Monday, July 31, 2017

CFMEU – The Asbestos Scandal


Published on 20 Jul 2016

Over the last two weeks we have seen the arrival of a scandal that we have been warning about for years. Imported building materials contaminated with asbestos have found their way into our community.

Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull need to explain how they have allowed this to happen.

standupspeakoutcomehome.org.au

NSWTF–VOTE YES NOW in the TAFE Ballot

Submitted by nswtf on 28 July 2017

Federation urges members to vote YES in the TAFE Commission of NSW TAFE Managers Enterprise Agreement 2017 ballot.

The ballot opened at 12.01am on Friday 28th July and will close 11.59pm on Monday 31st July. The outcome of this ballot will determine TAFE Managers' working conditions for the next two years. Members do not have to be at TAFE to vote; members can vote on the internet or by telephone.

The proposed two-year Agreement ensures a 2.5 per cent pay rise in January 2018 and another 2.5 per cent in January 2019 while maintaining all current working conditions. Under the current state wages policy, this is the maximum increase allowable without requiring a loss of working conditions to yield employee-related savings. In the current political climate, Federation recommends TAFE Managers should vote YES in this ballot.

You should have received a copy of the proposed Agreement from TAFE with a summary of clauses and information on how to vote. If you haven’t received this, it is available on TAFE’s website.

If you have received an email from Corpvote, it is vital that you vote in this ballot. You should have received your Voter Access Code from Corpvote by now – if you haven’t, but think you are eligible, you can contact the Returning Officer, Tim Jones of Corpvote on tjones@corpvote.com.au or the support line 1300 147 797.

ACTU – Restaurants, Cafes, Hairdressers, all move to slash penalty rates

28 July 2017

The Restaurant & Catering Industry Association has joined with the hair and beauty industry – represented by the Australian Industry Group – to form the second wave in the ongoing attack on weekend wages. Media reports suggest that the Club Industry employer body, Clubs Australia might also join the attack on weekend pay, but at this stage they have not indicated their position.

When big business are getting billions of dollars in tax cuts, and corporate profits rise 40% in a year, while wage growth is stalled at historic lows, and now penalty rates are under sustained attack across the economy – that’s inequality, and that’s a broken system.

If these attacks are allowed, then workers in these industries stand to lose between $46 and $92 per shift.

It should be very clear to all Australians that this is happening because the Turnbull Government failed to act to protect penalty rates.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “This is not surprising - we had legal advice which said that the Fair Work Commission’s ruling would open the door to action exactly like this – but it is disappointing that more employers are attacking pay.”
  • “While at this stage the Club Industry has not indicted their position, we urge them not to follow suit with the ideologues of the AIG and the RCIA. Any employer group who seeks to take advantage of Malcolm Turnbull’s green light to attack penalty rates will have a fight on its hands.” 
  • “We’re campaigning to change the law to ensure that wages are protected, and can’t be cut by the commission under pressure from employers. In the last parliamentary session we fell short by just a couple of votes. This latest attack on wages should make a few Coalition backbenchers very nervous about their decision to green light these cuts”
  • “Penalty rates are an essential part of weekly wages for millions of Australians, and wages should never be cut. We need pay increases in this country and instead this government has given a green light to every employer to attack penalty rates.”
  • “If the independent umpire can cut pay then that system is broken. It’s not what it was designed or set up to do, so we need to change the rules.”
  • “The union movement are going to take this campaign all the way to the next election. This government has waved through wage cuts, the opposition has promised to reverse them. It’s that simple.”


Thursday, July 27, 2017

UK – Court Scraps Tax On Justice At Work - Tories to cough up £32m in tribunal fees

British unions hailed a “major victory for employees everywhere” yesterday, as the Supreme Court sensationally declared employment tribunal fees illegal.

The court unanimously affirmed that the government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.

In a final humiliation, Whitehall will have to reimburse a whopping £32 million worth of fees it has collected since 2013.
Public-sector union Unison, which pursued the legal case, said a “tax on justice” had finally been lifted.

“These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up,” the union’s general secretary Dave Prentis said.

“It’s a major victory for employees everywhere.

“Unison took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand.”

In 2013 then justice secretary Chris Grayling introduced fees of up to £1,200 for taking grievances to tribunals.
A review into the effects of the fees earlier this year exposed a massive 70 per cent drop in the number of cases brought to tribunals since they were introduced.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the government would “take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid.”

Labour shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon welcomed the decision and said it was right the government was agreeing to confine the policy to the “dustbin of history.”

He added: “Labour’s manifesto pledged to abolish employment tribunal fees.

“Labour’s position has been vindicated by the highest court of the land and Unison should be congratulated on winning a victory for working people everywhere.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said it was a “landmark victory for workers and for access to justice.”
But Ms Swinson, who served as employment minister in her party’s coalition government with the Conservatives, defended the fees at the time they were introduced.

Speaking in Parliament in 2012, she said Labour amendments to the government’s tribunal reforms would “provide protection” for people pursuing “vexatious and abusive” claims.

Pointing out Ms Swinson’s hypocrisy, Mr Burgon blasted: “People shouldn’t forget the immoral employment tribunal fees were introduced by the Tories and the Lib Dems.

“Just as the Lib Dems opposed the introduction of the national minimum wage, so too they joined in with the Conservatives’ crackdown on workers’ rights.

“People should make no mistake — the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats introduced tribunal fees with the very purpose of blocking access to justice for working people.”

Unison’s legal victory comes after four years of wrangling in the courts. Two applications for judicial review in the High Court were unsuccessful. The union’s case was then turned down by the Court of Appeal.

But in the Supreme Court in March, Unison’s QC Dinah Rose said these courts had applied the “wrong legal test” in adjudicating on whether the fees made it “in practice, impossible” for the poor to seek justice.

Instead, they should have applied a basic proportionality test, she argued.

The court ruled yesterday that the fees, which ranged between £390 and £1,200, could make it futile or irrational for aggrieved workers to bring claims.

The judges said they contravened the EU law guarantee of effective remedy before a tribunal.

And higher fees for discrimination cases put women at a particular disadvantage because they are more likely to bring discrimination claims, the court ruled — contravening the 2010 Equality Act.

TUC leader Frances O’Grady said: “Today’s result shows the value of working people standing together in trade unions.”

ACOSS rejects Federal Government’s latest attempt to cut incomes of people living in poverty.

ACOSS rejects Federal Government’s latest attempt to cut incomes of people living in poverty. The energy supplement must stay.

ACOSS will call on Parliament to again reject cutting the Energy Supplement at a Senate hearing being held in Melbourne today, along with a number of other civil society groups.

Dr Cassandra Goldie says removing the energy supplement is cutting the incomes of Australia’s most disadvantaged people.

  • “We cannot fathom why Government persists in trying to cut the incomes of people who have the least,” says Dr Goldie.
  • “If this Bill goes through, 1.7 million people on the lowest incomes will be worse off, including those paying for accommodation, food, travel costs and day-to-day bills while living on just $38 a day.
  • “If the energy supplement is cut, people living on Newstart’s $38 a day will lose $4.40 per week.
  • “Expecting people in Australia to survive on so little is a human rights issue.
  • “With almost 3 million people living in poverty, including over 730 000 children, the Australian government must focus on how to increase people’s incomes, not slash them.
  • “The message our members and people in the community are telling us is clear.
  • “Government’s job is to work with us to end poverty in Australia, not make it worse.
  • “This latest Bill must again be firmly rejected.”


