Thursday, August 31, 2017

ANMF – Nurses say aged care staffing levels ‘inadequate’

Tuesday 29th August, 2017

More than 92% of nurses and aged workers responding to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s (ANMF) national workforce survey say they are being asked to care for the same number of nursing home residents with less staff or less rostered care hours.

The online survey was launched in order for the ANMF to determine the true extent of cuts to care hours in residential facilities across the country.

The survey asks aged care nurses and care staff to identify cuts to care hours at the facilities where they work and how it’s impacting vulnerable residents. After being launched in early August, over 744 aged care nurses and carers have responded to the survey. The largest number of respondents (274) have been from Queensland, where 11 nurses have been sacked and over 2000 care hours have been slashed by providers.

Initial findings show:

  • 92% of respondents are being asked to care for the same number of residents with less staff, less hours;
  • 90% say current staffing levels aren’t adequate;
  • 71% don’t think the ratio of registered nurses to other care staff is adequate;
  • 89% don’t think the ratio of AIN’s/carers/PCW’s to residents is adequate
  • “Aged care nurses and carers are telling us what’s really going on inside nursing homes across Australia, as a result of registered and enrolled nurses being sacked and thousands of care hours being cut,” ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said today.
  • “They’re telling us how it is effecting daily care they can provide for elderly residents. There’s inadequate numbers of registered and enrolled nurses and personal care staff, which means that bathing and feeding along with pain and dementia management are all being compromised. As nurses, that’s a great concern to us, as it would be for residents’ and their families.
  • “The survey shows that some providers are again, citing financial sustainability as the rationale for nursing cuts, as a result of reduced federal funding, but the Government is putting the blame squarely back on the providers – and it’s the residents who are caught in the middle.
  • “The real problem is that without any mandated staffing levels or care hours in aged care, the Federal Government is allowing providers to determine ‘adequate’ levels of care to meet the basic needs of their residents and as we’ve recently seen, some providers simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing.
  • “Nurses are being sacked and care hours dramatically reduced and with less nurses, fewer carers and reduced hours, workloads for staff are increasing to dangerous levels and ultimately, it means care is being compromised and residents are suffering.”

To take part in the ANMF survey, go to

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.  ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.

NSWTF – Making of Teachers Make a Difference


AUG 28, 2017

CPSU signs up to the First Nations Workers Alliance (FNWA)

Last week the CPSU signed up to become a union member supporting the First Nations Worker Alliance (FNWA). The FNWA was set up by Australian Unions to give a voice to workers in the Community Development Program (CDP).

People receiving welfare in remote areas can be forced to participate in the Community Development Program (CDP).  This can be for a local council, a not for profit organisation or any other employer. There are 35,000 CDP workers with 84% of them being indigenous.

CDP workers are not actually classified as workers. They get paid well below the minimum wage (the dole pays $11.60/hour or $290/week) for compulsorily working for 25 hours a week for non-profit and now for-profit businesses. 

They are not covered by the Fair Work Act, they don’t have Federal OHS protections or workers compensation and they can’t take annual leave, sick leave or carer’s leave.

Those under the CDP are forced to work up to three times longer than city-based jobseekers to receive welfare payments. Since July 2015, less than 3,500 Indigenous participants found full-time or part-time work lasting six months or more.

Forcing people to work for less than minimum wage with no rights is just plain wrong



The CFMEU congratulates the Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni and the Palaszczuk State Government for introducing powerful new legislation that will ensure all building products used in Queensland are safe and fit for their intended use.

CFMEU Divisional Branch Secretary Michael Ravbar said, “These laws are a huge step in the right direction in ensuring unscrupulous builders and developers who cut corners and import unsafe and potentially deadly building products in order to save a few dollars, are held responsible and accountable.

  • “With the recent tragedy of the Grenfell Tower Fire in London fresh in everyone’s minds, the community is rightly worried about the safety of their homes and buildings here in Australia.
  • “Queenslanders want assurances that their homes and buildings are safe and that their Government, at both a State and Federal level, are doing everything they can to ensure this terrible incident doesn’t occur in their own backyard.
  • “It is great to see that the State Government has addressed these concerns and those of the unions, and delivered strong new powers to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
  • “These laws allow QBCC inspectors to not only investigate new construction but also any existing building to ensure they are safe and comply with Australian Standards which means that Queenslanders can be confident that buildings in this state will be safe and free of any inferior building products.
  • “Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the LNP Federal Government who have continued to sit on their hands and allow these dangerous and deadly products to enter our country putting the lives of innocent people at risk.
  • “Back in May 2015, the CFMEU raised serious concerns about the lack of Federal Government regulation over the flood of imported and unsafe building products, which did not meet Australian Standards.
  • “Here we are 2 years later and we are still waiting for the Federal Government to act.
  • “The CFMEU congratulates the Queensland Labor State Government for going the extra mile and doing the job of the lazy, arrogant and incompetent LNP Federal Government.”

Michael Ravbar said, “It’s time for the Turnbull Government to take note and follow in the Queensland Government’s footsteps to ensure the community is kept safe and their minds put at ease.

