Friday, September 30, 2016

NSWTF – It's time to go the full Gonski

Submitted by NSW Teachers Federation on 28 September 2016

Media coverage on schools funding in the past week shows commentators are not buying into the federal government's spin on schools funding.

Federal Education Minister Birmingham wants to negotiate a new funding deal for beyond 2017 — ripping up agreements with states and territories that apply to the end of 2019. In trying to distract attention from the fact that the Coalition's offer would leave schools $3.9 billion worse off over two years, Senator Birmingham has fixed on the lack of uniformity among deals with each state and territory.

As all state and territory education ministers (bar Western Australia) are opposing the federal government's plan, commentators have challenged the Coalition's direction on schools funding.

"Time to go the full Gonski, for children's sake", the headline for the Sydney Morning Herald's editorial from September 27 reads.

The Sydney Morning Herald challenges the federal government's argument that education spending has risen for a decade but students outcomes have fallen: "It misses the key point: the money went to the children who already enjoyed sufficient resources."

"The ideal of Gonski remains potent for voters, as a fair go for every child, regardless of where they live, family income or school," the editorial also states.

Crikey's politics editor Bernard Keane wrote on September 27: "No matter what its intention are on education funding, the Coalition can no longer be believed when it talks about public schools. It has turned this issue into a toxic mess for itself." Link to article

On ABC TV's Q&A program on Monday night, host Tony Jones questioned Senator Birmingham over the Coalition's promise ahead of the 2013 federal election to fund the Gonski model and then later reneging.

Senator Birmingham said the funding for 2018 and 2019 has never been included in the budget forward estimates.

Tony Jones then asked: "You are saying the promise was never there? Or the money was never there?"

"The money was never there," the senator replied.

In the past week Senator Birmingham claimed Labor corrupted the schools funding model.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

WA: 'Please sir, can I have a job?': Protesters fight against changes to electrical apprenticeships

Three apprentice electricians have become the face of the fight against proposed changes to the electrical industry, donning 19th century-inspired clothing to beg: ‘”Please sir, can I have a job?”

The youths were part of a large group protesting the changes that will see apprentices slugged with the cost of their training.

The ‘Hands Off Our Trade’ campaign was launched in Perth on Saturday as an initiative run by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Protesters holding banners and signs gathered outside the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) national conference in Fremantle to send a strong message: “We won't let them take apprenticeships back to the 19th century”.

The apprentice electricians took a stand in Western Australia. Under the proposed changes, the MEA would introduce flexible learning environments that would allow the trainees to study in their own time. Students would also be hit with a fee.

The ETU said the plans will only damage the standard of Australian electricians.

“Their corner-cutting approach will see skills and knowledge deteriorate. Sparkies will start their careers under a mountain of debt,” the group wrote on their website.

They believe the current system is working fine, allowing young people who "don’t have rich parents" to try their hand in the trade.

“This is a campaign we must win; it is a fight for the rights of Australia's lowest paid workers - apprentices, for the safety of electrical workers and the wider community, for the ongoing value of an electrical licence,” the group said on their Facebook page.

“When progressive unions and the community stand together to take on a campaign there isn't a force in the country that can stop us.”

Menzies and Maralinga Disatster

The British had requested and were granted a huge chunk of South Australia to create a "permanent" atomic weapons test site, after finding the conditions at Monte Bello and Emu Field too remote and unworkable. Australia's then prime minister, Robert Menzies, was all too happy to oblige. Back in September 1950 in a phone call with his British counterpart, Clement Attlee, he had said yes to nuclear testing without even referring the issue to his cabinet.

Menzies was not entirely blinded by his well-known anglophilia; he also saw advantages for Australia in granting Britain's request. He was seeking assurances of security in a post-Hiroshima, nuclear-armed world and he believed that working with the UK would provide guarantees of at least British protection, and probably US protection as well.

He was also exploring ways to power civilian Australia with atomic energy and — whisper it — even to buy an atomic bomb with an Australian flag on it (for more background, see here).

While Australia had not been involved in developing either atomic weaponry or nuclear energy, she wanted in now. Menzies' ambitions were such that he authorised offering more to the British than they requested.

The damage done to Indigenous people in the vicinity of all three test sites is immeasurable and included displacement, injury and death.

Service personnel from several countries, but particularly Britain and Australia, also suffered — not least because of their continuing fight for the slightest recognition of the dangers they faced.

Many of the injuries and deaths allegedly caused by the British tests have not been formally linked to the operation, a source of ongoing distress for those involved.

The cost of the clean-up exceeded $100 million in the late 1990s. Britain paid less than half, and only after protracted pressure and negotiations.

Decades later, we still don't know the full extent of the effects suffered by service personnel and local communities. Despite years of legal wrangling, those communities' suffering has never been properly recognised or compensated.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

NSW – Court finds against Baird government on council mergers

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The NSW Land and Environment Court found government-appointed delegates who recommended mergers for Mosman and North Sydney with Willoughby City Council and Burwood and Canada Bay with Strathfield Council had not followed the Local Government Act. The court found there was "no proper statutory foundation" for either of the proposed amalgamations, given the flaws in the delegates’ recommendations, and set the mergers aside.

However four other councils were unsuccessful in their appeals. The court dismissed the cases of Hunter's Hill, Lane Cove, Ku-ring-gai and Shellharbour, finding their complaints about the amalgamation process were unfounded.

Hunter's Hill Mayor Richard Quinn said the dismissal of his council's case was disappointing as the forced mergers were contrary to the majority views in polls.

"Eighty per cent of people say that they don't want this [merger] to proceed," he said. "We believed from the outset communities should have a direct say in how they're governed.”

The four unsuccessful councils will have a week to consider whether they will appeal against the decision.

The state government has created 20 new councils in its amalgamation program. It has reduced 152 councils to 112, sacked hundreds of councillors and appointed administrators in their place.

ACTU Tax Submission finds cuts go to the wealthiest, costing taxpayers billions

27 September 2016

In a submission to the senate Standing Committee on Economics, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) finds that there is no evidence that the Turnbull government’s proposed corporate tax cuts will generate job growth or improve the living standards of Australians to the level the government, or business groups are claiming.

Recent modelling from the Department of Treasury shows that cutting the company tax rate by one percentage point would serve mainly to benefit company profits, with an increase of only 0.1% to GDP and less than 1% in job growth over the next two decades.

The proposed corporate tax cuts will cost at least $50 billion (with some estimating the cost blowing out to $19.7 billion per annum in 2026-27), money that could be used to invest in health, education, training, innovation, research, transport, communication, infrastructure which are sorely under-funded under this government.

Seventy-five percent of the benefits of the proposed personal income tax cuts (estimated to cost around $9.6 billion over the forward estimates) go to the top 10% of income earners.  Half (47%) of the benefits go to the top 1% of income earners.

The tax proposals will do nothing to help ordinary people and will only benefit those for whom extra assistance will be barely noticeable.

The ACTU calls on the government to abandon these tax cuts and put the more than $50 billion to better use investing in the future prosperity of our economy and our society.

To read the full submission:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Three ‘Quaker Grannies for peace’ have set up breakfast on the road to Pine Gap and are inviting military personnel to sit down with them and negotiate.

Dawn Joyce, Helen Bayes and Peri Coleman this morning before setting up breakfast to share. Photo: Glenn Todd

The grandmothers have set up a table and chairs and prepared tea and croissants in order to engage in dialogue with personnel arriving for work at the base.

‘We are asking Australians whether it is appropriate for a foreign country to be operating a secret facility with no transparency on Australian soil; a base that may well be implicating Australians in wars that our government has not entered into’, says Helen Bayes, longtime Quaker, grandmother of thirteen and founder of the Quaker Grannies.

Pine Gap collects various kinds of data, mined from the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, which is used for drone strikes in nations where Australia is not meant to be at war.

