Friday, December 29, 2017

ACTU – Unions to fight casualisation of Australia's workforce

Unions have signalled they will campaign for significant legislative changes to reverse the casualisation of the Australian workforce.

In an interview with the Australian, the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, said workforce casualisation would be a key priority for the union movement next year.

“One of the key things we want to change for working ­people is turning around or reversing the casualisation of jobs,” she said.

Unions seek dramatic pay increases to ensure minimum ‘living wage'

McManus said she would lobby Labor to support a new definition of casual work, which would include workers who have a “reasonable expectation of ongoing work” and who are completing regular shifts.

Unions also want legislative changes to give casual workers the ability to automatically convert to permanent employment after six months with the same employer.

Brendan O’Connor, the shadow workplace relations minister, said Labor was committed to examining the casualisation of the Australian workforce and the ACTU’s proposals.

He said “something has to be done”, and indicated the need for an objective test to ensure casual employment was being used for proper purposes.

“Too often now we see people working as their main job in what employers are deeming to be casual, even when they work for years on end,” he said. “For that reason, Labor is committed to examining this.”

Industry groups have immediately dismissed the proposals, saying they are not new and had already been considered and rejected by the Fair Work Commission.

The federal government appears to have changed its focus on employment from the usual mantra of “jobs and growth” to the new slogan of “let’s keep Australians working”.

Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash declared an economic revival fuelling strong jobs growth will be key to the coalition’s election fortunes, with her new super-portfolio to take centre stage.

McManus said the old slogan was being canned because it was clearly not ringing true.

“There’s been more jobs, but they’ve been casual jobs,” she told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday. “And growth? Well, we’ve seen profits grow but we haven’t seen wages grow. Wages are at a record low.”

Labor’s O’Connor argued Australians did not need “patronising” or “insulting” slogans, but rather a government committed to ensuring wages were keeping up with prices.

“We’d like the government to explore why is wage growth at its lowest in 20 years, and why are people confronted with only casual work, when in fact they have permanent families,” O’Connor said.

“They need some sense of security in their workplace, they need opportunities at work that mean they can get a home loan or a car loan. But too often, you see that’s not happening.”

The union’s proposal for automatic casual conversion was already considered in detail by the Fair Work Commission earlier this year, as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards.

The ACTU had argued to the commission that casual employment was being improperly and unfairly used for “a significantly large category of workers” in a manner that undermined Australia’s safety net.

Many casual workers were permanent in all but name, the union argued, and were afforded significantly inferior rights and conditions, despite working regularly for the same employer.

That accords with the findings of the most recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) study, which found 60% of workers who self-identified as casuals were doing regular shifts for an employer they had been with for at least six months.

But the commission rejected the union’s conversion proposal, and instead gave workers the right to request a conversion to permanent employment after 12 months of regular work.

A 2015 report on workforce casualisation by Professor Raymond Markey of Macquarie University found casuals were most common in accommodation and food services (20%), retail (19%), and healthcare and social assistance (11%).

It found about one quarter of Australian employees did not have leave benefits – a method of measuring casual employment. The proportion of casual employees increased rapidly in the 1990s, the report said, but stabilised in recent years.

Regardless, Australia has a very high level of casual employment among OECD economies, the report found.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Australian Unions Team – Cash out for Christmas

Senator Cash, the Minister who brought you raids on union offices, failed anti-worker legislation, and attacks on the rights of working people, has been removed from industrial relations responsibilities.

It’s good news to end the year on.

Minister Cash has spent her entire time in charge of industrial relations running nakedly political, ham-fisted attacks on working people. Raids, Royal Commissions, wage cuts and misuse of public funds.  

Now, wage growth is at record lows, and 40 per cent of Australians are in insecure work.  It’s a terrible legacy. $4/hr jobs, penalty rate cuts, and 1 in 10 jobs are going to visa workers.

But that’s not why Cash lost her job. Cash lost her responsibilities for industrial relations because people like you took action. The Prime Minister’s hand was forced. Cash was a liability.

People like you who put pressure on Cash in her own backyard, chipped in to run billboards and radio ads in Perth and to keep up the pressure about the need to change the rules so working people have basic rights. 

This year, we faced incredible threats to the rights on working people, led by Senator Cash. In the last six months, we had five pieces of legislation put into the parliament to attack working people and their unions. So far, none has passed, after a massive people powered effort to call on the rest of the Parliament to oppose the anti-worker agenda.

These bills would have made it harder for working people to organise to get a pay rise. They would have given more power to big business. More power to the big banks over working people’s savings. And more power to organisations like the union raiding ROC and the ABCC.

As ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said at a speech earlier this year:

You can outlaw us. You can vilify us every day with your media might. You can set up Royal Commissions. You can tap our phones, you can raid our offices. You can vilify and punish our leaders. You can bring in laws to make our work harder. You can take away the support for unions to grow, and refuse to acknowledge that we exist. You can fine us, and jail us.

But you will never defeat us.

We’ve got a big job to Change the Rules for working people. But we can do it, by working together. We got rid of Cash, we prevented their legislation passing the house, for now, and we are changing the story about the sort of country we want to live in. Because of people like you.

You’ve shown this year that by stepping up you can help workers. Workers at Fletcher Insulation, Streets Ice-Cream, Parmalat, PPG Industries, Woolworths, Chin Chin, and many, many more workplaces have won their jobs back or improved their pay and conditions because we all stepped up.

Can’t wait to do it all again in the new year. Enjoy your holidays. You’ve earned it. And to everyone working over the break, we thank you. 

Australian Unions Team

P.S. Can you spare 10 minutes over the break to complete the Change the Rules survey and share it with your networks? Thanks!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowships for 2018 Announced

Augusto Sarmento Dos Reis –––– Maria Pricilia Fonseca Xavier
Two journalists from East Timor will benefit from the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship in 2018, an initiative of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.

They were chosen from four outstanding applications assessed by a selection panel in Australia.

The next recipients of funding from the fellowship, which aims to nurture the development of journalism in East Timor are:

Maria Pricilia Fonseca Xavier, a journalist and news broadcaster in T├ętum and Portuguese at Timor-Leste Television (TVTL).

Augusto Sarmento Dos Reis, senior sports journalist and online co-ordinator at the Timor Post daily newspaper and website.

The Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has been established to honour the memory of the six Australian journalists murdered in East Timor in 1975, and to improve the quality and skill of journalism in East Timor.

The applications were assessed by a panel of MEAA Communications Director Mark Phillips; Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Organiser Trade Union Development & Education for Timor-Leste and Indonesia, Samantha Bond; Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Jock Cheetham; and former television journalist and newsreader Mal Walden, who was a colleague of three of the Balibo Five.

The successful applicants will be provided with funding to assist them with specific journalistic projects in Timor. It is anticipated that each will also be offered the opportunity to travel to Australia in 2018 to spend some time observing and working in an Australian newsroom.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said all the applications were again of a high quality and representative of the diversity of journalism in East Timor.

“We are well aware that is not easy to work as a journalist in Timor-Leste, and journalists face many hurdles including a lack of resources and training, and attacks from the government on press freedom,” he said.

“But we are delighted that the successful applicants represent both print/online and broadcast media, and there is a balance between genders.

“Both Pricilia and Augusto are young journalists with impressive track records and a thirst to succeed in their chosen profession.”

Kate Lee, executive director of Union Aid Abroad-Apheda, said: “We are delighted to again be able to partner with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to support the development of independent journalism in Timor Leste through the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship and look forward to seeing some great investigative work from Pricilia and Augusto in 2018”

Funding for the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has come from MEAA, the Fairfax Media More Than Words workplace giving program, and private donations.