“We need strong Federal building and construction legislation implemented immediately to make sure all Australians are kept safe from deadly imported building products.”


The CFMEU is also congratulating the Palaszczuk State Government for giving new powers to the QBCC, which allows inspectors to refuse and cancel licences to builders who have a history of poor safety and also requires licensees to notify the regulator (Work Health and Safety Queensland) of activities on a building site that might present a work health and safety issue.

Michael Ravbar said, “This is another major win for workers in the construction industry and gives greater control to the regulator to ensure safety is the top priority.

  • “We have seen too many cases of rogue employers who have no regard for the health and safety of its workers. “This legislation will mean less fatalities and greater accountability, which in this industry can only be a great thing.”

These important legislative changes in Queensland would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the CFMEU and of course, Michael Garrels and the affected families who have put in countless hours in ensuring these laws come to fruition.

We have been lobbying and campaigning the Government to implement these important and much needed changes and are happy to see that all our hard work has finally paid off.

Every worker deserves to go to work and return home safe at the end of the day. Stand up. Speak out. Come home.

MUA – Queensland Industrial Manslaughter Laws Should be Adopted Australia-wide

August 25, 2017

The Maritime Union of Australia is calling on safety regulators around the country to follow suit with Queensland and adopt strict industrial manslaughter laws.
The new laws, which were tabled in parliament this week, will impose multi-million-dollar fines and explore jail sentences of up to 20 years for individuals found guilty of reckless conduct.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith believes bosses found to be culpable for fatalities on their watch should face the most severe of punishments.

  • “The maritime industry is incredibly dangerous,” Smith said.
  • “We need strong safety laws that protect workers’ lives first and foremost but that should include implementation of a suite of measures that ensure culpable bosses can't walk away from killing workers.”

MUA National Safety Officer Mick Cross said harsher penalties could act as a deterrent from skipping on safety.

“Once these Queensland laws pass the Parliament we can hopefully get them rolled out across the country and we’ll start to see all businesses forced to doing the right thing to avoid tragedies happening,” Cross said.

  •  “It’s unfortunate that custodial sentences and big dollar fines are the only ways to stop willful negligence becoming standard business practice, but something serious needs to be done to stop our workers dying in preventable accidents.
  • “Safety lip service from companies is unacceptable and we need to see changes around Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) accountability as a matter of urgency across all industries.
  • "The Trade Union movement’s relentlessness should be congratulated for taking this important step towards creating safer workplaces for all."

MUA Queensland Branch Secretary Bob Carnegie said many people had worked incredibly hard to get this legislation into the Parliament.

  • “The MUA Queensland Branch but in particular Ros McLennan and the Queensland Council of Unions CU worked day and night to achieve this outcome,” Carnegie said.
  • “The branch also wishes to congratulate Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, who spoke at the 2016 MUA Quadrennial Conference, for driving this legislation through cabinet.
  • “Grace comes from a wonderful background in the trade union movement and she has stayed to true to her core beliefs'
  • “It is one of those times where it's good to be a workers representative and industrial action is not the only option we are left with.”

ACTU – Employee representation on boards would help end Government and corporate greed

30 August 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is supportive of workers having more power at work and believes the concept of co-determination, where workers have a place on company boards, would be a positive move for the corporate governance of Australian companies.

Corporate power now looms so large in Australia that the foundation our rights at work were built on is disappearing, an important new essay from Australian academic Dr Nick Dyrenfurth says.

Dr Dyrenfurth’s essay, Make Australia Fair Again: the Case for Employee Representation on Company Boards, says working people could retain better pay and conditions if they were given a seat at the corporate table.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The concept of co-determination is a successful model in Germany and the ACTU supports Dr Dyrenfurth’s argument that affording working people more power in their own workplaces will have universal benefits for the economy and their lives.”
  • “As Australian workers languish amidst record low wage growth, mass casualisation, rising inequality and a work structure that gives all power to the bosses and little to the worker, it’s time for the rules to change.
  • “Unless we listen to the big ideas from academics like Dr Dyrenfurth, the neoliberal era will continue to hurt working people. It’s time to change the rules.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

ACTU – Australia is a nation of working carers, new study finds

27 August 2017

Change the Rules for Working Women & Families

Australia’s workforce is dominated by working people who are juggling work with caring and parenting responsibilities.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) launches its new campaign to Change the Rules for Working Women & Families today, with new survey results showing 85 per cent of working Australians also have significant family caring and/or parenting responsibilities.

More than 5,400 Australians responded to the survey and have clearly told us that life is not all about working. Participants said they need time to care for children or family members with a disability, medical condition, mental illness or an aging parent or other family member.

Most working people, 60 per cent, have never asked for reduced hours to assist with juggling family caring and work, with many worried about their job security and many suggesting that their workplace management and culture does not support flexible work.

The ACTU is arguing in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that all employees should be entitled to reduced or part-time working hours when they have caring and parenting responsibilities, on a temporary basis, and go back to their role and previous hours when caring responsibilities reduce or cease. The FWC will hear the case in December.