‘Our Quaker peace testimony from 1661 says “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretence whatsoever”.’ says Bayes.

Grandmother of five, Dawn Joyce said “This is sovereign indigenous land yet the US claim that all their bases are US soil. I support the claim of the Arrernte people who did not agree to this base being placed on their sacred lands”.

The action is one of a series marking the 50th anniversary of the secret US military facility at Pine Gap. Groups are advocating that it is time for the base to be closed.

Last year the Grannies appeared at the entrance to a military training area at Shoalwater Bay, outside of Rockhampton, during the largest US/Australian joint military exercise in history.

Quaker Grannies last year at Shoalwater Bay. From Left: Dawn Joyce, Jo Valentine, Helen Bayes. Photo: David Bradbury

Professor Richard Tanter from the Nautilus Institute will be present in Alice Springs for the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) Conference (29 September to 2 October).

He points out that from China’s perspective, the US-Australian military alliance is likely to raise the supposition that “Australia is not so much hosting US military bases, but is becoming a virtual American base in its own right”.

Anti-militarism advocates at Pine Gap this week are not the only ones who have been trying to raise these concerns. Malcolm Fraser wrote a book not long before his death called Dangerous Allies, which argues that the time when it was in our strategic interest to have a strong military relationship with the US is over, and that now Australia would be better off with a more independent foreign policy.


Today’s arrest in relation to the fraudulent supply of white cards is just the tip of the iceberg.

A construction industry white card is supposed to verify that a construction worker has undertaken an induction on the basic safety requirements of work in the high-risk construction industry. They were introduced in the late 90s after a spate of construction worker deaths due to inexperience and lack of knowledge.

The ability to gain a construction industry induction card (white card) over the internet means untrained workers are being sent to construction sites without proper safety training.

The system poses a massive and unnecessary risk to both workers and the public, and should immediately be changed nation wide to require a minimum of six hours of face-to-face training.

In 2013, a report titled: “A national strategic review of registered training organisations offering industry induction training - the White Card” was released but the Australian Skills Quality Authority which damningly identified that 95% of white cards were being issued online, and that of those, most were completed in under an hour, and issued through Western Australia and Queensland, where the policy loopholes are largest.

Dave Noonan, CFMEU Construction Division Secretary said today: “The ability to gain a white card online is something that we have been railing against since it was first conceived of.”

“The only people who would support this are those who are making money off it. There would not be one thinking construction worker, or member of the community for that matter, that would agree with this. It’s just far too risky. ”

“What’s happening here is that workers are going through the online system in Queensland and Western Australia and these white cards are popping up on sites all over the country. We wouldn’t accept drivers licenses being handed out online without proof of identity, yet regulators have turned a blind eye to this practice in construction”

“The federal Government needs to explain why when it comes to the construction industry they turn a blind eye to every serious issue and focus only on their pursuit of the union. Minister Cash needs to take action to end this national disgrace. “

“So far, when it comes to the construction industry, this government has only been interested in union busting.”

“Meanwhile, you’ve got a Labor Government in Queensland who really ought to know better than to allow this to happen in their state. Our Queensland Branch has been demanding that the Queensland State government take action to end online white cards, but the relevant minister has failed to act.”

“They’ve left this policy loophole wide open despite being made aware of the risks. Politicians need to put the interests of workers and the community ahead of a hand full of bogus training companies who are making money hand over fist off this scam.”

Monday, September 26, 2016


SEP 25, 2016

Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff at sights including international airports, cruise ship terminals and cargo facilities will commence two weeks of protected industrial action from midnight tonight with further action planned as required to resolve the three year old bargaining impasse.

The CPSU has notified two weeks of rolling stoppages across the country from 26 September to 9 October with strikes in 30 minute blocks available to CPSU members all day, every day. Strikes may occur at any airport, cruise ship terminal or cargo facility at any time during the day or night.

This constitutes the most intense and widespread strike action undertaken by CPSU members and applies throughout all DIBP operations. Multiple short strikes are expected to cause disruption and delays to passengers, cargo freight operations and other services.

More than 50 exemptions remain in place to ensure national security and the safety of the general public during all industrial action.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said that taking this level of  protected industrial action was necessary because it was the only way workers had to force the Turnbull Government and the Department to find a real solution, not just keep proposing stripping away workers’ rights, conditions and pay.

“Our overwhelming preference remains to sit down and find a fair and sensible resolution but the Turnbull Government has shown it is unwilling to do so” she said.

"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has allowed Minister Michaelia Cash to  continue the public sector workplace relations war started by Eric Abetz three years ago for far too long.

“The Government is using nasty 'starve them out' tactics refusing to talk and keeping these workers on a three year pay freeze.

“For almost three years all Immigration and Border Force staff have seen is proposals to cut their existing rights and conditions and even cut some officers current take home pay.

“DIBP staff are highly trained, committed and hard working. Fair wages and conditions for the people who protect our borders and keep all Australians safe is not too much to ask.”

More than 80 per cent of DIBP staff voted in March against an agreement which would have seen rights and conditions stripped away in exchange for a pay rise of just one per cent per year.

The Tourism and Transport Forum has backed calls for the Turnbull Government to sit down and negotiate a resolution with the CPSU to end the dispute and ensure travellers are not disrupted.

Ms Flood said that the CPSU was always willing to talk but ready to argue for termination of the bargaining process should the Commonwealth apply to have industrial action suspended in the Fair Work Commission.

“We’re doing this because these workers and their families need a resolution.” she said.

“The Government has a choice, either sit down and talk or let Fair Work sort it out. If we do end up back in Fair Work this week we will argue it's time to end this bargaining charade and let the independent umpire arbitrate an outcome,” said Ms Flood.

UK: Jeremy Corbyn at Labour Party Women's Conference

Sunday, September 25, 2016

UK – Jeremy Corbyn sweeps to victory increasing his mandate as Labour leader

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to “wipe the slate clean” after winning a convincing victory in Labour’s bitter leadership battle, securing 62% of the vote.

Speaking after the result was declared in Liverpool, Corbyn thanked his rival, Owen Smith, and urged the “Labour family” to unite after the summer-long contest.

“We have much more in common than that which divides us,” he said. “Let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together.”

Corbyn secured 61.8% of the vote to Smith’s 38.2%. The victory strengthens his hold on a party that has expanded dramatically since the 2015 general election and now has more than 500,000 members. In last year’s contest, he won 59.5% of the vote.

Corbyn won a majority over Smith in every category – members (59%), registered supporters (70%) and trades union affiliates (60%).

The winner pointed out that he had secured his second mandate in a year and urged his colleagues to accept what had been a democratic decision.

Smith congratulated Corbyn for mobilising so many supporters in the party, and said he would reflect on how he could help Labour to win the next election.

He said: “I entered this race because I didn’t think Jeremy was providing the leadership we needed, and because I felt we must renew our party to win back the voters’ trust and respect. However, I fully accept and respect the result and I will reflect carefully on it and on what role I might play in future to help Labour win again for the British people.”

That is likely to be read as a hint that the former shadow work and pensions secretary might be willing to accept a frontbench role, something that he repeatedly insisted during the campaign he would not do.

Rebel MPs must now decide whether to return to the frontline. Many are awaiting the results of a Saturday night meeting of the party’s national executive committee, which will discuss the rules for choosing a future shadow cabinet.

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, has called for a system of elections that would allow MPs to have a say in who serves on Corbyn’s frontbench, and could tempt back some who resigned over the summer.

Any agreed rule changes could be ratified by conference, but Corbyn’s team believes it can beef up the shadow cabinet without the need for elections and would like to see the question discussed alongside other issues, including how to give the membership more of a say in policymaking.

Party sources said talks involving the chief whip, Rosie Winterton, had taken place and would continue later in the day to try to reach a consensus on shadow cabinet elections.