The fellowship was established on the 40th anniversary of the murders of the Balibo Five in 1975.

Last year, four journalists successfully applied for funding from the fellowship, while separately the fellowship assisted Timorese journalist Raimundos Oki to spend a week with Fairfax Media in Sydney in September.

The fellowship carries the names of six journalists who were murdered by Indonesian forces in East Timor in 1975.

Five young journalists working for Australia’s Seven and Nine networks – reporter Greg Shackleton, camera operator Gary Cunningham, sound recordist Tony Stewart (all from Seven), reporter Malcolm Rennie and camera operator Brian Peters (both from Nine) – were killed in the village of Balibo after witnessing an incursion by Indonesian soldiers on October 16, 1975. Their killers have never been brought to justice.

Freelance reporter Roger East, a stringer for the ABC and AAP who provided the first confirmed accounts of the killing of the Balibo Five, was executed by Indonesian troops on Dili Wharf on December 8. His body fell into the sea and was never recovered.

Trump Self Dealing Tax Bill – Haunted Future

Jubilant Republicans took a victory lap at the White House on Wednesday to mark what they called a historic day. 

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, praised Trump for “exquisite presidential leadership”. But in coming months and years, analyses such as the CAP’s could come back to haunt them.

Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow at the thinktank, said: “I think that the American people, whether they receive a tax increase or tax cut from this bill, are outraged that President Trump, his cabinet, and members of Congress stand to receive big payouts from this tax bill. The extent of the self-dealing became especially apparent when a last-minute provision benefitting the real estate industry was inserted at the last minute.”

Hanlon added: “Trump, of course, promised to release his tax returns, like every president since the 1970s, but has brazenly gone back on his word. Congress has the full power to obtain and release Trump’s tax returns, but the Republican majority has buried its head in the sand.

“Still, there is no doubt that Trump is getting major new tax cuts from this bill – at the same time as it preserves special loopholes, like the deductions Trump reportedly takes on his golf courses. These are just one illustration of the venality and corruption behind this bill.”

Despite White House promises that the tax overhaul would focus on the middle class, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a thinktank in Washington, estimates that middle-income households will see an average tax cut of $900 next year under the bill, while the wealthiest 1% will enjoy an average cut of $51,000.

TJ Helmstetter, communications director of Americans For Tax Fairness, said: “This is not tax reform, it’s a money grab by the ultra-wealthy, including the multimillionaires in Congress and Trump’s own cabinet, who will benefit. When all is said and done, over 80% of the tax cuts will wind up in the pockets of the top 1%. Meanwhile, all of this will be paid for by the middle class and families who are struggling to get by.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

ACTU – Cash out, Laundy in: a welcome end to Cash’s attacks on working people

19 December 2017

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus  

“Senator Cash’s tenure as Minister responsible for Industrial Relations has been marked by repeated attempts to remove rights for working people and indifference to the real life issues facing working families.”

“Under Cash, working people’s wage growth was the lowest on record. 40 percent of the workforce is insecure work. Working people have fewer rights, and are struggling to pay the bills. Yet she oversaw the cuts to penalty rates for our lowest paid workers, opposed increases to the minimum wage, allowed wage theft and the abuse of people on work visas to become business models.”

  • As Minister, Cash mislead the Parliament about her role in a raid on union offices on no fewer than five occasions. She thought nothing of going to the media with made up stories about working people to suit her agenda. Under her tenure, life work working people has got harder, but her attention was always on making the work of unions harder.”
  • “Cash opposed Family and Domestic Violence leave and removed it from her own workers whilst withholding pay increases.”
  • “She appointed Nigel Hadgkiss to head the anti-worker ABCC despite knowing that he had broken the laws he would be responsible for enforcing, and then used tax payers’ money to pay his fines.”
  • “In the end, everyone saw she had no credibility. She was driven by ideological obsession to hurt working people and their unions, and it is that obsession which has ended her role as Minister”.
  • “Australia faces a crisis of insecure work and record low wage growth which now must be addressed.”

“We call on the new Minister, Craig Laundy, to focus on the real issues facing working people and their families and to end the ideological war his Government has been taking to those who are on the side of working people”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Eaten Fish, Manus Island's Refugee Cartoonist Escapes from Dutton–Turnbull prison

Eaten Fish, Manus Island's refugee cartoonist, given sanctuary in northern Europe Ali Dorani thanks supporters after being granted artist’s residency through International Cities of Refuge Network

Eaten Fish’s self-portrait. The cartoonist left Papua New Guinea last week after more than four years on Manus Island. Photograph: Eaten FishBen Doherty

The Manus Island refugee and cartoonist Ali Dorani has left Papua New Guinea for refuge in northern Europe.

Known by his nom de plume Eaten Fish, Dorani left PNG last week. He spent more than four years in the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Manus Island, where he suffered acute persecution and dangerously poor physical and mental health.

The terrible true story of Mr Eaten Fish, Manus Island cartoonist

He took the name Eaten Fish after he was rescued from the ocean when the boat carrying him to Australia broke up and sank. He was taken to Manus Island in August 2013.

Dorani was freed through the efforts of the International Cities of Refuge Network, a network of cities and regions that offer long-term residencies to writers and artists who face persecution because of their work, and the Victorian poet and refugee advocate Janet Galbraith, who campaigned on Dorani’s behalf.

“I have left PNG, it was a long journey but I am safe now,” Dorani said from his new home, where he will live for at least the next two years. “I am thinking about my friends in Manus Island and Port Moresby. Thank you to my supporters and people who worked to make this journey happen.”

During his time in detention, Dorani chronicled his life in the refugee camp through his work, depicting life in the camp, including watching his friend Faysal Ishak Ahmed die. His work was published around the world, including in the Guardian, and the Washington Post, and by the ABC.

He was backed by a network of cartoonists and artists from across the world, who drew in support to “Free Eaten Fish”.

During his time in detention, Galbraith told the Guardian Dorani was frequently targeted by some guards and occasionally by other detainees. He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.

“He arrived in Manus as a young man who was already quite a vulnerable person and I remember being told by some of the workers there that this guy just doesn’t fit here at all, it’s so dangerous for him,” she said.

Cartoonists ​draw tributes in campaign for freedom of refugee artist held on Manus Read more
“That has played out. He has severe OCD, he will wash his clothes or body for hours and still feel like it’s disgusting. He will wash himself until he’s bleeding.”

Dorani was recognised by the Cartoonists Rights Network International which awarded him its Courage in Editorial Cartooning award in 2016.

The International Cities of Refuge Network’s program director, Elisabeth Dyvik, said Dorani’s freedom would not have been possible without the advocacy of the cartoonists’ network, Galbraith and the Guardian’s First Dog on the Moon.

“We are relieved that Eaten Fish has arrived safely in a city of refuge where he is free to pursue his career as a cartoonist. Icorn would also commend the city of refuge that has invited him to be the city’s Icorn resident for the next two years.”

Dorani is the second refugee from Australia’s Manus Island camp to be granted protection through a private resettlement arrangement.

In November the Iranian refugee Amir Taghinia moved to Vancouver after a group of Canadian citizens privately sponsored him to resettle there.

“I am so thankful,” Taghinia told the Guardian. “I really respect these people, I now consider them as part of my family. I am seeing the generosity Canadians have towards human beings.”