Key survey findings:

  • Almost 85% of Australian workers have or have had a caring role;
  • 65% had cared for a child of school age or younger
  • 27% had cared for someone frail or aged
  • 25% had cared for someone with a medical condition
  • 14% had cared for someone with a mental illness.
  • Almost 40% of workers have asked their employer for reduced hours for caring and almost a quarter of these had been knocked back;
  • Almost one in two workers need access to reduced hours for caring;
  • Women are almost twice as likely to ask for reduced hours for caring;
  • Employers are 50% more likely to reject a male worker’s request for reduced hours;
  • Inflexible workplace culture is the reason most cited for workers not asking for reduced hours to care for a family member;

The ACTU’s “Change the rules for working women and families” campaign will include:

Changing the rules for women to tackle the gender pay gap, insecure work and inequality;
Providing a better balance for women and families for work, family and care;
Enshrining 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave universally.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Australia is a nation of working carers, with 85 per cent of working people juggling caring and work responsibilities.”
  • “We are a country of working people who value our loved ones more than anything else, but often we are stopped from providing the care needed because our workplace laws and rules have not kept up with modern life.”
  • “Almost 6,000 Australians responded to the survey and have told us that life is not all about working. Participants responded that they need time to care for a child or a family member with disability, a medical condition, a mental illness or an aging parent or other family member.”
  • “Whether a dentist in Newcastle, a security guard in Sydney or a teacher in Melbourne, working women and men have told us that juggling both caring for family and working is a major issue.”
  • “The cost on individuals and families is enormous, with some survey participants estimating they are doing in excess of $50,000 a year in unpaid caring for a family member.”
  • “This new survey shows us families are under constant pressure from the responsibility of maintaining secure employment and the reality of looking after children, ageing parents or a loved one with an illness.”
  • “Many of the survey respondents said their workplace culture was not flexible and others said they did not ask their employer for reduced working hours because they feared they would get sacked. This is the disgraceful reality of our modern workplaces.”
  • “While women still carry the lion’s share of the burden of caring, men want reduced hours but are 50 per cent more likely to get knocked back when they do ask.”
  • “What is clear from the survey is that our workplace laws have not kept up with the realities of working Australians’ lives.”
  • “The ACTU wants a new right for all Australian workers, especially women who predominantly carry the caring load, to have the right to part-time or reduced hours temporarily while they have important family caring responsibilities.”
  • “The ACTU is committed to continuing to use every available option to make this a reality for working women and families."
  • “Australian women and families shouldn’t need to fit in to the outdated broken system. We are arguing that we need modern workplaces and modern laws.”
  • “The rules are broken for working women and families and the Australian trade union movement will always fight for better conditions for working people and lead the way in industrial reforms that support women, all workers and their families.”
  • “Life is not all about working and we will pursue reform that sees this end.”

ACTU Statement: Let Them Stay

28 August 2017

The following statement is attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) condemns the Turnbull Government’s cruel and weak decision to attack vulnerable families living in Australia by cutting their income and threatening to deport them back to offshore detention camps.

The ACTU opposes this awful distraction from a heartless government and demands the attack stop

The 400 people were evacuated from Australia’s offshore detention camps for critical reasons. Some
women were pregnant. Other men, women and children were evacuated because they were too sick
to stay in the camps. Their babies have been born in Australia, and there are children and families
from this group living across the Australian community.

They are our school-mates, team-mates, and neighbors. If they can remain in Australia and be
allowed to work, they could be your teacher, your doctor or your colleague.

We must let them stay.

This is a callous, cynical and cruel decision. It deserves scorn and condemnation. It will be resisted.
The decision is designed to take attention away from the Turnbull Government’s self-inflicted wounds and declining popularity.

Australians fought for these people to be allowed to stay in Australia before and the ACTU stands
ready to fight for them again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

WestConnex Arrests

Unfortunately however we have a shortfall in current foreseeable expenses. Would you be able to help out? Every little bit counts, from $5 to $5000. A number of our peaceful protesters have been arrested under the government's harsh new anti-protest laws and are pleading 'not guilty' which can be legally complex and require experienced barristers.

You can donate via GoFundMe (which accepts credit cards) or by Direct Deposit:
Account name: NoW Public Transport Inc
BSB: 633-000 (Bendigo Bank)
Account number: 156 776 189

If using Direct Deposit, please send a short email to at the same time giving your name, the date of transfer and the amount.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

BMUC – The Great Coal Cover Up ? Politics in the Pub Saturday 2nd September.

Health risks presented by massive coal trains up to 60 wagons long crossing the  Blue Mountains is the subject of  Katoomba's next politics in the pub on Saturday 2nd September.

"Air pollution from the mining, burning and transport of coal contributes to heart disease, lung disease, asthma and some cancers", says Dr Sujata Allan from the public health group Doctors for the Environment Australia.