John McDonnell, Corbyn’s campaign director, said the leader’s team hoped to work with MPs from across the party, but would be happy if those critical of his leadership wanted to campaign on issues from the backbenches, citing Yvette Cooper’s role in fighting for support for refugees.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union and a key Corbyn backer, said MPs must fall into line. “We urge Labour MPs to heed the signal sent by the members, twice now in one year, about the direction they want for the party. This includes respecting and supporting the elected leader and his team; no more sniping, plotting and corridor coups,” he said.

Friday, September 23, 2016

NSW – Sydney Park is worth saving – Stop Bulldozer Baird

Community members and anti-WestConnex campaigners were joined by Greens MP for Newtown, Jenny Leong, Greens MLA, Mehreen Faruqi and Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore on Monday morning for a large rally that stopped preparatory WestConnex work on Euston Road Alexandria. The protest took place at a stand of mature trees right next to Sydney Park that are designated for destruction by Baird’s bulldozers.

A 24-hr protest campsite was established, which was raided at 3am the next morning by the Redfern police and WestConnex. However, the camp blockade has continued all week adjacent to the works zone and is growing daily.

WestConnex plans to take large swathes of parkland from Sydney Park and surrounds in coming months. In all some 350 trees will go and 3 ½ acres will be taken for road widening and construction zones for the ghastly multi storey St Peters Interchange, which will be constructed next to the Park, unless we stop it.

Join the campaign to save Sydney Park and the communities affected by WestConnex – sign up for a shift at the blockade by emailing or just drop in to the campsite on Euston Rd. To receive SMS action alerts, SMS ‘WESTCON’ to 0490 257 225, and for email updates sign up here.

ACTU – Sign in to Defeat TPP

From Dave Oliver

Our PM is working his hardest to ram through a dangerous deal. We need to stop him.

Right now, Malcolm Turnbull is swanning around the United States, pushing for a trade deal that could cost you your job, your health and our democracy: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

When he returns he'll set his sights on our Senators and try to get them to rubber-stamp it.

Luckily, the Liberals don’t have the numbers in the Senate to pass this dangerous deal if Labor, the Greens and the crossbench unite to block it.

Will you sign the petition calling on all Senators from all parties to reject this dangerous deal and stand up for Australian jobs, health and democracy?

We have to defeat the TPP because:

  • it allows corporations to sue Australia just for making laws in the public interest (like lowering the cost of medicines for the sick).
  • it will force Australia to take even more workers on dodgy visas, undermining our wages and conditions and allowing corporations to make a killing off the backs of exploited foreign workers.
  • it says it will protect workers and the environment but is vague and almost unenforceable.

If Malcolm gets his way, the Australian parliament will rubberstamp this corporate power grab. We have to stop him. The Senate has to stop him.

Tell Senators they need to stand with the people, not the corporates.

Dave Oliver
ACTU Secretary

Thursday, September 22, 2016

ACTU – Government’s bias has potential to hurt super system

21 September 2016


Governments bias has potential to hurt Super system.pdf

Turnbull Government  superannuation  industry superannuation funds  retail funds  Australian retirees

“The default super system that has been in place in Australia for the last 30 years is world class and delivers great results for all Australians.”

“Analysis over the last 19 years shows that Australians would have been $105 billion better off overall if retail funds had matched the returns of industry funds, so it’s difficult to work out why the Turnbull Government wants to push more Australians into funds that give poorer returns.

“Australians shouldn’t have to suffer because this government is blinded by its own anti-union bias, to the point that it no longer feels it can support a system that is designed to place the interests of Australian retirees above those of the banks.”

“The Turnbull Government should stop playing politics with people’s retirement, and acknowledge that the system we have in place is one of the best in the world, because of – not in spite of – the fact that it is designed to prioritise retirement savings over profit.”

Canberra – Striking public servants target new submarines

Noel Towell

Australia's plans for a new $50 billion fleet of submarines are in the sights of a group of Defence Department public servants over a long-running row with their bosses over the nation's military technical capabilities.

About 40 naval engineers, architects and other technicians will refuse to work on the subs program for a week from midnight on Tuesday, and will also target the future frigate program, the offshore patrol boat program and the replacement of a vital naval refuelling vessel.

Fairfax Media revealed this month that the Department of Defence was down to just just one in-house naval architect working on developing the new subs as well as the task of keeping the existing fleet afloat, and he is understood to be planning to join colleagues on strike on Wednesday.

The technicians' union says its members are protesting about what they say is a gradual degradation of the Defence Department's technical workforce, describing those who are left on the job as "the thin grey line".

The union, Professionals Australia, says the dwindling resources of in-house technical expertise at Defence put lives in danger at sea and on land.

The Department of Defence did not respond before deadline on Tuesday to a request for comment.

Specifically, the strike action is a week-long ban on "technical and engineering work or tasks relating to the offshore patrol vessel project ... the future frigate project ... the auxiliary oiler replacement project [and] naval architecture work or tasks relating to the future submarine project."

The technicians from the Navy Technical Bureau and the Defence Acquisition and Sustainability Group want their long-standing grievances about the strength of their workforce addressed as part of the marathon enterprise bargaining process at Defence, a call they say has so far been rebuffed by their bosses.

Union official Dave Smith said Defence's technical know-how had now been neglected and run down to a level where lives were at risk.

"Our members play a critical role in bringing engineering expertise to the acquisition and maintenance of complex, high-risk technology," Mr Smith said.

"They have become a thin grey line – the state of the engineering and technical workforce is a risk to this capability, and hence to ADF lives."

Mr Smith said the bargaining talks so far were looking likely to make the situation worse.

They are sleepwalking into a bigger disaster.

Dave Smith, Professionals Australia

"The agreement process provided an opportunity to address some of these issues but instead it has made them worse – and harder to retain critical expertise," he said.

"That's why Professionals Australia members are taking action in relation to the future frigates, patrol boats and submarines program to highlight these problems.

"Defence seems to be oblivious to the dangers of outsourcing to contractors, the consequences of cuts to manpower and resources, the dilution of risk management processes and an over–reliance on the tired few who each year get fewer," he said.

"Defence has learnt nothing since the decommissioning of the Kanimbla and Manoora, with the Department refusing to address engineering issues. They are sleepwalking into a bigger disaster and our members are trying to wake them up.

"They are putting lives at risk as well as billions of dollars."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

ACTU – AIG wrong on Domestic Violence Leave

20 September 2016

The statement released earlier today by AI Group makes a large number of false assertions about the ACTU submission to the Fair Work Commission on Domestic Violence Leave.

See below comments attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“It is widely accepted that responding to and preventing family and domestic violence is a “whole of community” responsibility. Many public and private sector employers have already chosen to support their employees by providing paid leave and other benefits for people experiencing domestic and family violence.”

“The ACTU’s claim for 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave in Modern Awards will complement these existing employer schemes.”

“PWC, NAB, Telstra and other employers provide generous and wide-ranging support for employees experiencing domestic and family violence that goes well beyond the minimum entitlements sought by the ACTU, including additional discretionary paid leave, training for staff and a cash advance. All available evidence shows that the provision of 10 days paid leave for Award-dependent employees leads to positive outcomes for employers and employees.”

“However, while many employees are now covered by enterprise agreements containing family and domestic violence leave, bargaining outcomes have not been consistent. This is exactly why the ACTU is seeking a variation to all Modern Awards, to ensure clarity and consistency for all.”  

“The ACTU’s position (which is clearly outlined in submissions to the Fair Work Commission) is that eligibility for leave should be restricted to victims of family and domestic violence, not perpetrators.”

“The provision of a minimum 10 days (non-accruable) leave on the provision of reasonable evidence is necessary to support victims of family and domestic violence and promote social inclusion and increased workforce participation.”

“Domestic and family violence leave should be accessible by casual as well as ongoing employees. We should not discriminate against people who are already in less secure work.”

“Family and domestic violence is a crime and a serious human rights violation, which is all too prevalent in Australia. We must work together to eliminate it and the ACTU is proud to be leading the way with our claim for 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave.”