ACOSS – MYEFO undone by more mean-spirited social security cuts

In responding to today’s release of the Federal Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, ACOSS said the improved outlook for the Australian economy has been overshadowed by further cruel cuts to vital social security payments for some of the most disadvantaged groups in our community.

ACOSS Director of Policy and Advocacy, Edwina MacDonald, said “The improved outlook provides the government with the perfect opportunity to strengthen our social safety net. Instead, at a time when we should be raising payments for people with the least, we are seeing further cuts to social security.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the government has decided once again to target the social security payments of the most vulnerable with a further $1.8 billion dollars in cuts. This is on top of $1.3b of cuts already before the parliament, and around $12b in the past five years.

“It is cruel to make newly arrived migrants wait three years to access benefits, including Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental leave and Carers’ Allowance. This will create an underclass of migrants – new arrivals who find themselves at even more risk financially as they try to settle into Australia.

“We know that migrants have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to our society. This will hurt people who lose their job, people who need to care for a child with disability, or a family member with a terminal illness. It will disproportionately affect women and see more children live in poverty. This will drive more people to our charities for meeting the essentials of life, such as food and shelter.

“The government is extending the freeze to Family Tax Benefit supplements and income thresholds, which means families will have to cover higher living costs with less. FTB supplements have been frozen since 2010.

“The government’s stubborn refusal to take drug testing off the table runs counter to all expert advice from health and addiction professionals and bodies, as well as the Parliament.

“We welcome the cessation of the punitive and ineffective School Enrolment and Attendance Measure. The small investment in programs to help retrenched workers is a good step, but falls short of what is needed to address the larger problem of long-term unemployment.

“We agree that investment in essential services must be guaranteed.

“However, the Treasurer has used MYEFO to reassert his government’s case for business tax cuts in 2018. ACOSS has consistently argued that the priority of the Federal Parliament must be securing the public revenue we need to fund essential services like the NDIS, healthcare, education, social housing and social security payments.

“It is unjustifiable to slash the incomes of people with the least to pave the way for election year tax cuts.”

ANC – Election of Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has elected Cyril Ramaphosa, the country's deputy president, as its new leader.

Ramaphosa will become the country's next president should the ANC win South Africa's general elections in 2019.

The ANC has finished first in every national vote since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

Ramaphosa was born in 1952 in Soweto, a township southwest of the Johannesburg city centre, and went on to study law at the University of the North at Turfloop.

He subsequently joined student politics and served as the branch leader of the South African Students' Association.

Ramaphosa was detained on a series of occasions due to his activism and finally finished his law degree through correspondence via the University of South Africa.

In the 1980s, he became an active member of the National Union of Mineworkers, serving as its general secretary for nine years.

Ramaphosa was elected general secretary of the ANC in 1991, and in the years that followed was a key negotiator on behalf of the party during South Africa's transition to democracy.

After the country's first democratic elections in 1994, he became a member of parliament and helped write and review the post-apartheid constitution.

He was also considered as a potential deputy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, but lost that position to Thabo Mbeki, who became president of the country in 1999.

Ramaphosa became involved with Black Economic Empowerment ventures in business, especially mining and farming, and is today one of South Africa's wealthiest people.

MUA – CSL Replaces Local Workers with Highly Exploited Foreign Crews

Posted by Mua communications on December 12, 2017

One of Australia’s largest coastal shipping companies, Canadian Shipping Lines Australia (CSL) has dramatically increased the use of foreign seafarers in coastal trades in a blatant attempt to undermine employment conditions and jobs on Australia’s coastal shipping routes.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) today warned CSL will face increased scrutiny and union campaigning following their decision to introduce yet another foreign crewed vessel - the Diane - to shipping routes between Australian ports, effectively displacing local seafarers and their jobs.

Local seafarers have also been replaced on vessels Adelie and Acacia which were previously named the CSL Thevenard and the CSL Brisbane.

MUA assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said “CSL are in our sights they have used dodgy offshore tax havens to try and obscure ownership of these ships. They told the union and workers they had sold the vessels to a foreign entity. Inspectors from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have uncovered clear documentary proof on board that the vessels are owned by CSL Australia despite the fabrications of the company.”

“The increase in foreign shipping coupled with the removal of Australian seafarers from their jobs has seen CSL Australia’s local content massively reduce to around 28% of their operations. Effectively 72% of the company’s work in Australia has now been hived off to exploited foreign crews while Australian seafaring jobs have evaporated. This is completely offensive when the same vessels continue to operate on our own coast after our members have been sacked.”

“This has been a persistent attack by CSL. They have hidden the reality of vessel ownership and sacked Australian workers at the same time engaging highly exploited foreign crews to undertake the exact work and trading patterns previously undertaken by Australian workers. It is nothing but a rort and must be stopped or the industry will simply wither away.  Unfortunately, the Turnbull Government supports this, even helping to facilitate these actions through the constant issuance of Temporary Licences despite the local tax-paying workforce being decimated.

“This is the first step in an ongoing campaign which will shine a light on CSL’s dodgy dealings,” Mr Smith said.

A new disturbing element to this decision by CSL was uncovered with the release of the Paradise Papers. It showed CSL using the services of disgraced law firm, Appleby, to obscure the ownership of the ships in secrecy jurisdictions.

The MUA calls on CSL to put Australian seafarers back to work on all vessels that trade on the Australian coast.

ACTU – MYEFO contains more trickle down economic fantasies

18 December 2017

Today’s MYEFO contains more trickle down economic fantasies, with nothing to help working people get a pay rise, or address the increasing casualisation of the workforce.

Rather than assisting working people get a pay rise and a secure job, this Government has attacked unions, cut penalty rates, and refused to support increases to the minimum wage – yet it continues to forecast strong wage growth. 

The Turnbull Government has been forced to revise down their baseless and fictional wage growth estimates from just six months ago, however the projections remain unrealistic and the Government has done nothing to break wage growth out of a record slump.

MYEFO also includes a massive $2.1 billion cut to higher education, and a lowering of the higher education loan repayment threshold by $11,000 compared to the current threshold to barely more than the minimum wage – a massive tax slug to all university and TAFE graduates.

Net debt is still increasing. Net debt in 17-18 was projected to be $264 billion in 2014-15 Budget and is estimated to be $354.9 billion in this MYEFO

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australians need a pay rise. Corporate profits continue to rise while working people are dealing with record low wage growth. MYEFO contains the government’s predictions that wages will rise, but they are without justification or evidence.”
  • “The Turnbull Government has attacked unions, making it harder for people to get pay rises, while doing nothing to address casualisation, the increased use of contracting, underemployment and the cancellation of agreements.”
  • “Working people faced with electricity bills increasing 539% faster than CPI, gas prices increasing 356% faster, childcare increasing 161% faster and car fuel costs increasing 317% faster know that their livings standards are falling while Malcolm Turnbull does nothing to ensure their wages keep pace.  
  • “Workers are being told they can’t take action to increase they pay or protect their jobs yet the Turnbull government thinks that somehow wages will miraculously increase.  The rules for getting a pay rise are broken, until the rules are changed, it is hard to see how Australian’s pay can increase.
  • “The threshold for repayment for higher education loans has been lowered to $45,000 - just $9,000 per year above the minimum wage. This will take money out of the pockets of people who have just finished university or TAFE just as they are trying to establish their own lives.”
  • “If this Government wanted to see its forecasts become reality, it would support unions in pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and stop 700,000 low paid workers getting their penalty rates cut. It would stop making it hard for working people to bargain, and it would work with unions to change the rules.”
  • “The Turnbull Government’s latest forecast is strong on fantasy and weak on the real conditions faced by working people.”