  • "There is no safe level for many air pollutants - they can cause health issues even when below current Australian standards.
  • "Every time coal trains go by, there are spikes of air pollution - with potential health impacts on nearby populations. Covering coal wagons and regulating dirty diesel locomotives would reduce this pollution"

Although the mining companies have made billions out of the great  mining boom, they have consistently failed to cover the coal wagons.

Dr Allan and Dr Richard Stiles have been invited by Blue Mountains Unions and Community (BMUC) to address their next politics in the pub at Blackburns Family Hotel in Parke Street, Katoomba on Saturday 2nd September starting at 2.30pm

Doctors for the Environment Australia is an independent medical organisation and advocates to protect public health by care for the environment. It's supported by an eminent Scientific Advisory Committee of medical and science experts. The speeches will be followed by a Q and A session.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

For further information contact Peter Lammiman on 0410153157
and Nick Franklin of 0428259752

TWU – 500 truck drivers and supporters protest at Aldi supermarket in Mt Druitt

Release date: 24/08/2017

Over 500 truck drivers and their supporters have protested at an Aldi supermarket in Mt Druitt, Sydney, angry at the wealthy retailer’s refusal to ensure safety in its transport supply chain.

The protest follows a Federal Court rejection on Wednesday of Aldi’s bid for an injunction to stop drivers protesting its poor safety practices and stopping them from revealing information about rates and conditions in its supply chain. Drivers at the protest called on Aldi to stop trying to silence them. 

  • “Aldi must face up to the role they play in creating pressure on transport. Wealthy retailers through their low cost contracts are forcing transport companies and drivers to not maintain vehicles, drive long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks. This pressure is killing people on our roads and leaving families and communities devastated. Aldi is refusing to come to the table and discuss how they can improve safety in transport. We are here today to send them a loud message that this is not acceptable,” said TWU National Assistant Secretary Michael Kaine. 
  • “Truck crash fatalities are increasing as are the number of truck drivers being killed. Aldi has got to take responsibility for the role it plays. The Federal Government must also shoulder the blame: it tore down an independent tribunal last year which was holding wealthy retailers like Aldi to account for safety in transport. The Government’s own report showed the tribunal was cutting truck crash deaths by 28%*,” said TWU NSW Secretary Richard Olsen. 
  • “Aldi cannot silence drivers. We are on the road every day and we see the pressure transport workers are under. We want Aldi to be part of the solution and get on board to stop the carnage,” said driver Mark Trevillian. 

Fatal crashes involving articulated trucks has increased by over 7% this year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Safe work Australia data shows that 40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers. This is up from one in three transport workers last year and one in four in 2015.

Aldi is appealing a separate Federal Court decision which struck down a bogus enterprise agreement voted on just two members of staff. The agreement denied minimum award rates and classified drivers of large trucks as store workers.

George Monbiot – Why Tump can't be human

Donald Trump’s not human and planet earth’s DOOMED!! George Monbiot offers hope, but only a little and you have to wait till the end

BMUC – Great Coal Cover Up?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MUA – Save Our Seafarers - March on Malcolm Turnbull’s office for Aussie Jobs and Fuel Security

Posted by MUA communications on August 22, 2017

Aussie seafarers will protest outside the Prime Minister’s Sydney office at midday today demanding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stands up for Australian workers.

The Maritime Union of Australia said it was outrageous the former merchant banker was re-elected to the country’s top job on a mantra of “jobs and growth”, yet 13 months later had done nothing. 

MUA NSW Branch Secretary Paul McAleer said protesters would rally outside the Prime Minister’s office to raise the plight of Aussie seafarers – whose ranks have been decimated in recent years.

“Have you heard Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for jobs? Neither have we,” McAleer said.

McAleer said Monday’s tragedy where the US Navy warship USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca provided a stark reminder that Australia’s fuel security was at risk should there be any major supply shock.

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Alnic MC until 2014 operated in Australia as the Tandara Spirit.

  • “There are now no Australian-crewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation, down from 12 in the year 2000. At the same time, the number of refineries has halved. This means we are entirely at the mercy of market forces when it comes to fuel supply,” McAleer said.
  • “A recent Senate inquiry heard that Australia's total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel comprises of two weeks of stocks at sea, 5 to 12 days of supply at refineries, 10 days of refined stock at terminals and 3 days of stocks at service stations. 
  • “A substantial disruption in fuel supply would have serious consequences across the Australian community when it comes to delivery of food, medicine and running family cars on our roads.
  • “Australians would expect our Government to have a better plan and this would involve more refining here and Australian-crewed ships to carry it around the coast.” 

The Abbott/Turnbull Government’s 2015 Energy White Paper found that Australia's current oil stockholdings do not currently meet its obligations under the International Energy Agency (IEA) treaty, under which Australia is obliged to hold oil stocks equivalent to 90 days. 

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into Australia's transport energy resilience and sustainability reported in June 2015 that Australia is the only country amongst the 28 member states that fails to meet its IEA oil stockholding obligations. 

“Evidence to the committee suggested that Australia is almost totally reliant on liquid fuels for transport and transportation services which underpin significant economic activity, utilities and essential services. 