“The Australian Law Reform Commission, the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Government all support the consideration of appropriate variations to Modern Awards to better to support victims of family and domestic violence leave.”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

EU Moves to take Asbestos Danger Seriously

Published on 26 May 2016

Tussen de vijftigduizend en honderdduizend werknemers sterven per jaar in de EU als gevolg van blootstelling aan kankerverwekkende stoffen op het werk. Nederland wil werknemers beschermen tegen deze stoten. De Commissie heeft op aandringen van Nederland de eerste reeks beschermende maatregelen voor grenswaarden voor kankerverwekkende stoffen aangekondigd. "Iedereen verdient een veilige werkomgeving. We moeten ons uiterste best doen om een dergelijke omgeving te bieden", aldus minister Asscher.

Between fifty and a hundred thousand workers die each year in the EU due to exposure to carcinogens at work. The Netherlands wants to protect workers against these impacts. The Commission has, at the insistence of the Netherlands announced the first set of protective measures for carcinogens limits. "Everyone deserves a safe working environment. We must do our utmost to provide such an environment," said Minister Asscher.

This video contains English subtitles.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sydney Park – Stop Baird's Bulldozers

Baird's bulldozers and chainsaws are coming to start cutting down our precious Sydney Park trees as early as Monday.

We need you to join us at 8am this Monday morning to stop WestConnex destroying parts of Sydney Park. 

Sydney Park is too precious to lose - it's where we relax, where we walk, where we play, where we meet up, where we exercise and where we want to spend time.

It is our green space. It is NOT an empty space that the NSW Baird Liberal Government can use to build an LA-Style tollway for the polluting WestConnex.

We're drawing a line here now before Baird's bulldozers start any preparatory work on our parklands.

Let’s show the Baird Liberal Government it is our park and we will not let them destroy it.

Snap Action: 8am Monday 19 September
Euston Road carpark, near the south end of the Alan Davidson Oval

Friday, September 16, 2016

Book – The language of the unheard

by Dr John Falzon 
New passions are coming to the surface in societies around the globe. Popular uprisings and social critiques are emerging in response to disempowerment, exclusion and the dismantling of public services and disinvestment in public goods. Martin Luther King once observed that: “a riot is, at bottom, the language of the unheard”; a cold shoulder comes at a price…
This book explores some of stories that lie at the heart of the current upheavals, from the perspective of a country that is still yet to resolve its fundamental contradiction of invasion and colonisation, opting instead for a paternalistic and punitive programme of control over its First Peoples.
Change does not come from above. The history of social justice and change has been written by social movements. However, first, we must all acknowledge these problems as our problems and not someone else’s.
Dr John Falzon is an advocate for a more equitable society. He trained in sociology and poetics. Falzon has worked in academia, research and advocacy in civil society organisations and community development. He has been the Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia since 2006. He has been a poet since 1973.
“This book is written with the burning passion of the Southern Mediterranean Sun; it has the insight of a poet able to conjure up dreams of a better world and a better place. It is breathtaking in it’s scope. It is a call to action, a revolutionary manifesto based on the values civilised people claim as their own.”

Paul Bongiorno, Canberra Book-Launch, December, 2012.
The book can be purchased on Garratt Publishing website. Click here to buy John’s book.

IndustriALL – Strike continues at Anglo American coal mine in Australia


A strike at the Anglo American’s coal mine in Queensland, Australia has entered its fourth week, as the company refuses to negotiate in good faith with workers. The situation has escalated as the mining giant attempts to bring in strike-breakers to undermine the workforce even though the strike is legal.

The industrial action at the German Creek mine began on 22 August after numerous bargaining attempts failed following the expiration of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement in April 2014.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), says that Anglo objected to basic demands like health and safety regulations and job security for workers.

The situation has worsened now that Anglo has engaged a labour hire company to advertise for excavator operators to replace the striking workforce. The strike-breakers are being offered a better deal than those offered to existing employees.

“If Anglo have the money to pay inflated wages to strike-breakers, then they should come back to the table and negotiate in good faith to support their existing employees instead of sneaking around behind closed doors and using a labour hire company to employ a shadow workforce,” said Stephen Smyth, president of the CFMEU Mining and Energy division in Queensland.

A similar situation has developed at Los Bronces copper mine in Chile, where around 1,700 unionized workers are on strike after 45 days of negotiations aimed at improving the conditions of mineworkers broke down. Unions accuse Anglo American of being inflexible and unwilling to extend the negotiations to find an agreement.

In both cases, Anglo American cites the commodities crises as an excuse for not meeting the demands of mineworkers.

At an IndustriALL Anglo American global network meeting in Latin America, participants stood strong in solidarity with the striking workers in Australia and at Les Bronces in Chile.

In a protest letter to Anglo American, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:

“We urge Anglo American to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to normalize industrial relations and bring the strikes to an end, and to resume collective bargaining negotiations in good faith. We stand by the reasonable demands of the mineworkers and urge Anglo to find accommodation for their demands.”

CFMEU – Stop India Free Trade Talks – Siop Asbestos imports

The CFMEU is calling for an urgent halt to the Government’s free trade talks with India due to the risk of even more deadly asbestos flooding into Australia.

The union has written to Trade Minister Steven Ciobo calling for an immediate and urgent suspension of negotiations.

The call follows the spike of imported building products from China including asbestos contaminated roof panels discovered during the construction of a children’s hospital in Perth.

The Australian Border Force testified to a Senate Inquiry Committee last year that it had identified India as one of the high-risk countries for asbestos exports to Australia.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Mr Dave Noonan said:

“India is the second largest manufacturer of products made with asbestos in the world. It uses asbestos in the manufacture of products including building materials like cement roofing sheets, wall panels and pipes and auto components like brakes, clutches and brake linings.

“Australia’s system of protection against imported products loaded with asbestos is broken, as recent detections by our union have proven.

“A trade agreement with India would allow the easier entry of products with asbestos to Australia. Unless border protection is strengthen and significantly better resources, this would be a disaster.”

Earlier this year, India sided with leading asbestos exporter Russia in a UN meeting to block the listing of cancer causing chrysotile (white asbestos) to a list of dangerous substances subject to export restrictions.

“India is the second largest manufacturer -  next to China - of products made with asbestos and frankly, they don’t take asbestos exposure seriously.”

According to recent reports, more than 50 factories in India use asbestos to make building products like cement roofing sheets, wall panels and pipes and the use of asbestos in the manufacture of auto components like brakes, clutches and brake linings is widespread.

“These products will flow to Australia if we grant India a trade agreement, just like we are finding with Chinese products made with asbestos following the agreement ratified last year.”
The Senate Inquiry’s interim report stated: The importation of banned materials, such as asbestos, raises very serious concerns about the capacity of Australian authorities to deal with this issue, particularly in light of our open and dynamic trade environment.

“Given the extremely serious consequences of asbestos exposure, until an adequate regime of border protection capable of stopping asbestos is agreed with the union and implemented, along with additional safeguards inserted in trade agreements to deal with high risk products from high risk countries, a trade agreement with India cannot be considered in Australia’s national interest” said Mr Noonan.

In another development yesterday, the CFMEU called on Mr Dutton to do his job as the Minister responsible for stopping illegal importation of asbestos and cease blaming the union.

Referring to an interview on Sydney radio where Mr Dutton said that high wages negotiated by the CFMEU was ‘driving builders to use this product’, Mr Noonan said it was disgraceful that the Minister was excusing illegal behaviour.

“As the minister tasked with enforcing the law and protecting the Australian people from poisonous material, he should be prosecuting those putting workers and the community at risk, not justifying illegal activity.”

The CFMEU encourages any worker who believes they may have been exposed to asbsestos to record the details on the National Asbestos Exposure Register here.