Senate inquiry ACOSS will appear at 1.15pm to speak at the Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Ending Carbon Tax Compensation) Bill 2017 on Wednesday 26 July 2017

ACOSS’ submission to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Ending Carbon Tax Compensation) Bill 2017

 Copyright 26 July 2017

ABS report reveals one job no longer pay the bills, new class of working poor emerging

ABS report reveals one job no longer pay the bills, new class of working poor emerging
26 July 2017

A new ABS report, which uses new methodology to link total number of jobs with individual workers, shows that 750,000 people work two or more jobs to simply to survive.
The report finds more than 750,000 Australians currently have second and third jobs due to mass underemployment.

The new statistics and methodology shows these are not people working multiple low paid jobs in hospitality or retail; they often have what were once regarded as decent jobs and are being forced to take on more work to pay the bills.

Most people who have second or third jobs are working in the healthcare and administrative support sectors for extra money.

Growth in secondary jobs, up 9.2 per cent, has surpassed the growth in main jobs, up 6.8 per cent, for the past three years. The total number of secondary jobs has increased from 691,000 in 2011 to 753,000 in 2016.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “This is not a new phenomenon in Australia, but the growth in second and third jobs is extremely disturbing and should have every Australian worker, economist and politician worried.”
  • “We already know that the minimum wage isn’t enough to support one person, let alone a family. This report shows that people who are having to take second and third jobs in healthcare and administration, which should be decent, secure jobs in their own right.”
  • “What this shows is that people can no longer survive on a single job. Working people are rapidly falling into the new class of working poor.”
  • “This will be Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s legacy — not more employed people, not better jobs, not higher pay, but more people being forced to work second and third jobs in order to feed their families.”
  • “The rate at which people are being forced to find second jobs is greater than the rate of people without jobs filling vacant positions. There can be no clearer sign that this government is making life unbearable for working people.”
  • “While politicians are giving themselves massive raises and cutting tax for millionaires, there are people working round the clock for days just to keep their house, feed their family and keep the lights on.”
  • “This is the society that the Turnbull Government and its friends in the business community have created. A corporate tax cut will not help someone who goes straight from their day job to their night job for days on end without seeing their family.”
  • “This is what inequality looks like, working people being forced to work twice, even three times what anyone in Australia should be asked to with record low wage growth, while the richest in our society enjoy massive growth in profits and get to avoid paying any tax.”
  • “No one working normal full-time hours in Australia should need to take a second job. We need to raise wages and we need better job security, and we’re going to change the rules to make sure that happens.”


Monday, July 24, 2017

Pay Scandle – BBC must 'look very hard at itself' over pay gap, says Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader describes ‘appalling’ gender pay gap as 40 female presenters demand immediate action at BBC

Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey coordinated the letter from 40 women to the director general, Tony Hall, calling for action on the gender pay gap. Photograph: David Bebber for the Guardian View more sharing options

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, says the BBC needs to “look very hard at itself” over the gender pay gap, describing the gulf between men’s and women’s pay as appalling.

Household names including Newsnight presenters Emily Maitlis and Kirsty Wark, presenters Clare Balding and Angela Rippon and One Show host Alex Jones are among more than 40 women who have written to the director general, Tony Hall, to demand the BBC act to correct the pay gap. It was coordinated by Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey.

Corbyn said he would add his name to the letter written after revelations this week that stars such as the former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans took home more than £2m while its highest-paid female star, Claudia Winkleman, received £450,000 - £499,999.

He said Labour would insist on a pay audit of every organisation – public or private sector. “We’d also look at a 20:1 ratio between the chief executive and the lowest-paid staff in every public sector organisation,” he said.
At least 400 BBC employees earn less than a hundredth of what the corporation pays Evans, according to figures revealed by broadcasting union Bectu last week.

BBC presenter Andrew Marr defended his high salary during his programme on Sunday, saying his salary of up to £499,999 was because of his experience. However, he said older women were far less likely to have lengthy careers in broadcasting, putting them at a disadvantage.

“I’m a bit grizzled, going a bit weird around the edges,” he said. “But if I had been born Audrey Marr rather than Andrew Marr, I would have been out 10 years ago. There’s a real lack of older women on the screen.”

Conservative former minister Anna Soubry, who used to be a television presenter, said she kept a “very beady eye” on pay levels when she was a mother of the chapel at a branch of the National Union of Journalists. “I just wonder whether or not the de-unionisation of many places of work ... they played an important point in making sure there was fairness,” she said.

The letter from BBC presenters, which many tweeted on Sunday morning, said the women were seeking to address the imbalance to change the system for future generations.

“The pay details released in the annual report showed what many of us have suspected for many years ... that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work,” it reads. 

“Compared to many women and men, we are very well compensated and fortunate. However, this is an age of equality and the BBC is an organisation that prides itself on its values. You have said that you will ‘sort’ the gender pay gap by 2020, but the BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now.”

Other stars who have signed the letter include Today presenters Mishal Husain and Sarah Montague, Wimbledon host Sue Barker, newsreader Fiona Bruce, 5Live presenter Emma Barnett and Europe editor Katya Adler.


BBC political correspondent Vicki Young said the pay gap had made her “angry and depressed”, while Garvey tweeted that the gap was revolting. Wark said the letter was a “billet doux” sent out of concern for all female employees at the BBC. Radio 4 presenter Andrea Catherwood said she hoped women across all industries would find it empowering.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

ACTU – Family trust another vehicle for the rich avoiding tax

21 July 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) calls for urgent reform of family trusts as yet more evidence surfaces of the rich avoiding paying their fair share of tax. New research by the Australia Institute reveals billions of dollars in tax revenue is being lost due to wealthy Australians using family trusts.

This is ripping a staggering $2 billion to $3.5 billion out of the economy, money that should be going to our schools and hospitals.

Workers are tired of shouldering the majority of our tax responsibility while the wealthy use loopholes to avoid contributing towards the essential services we all use and rely on.

It’s unacceptable that the 21.6 per cent of our national income which runs through 823,448 trusts, with assets of $3.1 trillion and income of $349.2 billion is being used as a tax dodge by the rich.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must urgently close this loophole and genuinely act to fix the tax system.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Workers are furious about tax avoidance and who can blame them. This stinks of a sweetheart deal; people with taxable incomes of $500,000 or more account for just 0.43 per cent of the population, yet they make up 51 per cent of all trust distributions.”
  • “The Government needs to genuinely act to reform the broken tax system that is worsening Australia’s already record high rate of inequality.”
  • “Unfortunately it is unlikely the Government will do the right thing.”
  • “Rather than fix gaping loopholes like this, Mr Turnbull continues to place the priority on getting his $65 billion corporate tax cut through Parliament. It shows how completely out of touch he is with ordinary Australians who are angry about the inequities in the tax system.”
  • “That’s why we’ve put the Turnbull Government on notice. We are going to change the rules.”
  • “The ACTU will pursue whatever community, campaign, legislative and legal mechanisms it deems appropriate to change the rules for working people in Australia in the pursuit of equality and fairness for all Australian workers, including in the tax system.”
  • “The only way to fix the system and improve equality is to join a union and change the rules.”



Spain: trade unionists convicted in continuing government attack on the right to strike



20 July 2017 News



The government of Spain continues its attack on the right to strike, a fundamental human right. On June 17, two UGT union representatives were convicted by a Madrid criminal court of taking part in a peaceful informational picket in Madrid during the March 29, 2012 general strike.