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Britain to celebrate 100th anniversary of women winning right to vote

Millicent Fawcett
Seven areas across England are to host projects in 2018 to mark 100 years since women in Britain were first allowed to vote, Minister for Women and Equalities Anne Milton announced Friday.

To mark the milestone event the government's "centenary cities" -- Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham -- will all stage a range of exciting projects to celebrate as well as remember the individuals who helped win votes for women. 

And government funding of a million pounds will help pay for the celebrations.

The program forms part of the government's wider plans to promote this pivotal moment in history, including the addition of the first female statue in Parliament Square of suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett, due to be unveiled in 2018. 

"The initiatives and commemorations that will take place across the country next year aim to help inspire and educate young people about UK democracy and its importance, as well as encourage more women to get into political and public life," said a spokeswoman for the Department for Education.

Although women in Britain won the right to vote in 1918, it was not the end of the campaign. Only females aged 30 or over were allowed to vote. It would be another decade before women won equality with men and were allowed to vote at 21. The age for both sexes has since been lowered to 18.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

MUA – Victory For Workers Rights and Conditions

Wearing a dark T-shirt and blue jeans, the first speaker steps to the front of the podium. He is a sturdy man, tanned skin, a beard down to his chest.

"Comrades," says the unionist, Will Tracey, into the microphone loudly. "We have a very serious issue."

Beyond them, over at the wharves, are rows of towering gantry cranes and multi-coloured shipping containers – red, blue, orange and grey.

The noise from the rally is extremely loud, but across the road at the Port of Melbourne, all is quiet. High stacks of shipping containers are sitting idle on the docks. They have been forcibly stranded here for the past two weeks.

Twenty years on from the infamous 1998 waterfront dispute, when Patrick stevedores locked out 1400 maritime union members, the docks of Melbourne this month emerged as the scene of an escalating union war; this time, engulfing the port's newest stevedore, Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT).

What happened here, though, was not just about power and pay on the wharves. It was also representative of a new brand of militancy that has become part of the playbook of the wider labour movement and its peak bodies, who believe our workplace laws are "broken".

Outside VICT, since the start of December, a pro-union picket line defied repeated court orders and spent an entire fortnight maintaining an around-the-clock presence, illegally blockading its terminal access gates so neither trucks nor staff were able to enter.

Caught in the crossfire of the feud were more than 1000 shipping containers carrying millions of dollars of Christmas retail goods, fresh food, and medicine. Among them were 22 tonnes of Oreo cookies, 25 tonnes of milk powder, 26 tonnes of beer, 40 tonnes of coffee, 58 tonnes of sports shoes, 97 tonnes of peanut butter and 170 tonnes of cheese.

The cargo was being "held hostage" by the unions, employer groups said, and so too were the fortunes of stevedores, freight companies and the wider supply chain.

The union action was part of a protest against what unions claim was an underhanded strategy by the stevedore to smash the power of the maritime union by supposedly targeting and terminating a casual wharf worker, Richard Lunt, who had been leading a union campaign.

"We certainly can't have a company that stands over people who are willing to stand up for unions inside that gate," Mr Tracey roared to the crowd, over the podium scaffolding.

"We have a company ... that's trying to destroy the MUA's rightful place on the waterfront."

At the centre of this stand-off were accusations that VICT was engaging in "union-busting" tactics after terminating Mr Lunt. The company said it was because he had been identified as ineligible for the security clearance required to work on the docks due to a 20-year-old criminal conviction. The union claimed  he was singled out because he had been leading a union campaign inside the terminal.

A broader issue, it is plainly clear, was that VICT had circumvented the Maritime Union of Australia to strike a wage deal that paid vastly inferior rates compared to the city's other waterfront operators.

Under the VICT agreement, a different union, the Maritime Officers Union of Australia, is the lead party. It was signed up by between five and 10 higher-paid supervisors, on behalf of the current workforce of more than 120.

The MUA claimed a victory on Friday, finally calling off the picket line, after the company ceded to pressure and reinstated Mr Lunt on its books. The company would continue to pay him, but he would not return to the workplace, pending the outcome of a court case next year.

"A workable resolution has been reached in discussions between the union and company management which is a welcome relief at Christmas," union secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

"The MUA would like to thank the Melbourne community and broader trade union movement for backing this worker in his time of need and standing up for decent pay, conditions and job security for all working men and women."

For many in the union movement, the dispute at VICT speaks about a bigger problem and feeds into a national discussion about what they see as a pressing need to change workplace laws.

Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC) Colin Vernon, who had vowed to mobilise Geelong workers at Webb Dock, told Green Left Weekly that this was a “fantastic result for the workers”.

“It just goes to show that when workers and unions stand together, they can beat anyone.

“The odds were stacked against the workers in this one but when they did pull together, we showed they could win.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re a multinational corporation, or whether they’re a corrupt government. It doesn’t matter who they are, we can beat them.”

The community assembly had been organised over close to three weeks. A major solidarity rally with the community assembly was held at Webb Dock on December 8 and a second major rally had been planned for December 19.

A dispute between the MUA and VICT over a non-union workplace agreement that undermines working conditions, negotiated between VICT Human Resources and Industrial Relations director Mick O’Leary and five workplace supervisors, remains ongoing.
The Australian Council of Trade Union’s new secretary, Sally McManus – who courted controversy after telling the ABC this year that she believed in the rule of law only when the “law is fair” – said the dockside picket had become a “front line” in the fight for better rights at work.
  • “We must change these broken rules, we must,” Ms McManus said at last Friday’s rally.
  • “One of the workers who stood up to be a delegate worker here was a casual worker. Well what rights do casual workers have in this country?
  • “Our bargaining rights are so fundamentally broken when bosses can cancel EBAs [enterprise bargaining agreements], when they can vote up dodgy EBAs like they have here. There will be no limits.
  • “We must fight, comrades, until we get better and stronger rights at work.”

Under the leadership of Ms McManus and The Victorian Trades Hall Council's youngest-ever secretary, Luke Hilakari, there has been a renewed injection of vigour and energy into union campaigning that has become unmistakable.

"We've got no choice," Mr Hilakari says. "People have realised if we aren't going to be out there campaigning against some of the worst atrocities humans face in  the workplace, then what are we here for?"

The stevedore at Webb Dock was just the latest big Australian employer to face assertive campaigning from the union movement over what it claims are substandard wage agreements or violations of workplace rights.

ACTU – Racist work-for-the-dole program must be scrapped

15 December 2017

Statement from ACTU Secretary Sally McManus

The ACTU has renewed calls for the Community Development Program to be scrapped after a Senate inquiry into the Program found that the program is causing harm to its overwhelmingly Indigenous workforce.

The racist work-for-the-dole scheme does not pay wages for the 25 hours of work participants have to do every week in order to receive welfare benefits, hands out penalties at a rate and magnitude higher than any other employment scheme and forces workers to work without OHS protections, leave entitlements superannuation or worker’s compensation in the event of injury at work.

We reject any further reviews. All workers should be paid legal wages for work. This program is racist and denies people basic rights all other workers receive. The Government should focus on real jobs in regional and remote communities instead.

The ACTU is committed to ensuring all workers in Australia are protected by Australian law and are paid a legal wage for their work.

This Abbott/Turnbull program should shame all Australians. Minister Nigel Scullion, whose lack of action despite a mountain of evidence that his program has failed and is causing harm, is alarmingly negligent.

We further condemn the decision of the Minister to release a review of the program. We don’t need a review. We need the program scrapped.