Turnbull – One year Report Card

For all his talk about explaining complex issues and building a case, Turnbull has done it rarely – usually after rather than before making a decision. More often he hasn't needed to, because he has decided (perhaps wisely) to leave things as they are.

To a large extent the economy has been improving of its own accord as commodity prices rebound and the impact of the lower dollar settles in. Two Reserve Bank rate cuts have helped as well. Really bold decisions of the kind the Reserve Bank has been urging such as borrowing big for infrastructure, haven't yet been made. It's easy to get the feeling that we are not being taken into Turnbull's confidence as he promised.

But he hasn't been in office long, and a big chunk of the year was taken up with a marathon election campaign. He'd like us to think there's time. We're waiting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ACOSS – Reprieve for Newstart recipients but the budget threat remains

14 September 2016

Responding to the Government and Labor’s renegotiated Omnibus Bill, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says that while the retention of the Energy Supplement for those receiving social security payments is welcome news, the threat of further cuts to people who are unemployed and families on low incomes remains.

 “It is unfortunate we have had to debate whether or not to cut the $38-per-day Newstart Allowance by removing the Energy Supplement. We should be focussing on how to increase the payment so people can live with dignity while looking for work.

“We also welcome the removal of measures that would have cut funding to public dental services and cut income support payments to people in psychiatric confinement. We call on the Federal Government to not seek to introduce any of the measures removed from the Omnibus Bill separately, there has already been too much uncertainty for people on low incomes.

“Removing these measures from the Bill is sensible and we’re pleased that Labor and the Government has listened to concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders who opposed these cuts.

“While people on income support payments have been spared from the proposed cuts, low income families will still be hurt by the loss of the Energy Supplement from family payments. A single parent family with two teenage children will lose $284 a year, or $5.50 a week.

“The loss of the energy supplement to families follows a series of cuts to these payments over the last few years. We cannot afford to further cut away at family payments.

“If passed, the Government’s remaining family payment bill would result in single parent families with two teenage children losing $60 a week.

“The youth payment cuts which remain before the Parliament would result in an unemployed young person losing $47 a week and having to wait 4 weeks for payments.

“Parliament and the community have shown that they will not support harsh cuts to those on low incomes. The Government must reset its budget strategy, by withdrawing proposed tax cuts as well as further cuts to family and youth payments and other measures which will hurt those on low incomes.

 “ACOSS is yet to see the detail in the new legislation but urges Government to not rush these changes through Parliament. The community must have time to properly scrutinise these revised measures."

Trade Union Royal Commission's road to nowhere

John Quiggin 13 September 2016

Six months after Dyson Heydon's findings, there's no iceberg or tip, only one conviction and mounting bills to show from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Professor John Quiggin reports.

WHEN DYSON HEYDON delivered the report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, he claimed that his findings represented “the tip of the iceberg”.

At the time, I commented that, given the nearly $50 million of public money and lengthy hearings with the exceptional powers of a Royal Commission, the Australian public was entitled to expect the whole iceberg.

It turns out that I was too charitable. In the months since the Commission reported, a string of the charges he recommended have been thrown out or withdrawn. In fact, six months later, there has only been one conviction, resulting in a suspended sentence. The only big fish to be caught since the establishment of Heydon’s star chamber has been the Commission’s own star witness, Kathy Jackson.

And the bills keep coming in. The last Budget allocated $6 million more for the AFP-Victorian Police joint taskforce, which currently has outstanding cases against a grand total of six unionists. By contrast, taskforce Argo in Queensland, focused on child exploitation, has a budget of $3 million.

For another contrast, here are a few of the cases of alleged wage fraud, misappropriation of worker entitlements and so on that have emerged since Heydon’s Commission was launched: 7-Eleven, Queensland Nickel, Pizza Hut, Myer and Spotless, and lots of small employers in the agricultural sector. That’s on top of the general run of sharp practice, environmental vandalism, market rigging and dubious practices of all kinds.

It would be absurd to deny the existence of corrupt union officials and, though it is much rarer, systemic corruption, as in the case of the Health Services Union. But the continued failure of a massively expensive, politically motivated inquisition to turn up more than a handful of cases suggests that the problems are isolated — and that the real drive is to attack unions for doing the job of representing workers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ged Kearney – fight continues over short-sighted Omnibus Savings Bill

13 September 2016

“The campaign by unions, community groups and others has helped extract some important concessions from the Government, with Newstart recipients and Pensioners saved from income cuts and the Australian renewable Energy Agency’s future protected, but the fight for fairer economic management is far from over.” 

“The government must accept that these one-off, short term savings will deliver little permanent structural impact to the budget bottom line and will only undermine our future prosperity.”

“We need to see a comprehensive, long-term plan to invest strategically in high quality health, education, skills and training, research and innovation, and clean technology infrastructure to sustain our strong economy and society into the future.”

“The government must also move to address corporate tax avoidance, close tax loopholes and reform high income concessions in areas like negative gearing, capital gains and superannuation.”


The Federal Court has ordered more than $1,272,109 in damages and compensation, and $24,600 more in interest payments, be paid to a Hail Creek coalminer victimised and stood down by Rio Tinto, an amount nearly unprecedented in workplace disputes.

Michael Haylett injured his neck while driving a bulldozer in 2010; an injury that Rio Tinto admitted was caused by the company’s negligence.

Mr Haylett continued to work at the mine for three years, and it was not until the Queensland District Court awarded him $630,000 in November 2013 as compensation for his injuries did Rio Tinto stand down Mr Haylett.

The case, run by the CFMEU and Hall Payne Lawyers, was described by the unions Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President, Stephen Smyth, as a David and Goliath battle against a mining giant.

“This has been a long and hard fought case.  Michael Haylett is finally getting justice after three years of fighting one of the worlds biggest mining companies for his unfair sacking,” Mr Smyth said.

“While the payment of $1.3 million in damages and back pay will go some way to compensating Mr Haylett for the pain, suffering, and poor treatment he’s endured over the years, it shouldn’t have to be necessary.

“This was a vendetta against Michael Haylett that Rio Tinto has been running for years. The way the company acted in this matter, beginning with the heavy-handed and illegal sacking of a worker, to ignoring a Supreme Court order, is completely unacceptable and the additional penalty of $50,000 ordered against them reflects just how appalling the treatment was.

“Mr Haylett was injured at work, and then sacked through no fault of his own – these three years of legal proceedings have been difficult for Michael, but today is his victory.  Finally, Rio Tinto will be held to account for their behaviour.”

Mr Smyth said that the case showed that workers aren’t alone and can stand up to improper and illegal treatment in the workplace.

“The Federal Court found that Rio Tinto’s decision to stand down Mr Haylett was done in retaliation for him winning his damages claim, and was in breach of the Fair Work Act. Justice Reeves highlighted the lack of remorse that the company had for their actions as a major factor in his decision,” Mr Smyth said.

Solicitors from Hall Payne Lawyers said that they had seldom seen worse treatment of an employee by a company, with Rio Tinto’s defiance of Supreme Court orders and arrogance nearly unprecedented.

NSW: Lucy Woodcock Erskineville's local heroine

Research for a community heritage day at Erskineville Public School has rediscovered a past teacher whose tireless campaigning for Australian human’s rights helped create positive changes, including equal pay for women.

Thanks to a City of Sydney matching grant, the actions of local heroine Lucy Woodcock will be celebrated by the school with a free, community heritage event on 3 September from 10am to 3pm.

Central to the event will be the dedication of the new school hall in Lucy’s name and a plaque in her honour.

Other family-friendly festivities will include a history walking tour and exhibitions, film screening, heritage crafts for kids and storytelling by prominent locals.

Ms Woodcock (1880-1968) was an Erskineville teacher, trade union leader and pioneering activist for Australian children’s and women’s rights, whose work helped achieve salary restoration, a teacher’s certificate, equal pay and opportunities for female teachers.

The City-sponsored event at the school will be part of History Week celebrations across NSW.