Rubén Ranz and José Manuel Nogales were found guilty by a Madrid criminal court and each fined EUR 1,825 under article 315.3 of the Criminal Code, a legislative vestige of the Franco era which the Rajoy government has revived Spain right to strike

The 7-year ‘exemplary’ prison terms demanded by the state prosecutor were not imposed, but the conviction sustains the use of fascist-era repressive legislation to attack a fundamental human right. The union will appeal the convictions as well as the fines. The law remains in the criminal code, a gross violation of Spain’s international human rights commitments.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ACTU – Workers’ wages are being stolen.



In Australia, ripping off workers isn’t the exception, it’s becoming the rule.

This week, we’ve seen a report from Unions NSW which looked at 200 foreign language job ads, and found 4 out of 5 were being ripped off.

  • We’ve seen restaurants in Melbourne, only paying workers $10 an hour for ten hour shifts.
  • Add these to the $2.6 million-dollar wage theft conducted by George Calombaris and you can see the disturbing trend.
  • It gets worse. One restaurant floor manager lost his job and had his visa application threatened because he asked for the wage theft to end.
  • Wage theft is a national crisis, and temporary visa workers are being hit hardest.
  • Our laws make it too hard for working people to enforce their basic rights. This is why wage theft has grown out of control. This has to change.
  • The rules that used to protect workers from theft are broken. But we’re going to change them.
  • By building a powerful movement, we can stop this rampant wage theft. Only a powerful union movement can change the rules to stop workers being ripped off in every pay packet.
  • And there’s no powerful union movement without you.
  • We’re going to build our movement by sharing the stories of those who have been ripped off.
  • Because when one person speaks up, it gives other people confidence to join them.
  • Share your story, or the stories of people you know, now. These stories will put the pressure on to change the rules, so that employers face real consequences for stealing wages.  
  • We know that through public pressure, these workers' pay will be restored. But that’s just part of the plan to change the rules.
  • Share your story now and stay tuned for more important updates on the growing movement to change the rules.
Sally McManus

ACTU Secretary
http://www.australianunions.org.au/

Authorised by S. McManus, ACTU Secretary. Australian Unions · L4 365 Queen St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Corbyn gives passionate speech at Tolpuddle

Thousands cheered as Jeremy Corbyn joined celebrations at the anniversary of the Tolpuddle Martyrs who laid the foundations of Britain’s trade union movement.



The Labour leader addressed the three-day annual festival in Dorset yesterday, following a range of socialist speakers and entertainers celebrating the six farm workers who, in March 1834, tried to form a trade union.

The six were sentenced to transportation to Australia for having the audacity to band together to campaign for better wages and conditions.

Mr Corbyn said: “This festival is an iconic part of the movement for a more democratic, more peaceful and more equal society.

“We come every year to celebrate our rights and how they were won. Celebrate progress of the past — and learn how to make progress in future.

“We recognise the importance of struggle — but at Tolpuddle we can also celebrate the victory. Every single one of the transported workers was returned — victory for them, but also for working people everywhere.”

After the men were sentenced, unions organised a huge campaign to free the them, attracting 100,000 people to a march near Kings Cross the following month.

Their efforts were successful, and, in 1836, the government agreed that all six men should have a full and free pardon.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ struggle “sowed the seeds for the trade union movement and in turn for the Labour Party itself,” Mr Corbyn told the crowds, adding that the movement and the party “have been the greatest forces for progress and improvements in people’s lives that this country has ever known.”

Turning to threats facing workers in Britain today, the Labour leader went on to criticise the government’s Taylor report into the gig economy released last week.
  • “The report is a huge missed opportunity to tackle insecure employment,” he said.
  • “It’s been wheeled out by the Tories so they can appear as the party of working people. Tinkering round the edges to conceal its lack of substance and lack of solutions.”
  • He said the next Labour government would go much further than the Taylor report proposed.
  • “We will create an economy where all workers are treated with respect and dignity,” he said.
  • “All of the great changes in history have come from below. That is why our party and our movement is based around the power of its members, not the power of the large corporations which bankroll the Tories.
  • “The Tolpuddle Martyrs remind us that we can change society if we have the will and stay united.”


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ACTU – Government needs to urgently act to clean up growing tax mess

11 July 2017

Australian Unions are calling on the Turnbull Government to take urgent steps to plug gaping holes in the national tax framework which are robbing Australia of badly needed funds for schools, hospitals and services.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) Commissioner revealed there are large loopholes in the Government’s flagship anti-corporate tax avoidance laws that mean companies can continue to easily hide profits overseas.

This was compounded by the ATO ruling the $65.4 billion corporate tax cuts will not only apply to active businesses but also ‘passive companies’, which are common investment structures of the wealthy for the provision of favourable tax arrangements.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The few rules we have that make large multi-national corporations pay tax have loopholes in them large enough to drive a mining truck through and the Government’s $65.4 billion tax cut is going to apply much more broadly than ever intended — it’s a shambles.”
  • “When the ATO is raising concerns about the Government’s own policies there is a serious problem. The level of tax policy dysfunction in this country is fast rivalling that of the energy crisis.”
  • “It’s clear that current laws to curb tax avoidance are inadequate and ineffective. The Government needs to urgently legislate to clean up the mess of their own ineptitude.”
  • “Under this government, high income earners, millionaires and corporations are being given tax cuts while wages shrink and budget debt climbs.”
  • “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s continued failure to address tax avoidance by big business and the wealthy hurts working people and their families.”
  • “Australia needs a fairer tax system that ensures the rich pay their fair share and puts an end to the tax deductions and tricky loopholes that deprive the community of badly needed services.”


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Housing affordability: Choice calls for ban on mortgage broker commissions

Abundant commissions, bonuses and “soft payments” to mortgage brokers mean borrowers are likely not getting the best deal, and it could be impacting the housing market, Choice has said.

The consumer organisation has called for mortgage broker commissions to be banned as part of a legislative and regulatory overhaul of the industry, in a submission to Treasury.

Mortgage brokers work directly with customers to recommend and arrange loans from providers, often receiving various commissions and payments for their work.

The brokers’ commissions totalled an estimated $2.4bn in 2015 but there are also soft payments including overseas holidays, Choice said. The environment is leaving consumers worse off, Choice’s head of campaigns and policy, Erin Turner, said.

“Right now they don’t have to arrange the best or even a good loan for their customers,” she said. “The way brokers are paid, it creates a lot of risk – risk that it’s likely they’ll recommend loan A over loan B, even if loan B is a better deal because loan A has higher payments behind it.”

The result is borrowers receiving potentially bad advice and being drawn to a larger, less appropriate loan, creating future risk for them and which also impacted the housing market.

“The housing sector is so important to Australia, we can sometimes lose sight at some of the drivers behind the frenzy,” Turner said. “Right now brokers are paid in a way that contributes to the heat of the housing market.”

Choice’s submission is among those given to Treasury and the government as they consider what action to take on the industry, following a report on mortgage broker remuneration released by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in March.

ASIC found lenders paid brokers $1.42bn in commissions on $175bn in home loans in 2015 and $984m in trail commissions on an outstanding balance of $545bn in home loans.

More than 54% of home sales in 2015 went through a broker. Asic found that in 2015 broker customers tended to borrow more, spend more of their wage on a mortgage, have lower property values and have higher loan to value ratios.

Turner said Choice was calling for the end of trail commissions – regular payments made by banks to brokers over the life of a loan, averaging at $750 a year per loan – which it described as “money for jam”.

Other recommendations included disclosure requirements, a one-year phase out of financial and “soft dollar” bonuses and the replacement of upfront commissions with fixed fees for advice and either single payments or rates based on hours worked by the broker.

