.

Workplace laws regulating record-keeping, pay slips and other requirements were also allegedly breached.

The employees have been back-paid all entitlements, except for superannuation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said legal action was necessary because YBF Australia had previously been put on notice of the need to pay employees their lawful minimum entitlements.

YBF Australia has been previously issued with cautions and on-the-spot fines.

A directions hearing will be held at the Federal Court in Sydney on July 26.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said her office is committed to improving compliance in the hospitality industry.

She said a three-year National Hospitality Industry Campaign resulted in more than $582,000 being recovered for underpaid employees at take-away food outlets across Australia this year.

SMH Read more:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Queensland coal miner diagnosed with black lung

A 39-year-old Queensland coal miner diagnosed with black lung had the condition for almost nine years, despite being given the all-clear in regular company medical checks to continue working underground.

Key points:

  • Coal miner with black lung had been given all-clear in regular medical checks
  • Government review of mining health scheme finds "major system failure at virtually all levels"
  • Queensland Resources Council says review "a huge wake-up call for our industry"

"I'm angry. Very angry," coal miner Steve Mellor told 7.30. "Angry at the mining industry, at the doctors that just let this slip by and the radiologists that weren't checking for what they were supposed to be checking for."

His case dramatically highlights deficiencies in the current Queensland industry's health scheme, which are identified in a Government review to be released this week.

The ABC has obtained a leaked copy of the review, which identifies "major system failure at virtually all levels" and recommends a major overhaul.

Earlier this year Mr Mellor took time out from his job as a coal miner to help care for his dying father, unaware of his own medical condition.

WestConnex and Inner West Council


Published on 11 Jul 2016

This is the 2nd meeting of the new undemocratic Inner West Council and its relationship with West Connex.

ACTU: Australians Unions will hold re-elected Government to account

11 July 2016

The narrow re-election of the Coalition is an opportunity for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to learn from his mistakes, and presents the chance for constructive engagement with working people and unions - especially in regards to industrial relations policy.

Australians have voted in significant numbers for the ALP, minor parties and independents. This represents a clear demand from the Australian people that Mr Turnbull and the Liberals must work with cross benchers, the senate and unions -- and not just their usual friends in big business -- to govern for all Australians.

The government’s refusal to release a formal response to the Productivity Commission’s report on workplace relations leaves them with absolutely no mandate to implement the anti-worker reforms that so many of their big business backers have been demanding, such as weakening unfair dismissal laws or the introduction of individual contracts.

Union members will be holding this government to account on their promises not to privatise Medicare, to crackdown on worker exploitation and wage fraud, and to ensure that multi-nationals pay their fair share of tax.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney:

  • “Malcolm Turnbull now has the chance for a fresh start, and he should heed the message from Australians that they expect a more inclusive and fair approach to government, rather than continued preferential treatment for big business and multi-nationals.”
  • “It’s especially important to remember that Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to offer a substantive industrial relations policy leaves him with absolutely no mandate for significant changes or indeed any policy that seeks to undermine worker’s rights, pay or job security.”
  • “Australians have strongly supported calls by union members for protection of penalty rates, a plan for local jobs, and proper funding for Gonski and Medicare - and we will keep fighting for these critical rights and protections.”
  • “The government has made clear promises to the Australian people over the course of this campaign and we will work every day for the next three years to hold them to account.”