“Therefore, any substantial disruption to Australia's transport fuel supplies would have a significant impact on safety, national security, national productivity and society.”

ACTU – Streets betrays workers by terminating agreement and slashing wages by 46%

Unilever, owner of Streets ice cream, one of Australia’s most iconic brands, has betrayed workers at its Minto plant in Western Sydney by attempting to terminate a workplace agreement and cut its workers’ pay by 46 per cent.

As well as a drastic pay cut, hundreds of Streets’ workers, who make Paddle Pop, Magnum and Golden Gaytime ice creams, would also have important conditions slashed. Limits on overtime, annual, personal, parental and compassionate leave, redundancy conditions, and protections against use of labour hire and contractors, would all be torn up.

The strategy used by Unilever over a 16 month industrial dispute is disturbingly familiar. Management proposed a new agreement, which included harsh new conditions, which Streets’ workers overwhelmingly voted down.

In response, rather than continuing to negotiate, the company is applying to have the independent umpire slash wages by 46 per cent.

This practice has become a favourite of companies looking to bully their workforces into submission, and the precedent set up the Fair Work Commission’s rulings on disputes at Aurizon has allowed hundreds of agreements to be terminated.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
  • “This is industrial blackmail. Unilever and Streets are forcing workers to choose between an agreement they don’t want and a 46 per cent cut in wages, with crippling cuts to conditions.”
  • “The rules that used to protect working people from this kind of attack are broken.”
  • “We stand with the workers at Minto just as we stood with the workers at CUB’s Abbottsford Brewery. This bullying of working people will never be tolerated.”
  • “Unilever are exploiting the fact that corporations have been given immense power, and protections for workers have been broken down. We want changes to the rules so that companies cannot blackmail their employees.”
  • “Unilever try to portray themselves as an ethical company, but that clearly doesn’t extend to their treatment of their own workers.”
  • “The ACTU will campaign against this appalling treatment of working people – not only at Streets but everywhere that companies are using termination of agreements as blackmail – until the rules are changed.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

NSWTF – All for one, and one for all

All for one, and one for all

Maurie Mulheron

Teaching is a profession that exists to create the future. It is why so much of what we do is couched in the future tense.

As teachers we harbour hopes that the children and young people we teach will become knowledgeable, well-balanced and inquisitive adults ready to take up their roles as fellow citizens committed to making this world a better place.

We want them to grow into adults who care for others, for their families, for their community, for humanity and for the planet.
It is why teacher unions just about everywhere refuse to be straightjacketed into a role that restricts our work to simply “wages and conditions”.

Of course, salaries and conditions will always be our core business but we fight for improvements in these knowing the broader social context in which we all live and work.
This brings me to the marriage equality debate that is now dominating national politics. As a union, we will add our voice along with other progressive organisations in support of the campaign to allow consenting adults the right to choose marriage.

The stand we have taken, determined in our democratic decision-making forums, should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows our history, a history that we have an opportunity to celebrate next year, our 100th anniversary.

Let me offer just a few examples.

In 1932, in NSW the Married Women (Lecturers and Teachers) Act was passed forcing all women who were married to leave the teaching service.
Fifteen years of campaigning by Federation led to the Act being repealed in 1947 but not before it had destroyed careers and led to enormous financial hardship.

Federation campaigned for equal pay for women teachers. Indeed, the issue was first carried as a campaign objective back in 1920, before any other union.

Despite objections from some quarters even within Federation, it remained a critically important campaign. It was not until 1958 that the NSW Government agreed to equal pay for women teachers but, even then, phased it in over five years.

On championing the rights of Aboriginal people, the Federation has a proud history and the story will be told in a feature documentary being filmed this year in preparation for the union's centenary year.

Federation has always promoted peace, believing that all wars are fought against children.
Many of our members throughout the state were closely and actively involved in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. Young male trainee teachers who were draft resisters were supported by the union.

The list of causes that tried to make the world a fairer place and which the Federation has supported over the years is long.

Yet so many, once regarded as radical, such as opposition to apartheid in South Africa and support for the Green Bans movement that successfully preserved so many of our historical buildings, are now accepted as politically mainstream.

We are a union that champions equality, not out of any loyalty to another’s political agenda, but because, as teachers, we want our children to grow up in a world that accepts all and celebrates diversity.

After all, it is what we practise, model and teach every day in our public schools. Despite this, however, we know that there are young people in our schools whose life is not easy.
These are the students who come to school each day frightened. Frightened of the physical assault they may suffer, whether it be a punch or a sly push from behind. Frightened of the insults. Frightened of being ostracised. Fearful of the name-calling they will endure. Scared of what life may hold for them. Silent in class, rather than answer a question and risk having their answer labelled as “gay” by a fellow student.

Many endure this for years; every day, on the bus to school, in class, at recess, at lunchtime and on the bus home. We also know that for many, home is not safe either.
These students may be gay or lesbian or just plain unsure of their sexuality. We know that many will become deeply depressed, some will attempt suicide.
Of course, we also know that there will be many who will find support at their school but far too many do not.