The submission also called for a legislative amendment requiring brokers act in the best interests of their client, as opposed to the current obligation to arrange a “not unsuitable” loan.

Financial advisers were in “a similar situation” before the federal government’s “future of financial advice” reforms in 2014, Turner said.

“Those arrangements have largely been stamped out but are running wild in the mortgage broker sector.”

Turner said there were reports of brokers working with property spruikers and real estate agents.

“For companies investing in mortgage broker services, they need to keep in mind the rules of the game should change,” Turner said.

Both Domain and realestate.com.au have entered into the business recently. Domain, which has been contacted for comment, partnered with Lendi to create Domain Loan Finder last month.

Around the same time, the News Corp-controlled REA Group acquired more than 80% of the No 3 mortgage broker, Smartline.


NIT - Oil company to pay up in rare Native Title ruling

July 12, 2017


An oil and gas explorer will have to pay court costs of more than $200,000 for what has been described as “unreasonable conduct” in relation to a Native Title claim.

After a loss in the Full Court of the Federal Court, Sydney-based, ASX-listed Oil Basins Ltd will have to pay a legal bill of more than $160,000 for the Nyikina Mangala People’s legal representation by the Kimberley Land Council.

The company told the ASX on Monday it also expected to have to pay another $90,000 in costs.

In a judgement handed down on July 6, the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed an appeal by the company.

Lawyers for Oil Basins Ltd had unsuccessfully argued that the company should not have to pay the costs because the Nykina Mangala People were represented by a KLC lawyer and did not incur legal costs engaging the land council.

But three judges of the Federal Court disagreed. Justices Anthony North, John Dowsett and Steven Rares ordered that Oil Basins’ appeal be dismissed, clearing the way for the explorer to pay a bill of $161,248.

Oil Basins Ltd company secretary Carl Dumbrell could not be reached for comment, but in a statement to the Stock Exchange on Monday, the company addressed the court loss.

In its June Quarterly Activities report, it said the company expected that money held with its lawyers would now be required to pay the legal costs.

“The company expects that monies held in controlled monies account with its solicitors will now be required to be paid to parties awarded costs against OBL in previous Niyikina Mangala proceedings,” it said.

“The company also expects that an additional approximately $90,000 which has been awarded in costs against OBL in the Nyikina Mangala proceedings will be taxed and will become payable.”

For the year to June 30, Oil Basins posted a net cash loss of $745,572 on its operating activities, but with borrowings and share issues had net cash from financial activities of $781,700.

Its cash and cash equivalents at the end of the year were $58,436.

The petroleum exploration permit understood to have given rise to the court action — the Derby Block in WA’s north — was sold to its joint venture partners Rey Resources last month.

Oil Basins said the site was no longer financially viable to it because of its distance from Perth, lack of infrastructure and environmental and Native Title issues.

NIT understands an order for costs in Native Title consent determination is rare.

The dispute dates back to late 2012 when Oil Basins applied to be joined as a respondent in an application for Native Title by the Nyikina Mangala people.

In 2013 the company challenged the connection of Nyikina Mangala traditional owners to their lands, despite the WA government having already accepted the connection.

The actions forced the start of trial proceedings before the company changed its mind.

In 2014 the Federal Court ordered that Oil Basins pay the Nyikina Mangala peoples costs because of its “unreasonable conduct”.

The ruling of the Full Court of the Federal Court last week dismissed the third consecutive appeal by the company against the original order.

“The judgement sends a clear message to companies that wish to question, hold up or thwart Native Title processes that they can face severe monetary consequences,” KLC chief executive officer Nolan Hunter said Tuesday.

“For the Nyikina Mangala people, we hope they will feel vindicated by this ruling and that this long-running matter can finally be resolved.”

The Nyikina Mangala people applied in 1998 to be recognised as the Native Title holders of their traditional country. Their consent determination was handed down in May 2014.

Oil Basins Ltd has until August 3 to appeal the most recent decision.

AMWU – “We’re going to stick with you”: SA Premier to Holden Workers

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has told a delegation of car industry workers that they won’t be forgotten, as Holden’s Elizabeth plant winds down to closure later this year.

A group of AMWU shop stewards from Holden and the supply chain were invited to Parliament House in Adelaide to meet with Premier Weatherill and other SA Government Ministers in early May.



AMWU Delegate Peter King attended the meeting, and said workers wanted to know what plans were in place to help them transition to the jobs in other industries.

“My concerns are over the problems ageing workers are going to face,” he said.

“We hear horror stories of people being retrenched when they’re 55 plus, which I certainly am, and never being able to find work again,” Peter said.

Delegate Dennis Masters said the closure of the industry would affect workers in many ways.

“What we want politicians to understand is that they’re not just breaking up an industry, they’re breaking up a family,” Dennis said.

AMWU South Australian State Secretary John Camillo said workers needed to know how jobs would be created to replace the ones being lost. 

  • “Workers are happy to be getting all this career counselling, but what they really want to know is what’s going to happen after the plant Holden closes in the middle of October?

  • “At the end of the day they don’t want training or ‘upskilling’, they want a job.”

  • John Camillo said meeting with the Premier and Senior Ministers was the first step in a long process.

  • “We need to keep the dialogue going – not just to the end of the year, but beyond, “John said.

  • “Our commitment to our members is that we’re not going to abandon them.

  • “We will keep talking to them to help them find jobs, and putting pressure on governments to make sure our members in the auto industry have opportunities to continue their careers.”


ACTU – Turnbull jumps the gun with UK trade deal

11 July 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been too quick out the blocks on a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.

The Prime Minister has committed Australia to a UK trade deal before the terms of Brexit have been finalised, and before the UK Government can execute it because it has not yet left the European Union.

The Turnbull Government has shown in its free trade deal making that it always stands on the side of big business and cannot be trusted to look after Australians’ interests.

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

  • “Prime Minister Turnbull is committing to a trade deal with the UK when there are still far too many moving parts.”
  • “Committing to a deal prior to Brexit in March 2019 is not realistic. The terms of Brexit are not finalised and will have a serious impact on any potential trade deals with both the EU and UK. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise.”
  • “We are concerned that under Malcolm Turnbull a UK trade agreement would be yet another ‘slap in the face’ to Australian working people that would undermine local jobs and hand corporations the power to sue our country via the so-called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.”
  • “The recent Philip Morris case, in which the Australian Government was sued by the multinational corporation for implementing plain packaging tobacco laws, should be a lesson learned. Australia won this case, but only on a pure technicality, next time we may not be so lucky.”
  • “The Government can and should be negotiating fair deals that promote fair trade and protect our national interests.”
  • “We are calling on the Government to ensure all future trade deals entered into by Australia exclude ISDS provisions, are subject to a full public cost benefit analysis and the full text is put to a parliamentary vote before the deal is signed.”
  • “Most importantly, humans are not goods. Under these deals large corporations are exploiting workers and undercut local jobs. All future trade deals should contain core labour standards and minimum worker protections, and exclude labour mobility provisions that provide ways around our immigration laws”


CFMEU – Employers' Push For Casualisation In Black Coal Award Defeated

In a major win for the CFMEU, the Fair Work Commission has rejected the application by a major employers group to extend the casual employment provisions in the Black Coal award to Production and Engineering Employees.

At present, the employment of casuals under the Award is restricted to the classification of Staff employees. In a move to spread casualisation to all employees throughout Australia’s black coal industry, the Australian Industry Group took their fight to the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission but were defeated by the strong case mounted by our Union.




General Secretary Andrew Vickers welcomed the win by the Union.