Statement from ACTU Indigenous Officer Lara Watson

The ACTU has been talking to people affected by this program since it began and we’ve been hearing what the Minister refuses to, that it is ripping employment and money out of communities, leading to desperation and hunger.

We have had an open invitation for the Minister to meet with the only organisation which is representing workers in CDP, the FNWA, and with ACTU leadership, since mid-2016, but this has gone unanswered.

The program must be scrapped, Indigenous workers must be given the same rights, opportunities and treatment before the law that all workers in Australia should be able to expect.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's Peace Prize Ignored

Jeremy Corbyn's Peace Prize Ignored By Maybot Fawners
As the majority of the British mainstream media disingenuously fawns over Theresa May’s pitiful capitulation to the European Union’s Brexit demands, there has been an incredibly conspicuous radio silence regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s latest achievement.

On Friday, after his landmark speech in Geneva, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was awarded with a highly prestigious . But you certainly wouldn’t know it from looking at the mainstream media.

Along with political activist and historian Noam Chomsky, Corbyn was handed the Sean McBride Peace Prize – a prestigious award dedicated to the memory of peace campaigner Sean MacBride, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1974.

Corbyn was handed the prestigious award for his ‘sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace’, and, unlike almost all other mainstream Western politicians, for looking for ‘alternatives to war’.

The full press release from the International Peace Bureau reads:

Jeremy Corbyn – for his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace. As an active member, vice-chair and now vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK he has for many years worked to further the political message of nuclear disarmament. As the past chair of the Stop the War Campaign in the UK he has worked for peace and alternatives to war. As a member of parliament in the UK he has, for 34 years continually taken that work for justice, peace and disarmament to the political arena both in and outside of Parliament. He has ceaselessly stood by the principles, which he has held for so long, to ensure true security and well-being for all – for his constituents, for the citizens of the UK and for the people of the world. Now, as leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition he continues to carry his personal principles into his political life – stating openly that he could not press the nuclear button and arguing strongly for a re-orientation of priorities – to cut military spending and spend instead on health, welfare and education.
As well as winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the namesake of the award, Sean MacBride, was a founding member of Amnesty International, a hugely successful charity set up by ‘ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights.’

Despite the significance of such an award being handed to a mainstream British politician, the only outlets to report the story were The Skwawkbox and Vox Political. Had Theresa May or any other establishment lackey been awarded with a prestigious International Peace Award, can you seriously imagine the entire media would ignore it?

Of course they wouldn’t. It would be plastered all over the news. And everyone knows it.

However, as we saw in the lead up to all of our recent disastrous military interventions, the British media, rather than holding power to account, acts as a sort of post-colonial establishment cheerleader – desperately and disgustingly baying for foreign blood at whatever cost.

War gives such publications the emotive headlines they require for people to continue buying them, and world peace certainly wouldn’t be considered a money spinner for the future.

Combined with the fact that the current financial and political status quo only genuinely benefits the already super-rich owners of such media outlets, it is little wonder that there has been absolutely no coverage in the media of Corbyn’s award for peace campaigning.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

John Falzon V. Social Services Minister Porter

Dr. John Falzon
In 1952 a Catholic newspaper in Ireland proclaimed: “The welfare state is diluted socialism and socialism is disguised communism.”

Extreme? Yes. Dated? No. When you listen to the dying declarations of the spear-carriers for neoliberalism, it’s hard not to hear the same alarmist codswallop.

The logic goes like this: being unemployed and poor is bad because people choose to be unemployed or poor. If you receive income support, it is because you are unemployed and poor. Therefore, receiving income support is bad. Therefore, removing income support is good. Coincidentally, this means more money for the rich and less for the poor.

Social services minister Christian Porter’s recent National Press Club address was replete with denunciations of the “politics of envy” associated with redistributionist policies, as well as the “morally unacceptable” nature of social expenditure because it means placing a debt burden on the children of today to pay off as the adults of tomorrow.

These are old tropes. Joe Hockey used them regularly when he was treasurer. The intergenerational framework is always going to be a useful means of distracting from the uncomfortable reality of class inequality in the current generation.

A false divide is constructed between those who have a job (and pay taxes) and those who don’t.

It is time that we did away with this fictitious divide. It was always false. It implied that the low-paid cleaner had more in common with the mining magnate than with the person who is locked out of the labour market.

But now, especially as we try to understand the future of work and the massive changes to the structure of the labour market, it is time we consigned this nonsense to the rubbish bin of ideological history.

People who are low paid, casually employed, underemployed, unemployed, informally employed, on dodgy contracts, women who work as unpaid or low-paid carers, students who take whatever work they can get and remain silent about the indefinite training wages, sole parents, people with a disability, aged pensioners, veterans; all have more in common with each other and with other members of the working class than we dare admit.

The proposed welfare bill will push people further into poverty. We have to stand together against it

By recognising this commonality, we can begin to reframe the way in which so-called welfare dependency and the “injustice” and “immorality” of social expenditure is presented. This is crucial at a time when the government has ruled out increasing the woefully inadequate Newstart payment, which has not seen an increase in real terms since 1994.

The discussion needs some perspective. We have a minimum wage that sits at around 40% of the average weekly earnings and a Newstart payment that sits at around 40% of the minimum wage. 

The minimum wage is not a living wage and the unemployment benefit is not even a pale shadow of a living wage. And we see the consequences at the St Vincent de Paul Society every day, where topping up from charitable assistance has become the norm for many people simply to survive.

We need a solid jobs plan, and full employment should be a policy priority. Instead we keep getting served up a putting-the-boot-into-the-unemployed-plan and a slashing-social-expenditure-plan. Behavioural approaches won’t fix structural problems.

The government can blame people all they like but this won’t address the inequality many are burdened with, as wages are suppressed and profits soar, buttressed by tax cuts, wage cuts and social expenditure cuts.

As neoliberalism struggles to present a semblance of relevance, we are presented with the tired old narrative that when government collects revenue from those who can afford it and redistributes resources to those that need them, we are witnessing “socialist revisionism at its worst.” . In fact, we are faced with the reality that 732 companies paid zero tax in the 2015-16 financial year.

The government is right, however, about one thing. We do need to innovate.

Our social security system was built in very different structural circumstances. The labour market is different. Work is different. We should be embarking on a serious reframing of how we can, collectively and with common resources, achieve social and economic security for everyone. We need, for example, to explore how government might play a leading role in achieving full employment instead of harassing the people who have been structurally excluded from jobs.

There is nothing innovative about marginalising people who are already made to feel that they have been stigmatised through drug-testing and cashless welfare cards.

There is nothing smart about a program like Path that uses young people for six months as cheap labour and then discards them.

We need to build a way forward that ensures that no one misses out on the essentials of life: a place to live, a place to work (or income adequacy for those who cannot engage in paid work), a place to learn (from early childhood through to university and TAFE), and a place to heal.

This means not just leaving these essentials to the whims of the market but actively ensuring that no one is excluded. This is an economic as well as a social imperative.

Inequality is buttressed and boosted by unfair rules that must be changed. We need to imagine a future predicated not on the perpetuation of inequality but the provision of social and economic security.

Inequality is neither a personal choice nor a national tragedy. It is a choice governments make.

• Dr John Falzon is chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society national council

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Alabama – Doug Jones Wins Senate Race

Black, brown, and millennial voters -- and Black women in particular -- turned out in historic numbers to send a Democratic candidate to the Senate from Alabama for the first time since 1992.