“This year’s History Week is all about our neighbours and how crucial they are to understanding the past’s impact on the present,” City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said.

“The commemoration of Lucy Woodcock through place naming and a memorial plaque is a fitting way to celebrate the actions of one of Erskineville’s most important people.

“She was way ahead of her time, and the important work she did helped establish many of the current rights and freedoms enjoyed by all of us today.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Clover Moore – Historic Victory over Baird-faced Gerrymander

At a time when one-term governments and leadership coups are the norm, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has won a record fourth term after obliterating her opponents in Saturday’s council elections.

Ms Moore, 70, won more than 60 per cent of the vote – with her closest rival polling only 15 per cent of the vote – making her one of Australia’s most popular and successful politicians.

That rival was Liberal Party candidate Christine Forster, the sister of former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Ms Moore had been expected to suffer at the polls after new rules made voting compulsory for 23,000 businesses, with most entitled to two votes, while 117,000 residents were allowed just one.

“They [the government] wanted to get me out and to get a Liberal mayor in, and that of course hasn’t happened,” Ms Moore said.

The independent increased her vote from the 2012 election where she secured 51.1 per cent of the vote.

“This is a real victory for democracy. It’s a victory for good government. It’s about the continuation of independent, progressive, community-led government for the city.”

Voting changes rejected

An electoral analyst told The New Daily that NSW’s Baird-Liberal government had pushed through the two-vote-per-business voting rules in 2014 to “put the council back in the hands of the business community”, or Liberal control.

Mike Baird ‘changed council voting laws to hand power to business community’, professor claims
The greyhound racing ban was prompted by revelations of live baiting.

University of Sydney electoral politics expert Dr Peter Chen also said the Baird government disliked Ms Moore’s environmental and progressive agenda.

“The conservatives would prefer the City of Sydney was run as a business-oriented council [like Ms Forster would have provided],” Dr Chen said.

“It is them saying ‘Sydney City Council should be run by serious-minded business people and we’ll rejig the electoral system regardless of how people vote’.”

Ms Moore is aiming to reduce Sydney’s carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030.

On Saturday, Cr Moore campaigned next to one of her signs from the 1988 election. Photo: Twitter
To achieve this, the city has installed bike lanes, changed its car fleet to hybrids and installed the city’s largest solar energy building system among other measures.

She has also overseen numerous significant infrastructure projects in the city and has forced the NSW government to disclose government contracts with the private sector. Ms Moore took office after the 2004 NSW council elections.

Previous to that, she was an independent member in NSW’s parliament for Bligh (from 1988 to 2007) and then for the new electorate of Sydney from 2007 to 2012.

In 1987 she had run for the position of Sydney’s Lord Mayor but her campaign was scuttled when the state Labor government sacked the council and appointed commissioners to run it.

‘A big message for Mr Baird’: Labor

Meanwhile, following Saturday’s numerous council elections around NSW, a series of swings to Labor have been blamed on Premier Mike Baird.

There were large swings towards Labor in the western Sydney council areas of Liverpool, Penrith, the Blue Mountains, Blacktown, Campbelltown and Camden.

NSW state Labor leader Luke Foley said the results showed the public’s view of Mr Baird was souring.

Some critics say the council election results are damning of Mike Baird. Photo: AAP
“Two-and-a-half million people went to the polls and they sent a big message to Mr Baird,” Mr Foley told the ABC. “What we saw in very large councils with big populations in the outer suburbs of Sydney were huge swings to Labor.”

Labor won “booths that it hasn’t won for 20 years in western Sydney”, he added.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

AMWU Voter rail revolt: report slams Baird

The Baird Government is suffering a huge community backlash for sending the state’s $2.3 billion Intercity train contract overseas, with voters polled in four key Coalition seats now putting the NSW opposition parties ahead.

A ReachTEL poll for the AMWU also found that 80 per cent would be prepared to have extra taxpayer dollars spent on the Intercity trains being built locally to create more jobs, particularly in regional NSW.

It came as an expert report by the Australia Institute estimated that outsourcing the biggest train contract in NSW history to South Korea would deprive the economy of over 2000 jobs.

AMWU State Secretary Tim Ayres said the community of Orange, where a by-election is due in November, knew the Baird Government "didn't care about the impact of the decision to send trains off shore on families in regional communities".

He vowed the AMWU would campaign in Orange, the Illawarra and in the Hunter, where he met rail industry delegates last week.

Think-tank the Australia Institute found the NSW Government’s decision to offshore the build to the UGL-Hyundai-Mitsubishi syndicate because it is 25 per cent “cheaper” than local manufacture will damage the national rail industry and wider Australian economy.

Korean trains for NSW: a major economic report found the cost savings to NSW are a false economy compared to jobs exported.

Its rail report concludes that all taxpayers will be worse off over the longer term, as the lost economic and tax revenue from offshoring far exceeds the savings boast by NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance.

The author, renowned economist Dr Jim Stanford, urges the NSW Government to put the decision on hold while it does a proper cost-benefit analysis.

He concludes the decision to offshore will deprive the Australian economy of $1.4 billion in new Gross Domestic Product, divided between direct rail manufacturing, its supply chain and consumer spending from the extra 2000 jobs.

The lost federal-state Government tax revenue would be $455 million, which clearly exceeds the $325 million which Mr Constance claims the Baird Government will save.

“By awarding a major public contract solely on the basis of lowest price bid, with no attention to the broader economic and fiscal impacts of the choice, his Government has committed an elementary but costly error,” Dr Stanford writes in the report, commissioned by the AMWU.

“This short-sightedness could quite conceivably damage it’s own fiscal position – it will certainly undermine the economic prospects of the state which it governs.”

Not only NSW loses out – including suppliers in the Hunter and Illawarra -  but the rail industry across other states.

Firms are now sweating on a $2 billion contract that the Victorian Government is set to announce for its 65 High Capacity trains, with a promise of at least 50 per cent local procurement.

Dr Stanford also warns that trade deals like that with South Korea which lack proper labour market testing means maintenance as well as manufacturing jobs could be lost to overseas workers.

He is a strong advocate for a broader, integrated national rail strategy, as now the Commonwealth’s taxes provide most revenue but the spending decisions are made by the states – sometimes disastrously.

“The artificial division of cost from benefit makes it more likely that a government motivated by a single-minded focus on minimizing current expenditures would make procurement decisions that damage economic...well-being,” he said.

“In this case, NSW is free-riding on the Commonwealth…”

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Equal Pay Day a wake-up call for Michaelia Cash in unique role as Minister for Employment and Women

8 September 2016

Today is Equal Pay Day; a day to reflect on the unacceptable state of the gender pay gap and the fact that women in work are significantly worse off than men.

September 8 is significant this year because it marks the point when women's earnings for the last financial year finally catch up to the earnings  of men – this means that Australian women needed to work an additional 70 days to cover the gap which sits at $261.10 per week or $13,577 per year.

Michaelia Cash has a unique opportunity as both Minister for Employment and Women to address the broad inequities that play out for working women, including those working hard in unpaid caring roles.

The recent Senate Inquiry into Economic Security for Women in Retirement provided a blueprint for Minister Cash with bipartisan support for its recommendations. The report can be found here:

In particular, Australian Unions are today calling for:            

  • A government funded parental leave scheme of 26 weeks paid at no less than the national minimum wage plus superannuation;
  • Fifteen hours of free early education and care for every child per week for all families;
  • An enforceable right to request flexible work arrangements that clearly set out an employer’s obligations to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate requests.
  • Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney:

“Today is about the staggering 16.2% pay gap between men and women in Australia.

“It’s also about the disadvantages women face throughout their working and home lives, ranging from the straight out pay gap in a women’s first job and on graduating from university through to rampant discrimination after having a baby and not having enough to retire on.

“Unbelievably, Minister Cash and Malcolm Turnbull are also hell bent on keeping the ridiculous cuts to paid parental leave planned by the Abbott Government, further hindering the possibility of equality.