“This was an important battle to hold the line against the employers drive to further casualise our coal industry. That we were able to defeat the employers on this occasion is a credit to the quality of the case mounted by our Legal Team with Andrew Thomas playing a particularly strong role”.

General Secretary Vickers said that the Union can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

“Our Union will continue to use whatever resources are necessary to ensure the best outcomes for our members, our families and our communities”, he said.

Just 100 Companies Responsible for 71% of Global Emissions

A relatively small number of fossil fuel producers and their investors could hold the key to tackling climate change
Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.

The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute.

Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change.

The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report.

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

While companies have a huge role to play in driving climate change, says Faria, the barrier is the “absolute tension” between short-term profitability and the urgent need to reduce emissions.

A Carbon Tracker study in 2015 found that fossil fuel companies risked wasting more than $2tn over the coming decade by pursuing coal, oil and gas projects that could be worthless in the face of international action on climate change and advances in renewables – in turn posing substantial threats to investor returns.

CDP says its aims with the carbon majors project are both to improve transparency among fossil fuel producers and to help investors understand the emissions associated with their fossil fuel holdings.

A fifth of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions are backed by public investment, according to the report. “That puts a significant responsibility on those investors to engage with carbon majors and urge them to disclose climate risk,” says Faria.

Investors should move out of fossil fuels, says Michael Brune, executive director of US environmental organisation the Sierra Club. “Not only is it morally risky, it’s economically risky. The world is moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy and is doing so at an accelerated pace. Those left holding investments in fossil fuel companies will find their investments becoming more and more risky over time.”

G20 public finance for fossil fuels 'is four times more than renewables'

There is a “growing wave of companies that are acting in the opposite manner to the companies in this report,” says Brune. Nearly 100 companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Ikea have committed to 100% renewable power under the RE100 initiative. Volvo recently announced that all its cars would be electric or hybrid from 2019.

And oil and gas companies are also embarking on green investments. Shell set up a renewables arm in 2015 with a $1.7bn investment attached and a spokesperson for Chevron says it’s “committed to managing its [greenhouse gas] emissions” and is investing in two of the world’s largest carbon dioxide injection projects to capture and store carbon. A BP spokesperson says its “determined to be part of the solution” for climate change and is “investing in renewables and low-carbon innovation.” And ExxonMobil, which has faced heavy criticism for its environmental record, has been exploring carbon capture and storage.

But for many the sums involved and pace of change are nowhere near enough. A research paper published last year by Paul Stevens, an academic at think tank Chatham House, said international oil companies were no longer fit for purpose and warned these multinationals that they faced a “nasty, brutish and short” end within the next 10 years if they did not completely change their business models.

Investors now have a choice, according to Charlie Kronick, senior programme advisor at Greenpeace UK. “The future of the oil industry has already been written: the choice is will its decline be managed, returning capital to shareholders to be reinvested in the genuine industries of the future, or will they hold on, hoping not be the last one standing when the music stops?”

Guardian Read More

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wages, Debt and Theft – Is Anyone Listening ?

If you want to understand why the developed world is in such upheaval, and why politics has become so volatile, this graph of Australian wages explains it all.


Macquarie analyst Viktor Shvets, whose analytical powers have upset many in the corporate world during the past three decades, reckons that low productivity throughout developed economies ultimately is to blame for where we are now.

We're at record levels of household debt, but it's not just debt that's threatening the housing market, writes Ian Verrender.
Rather than accepting less income — both corporates and wage earners — the response during the 1980s was to deregulate, to get government out of the way. And it was the financial sector deregulation in the 1980s that unleashed the great tide of debt that now threatens to drown the global economy.

"The purpose was to give people the freedom to try to make money through greater flexibility, asset prices, and leveraging rather than through conventional wages and earnings," he said in a recent interview.

The problem with debt is that all it does is bring future consumption forward. At some stage, the debt must be repaid. As Shvets notes, it pushes asset prices such as real estate higher.

For the generation that rode that boom, it's been an era of wealth creation like no other. But for the following generation, it's a situation that bodes ill and breeds discontent. They will pick up the tab, in the form of higher prices. Many believe their future has been stolen.

The role of technology

The conventional wisdom is that productivity is driven by technological innovation. Better tools make for smarter work practices. You can dig a lot more ground with one of Kerry Stokes' Caterpillars than a shovel.

But technology has a corresponding negative social impact. Workers are displaced, and rising unemployment results in lower wages.

Which jobs will AI take over?

Machines have long been replacing blue collar factory workers, but now artificial intelligence is threatening white collar jobs. When that technology crosses borders and breaks down barriers, as the internet has done, the economic impact is accentuated. It allows corporations to exploit cheaper labour in other countries, laying waste to industries and communities in other areas.

That results in lower wages and a greater proportion of workers who give up looking for work because it simply isn't there. That, in turn, makes the workforce less productive.

In the past few months, almost every economist in the country, including Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, has come to realise that our low wages growth has begun to stifle our growth prospects.

With Australian household debt at Olympic gold standards, the prospect of a sharp rise in defaults — either in housing or other areas such as power bills — has become a real threat.

What irony then that a fortnight ago, after a vigorous campaign by vested interests, the country's lowest paid workers were delivered a pay cut via a reduction in penalty rates.

Wage cut could backfire


Businesses are hoping to profit from the Sunday penalty rate cut, but their workers are also ultimately their customers.
At some stage, Australian business leaders may come to realise that their workers are also their customers. Lower wages will hit consumption. And that will hit profits.

The gleeful support for the Fair Work Australia decision to slash penalties from those within the Federal Government may be short lived. Budget repair depends on bracket creep from wage and salary earners. You don't get that by cutting wages.

Fourth industrial revolution

There's no turning back the tide of technology. The internet won't be unwound. In fact, the pace of innovation is likely to accelerate.

As the ABC's The Business highlighted in last week's three part series The Rise of The Machines, automation and artificial intelligence soon will sweep through the white collar world.

Money for nothing

Is a universal basic income the answer if robots create mass unemployment?
That raises questions about how we will support an economy, if even larger numbers of worker are displaced. Taxing the wealthy to support the unemployed has never been a vote winner.

And while the new industrial revolution will create a whole series of new jobs competition and pressure on wages except for those at the peak will only intensify.

For years, the Occupy movement was dismissed as nothing more than a piece of theatre from idle youth and an odd assortment of professional protestors.

Globalisation, deregulation and technology have combined to alienate vast numbers of workers and otherwise model citizens. They're now demanding answers and action from the state. They want their governments to act.

But is anyone really listening?

NSWTF – Will Pearson Australia follow through on offer of transparency?

Submitted by nswtf on 5 July 2017

The recent research report and media interest in the commercialisation of public schooling have prompted a response from Pearson Australia Managing Director, David Barnett, in which he agrees to the possibility of laying bare all of Pearson’s contracts with Australian federal, state and territory government authorities, which would reveal, among other things, the amount of taxpayers’ money that Pearson receives.

The exchange took place on Twitter, between Federation President Maurie Mulheron and Mr Barnett, beginning with Mr Barnett tweeting a list of statements about the nature of Pearson’s work in education and their engagement with teachers and education systems.

Mr Mulheron responded, saying he would “table all teacher concerns on Pearson” if, in exchange, Barnett would “table all Pearson contracts with government authorities”. While Barnett agreed in principle, it was with the caveat that such an exchange would be subject to approval from government authorities.

Federation welcomes the opportunity to have an informed, transparent discussion with the head of one of the largest edu-businesses operating in Australia about the extent and impact of its commercial operations on Australian education, and hopes Mr Barnett is able to secure the necessary permissions from government authorities.