This historic win is more than just a crushing blow to Donald Trump's agenda of bigotry, hate, and division. It's also a powerful reminder that progressives can win anywhere and everywhere if we stand up for an inclusive populist political agenda and build campaigns that welcome, energize, and mobilize the new American majority of Black, brown, and progressive white voters.

Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor who mounted a seemingly quixotic Senate campaign in the face of Republican dominance here, defeated his scandal-scarred opponent, Roy S. Moore, after a brutal campaign marked by accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation against the Republican, according to The Associated Press.

The upset delivered an unimagined victory for Democrats and shaved Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat.

Mr. Jones’s victory could have significant consequences on the national level, snarling Republicans’ legislative agenda in Washington and opening, for the first time, a realistic but still difficult path for Democrats to capture the Senate next year. It amounted to a stinging snub of President Trump, who broke with much of his party and fully embraced Mr. Moore’s candidacy, seeking to rally support for him in the closing days of the campaign.

Amid thunderous applause from his supporters at a downtown hotel, Mr. Jones held up his victory as a message to Washington from voters fed up with political warfare. For once, he said, Alabama had declined to take “the wrong fork” at a political crossroads.

“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified,” Mr. Jones declared, draping his election in the language of reconciliation and consensus. “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law.”

"I want to just say this, folks, we have come so far. We have come so far and the people of Alabama have spoken. They have said we — [cheers and applause] They have said to each other that this, I have said from the very beginning this campaign has never been about me, it’s never been about Roy Moore. It has been about everyone of you, every one of you and your sons and daughters. It’s all of those volunteers that knocked on 300,000 doors. It’s the volunteers who made 1.2 million phone calls around this state.

It’s those volunteers to make sure that we knew, it was every community. You know, I keep hearing about the different communities in this state. The African-American community, thank you. [Cheers and applause]

My friends — my friends in the Latino community, thank you. To all my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah. We have built this everywhere we have gone. We have had that same energy. We’ve had that same excitement. At the end of the day, this — this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign — this campaign has been about the rule of law.

This cam — this campaign has been about common courtesy and decency, and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life. And let me just say this, folks, to all of those — all of my future colleagues in Washington, to all — I had such wonderful help.

But I want to make sure, in all seriousness, there are important issues facing this country. There are important issues of health care and jobs and the economy. And I want to — I would like, as everyone in the entire probably free world knows right now, we’ve tried to make sure that this campaign was about finding common ground and reaching across and actually getting things done for the people.

So, I — I have a challenge. I have this challenge to my future colleagues in Washington. Don’t wait on me. Take this election from the great state of Alabama — [cheers and applause] Let me finish. Take this election — take this election where the people of Alabama said we want to get something done, we want you to find common ground, we want you to talk. Take this opportunity, in light of this election, and go ahead and fund that CHIP program before I get up there. Put it aside and let’s do it for those million kids and 150,000 here in Birmingham"

Biennale of Sydney – Ai Weiwei – 70 metre "lifeboat of refugees"

The Biennale of Sydney is preparing to welcome the largest ever lifeboat of refugees to Sydney Harbour in March 2018: a 70-metre black rubber vessel bearing 258 passengers, courtesy of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

It is made from the same material as many of the dinghies carrying refugees from Turkey to Greece across the Aegean Sea.

MEAA–A proud history at the forefront of Australian journalism

The MEAA Media section has a century of experience campaigning on behalf of the profession, making it one of the oldest media unions in the world.

MEAA Media is the name for the media workers section of MEAA. The section traces its history from 1910 with the foundation of the Australian Journalists’ Association which was formed at a meeting of journalists in Melbourne after several unsuccessful attempts to form a bond or union as a professional association for journalists.

At the time, journalists were often working for "a-penny-a-line". As a reporter on a daily newspaper, you were probably paid in the region of £3 or £4 per week for working something in excess of 60 hours – across at least six days a week. That is, of course, if you were paid a weekly wage at all. One of the journalists working as a "penny-a-liner" was Keith (later Sir Keith) Murdoch, father of Rupert, who was scratching a living from piece work as a federal parliamentary reporter for The Age in Melbourne (the then national capital).

The meeting was called by Melbourne Herald reporter B.S.B. “Bertie” Cook. He had begun work there, aged 12, as a copy boy. After 10 years he was a reporter earning £3 for a 70-hour week. Concerned by journalists' working conditions, he joined with colleagues in several failed attempts to form an effective industrial association. But in 1910 Cook saw an opportunity under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 for journalists to register as an industrial organisation. The Act provided that “an employer shall not dismiss an employee or injure him in his employment or alter his position to his prejudice by reason of the circumstance that the employee is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award”.

Having taken advice from Prime Minister Alfred Deakin and the federal industrial registrar, A.M. Stewart, Cook was told that the legitimacy of registration by journalists as an industrial organisation was unclear and there would have to be a test case to determine this.

On December 1 1910, Cook sent the following letter out to journalists around the country:

A meeting of journalists, i.e. persons professionally and habitually engaged on staff of newspapers or periodicals, will be held at the cafe in the basement of the Empire buildings, Flinders St., Melbourne on Saturday Dec 10th at 8pm sharp for the purpose of considering the question of forming an organisation to secure registration under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

You are invited to be present and to extend an invitation to any other qualified person with whom you are acquainted.
On behalf of the committee,
Yours faithfully
B.S.B. Cook
Melbourne Herald

On December 10, more than 100 journalists crowded into the cafe (262-268 Flinders Street, Melbourne). Cook says this was “a fair proportion of journalists, in those days, who would be qualified to attend. Some of these were not too sure about what they were getting themselves into, feeling it would be “infra dig for the ‘gentlemen of the Press’ to have to seek the protection of the law in arranging their working hours and salaries”, but “after this is seemed as if the floodgates of discontent had broken their banks and speaker after speaker told of the intolerable hours they had to work and of the miserable salaries they were getting”. Sound familiar?

A secret ballot was held on the motion: That this meeting of press writers of Australia affirms the desirability of forming an organisation for registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of Australia. While some abstained, the motion was passed 78 to nine.

Read More 

NSWTF–Hasten slowly and stay in charge

Maurie Mulheron President

Many years ago, as a young teacher in the late 1970s, I read an article about Japan and mathematics teaching in relation to what was then new technology — the overhead projector. It may have been apocryphal, but I still found the story to be thought provoking. The article told of a local school district in Japan that had decided to replace, with unforeseen consequences, all the blackboards with overhead projectors complete with scrolling plastic film on which teachers were to write.

As the story goes, after some time, there was a noticeable decline in students’ results in mathematics across all schools. A team of experts was brought in. After observing mathematics classes over a sustained period, the experts reached their conclusion. The new technology, the overhead projector, was the cause of the decline.

Apparently, the scrolling film meant that students, who had lost concentration or had been slower to pick up a concept, quickly became lost because the teacher kept scrolling through while explaining the solution to the mathematics problem. Yet, with the old blackboard the complete narrative to the solution remained visible so that students could look back and catch up.

When the blackboards were screwed back up onto the walls, the maths results started to go up again.
So, I always am cautious when deciding how we should use new technology in our classrooms. The test for me is this: We should always determine, firstly, the pedagogy when we program our lessons then we see what, if any, technology could enhance and support the teaching and learning process.
Now, let me say this. I first started using a computer in my English classrooms back in the early 1980s with a product known as MicroBee, well before Apple and Microsoft products were readily available. Programs were stored on cassette tapes as I recall. I have used digital technology throughout my teaching career.