We also know that many teaching colleagues are targeted because of their sexuality. Sometimes this could be an insult by students they teach or an innuendo designed to embarrass. Sometimes it is more.

We also know that many of our students come from same-sex families.
So, now that the government has announced a $122 million sham opinion poll on marriage equality, it may be time to pause and reflect on just what kind of society we want. For most of our history, as a union, we have tried to make the education system in this country fairer, more inclusive and celebratory of difference.

But we have done this in the hope that our society will also accept all and care for all.
This is why we offer our support for the campaign to achieve marriage equality because we know that there will be many students and staff in our schools who may turn up to school if the nation shows its support for the change, a little less frightened.
Some years ago, I learned to play the main theme from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on my five-string banjo.

I did it so I could sing the tune with new lyrics written by my musical mentor, the late Pete Seeger. I like to think his words could provide our union and, indeed, public education, with its anthem:

Build the road of peace before us
Build it wide and deep and long
Speed the slow, remind the eager
Help the weak and guide the strong
None shall push aside another
None shall let another fall
Work beside me sisters and brothers
All for one and one for all

Friday, August 11, 2017

ANMF – Outraged at Sacking of Blue Care Nurses

Wednesday 9th August, 2017

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is outraged that Blue Care, an agency of UnitingCare Queensland, has sacked 11 highly qualified enrolled nurses across its Bundaberg facilities.

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the loss of so many nurses, in addition to a reduction of more than 1540 in nursing and care hours, will see vulnerable residents suffer.

  • “This is nothing short of a disgrace,” Ms Thomas said today.
  • “Sadly, it just proves that providers like Blue Care cannot be trusted in providing proper, safe levels of staff to deliver care to their nursing home residents.
  • “The ANMF is appalled that Blue Care can get away with sacking 11 enrolled nurses and then be cynically advertising for minimally-trained personal care workers to replace them, allowing untrained carers with only a First Aid Certificate to replace the sacked nurses.
  • “It not only diminishes the important roles that aged care nurses play in caring for vulnerable residents, many of whom suffer Dementia and have complex care needs, but it now will dramatically reduce the quality and quantity of care that residents will receive on a daily basis.
  • “Clearly, Blue Care doesn’t care and what’s disturbing is that the Federal Government is standing back and letting it happen.”

Ms Thomas said the ANMF’s ongoing national, online aged care survey has already identified cuts to nursing and care hours at nursing homes in Queensland and other States. Over 300 ANMF members have responded, with 94% reporting they are being asked to care for the same number of residents with fewer staff or less care hours. Over 89% say their current staffing levels simply aren’t adequate to ensure that basic care, including bathing and bed changes are being provided to residents.

“Now that Blue Care has gone ahead and made this unilateral decision to sack these nurses, we dread to think what the outcome will be for the residents in their Bundaberg facilities. The crisis in aged care has just got a whole lot worse,” Ms Thomas added.

Ms Thomas said the sacking of the Blue Care nurses will be “front and centre” of the ANMF’s urgent talks with Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt in Canberra this Thursday and will be followed by a “Rally for the Elderly”, to be held outside Blue Care’s Pioneer facility in Bundaberg, at 10am next Tuesday (15 August).

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.  

ACOSS – Energy Retailers can act to help relieve energy stress and drop electricity prices

Ahead of their meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow, ACOSS joins other organisations to call for urgent action from energy retailers to help reduce high electricity costs, which are pushing low-income and disadvantaged households over the edge.

ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “ACOSS is deeply concerned about the impacts of increasingly high prices on people who are disadvantaged and living on low incomes.

  • “The price of electricity has increased by 114% over the past decade, leaving many people having to choose between paying high bills and buying enough food to feed their family.
  • “There are some clear steps that can be taken immediately by the big energy retailers to protect disadvantaged people, such as ensuring people are on the best deal, without tricky terms and conditions, and assisting them to manage energy consumption and costs.
  • “Retailers also need to agree to standard industry language and improve transparency so people can understand their energy bill and more accurately compare offers by retailers.”

ACOSS supports the statement made by Energy Consumers Australia released today, which can be found here.

ACOSS also calls on the federal government to act now to relieve energy stress.

  • “The federal government should also step up and keep the energy supplement, which they are currently trying to repeal; increase social security payments, particularly Newstart; work with state governments to improve adequacy of energy concessions; and address barriers to energy efficiency,” said Dr Goldie.
  • “Electricity is an essential service. We must make clean energy affordable and available to all, and protect low-income and disadvantaged households from the rising costs of electricity.”

For further recommendations see the joint report from ACOSS, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and The Climate Institute Empowering disadvantaged households to access clean, affordable energy.

ACTU – Xenophon and Hanson betray workers by voting for building code

10 August 2017

Cross bench senators from the Nick Xenophon Team and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation have betrayed workers in the construction industry by supporting the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s (ABCC) building code.