Teachers’ concerns over the growth of commercial interests in public education were identified and explored in the recently published Commercialisation in Public Schooling, detailing the findings of research  commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation and conducted by Professor Bob Lingard of the University of Queensland’s School of Education and a team which included Dr Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Anna Hogan (University of Queensland) and Associate Professor Greg Thompson (Queensland University of Technology).

The full research paper, and a summary report, can be downloaded from www.nswtf.org.au/CIPSint.

BBC – Jeremy Corbyn at Durham Miner's Gala attracts record 200,000

8 July 2017

Jeremy Corbyn called the Durham Miners' Gala Europe's largest demonstration of working class cultureLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn has led speeches at the 133rd Durham Miners' Gala.



More than 200,000 people are estimated to have attended the Durham City event, the most since the 1960s.
There was an increased police presence including armed officers although Durham Police said there was no direct threat against the gala. 
It is the second year in a row that he has spoken at the gala. Film director Ken Loach also addressed the crowd.

Mr Corbyn told crowds: "It's incredibly important for everyone to be here today. It is the most amazing demonstration of community strength.

"It's grown out of the struggles of the miners during the 19th, 20th and now in this century, it's a community event."



Cannes winner Ken Loach, centre, also attended the 133rd gala

Corbyn thanked those who supported Labour's general election campaign and said he was leading a "government in waiting".


He pledged to "call time on austerity" and scrap a cap on public sector pay rises as well introduce a national living wage of £10 an hour.

Mr Corbyn added: "I don't want to live in a Britain of food banks, I want to live in a Britain where people are properly fed because they are paid the wages to be able to afford the food."

He drew boos from the crowd when he mentioned Margaret Thatcher, adding: "Never again must we go through a political attack on a community such as that Thatcher mounted against the mining community."

The event is a celebration and commemoration of Durham's mining industry
Mr Corbyn was almost finished when there was a disturbance on the stage and he was interrupted by a woman.

She appeared to be pleading with the Labour leader to speak to her and he said he would talk to her after he had finished his address.

There were chants of "Ooh Jeremy Corbyn" from the crowd throughout the afternoon and he was cheered loudly when he finished, holding his arms aloft.


The various bands started the day in different villages and towns around County Durham before meeting in Durham
There was an increased police presence at the event, including armed officers


Alan Cummings, secretary of Durham Miners' Association, said he had been predicting crowds of 200,000 people and "looking around it looks like we have got that".


He said it was a celebration of the area's history and heritage.

He also downplayed allegations that some Labour MPs who had previously criticised Mr Corbyn had been banned from attending the official functions.

Bands parade past Corbyn

The bands paraded through the city past the County Hotel from where the dignitaries watch the event parade



Sunday, July 09, 2017

MUA – Turnbull Government Indifference Allows Another Aussie Ship To Sail Over Horizon

Posted by Mua communications on July 05, 2017



The Turnbull Government must stand up for Australian jobs in blue water shipping after its administration of coastal shipping rules encouraged a major international employer to dump the crew on another Australian vessel.

The Canadian Steamship Lines (CSL) Thevenard recently sailed to China, purportedly for dry-docking, but the Aussie crew members were notified yesterday of their sacking and given their flights home.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the Turnbull Government could not allow the offshoring of jobs to continue by issuing temporary licences that allow cheap, foreign labour to be used instead of Aussie vessels and crew.

“The MUA is disgusted at the Turnbull Government’s willful indifference to the plight of Australian seafarers and the Transport Minister must immediately cease issuing temporary licenses under the Coastal Trading ACT,” MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“The Government needs to act in the national interest by ceasing the destruction of the bluewater shipping industry by allowing companies to use the cheapest, most highly exploited crews and a tax avoidance industry backing these ships.

“The issuing of temporary licences is done by the Government of the day. They have the power to deny companies such as CSL and if Turnbull and his ministers won’t do it then the Government needs to change in favour of one that stands up for Australian jobs.”

Crumlin said exploited crew on Flag of Convenience vessels earn as little as $1.20 an hour, have less training and are often unaware of our fragile coastal environment. They do not meet national security screening applying to Australian resident seafarers and are directly making Australian seafarers unemployed in effectively taking their jobs under this industry of rorting and vandalizing Australian workers rights. It's a national disgrace.

“Australian workers cannot compete with slave labour and systemic tax avoidance under the FOC system. We must maintain our blue water shipping industry on the grounds of national security, fuel security, protecting Australian jobs and the environment,” he said.

ITF Cabotage Task Force Chair and Seafarers' International Union of Canada (SIU) president James Given said: “Despite pressure from shippers to decrease costs, CSL must provide international leadership and maintain decent standards of employment rather than engage in a race to the bottom.”

ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “The conservative government in Australia clearly has no intention to support its national shipping despite the importance maritime has for Australia, however CSL has had a longstanding relationship with MUA and we expect them to return to engagement on the long term maintenance of cabotage and Australian shipping.”

The MUA remains concerned that international companies still use 457 visa holders on other vessels in its fleet that are trading on the Australian coast.

Crumlin wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in January urging the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to undertake an investigation into possible rorting of the 457 visa program.

“Those jobs should be filled by Australia workers first. That’s why cabotage rules exist and the intent of the law needs to be followed by companies and governments alike,” he said.

Naidoc Week – 2-9 July 2017 – Our Languages Matter

Thursday, July 06, 2017

George Monbiot – Grenfell inquiry will be a stitch-up.

We don’t allow defendants in court cases to select the charges on which they will be tried. So why should the government set the terms of a public inquiry into its own failings? We don’t allow criminal suspects to vet the trial judge. Why should the government approve the inquiry’s chair?



Even before the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has begun, it looks like a stitch-up, its initial terms of reference set so narrowly that government policy remains outside the frame. An inquiry that honours the dead would investigate the wider causes of this crime. It would examine a governing ideology that sees torching public protections as a sacred duty.

Let me give you an example. On the morning of 14 June, as the tower blazed, an organisation called the Red Tape Initiative convened for its prearranged discussion about building regulations. One of the organisation’s tasks was to consider whether rules determining the fire resistance of cladding materials should be removed for the sake of construction industry profits.

Please bear with me while I explain what this initiative is and who runs it, as it’s a perfect cameo of British politics. It’s a government-backed body, established “to grasp the opportunities” that Brexit offers to cut “red tape” – a disparaging term for public protections. It’s chaired by the Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin, who has claimed that “the call to minimise risk is a call for a cowardly society”. It is a forum in which exceedingly wealthy people help decide which protections should be stripped away from lesser beings.

Among the members of its advisory panel are Charles Moore, who was editor of the Daily Telegraph and the chair of an organisation called Policy Exchange. He was also best man at Letwin’s wedding. Sitting beside him is Archie Norman, the former chief executive of Asda and the founder of Policy Exchange. He was once Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells – and was succeeded in that seat by Greg Clark, the minister who now provides government support for the Red Tape Initiative.

Until he became environment secretary, Michael Gove was also a member of the Red Tape Initiative panel. Oh, and he was appointed by Norman as the first chairman of Policy Exchange. (He was replaced by Moore.) Policy Exchange also supplied two of Letwin’s staff in the Conservative policy unit that he used to run. Policy Exchange is a neoliberal lobby group funded by dark money, that seeks to tear down regulations.