“Pay inequality adds to financial stress for many women and that can lead to vulnerability, debt and homelessness.

“Minister Cash is in the prime position in her role to change women’s lives for the better. We urge her to ensure that the recommendations passed down this year by the Senate Economic References Committee are implemented as a matter of urgency as they directly address this issue.

“Unions are already meeting with government ministers and cross benchers to advocate for working women and will continue to do so throughout this term of parliament.”

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

UK: More In Common

Vic : Labour Hire Inquiry Hands Final Report To Government

Minister for Industrial Relations
1 September 2016

Acting Minister for Industrial Relations Jacinta Allan yesterday received the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Labour Hire and Insecure Work in Victoria.

The Andrews Labor Government will now consider the recommendations made in the report and will respond in due course.

The inquiry was chaired by RMIT Professor, Anthony Forsyth and conducted 17 days of public hearings across regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.

The inquiry heard from a total of 221 individual witnesses during 113 hearing sessions and received submissions from more than 695 organisations and individuals

The inquiry investigated the links between worker exploitation and labour hire companies, insecure work, sham contracts and the abuse of visas to avoid minimum workplace standards.

Evidence of exploitative behaviour,  arrangements to avoid legal obligations, widespread underpayment of wages, tax avoidance, non-payment of superannuation, poor health and safety practices and, in some instances, allegations of illegal conduct were presented to the inquiry.

Quotes attributable to Acting Minister for Industrial Relations Jacinta Allan

  • “No employee should ever be exploited, harassed or deprived of their basic liberties in their workplace.”
  • “Every unethical labour contractor should know that these activities will not be tolerated and this inquiry will provide us with a way forward on how we stop this from happening.”
  • “I would like to thank Professor Forsyth and his inquiry team for conducting this very broad ranging and thorough examination of the labour hire industry and the issue of casual work.”

Brazil: deposing of President Dilma Rousseff will unleash wave of corporate greed

UNI warns situation in Brazil is further evidence of a neoliberal front sweeping Latin America.

The international trade union movement warns that a wave of corporate greed will be unleashed in Brazil following the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff by a corruption-riddled Congress.

The all-male, all-white cabinet, headed by little-known former Vice-president Michel Temer, had already been drawing up plans for massive budget cuts immediately after taking the reins of power when Dilma was suspended pending the result of the Senate impeachment hearings.  Fifteen of the initial 24 cabinet ministers, including Temer himself, face corruption allegations or criminal charges.  Whilst in office, Dilma refused to hobble ongoing corruption investigations, including into members of her own political party. 

UNI America’s Regional Secretary, Adriana Rosenzvaig said, “Today, our concern goes well beyond the situation that Brazil is experiencing. We are worried about this new neoliberal front, which is clearly closing in on our region and is adversely affecting the poorest people, increasing unemployment, inequality, income distribution and constitutional liberties that guarantee the rights to demonstrate, strike and bargain collectively.”

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “The heavy repression suffered by those who oppose Dilma’s dismissal and the arguments used by the governments of Brazil and Argentina to criminalise social protest are unacceptable and immoral. This level of repression is evidence that the purveyors of this new era of neo-liberalism are prepared to resort to old measures to crush the legitimate right of working people to protest. Dilma’s impeachment marks the end of an era of inclusive growth in Brazil."

UNI Head of Commerce, Alke Boessiger who is in São Paulo for a regional meeting of the UNI Carrefour Alliance had witnessed at first hand the protests against Dilma’s impeachment and the heavy handed police reaction. Via social media Boessiger reports, “Protests still continue in São Paulo over the impeachment of President Dilma. Almost all of the protesters are young people. They are met by an army of heavily armed police, water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and police helicopters.”

 ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow said, "Brazil's richest family used their dominant Globo media empire to help destabilise the government, and now other corporations from home and abroad are looking to cash in on an expected fire-sale of state assets, weakened labour protections and a government that is already putting the interests of global business ahead of its own citizens' jobs and livelihoods.”

The first actions of the Temer government during Dilma's suspension included eliminating the ministries for women, racial equality and human rights, and reversing a 2014 law which guaranteed domestic workers access to pensions, wage guarantees and unfair dismissal compensation.  New cuts to key government services and social expenditure will hit the poorest hardest, and Temer has flagged major changes to labour laws and the pension system along with a constitutional amendment which would lock the country into an austerity path for the next twenty years.

The agenda of the Temer government is based on a programme of austerity and regressive change, which will adversely affect basic rights. The big Brazilian trade union centres CUT, FS, UGT /CNPL, CSB, CTB and NCST have already united for the defence of our social achievements and the workers’ protections provided by the law.

UNI reiterates its position of defending democracy and the right of people to shape their future through a direct vote. We also reiterate our commitment to the workers to continue fighting together for collective bargaining and the protection of the workers’ rights won together through great battles during the young histories of the region’s democracies.  

Sunday, September 04, 2016

CPSU: Airservices Australia's "callous and wasteful"

Airservices Australia's approach to hiring consultants has been "callous and wasteful", according to its workplace unions.

Aviation industry figures were calling on Friday for "heads to roll" over the agency's lack of probity, cost control and its failure to get "value for money" from consultancies on the $1.5 billion One­SKY air traffic control system, revealed in a scathing National Audit Office report.

The consultancy rates were up to 30 per cent higher than the Defence Department was paying ICCPM, the auditors found, with one lucrative contract processed by a senior Airservices executive who was married to ICCPM's chief executive.

The probe by the ANAO looked into Airservices' use of a consultancy firm during its $1.5 billion OneSKY air traffic control and navigation project after a Senate committee alleged "dodgy dealings" with ICCPM.

Now Airservices is in the midst of sacking up to 1000 of its workers, saying it can no longer afford them.

CPSU deputy national president Rupert Evans came out swinging on Friday, attacking Airservices' senior management and alleging "callous and wasteful" conduct.

"It beggars belief that they would be wasting millions of dollars on consultants, then turn around and sack hundreds of staff on the grounds that they're broke," the union official said.

"It's entirely unfair and unacceptable that staff are paying the price for the questionable practices of Airservices management.

"Hardworking people who have committed their careers to the safety of Australia's skies are being thrown on the scrapheap so a few consultants can cash in.

"There has been growing unease and disquiet for some time among our members about the way that Airservices' senior management is operating and this audit absolutely reinforces that concern.

"Management's inability to properly deal with consultants casts serious doubt on their ability to be trusted with anything, let alone the safety of Australia's airspace or management of money."

Technical union Professional Australia joined aviation identity Dick Smith in calling for the resignation of Airservices chief executive Jason Harfield.

"The failure to ensure the proper management of probity concerns and conflict of interest issues let alone get value for money fell within the remit of the current CEO," union official Dave Smith said.

"These failings shouldn't have made him a candidate for the CEO position and should see him resign."

Friday, September 02, 2016

Unions NSW: Sydney Uni backtracks on art school merger with Uni of NSW

September 02, 2016

Sydney Uni now plans to close Callan Park arts campus, slash 25 jobs and end Visual Arts degree
Students occupy art school admin office to protest cuts

Staff and students from Sydney Uni’s College of the Arts have escalated their battle with university management, permanently occupying the school’s admin office at Callan Park.

The dispute began in June when Sydney Uni attempted to close down the arts college to merge it with University of NSW Art and Design. This met heavy student and teacher backlash, forcing a back down.

However the joy of campaigners was short-lived. Sydney Uni still plans to close the Callan Park campus, end the Bachelor of Visual Arts degree and move students and staff to the main campus at Darlington. 

Jemima, a second year print media student at the SCA, said the changes would be harsh, especially the loss of 25 full time teaching jobs.

“Our technical staff and academic staff are the lifeblood of our studio work, most are practising artists and all are experts in their field,” she said. “Someone with 20 years of experience working the same printing press cannot be replaced.” 