The code will remove many critical rights for workers, including the right to bargain for minimum apprentice positions in agreements and for priority to be given to local unemployed workers in new roles over temporary migrant workers. The ABCC and the Code attached to it, actually outlaws a union’s ability to negotiate for more apprentices in the industry.

Under the Code builders who’s EBAs included any of the following positive measures are unable to tender for Government work unless they become “code compliant”:

  • Limits on ordinary and overtime hours
  • Limits on use of labour hire and casual workers
  • Fixed rostered days off
  • Limits on number and use of overseas workers
  • Apprentice Ratios
  • Union representative structures and procedures.
  • Clauses that encourage the hiring of women and older workers.
  • Union stickers, posters and clothing

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly:

  • “This will cost local jobs by allowing big construction companies to bring in more temporary workers through visa programs.”
  • “We need to change the rules for working people, who need more rights at work not fewer. Rights are being stripped from construction workers today by corporations which have been given too much power. These rights were hard-won and should never be taken away.”
  • The last time this code was enacted was under the Howard Government and we saw a spike in workplace deaths, which was only reversed when the code was scrapped by the Gillard Government.”
  • “This code strips rights from workers. It will increase risk for workers on construction sights. It will lead to more unnecessary deaths in an industry which already sees far too many working people killed.”
  • “Senators Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon claim to be friends of working people but they have betrayed construction workers with this vote and given in to the fanatically anti-worker Turnbull Government.”
  • “This is a vote against apprentices. This is a vote which will deepen the crisis in youth unemployment. This is a vote which will make construction sights even less safe than they already are under the ABCC.”
  • “Make no mistake; there is no difference between a Xenophon, Hanson or a Liberal/National Senator. They are voting in lock-step against rights for working people.”

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

NZ – Historic day For Equal Pay Settlement

“This settlement will make a real difference to our members.  Our members in home support and disability support play a vital role in empowering people to live independent lives in their own communities. This settlement recognises the value of the work they do – and the people they support.”-- Erin Polaczuk, PSA National Secretary

Unions representing care and support workers are pleased to be jointly announcing with government a proposed equal pay settlement to 55,000 workers across the aged residential, disability and home support sectors.

The proposed settlement is a huge win and will make a real difference in valuing the work of care and support workers and the people they support, workers in the sector say. It is a significant step in addressing gender inequality in New Zealand.

The offer lifts care and support workers’ pay to between $19.00 and $23.50 from 1 July, rising to between $21.50 and $27.00 in July 2021.

It comes after 20 months of negotiations established by government to settle caregiver and E tū member Kristine Bartlett’s landmark equal pay case, lodged in 2012, which went all the way to the Supreme Court with the courts finding gender bias was the cause of Kristine’s low wages.

Kristine says “It will give us dignity and pride and make our lives worthwhile, knowing we’re being paid what we are actually worth. After years of struggling on low wages, hopefully we’re going to have a bit left over to actually enjoy life.”

Tens of thousands of care and support workers will now vote on the proposed settlement in coming weeks.

 Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says the offer once ratified will mean a “once in a lifetime pay rise which will end poverty wages for this mainly female workforce and set them on the path to a better life. We’re delighted today’s proposed settlement recognises the justice of Kristine’s case and the wonderful work of Kristine and other professional carers.”

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne says that “This equal settlement delivers pay rates that truly reflect the skills and importance of the work that care and support workers undertake every day. Decent pay rates and the right to achieve qualifications will grow and retain skilled workers to care for our elderly. This will build public confidence that high quality care will be delivered to our families’ loved ones in our rest homes and hospitals.”

Unions say the government is to be commended for agreeing to negotiate this settlement offer, rather than waiting for years before the legal process was finally exhausted

Text source:

ACTU – Mining Giants Want to Destroy Secure Jobs and Drive Wages Down Further

8 August 2017

A rewarmed proposal for industrial relations reforms from a group representing massive multinationals would drive down wages and make it easier for big corporations to casualise the workforce.

The Minerals Council of Australia has dusted off the WorkChoices agenda of individual workplace contracts alongside proposals to drastically reduce working people’s power at work.

Under its plan, employers will be able to re-introduce individual contracts, tip all power to employers when bargaining, remove protections for job security and drive wages down even further.

The Council, a Coalition ally who spent millions electing former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and campaigned against the mining tax which would have benefited Australian schools and hospitals, represents the interests of multinational mining companies, many of which pay zero tax.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “The mining companies are the most powerful multinationals on our planet. Their greed knows no limits. If we were all working for $4 an hour with no job security whilst they paid no tax, it would still not be enough for them.”
  • “These mining companies, including BHP, Adani and Rio Tinto, make billions of dollars in profits — now they want to cut their workers’ wages and curtail workplace safety.”
  • “This plan is just an attempt to rebrand parts of their wish list that has already been rejected by the Australian people. The only people who can put limits on their greed is the Australian people. We need stronger workplace rights to ensure this occurs.”
  • “During the mining boom these companies had a license to print money yet they fought against paying tax, while they extracted our resources. The legacy of the boom for working people is a budget deficit, hollowed out job prospects and companies so powerful they keep demanding more and more."
  • “We have seen the normalisation of tax avoidance by massive corporations. Every Australian suffers as a result of the greed of tax dodging big business.”