The Red Tape Initiative’s management board consists of Letwin, Baroness Rock and Lord Marland. Baroness Rock is a childhood friend of the former Tory chancellor George Osborne, and is married to the wealthy financier Caspar Rock. Marland is a multimillionaire businessman who owns a house and four flats in London, “various properties in Salisbury”, three apartments in France and two apartments in Switzerland.

In other words, the Red Tape Initiative is a representative cross-section of the British public. In no sense is it a self-serving clique of old chums, insulated from hazard by their extreme wealth, whose role is to decide whether other people (colloquially known as “cowards”) should be exposed to risk.

Letwin’s initiative appointed a panel to investigate housing regulations. It includes representatives of trade unions and NGOs, though they are outnumbered by executives and lobbyists from the industry. And there – surprise, surprise – is a man, called Richard Blakeway, from Policy Exchange.

The panel’s task on 14 June was to consider a report that the Red Tape Initiative had commissioned whose purpose was to identify building rules that could be cut. Among those it listed as “burdensome” was the EU Construction Products Regulation, which seeks to protect people from fire, and restricts the kind of cladding that can be used.

What was the source of the report’s assertion that this regulation was unnecessary? One of the sources was a column in the Sunday Telegraph by Christopher Booker. He has a fair claim to being more wrong more often than any other British journalist – quite an achievement, given the field. While Grenfell Tower was smouldering, the panel members decided that on this occasion they would not recommend the removal of the regulation.

But the Red Tape Initiative, gruesome spectre that it is, continues its work. It is one of many such schemes set up in recent decades, by Conservatives and New Labour. Recent examples are David Cameron’s Star Chamber (yes, that really was the name he gave it), in which ministers were interrogated by a panel of corporate executives; and the Cutting Red Tape programme, which boasts that “businesses with good records have had fire safety inspections reduced from six hours to 45 minutes”.

One of the results of this bonfire of regulation is the government’s repeal in 2012 of the fire prevention measures in the London Building Act. Had they remained in place, the Grenfell fire is unlikely to have risen up the tower. This assault on public protections is just one element of the compound disaster that neoliberalism –promoted by opaquely funded groups such as Policy Exchange –has imposed on Britain since 1979. Its central purpose is not just to empower corporations and the very rich, but actively to disempower everyone else, through austerity, outsourcing and privatisation.

An inquiry that failed to investigate such possible causes would be a farce. It would do nothing to prevent any similar catastrophes from recurring. It would do nothing to stop the rich from destroying other people’s protections, as the Red Tape Initiative threatens to do.

But this is what we have been offered so far by a government that can choose charges, judge and jury. There’s an urgent need for an independent commission whose purpose is to decide when inquiries should be called, what their terms should be, and who should chair them. Governments should have no influence over any of these decisions.

On 14 June a facade caught fire, in more senses than one. A blinkered inquiry threatens to clad the origins of this great crime, shielding their embarrassing ugliness from public view. We cannot, and must not, accept it.

Guardian Read More

Wilcox – Record Run in Economy


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

NSWTF – How Business is Taking Over Schools

How business is taking over our schools

Submitted by nswtf on 4 July 2017

Education technology companies are benefitting financially from developing standards and data infrastructure in schools, according to the Commercialisation in Public Schooling study, launched on day three of Federation Annual Conference.

Teachers and school leaders are concerned about this increasing ‘creep’ of commercialism into public schooling, a university survey conducted as part of CIPS shows.

“Significant amounts of commercial activity” are already taking place in public schools in Australia, conference was told by Dr Greg Thompson, who is Associate Professor of Education Research at the Queensland University of Technology and one of the co-authors of the report. The survey involved 2,193 teachers and school leaders across Australia, with 51 per cent located in NSW.

Around 74 per cent of those surveyed saw the ethics of having student data in commercial hands as a major concern and 72 per cent were also highly concerned at the way public schools are being run as a business.

For nearly half of those surveyed (45 per cent) the most significant concern was business dictating education policy, and 36 per cent were also highly concerned at teacher activities being outsourced. Fifty-seven per cent were also highly concerned about the lack of departmental support. School principals are also particularly concerned about having to pay for services that were traditionally supplied by the Department of Education, Dr Thompson says. While some respondents saw some benefits to public-private partnerships: “There’s a really strong sense that commercialisation has no place in public schools,” he said. “There’s also a real concern I think among participants that Australia seems to be learning the wrong lessons from the UK and the US and bringing those into our schools. As well, one of the really significant things is that people are concerned that public schools will go the way of TAFE.”

Commercial activity is already advanced and currently, Australian schooling now has the most developed national data infrastructure in the world, due to standardisation rollout, the study says. The development of open standards has helped an alliance of corporate interests to grow the value of the overall data “pie” in order to grow the value of their market segment.

Overseas, in 2014, the value of the US Education Technology (EdTech) market was estimated to be worth over $8.38 billion by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). This was 5.1 per cent higher than in 2013.

“Testing and assessment was the most valuable market category in 2014, worth $US2.5 billion, after growing by 57% over the previous two years,” the study, commissioned by Federation, found. These categories were followed by English language arts and reading content, maths content and online courses.

“Both testing and assessment and data analysis and integration are identified as key growth areas for the industry in the coming years.”

A case study presented to conference confirms that commercialism is entering schools through the standardisation of software and data set products under the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP), where some policy standards are being developed by the private education technology sector. NSIP is a joint initiative of State, Territory and Federal Ministers for Education.

Queensland academic Professor Bob Lingard, of the School of Education at the University of Queensland, told conference there are big questions to deal with in this area such as how this trend may change work practices for teachers and learning for children. “There’s a lot to think about here and there’s a lot going on under the radar which is escaping scrutiny.” NSIP is “quite unknown in the teaching profession and we need to think about it a lot more”.

“The forums that have been established to advance the agenda of standardisation enable commercial actors to shape the demands of users, which in this case are often governments and may further contribute to growing demand for generic products,” the study warns.

Launched by Federation President Maurie Mulheron and Project Director of Education International Angelo Gavrielatos, the study found that in February this year, 13 commercial vendors were already operating education projects in Australia that comply with standards set by the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF).

These include assessment and reporting software, cloud-based student identity management, learning apps, learning platforms and others. There were also now 16 company members of SIF AU in February this year. SIF was launched in Australia in 2009, following an earlier launch in the United States by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

However, further education involvement in the US from Mr Gates met with resistance. Opposition from activist groups shut down a program in the US called inBloom, run by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which sought to establish a standard infrastructure to manage school data across schools, districts and states. Concerns over data privacy and technology companies profiting from personal data led to the closure of the program in 2013.

In the United States, privacy concerns have provoked “outrage” from parents, students and educators, Professor Lingard says. He conducted research and interviews for another case study on the parent activist Opt-Out movement, where 26 per cent of parents in New York and 50 per cent on Long Island last year opted their children out of standard testing from Years 3-8 to boycott tests in the schooling system. The Trump Budget cuts of $9 billion to public education are also likely to strengthen the resolve of those opposed to the corporate reform agenda, Professor Lingard says.

In the wake of these developments, the EdTech industry is now employing strategies such as partnerships between philanthropies and think-tanks to push for regulatory changes to allow the joining up of datasets and freer access to student data, the report finds.

The study raises two key issues of importance for teachers’ unions in Australia. Firstly, concerns about data privacy have been successfully mobilised by opponents to commercial involvement in public education in order to block major initiatives such as inBloom in the United States and these concerns have now been identified by the EdTech industry as a major obstacle.

“Privacy regulations will be an important terrain upon which to evaluate and where necessary challenge commercial activity that involves improper private usage of data generated in and by public education systems,” the report finds.