But huge technology companies are now eyeing off schooling as the last untapped marketplace. We need to be wary. What I am concerned about is that teachers are in danger of losing control of the how we teach as “edu-businesses” move to directly influence politicians, advisers and policy makers.
The issue of students writing with keyboards as opposed to cursive script might be a useful case in point. This seems to be a manufactured conflict. Surely, it’s not a case of privileging one tool over the other but to ensure that students know how to use a keyboard as well as a pen. I mean, after all, cycling hasn’t replaced walking.

But let’s also look at the educational arguments for the use of pens and the teaching of cursive script.
There is a wealth of research into this area and a range of conflicting opinions. It certainly is not a settled matter. All the more reason why we need to hasten slowly. My position is that the skill of being able to hand write is essential, and even more critical in the early years of schooling when students are developing their fine and gross motor skills.

One interesting argument for handwriting is its relationship to spelling. There is a school of thought that believes the use of cursive script creates more consistent spelling.

It has to do with kinaesthetic learning. The argument goes that the muscle memory is important when we spell. As written English has so many letter clusters, a student’s arm and hand movements, when learning to running write at the same time as learning to spell, makes for a more consistent speller.
A quick test of this theory is to deliberately misspell your first name by printing each letter. It is relatively easy to reverse, say, the middle letters. Now try to misspell your name when you running write and you may “feel” your arm pull against you.

But there are other arguments as well. We know that there is much more research into the teaching of reading than there is into the teaching of writing.

A student’s writing that is done on a keyboard, even if tracked, will not show up the mistakes, the corrections or the changes to thought processes that have occurred. But handwriting often shows a visible record of the creative process. For a teacher assessing a child’s development in writing, this can be invaluable.

In a recent article published in The Age, “This skill is being written off at our children’s peril”, Anabela Malpique, a research associate in the School of Education at Murdoch University, argues: “ … in the last 10 years, a solid body of research has shown that effective writing depends on the development of lower-order skills, such as handwriting and spelling, and of higher-order skills, such as planning and revising.”

She goes on to say: “And there is a strong relationship between automaticity (often called fluency) and written composition. The ability to write quickly and effortlessly allows children to focus on translating ideas into writing, thinking about what they want to say about the topic at hand. Poor handwriting may conceal the writing potential of primary school children. And teaching handwriting improves automaticity and the writing quality of texts produced by students in primary and secondary schools.”

In recent years, there has been a decline in the time spent teaching children to hand write. But students using keyboards to write has increased dramatically. Yet, since 2011, secondary student scores in writing have declined. Is there any correlation? We simply do not know.

But surely, before we move to NAPLAN Online, which demands that all students are required to do the written component of the test using a keyboard, we should investigate this whole area.

NAPLAN already dominates, in so many negative ways, what is happening in our classrooms and we can all imagine the consequences for the teaching of writing once the test is moved online.

As teachers, we have a duty of care to our students and surely this also involves protecting them from powerful technology companies whose first and last motivation is to sell their software and hardware products.

The story of the Japanese blackboards might be worth revisiting.


Submitted by nswtf on 12 December 2017

The NSW Teachers Federation has rejected today’s claims by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham that the Turnbull Government is increasing school funding in Bennelong.

In fact Mr Birmingham is making savage cuts to education funding. Cuts which are supported by Liberal candidate John Alexander.

The facts are disclosed on the Federal Education Department’s website for all to see.

An analysis by the NSW Teachers Federation earlier this year revealed $11 million in cuts to school budgets in Bennelong in 2018 and 2019 as part of a $22 billion dollar reduction in education funding across Australia.

Further analysis based on new information posted on the Federal Education Department’s website last month shows school budgets in Bennelong will be squeezed even further. Schools in Bennelong are set to lose an additional $760,000 in 2018.

“This Government has never been committed to honouring the original Gonski needs-based funding model,” said NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron.

“They tore up the signed NSW Gonski agreement and now they are peddling more misinformation to parents and voters.”

“Mr Birmingham is getting desperate on schools funding, trying unsuccessfully to defend the indefensible,” Mr Mulheron said.

“The Turnbull Government’s media release handed out at the time of the Gonski 2.0 announcement describe it as a $22 billion ‘saving’ – which means a cut to money that would otherwise be in schools under the previous funding arrangements.”

“Despite what Birmingham says, a cut to legislated and promised funding is still a cut.”

Mr Mulheron said every public school in Bennelong would be worse off in 2018/19 than they would have been under the original funding agreement between NSW and the Federal Government.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UK –Tory Brexit Fiasco

The UK will have lost 10,500 finance jobs to other European cities by day one of Brexit, according to new research.

The number of City firms planning to shift jobs to the Continent has doubled since last year, professional services company EY said on Monday.

It tracked 222 City firms and found that almost a third of banks, brokers and asset managers had confirmed or said they are considering plans to move staff or open up new offices in centres such as Dublin, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

However, the number of jobs estimated to be moving has dropped by 2,000 from a year ago, EY said. Many of the jobs set to go are front-office jobs rather than support functions.

The latest estimate is in line with that of Bank of England Deputy Governor Sam Woods who predicted 10,000 jobs would go by the time Britain officially departs the single market and customs union in March 2019. However a senior figure at the BoE believes around 75,000 jobs could be lost in the longer term because of Brexit, according to sources cited by the BBC.

Dublin and Frankfurt are the cities likely to see the largest benefit from Brexit relocations, EY said. A total of 26 firms have announced they will move operations to one of those two financial hubs. 

“The extent of broader strategic restructurings and relocation plans will of course ultimately depend on the specifics of any long-term UK deal with the EU, but a drop in the volume of jobs moving will be welcome news for the City,” said Omar Ali, head of EY’s UK financial services team. 

The moves would have a “significant” impact on smaller hubs on the Continent but would not dent London’s role as Europe’s primary financial centre, he said.

UK-based financial institutions have lobbied hard for a transitional period, amid fears that they will not be able to serve their EU clients once Britain leaves the trading bloc. More firms are expected to confirm job moves from the UK if a transitional deal is not confirmed in early 2018.

A no-deal Brexit is widely seen as being potentially devastating for the UK’s important financial sector, which was worth £124bn to the UK economy in 2016, according to House of Commons figures.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made it clear last month that, when the UK leaves the single market, financial services firms based in Britain will lose their “passporting” rights.

“On financial services, UK voices suggest that Brexit does not mean Brexit. Brexit means Brexit, everywhere,” Mr Barnier told the Centre for European Reform last month.

The passport enables firms to sell their services across the EU. To continue selling to clients within the EU, as they do now, they would have to establish subsidiaries within the EU and apply for a local licence.

Alternatively they will have to hope they can rely on “regulatory equivalence”. This is the notion that if the UK financial regulator adopts the same regulatory standards as the pan-European financial regulator, the European regulator will continue to allow UK-based financial firms to operate as they do now across Europe.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wharfies is a fifty-two minute chronological film history of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia from its formation in 1902 in the primitive days of hard, physical, exploited labour, to the mechanised, computerised present. It shows how the conditions enjoyed by wharfies of today are the result of eight decades of history, a colourful often turbulent history of human suffering, struggle, and conflict.

The film develops the Federation's history in the context of Australian political and social history. Wherever possible archival footage has been used, going back to the trenches of WWI, and the General Strike of 1917. Later footage is drawn from documentaries made in the 1950s by the WWF Film Unit. Dramatic reconstruction of events using professional actors is also used.

Oral history is utilised as veteran wharfies, with memories back to the 1920s, appear in the film, recalling experiences of waterside work, life, and the politics of the WWF, recollections still tinged with anger and bitterness, but a history recalled with passion, humour, dignity, and pride.