Acoss and Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality

ACOSS again urges the Australian Parliament to deliver a free vote on marriage equality and to vote yes. ACOSS also applauds all those across Australian society who continue to campaign for marriage equality through a parliamentary vote.

Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, said:

“Each day, people directly affected by the denial of the human right to marry the person you love, are forced to keep sharing their intimate stories of pain, distress, love and hope. We will continue to do so as we build the unstoppable force for change. Staff in our own organisation, Board members and across our membership are directly affected. As an individual and through my family and friends, I am directly affected. We thank the tireless efforts of the groundswell of politicians and people campaigning in support of this essential change. Across Australia, people campaigning for marriage equality through a parliamentary vote are acting in love and support for their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, children, friends, neighbours, communities and the decency of Australian society. ACOSS applauds all those working to finally deliver marriage equality for Australia.

“The facts are that, as long as loving same sex relationships are invalidated through the failure to recognise marriage equality, those of us affected remain virtual second class citizens. As long as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace, in our schools and in the streets through bullying, harassment and violence, those affected remain on the margins of society. As long as our diverse community continues to experience higher rates of suicide, elevated rates of mental health issues and poorer health outcomes, we will be prevented from reaching our full potential as individuals and as a society.

"The time for change is now. A vote in the Australian Parliament for marriage equality is the only way."

Sunday, August 06, 2017

ACTU – Remote work-for-the-dole scheme is racist

The compulsory Community Development Program unfairly targets Indigenous people and is definitely discriminatory, Sally McManus, the recently appointed secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, made the comments at the Garma festival in north-east Arnhem Land on Sunday. In a speech she said the compulsory Community Development Program (CDP), which required participants to do 25 hours of “work-like activity” a week for welfare payments at a rate of about $10 an hour, unfairly targeted Indigenous people and was a “stark reminder” of the continuing existence of structural racism.

“People are working, some of them in jobs they were once paid award wages for and often for for-profit companies. The employers are getting CDP workers for free.”

She earlier told Guardian Australia it was already “definitely discriminatory” because it applied only to people in rural and remote areas.
  • “How can it be that some people in Australia have to work 52 weeks a year, $10 an hour, and then other people who aren’t in rural and remote areas don’t?” she said.
  • “And then out of the people in the program, 85% are Indigenous. Does it need to be 100% before we say it’s racist? It’s pretty clear as far as I’m concerned that it applies to some people and not others and it’s massively impacting on Indigenous people more than other people. I think if people in urban areas and cities knew this was happening they’d be outraged. But they don’t because it’s remote Australia.”
  • McManus said the compulsory work was in areas with the highest unemployment.
  • “Are you really saying to those people you’ve got to leave your land, leave your country, is that what it’s really about?”
Former Liberal deputy leader Fred Chaney said the $1.5b initiative, which covered more than 35,000 mostly Aboriginal people, had seriously disadvantaged vulnerable people.

“It has caused pain and indeed hunger,” he said. “They should be in a work-like situation, not imprisoned in a [system] of immense complexity which is causing immense hardship through breaching.”

In his speech, opposition leader Bill Shorten said Indigenous people didn’t need “a ‘Balanda’ lecture about the difficulty of changing the constitution”.

Shorten said Labor fully supported the recommendations for a constitutionally enshrined voice, for a Makarrata – a truth telling process – and for treaties.

He said people should look to the 1967 referendum as an inspiration, not the 1999 one as a warning. “There’s no reason why that can’t be done by the end of this year, the issues have been traversed for a decade.”

“We have had 10 years plus of good intentions, it is now time perhaps for more action.”

Saturday, August 05, 2017

MUA – Newcastle Workers Rally over Security Fears as Foreign Crew Flies in to take Aussie Jobs

Posted by Mua communications on August 03, 2017

Maritime workers rallied today against the under-handed importation of foreign labourers to replace highly-skilled Australian workers at the Port of Newcastle.

The Maritime Union of Australia fears national security has been compromised by the foreign workforce, which was all but smuggled in to do the work. Although first thought to be part of the transport ship’s crew, it appears the foreign workers were flown in from Singapore on special visas to help unload its cargo.

“This makes a mockery of our border security,” MUA Acting Newcastle Branch Secretary Dennis Outram said.

“At a time when we are seeing unprecedented surveillance and scrutiny at our airports, anyone can seemingly come and go through our sea ports. It also jeopardises the safety and jobs of highly-skilled Australian workers.”

MUA members will join AMWU comrades to protest against the use of a foreign labour force.

Mr Outram said experienced local workers were being deliberately locked out of their jobs, this time helping to unload huge parts for wind turbines shipped in from overseas.

“It is highly dangerous work and strong safety precautions are essential to ensure no-one is seriously hurt, or killed,” Mr Outram said.

“Our members do not feel safe working alongside an untested labour force that does not appear to be meeting Australian standards.”