Secondly, the operation of data infrastructure in education provides commercial actors with “hidden and technically complex means to subtly orchestrate activities in schools and school systems”, the report says. As a result, it will be important to monitor any changes to the work practices of educators and the effect on students and learning that may result from new data and software applications.

In future, the needs and capacities of public schools will be subtly shaped by the provision of software, the study says. In the next three to five years, the chief information officers of all education players will see a significant shift in their role in the market.

“This shift will be for education jurisdictions to act as information hubs, exposing students, staff and school data to trusted third party developers…” according to NSIP.

Mr Gavrielatos concluded the Commercialisation in Public Schooling session at conference by issuing a call to action to support the global response movement against big corporates in education such as Pearson.

“We are organising and mobilising around the world to build a global response,” he told conference. He called on Federation members to demonstrate solidarity, saying the issue of commercialisation in public schooling is “bigger than one union”.

“It’s all so scary,” he said.

ACTU – If there are jobs out there, young people should be getting jobs full pay

Workplace Express, 3 July 2017

The Turnbull Government says an alliance with the Australians Retailers Association will deliver up to 10,000 internships, in a major step for the Coalition’s interns program.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who announced the ARA partnership with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today, says the Government is "implementing practical measures so that those looking for work have the experience and skills they need to secure a job."

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says the association is excited to be part of the Youth Jobs PaTH program.

"Our retailers are already major employers of young people and these PaTH internships will now provide another way that employers can give young people a fair go."

Under the program, announced in last year’s Federal Budget, the government will pay businesses $1000 when they take on people aged 17 to 24 for a work experience placement program.

The Government also provides "incentive payments" of $200 a fortnight to young people who participate in the internships, which must provide 30 to 50 hours of work experience a fortnight for four to 12 weeks.

However, ACTU President Ged Kearney is critical of the scheme, saying it comes on the heels of penalty rate cuts and allowed for young people to be paid $4 a hour in what amounts to "free labour" for retailers.

Kearney says the new deal with the ARA is "further evidence of the collusion between big business and the government."

  • "This program will do nothing for young people beyond churning them through short-term, dead-end placements."
  • "It will take away full wage-paying positions, denying Australians of decent work, and will entrench the current situation of soaring profits and stagnating wages."
  • "If there are jobs out there, young people should be getting jobs full pay, real training opportunities, negotiated wage subsidies, and all the protection of being a proper employee."

The ARA has confirmed that two of the retailers to be involved in the scheme are Baker's Delight and Battery World.

Unions have criticised the involvement of Baker's Delight in the scheme, saying they have already been subject to claims of underpayment and exploitation through WorkChoices-era agreements.

ACTU wins first national family and domestic violence leave in the world

3 July 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has today won a first round victory to get working people access to paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.

Working people across Australia will soon have access to FDV leave after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down a decision that unpaid leave should be available in modern awards, as a basic standard for all workers.

The FWC accepted the ACTU’s argument that FDV is a significant community issue, that it disrupts workforce participation, that it disproportionately affects women and that it requires a workplace response.

The FWC commission also applauded the ACTU for being an agent of ‘social utility’.

Unfortunately the FWC stopped short of paid leave at this stage but it has left the door open for this in the future.

The FWC proposes to provide a period of unpaid FDV leave in modern awards, as well as access to personal/carers leave for FDV purposes.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The ACTU is disappointed that the FWC has not awarded paid leave at this time, but this decision is the first step in the fight to ensure working people trying to deal with or recover from family and domestic violence have both job and financial security.”
  • “Australia will become the first country in the world to have a nationally enshrined right to family and domestic violence leave.”
  • “The Australian union movement is at the forefront of changing the rules to make working people’s lives better and the FWC acknowledged this when it commended the social utility of the ACTU’s claim, but we acknowledge there is more to do in this critically important area.”
  • “The FWC accepted that family and domestic violence is a social and workplace issue with widespread impacts, and that workplace rights must keep pace with community expectations.”
  • “Family and domestic violence leave predominantly impacts women, leading to financial hardship, job insecurity and ultimately safety risks for families and people affected.”
  • “While the FWC has not been able to hand down a decision for paid leave at this time, it has left the door open for it in the future and we will fight until it is a workplace right for all.”


UK – Tory Austerity turmoil

Doctors, police officers, teachers and prison guards have seen their wages go backwards in real terms, according to a new study of public sector pay.

Teachers' real-terms hourly pay dropped 1.3 per cent a year between 2010, the beginning of austerity budgeting under George Osborne and the coalition, and 2015, researchers found.

Police officers earned 1.9 per cent less, prison officers 0.7 per cent less and doctors 4.4 per cent less every year, according to an Office of Manpower Economics study the Government quietly released on Monday.

Teachers' hourly rate dropped from £24 an hour in 2010 to £22 in 2015; midwives' from £21 to £18; police officers' from £20 to £18; and doctors' from £38 to £30.

Downing Street has said it would consider potential wage increases on a "case-by-case" basis after a string of top cabinet ministers signalled they backed an end to the blanket 1 per cent cap on all public servants.

But a Number 10 spokesman pointed out that pay rates for some professions for the current financial year have already been set at a below-inflation capped level.

The recent study looked at the wages of 10 groups that are set by pay review bodies and found they all lost out, in real terms, during the five-year period.

Earnings were calculated in constant 2015 prices and rounded to the nearest pound.

On Monday night, Chancellor Philip Hammond told business leaders that while the public was "weary" of austerity, the Government's policy of balancing "being fair to our public servants and fair to those who pay for them" had not changed.

He said: "We continually assess that balance. But we do, of course, recognise that the British people are weary after seven years' hard slog repairing the damage of the Great Recession. They have travelled a long way but still the sunlit uplands seem stubbornly to remain one further ridge away."

The Conservatives have faced pressure over public sector pay following their election slip-up, when they lost their Parliamentary majority in the face of an anti-austerity Labour manifesto.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Penalty rates transitional arrangements a blow to 700,000 workers

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus  penalty rates  Fair Work Commission
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has confirmed the penalty rate wage cuts for 700,000 workers will begin in less than four weeks.

The transitional arrangements for the penalty rate cuts will ensure the pain that workers face will be a long, drawn out process, with wage cuts every year over the next three to four years.

Today’s decision on the transitional arrangements comes at the same time that national economic data for the year to March shows business in Australia is flush, with profits up 39.7 per cent, while wages growth is a dismal 0.9 per cent.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) also today released research that shows the penalty rates cuts will rip $760 million out of cities and the suburbs

The ACTU is launching a TV and online ad campaign tonight asking key MPs to back the bill currently before parliament to prevent the pay cuts.

The TV ads will run across regional Queensland, NSW and Victoria, with Cathy McGowan, George Christensen and Ann Sudmalis, specifically targeted.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks up the future of the Australian economy, for working people the reality could not be more different — the cuts to wages in less than four weeks’ time are simply cruel.”

“The Turnbull Government can stop these wage cuts by supporting the bill currently before parliament to protect workers’ take home pay.”

“For an individual worker the Sunday cuts equal more than $70 per week. In total, there will be more than $1 billion in lost wages — that’s money that is not going back into our communities or our local economies.”

“The workers give up time with family and friends because penalty rates keep them afloat.”

“We need a government that stands up for working people. Instead we are being told lie after lie about how these pay cuts are going to boost the economy.”

“The ACTU will fight these penalty rates cuts until they are stopped or reversed. The pressure on MPs will continue until the workers they represent no longer have to live with the stress of having thousands of dollars torn out of their income.”