Jemima said the demise of the Bachelor of Visual Arts degree would be devastating for students and the wider community.

“Studying Visual Arts is a really hard choice to make because often schools, family, friends and institutions will fail to support or value young artists. Cutting the BVA at USYD sends out a toxic message to prospective artists.

“With understanding, innovation and commitment from the university, I believe the Callan Park site can remain the home of a leading art school.”

Last Sunday, Unions NSW assisted in organising a rally at the SCA campus where a number of unions came out in support of the campaign.

The broader union movement and the local community continues to actively support the campaign through promoting activities and offering assistance to the students and staff.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

International Unions Welcome Australian High Court Decision on Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Visas

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has welcomed a decision by Australia’s High Court to rule invalid a decision by the nation’s conservative government to exempt workers on vessels in the multi-billion dollar offshore oil and gas industry from domestic visa requirements.

The exemption, granted by the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, in December 2015 was overturned by the High Court today following a case lodged by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU).

The long-running saga was thwarted first by the Australian Senate in July 2014 and then the full federal court in March 2015. Today’s decision in the High Court was unanimous.

ITF President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “Bringing in often exploited foreign workers is a dangerous attack on the rights and safe working conditions of seafarers, regardless of their nationality.

“The ITF welcomes the decision which helps rehabilitate Australia's international reputation for adversarial and destructive attacks on the trade union movement.

“The offshore industry in any country’s territory must be the domain of the national workforce as it involves the development of that country's sovereign and public wealth.”

ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “It is clear that the failed legislation and subsequent circumvention by the Australian government that was rejected by the High Court today was partly driven by international hydrocarbon players including Chevron and Allseas.

"This is a great victory for the protection of workers rights in the offshore industry all over the world."

AMOU President Tim Higgs said: “The Government has hugely overreached with these tricky legislative instruments. The Minister’s attempts to bypass existing laws and give unfettered work rights to non-Australian workers was always a terrible idea.”

CFMEU: Anglo brings in strike-breakers to undermine workforce

Anglo American has escalated the situation at their German Creek mine by advertising for a new workforce while existing employees conduct legal and protected industrial action.

The mining giant has engaged labour hire company WorkPac to advertise for Excavator Operators to replace the striking workforce, with the firm resorting to cold-calling known coalmine workers and offering them a sweetheart deal better than those offered to existing employees.

Under the offer, the new contract workers are being offered $60 per hour, plus and extra $2 per hour back paid if they stay on for 3 months, along with free accommodation and meals.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President, Stephen Smyth said that bringing in industrial mercenaries shows just how little Anglo cares about their existing workforce.

“It’s not right that workers can take legal and protected action to fight for better pay and improved conditions, then get replaced by industrial mercenaries,” Mr Smyth said.

“Anglo is offering a better deal to these new industrial mercenaries than they are willing to offer to their own employees.  That just isn’t fair. 

“If Anglo have the money to pay inflated wages to strike-breakers, then they should come back to the table and negotiate in good faith to support their existing employees instead of sneaking around behind closed doors and using a labour hire company to employ a shadow workforce.”

The CFMEU have had more than 16 meetings with Anglo trying to reach agreement on simple commitments around job security, pay, and workplace health and safety.

Mr Smyth called on the community and local MPs to show their support for the local workforce.

“These are outsiders being brought in to take away jobs from local workers.  Anglo is taking money away from Middlemount families and that will hurt the community,” Mr Smyth said.

“Michelle Landry has just been re-elected promising to protect local jobs.  Now she needs to stand by her word and not let local jobs be undermined by Anglo.”

NSW inter-city train fleet contract short-sighted, report says

A report by think tank The Australia Institute has criticised the New South Wales Government's decision to award a multi-billion dollar transport infrastructure contract to a foreign consortium.

Earlier this year, the NSW Government awarded a $2.3 billion contract to the RailConnect Consortium to build an inter-city train fleet for the state.

Five hundred new double-decker carriages will be built in South Korea.

The trains will run between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast, the South Coast and the Blue Mountains.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has previously defended the decision to send manufacturing offshore, saying the move represented a 25 per cent saving.

But the report, commissioned by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, has criticised the procurement process.

Institute chief economist Richard Denniss said that, in pursuing the cheapest option, the Government had ignored the wider economic impacts of the deal.

Dr Denniss said: "the NSW Government has, by its own description, purely set out to say, 'what's the cheapest that we can buy these trains?'"

"There's been no comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the flow on jobs, the training, the investment, the skills that could be developed in the NSW economy from building what is a very large number of public transport assets."

Maintenance may be done by overseas workers

Dr Denniss said it also appeared likely that foreign workers would be used to maintain the new carriages.

"The contract that's been signed suggests that not only will the trains be built overseas ... but overseas workers will come here to perform scheduled maintenance.

"[It is] a very short-sighted approach to skills development and investment in this country."

The report recommended the Government put the contract on hold and undertake what it called "a comprehensive, public, and transparent economic and financial analysis of the costs and benefits of sourcing this important work domestically versus offshore."

"They really should revisit the decision and perform a full cost-benefit analysis," Dr Denniss said.

"Not just try and find the cheapest price, but try and find the best value for NSW and for the Australian economy."

Wilson Security to withdraw from Manus and Nauru

Wilson Security says it no longer wants to work in Australia’s offshore detention regime. The company says it will leave the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres at the end of its contract, which leaves the government without a camp manager or security firm for the offshore detention network.

Wilson joins the Australian government’s major contractor running the camps, Broadspectrum – owned by Spanish giant Ferrovial – in announcing it will abandon offshore detention when the current contract ends in October 2017.

“In line with Broadspectrum’s future intentions Wilson Security can now confirm that it will also not tender for any further offshore detention services,” the company said in a statement.

Nauru files reveal cases of alleged sexual violence and child abuse not disclosed to parliament
Exclusive: Wilson Security, contracted to protect asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru, did not tell an Australian Senate inquiry about at least 16 serious allegations

“The provision of security services at regional processing centres (RPCs) is not in line with Wilson Security’s long-term strategic priorities. Wilson Security will continue to deliver all aspects of its current contract with Broadspectrum until completion of the contract.”

The companies involved in offshore processing have faced intense pressure in recent months, with protests at their places of business, divestment and boycott movements, and a sustained public campaign highlighting systemic abuses happening inside the offshore detention centres.

Wilson has been under particularly intense pressure since the publication of the Nauru files which revealed incident reports detailing allegations of Wilson employees on the island assaulting asylum seekers and refugees, including allegations of sexually assaulting women and children, and attacking and choking children.

The 2,000-plus leaked incident reports in the Nauru Files also showed that Wilson guards pressured other workers on the island to downgrade incident reports, from critical to major or minor, even when it was clear – such as in the case of a suicide attempt – that the incident was critical.

The Nauru files also revealed that Wilson Security officials may have misled a Senate inquiry, by failing to fully reveal the number of assaults on children inside the Nauru detention centre.

Senior Wilson officials have previously been rebuked for giving false evidence to the Senate, and are likely to be called back to explain at least 16 incidents of child abuse that they failed to reveal to senators under direct questioning. The incidents include allegations a guard sexually assaulted a young boy, a child being choked by a guard, and a guard shining a torch on the genitals of a girl he had forced to go to the toilet on the ground.

Wilson Security has maintained that all of its evidence to the Senate was full and correct. The company had “fully cooperated with and, based on the information to hand, provided honest and accurate evidence,” to the inquiry, a spokeswoman said in a statement to the Guardian.

Wilson guards have also been accused of illegal behaviour on Manus Island. In July 2015, three Wilson guards allegedly drugged and gang-raped a local woman inside the accommodation block of the detention centre. However, the men were flown off the island and out of Papua New Guinea before police could investigate.

Despite promises the men allegedly involved would be returned to face questioning, they have never been repatriated.