Produced and Directed by Elisabeth Knight for the WWF and written by Elisabeth Knight and Keith Gow, an original member of the WWF Film Unit, the film is a credit to its creators, and to the wharfies whose history it records.

Posted by Jamie McMechan - Maritime Union Of Australia - Film Unit

ACTU – Report calls for Modern Slavery Act, as Turnbull backs away

11 December 2017

The ACTU welcomes a report demanding a Modern Slavery Act for Australia, but is concerned that the Turnbull government is already signalling its intention to sidestep any attempt to confront this global issue.

The report produced by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence has made a number of recommendations which would start to restrict modern slavery practices in Australia. These include an independent commissioner, establishing a national compensation scheme for victims, and a mandatory supply chain reporting requirement for companies with profits over $50 million with penalties for those who do not report in the second year.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The committee has recommended many initiatives which we have campaigned for including a labour hire licensing scheme, changes to Australia’s visa framework and due diligence requirements.”
  • “However, before the committee released its final report, the Turnbull Government made it clear that they would not support penalties, the reporting threshold would be as high as $100 million and that they had no intention of changing the visa system.”
  • “The government’s proposal to ask companies to report without any penalties for failing to do so will not change the culture of employers who are happy to turn a blind eye to what is happening in their supply chains.”
  • “Many Australians are aware of the abuse, exploitation and slavery- like practices in many industries in this country, and there are thousands of victims who are too scared to tell their story.”
  • “Multiple submissions made to the Inquiry recommended penalties for not reporting, as the evidence arising from the UK Modern Slavery Act clearly shows that companies will not act until there are consequences.”
  • “Legislation should drive companies to comply with the basic demands of due diligence. An Act with no penalties will not achieve this modest goal.”
  • “We urge the Government to take seriously the recommendations of its own committee and implement these initiatives immediately.” 

Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

16 days ago, women around the world began a whirlwind of activity to step up their ongoing fight as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

In Australia, incredible local activists like you ramped up our tax justice campaign – emphasising how tax dodging increases the risk of women and girls experiencing gender-based violence, and reduces support for survivors.

Whether you attended a local event, hosted one yourself, dropped in on your MP, donated or even engaged on social media – thank you for standing in solidarity with women everywhere and being a part of this people powered movement to end gender based violence.

Today, let’s look back at what we’ve achieved together in holding 16 events in 16 days to step up the fight for women’s rights:

Community activists in Newcastle, Melbourne, Sydney and the Sutherland Shire kept the pressure on our politicians by dropping in on their local MPs to demand tax justice for women. 

We showed our people power by publishing an open letter signed by 1600 people and prominent Australian women in the Prime Minister’s local paper – then visited his office in person to let Malcolm Turnbull know that people around the country care about tax justice for women, and they want action now.

Across Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra activists came together to celebrate their wins this year and plan the next steps in the tax justice campaign to ensure public services that keep women safe are well funded and protected.

And in Adelaide and in Sydney's Inner West, local activists held a passionate community discussion around what we can do to achieve economic justice for women, and the safety and security that comes with that.

16 Days of Activism may be over, but we know that the global movement to end gender-based violence will persist until women everywhere can claim the right to safety, security, and respect.

With the incredible passion, energy, and determination you showed these past 16 days, we have no doubt that our activist community is as strong and committed as ever to the ongoing fight for women’s rights.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

International Anti-Corruption Day – Jeremy Corbyn on the Global Scandal

Labour will work to create a legally binding treaty that would end the “global scandal” of corporations avoiding tax, Jeremy Corbyn said on the eve of International Anti-Corruption Day today.

In a wide-ranging speech at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva yesterday, the Labour leader accused the British government yesterday of playing a “central role” in enabling tax avoidance.

A Labour government will regulate transnational companies, their subsidiaries and suppliers under international human rights law, Mr Corbyn promised.

This would be done by introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories, including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for companies and trusts.

“As the Paradise and Panama papers have shown, the super-rich and powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves,” Mr Corbyn said.

“Corruption isn’t something that happens ‘over there’ — our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy and violates human rights.”

He also attacked “the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite,” arguing that “the dominant global economic system is broken.”

Corruption and tax avoidance enable a wealthy few to control 90 per cent of global resources, Mr Corbyn told his audience of UN officials.

It is also worsening inequality within and between nations; depriving developing countries of more than $100 billion (£75bn) a year in revenue through corporations not paying their share, and sucking $1 trillion (£750bn) a year out of the Global South through “illicit financial flows.

“The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for who our world is run,” the Labour leader insisted.

Charmian Gooch, founding director of anti-corruption campaign group Global Witness, commented: “As Jeremy Corbyn rightly says, corruption isn’t just something that happens in countries far away. It is present on our streets, in our banking system and in our tax havens.

“For too long, London has acted as a playground for the corrupt and UK tax havens have been a favoured place to hide dirty money.

“The government must use International Anti-Corruption Day as an opportunity to bring greater transparency to UK tax havens and overseas territories [and] also to stop dirty money entering our property market and bring in proper punishment for those corporations that commit economic crimes.”

At least £122bn worth of property in England and Wales is owned by companies registered offshore, according to Global Witness, and 75 per cent of properties whose owners are under investigation for corruption have made use of these secret schemes.

Australian anti-nuclear group ICAN to accept Nobel Prize in Norway

Dimity Hawkins, Tim Wright and Tilman Ruff

An Australian-founded group of anti-nuclear campaigners will accept their Nobel Peace Prize alongside an 85-year-old Hiroshima survivor.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is the first Australian-founded Nobel Laureate for peace and will accept the prestigious award in Norway on Sunday.

Leading Australian health and human rights campaigners will be in Oslo for the ceremony, including Kokatha South Australian nuclear test survivor Sue Coleman-Haseldine and ICAN's founding chairman Tilman Ruff.

Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 when the Japanese city was bombed, will accept the award with ICAN's executive director Beatrice Fihn.

The anti-nuclear weapons group that won the Nobel Prize was launched in Victoria 10 years ago.
Nobel Peace Prize winners ICAN urge Australia to sign nuclear weapons treaty
Ms Thurlow has been a leading figure for ICAN since the grassroots movement began in Melbourne's Carlton in 2007 with an aim to end the use of nuclear weapons.

Now headquartered in Geneva, ICAN is a non-governmental coalition that promotes the implementation and adherence of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Comprising 468 partner organisations in 100 countries, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October for its work to end the threat of nuclear arms to humanity.

The 1945 bombing of Hiroshoma and Nagasaki remain the only times nuclear weapons have been used in war.

Ms Thurlow was rescued at Hiroshima from the rubble of a collapsed building about 1.8 kilometres from Ground Zero, the closest point to detonation.

Most of her classmates, who were in the same room, were burned alive by the bombing.

The ceremony will be celebrated in Australia with a live broadcast of the event at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Speakers at the Melbourne event will include Australian Greens Leader senator Richard Di Natale, Labor Senator Lisa Singh, and Karina and Rose Lester, daughters of the late elder Yami Lester who was blinded by British nuclear tests in the 1950s.

Victory ! Libyan trade union leader Nermin Al-Sharif gets her passport back,

Libyan trade union leader Nermin Al-Sharif
Victory! Libyan trade union leader Nermin Al-Sharif gets her passport back, and an official apology following ITF - LabourStart global campaign. Thank you to the nearly 7,000 people who supported this campaign. Solidarity Forever!