Saturday, June 23, 2018

ABC Ultimo Building Cladding Now Uncomliant


Yesterday the ABC advised all staff that the building cladding used in the ABC’s Ultimo premises is no longer compliant with the current Building Code of Australia (BCA) Fire Safety Standards. As indicated by the ABC, the cladding used in ABC Ultimo was commonly used when the buildings were originally constructed in 1992 and 2002, however as technology and materials change, so too have the standards.

Things you should know immediately are:

The ABC has notified the relevant authority and has received expert advice that it is safe for ABC staff to continue working in the Ultimo building.

The CPSU is satisfied that, at present, the ABC is meeting its WHS obligations to manage risks and consult with staff.

The ABC has confirmed that it will be implementing a broad range of control measures including Fire Safety measures to mitigate risks, and building remediation work to eliminate risk.

The ABC briefed the CPSU, MEAA and ABC Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) around 2pm yesterday afternoon, and all staff shortly thereafter.

All documentation that has been provided to the CPSU by the ABC is available to members on request.
Our role in making sure the ABC is a safe place to work

HSRs are central to good health and safety systems, and union HSRs have access to additional resources in performing this important role. The CPSU will be convening a meeting for our Ultimo Health and Safety Representatives next week. Details will be sent out shortly.

All ABC staff and external parties who work in the premises have an obligation to follow all reasonable instructions issues by the ABC in relation to WHS. A key body of work the ABC is undertaking concerns the safe use of electrical equipment. The CPSU urges all members to please follow these instructions and report any concerns to your immediate supervisor or in the ABC’s online incident reporting.

For more information please call your local CPSU organiser or call 1300 137 636.

This week a parliamentary inquiry into WestCONnex was announced. Thanks to all of you who have signed our petition, the hard work of Jenny Leong, and the NSW upper house MP's who supported it. Submissions to the inquiry are open until 31 August 2018. Of course this is no silver bullet, but it's another important step along the way to our ultimate goal to stop westCONnex completely and get the public and active transport solutions Sydney really needs.

As the numbers in parliament reached a majority, Luke Foley then announced that if elected in 2019, a Labor government would hold a judicial inquiry into WestCONnex. This is also very welcomed but falls short of the community's expectation. Internally, the Inner West Labor Environment Action Network drafted a strong motion for the upcoming state Labor conference that was unacceptably watered down before reaching the conference papers (see p70). This is despite 1200 emails to Luke Foley asking for a commitment to stop stage 3 and the privatisation. Emails have also been sent to all the key state Labor MPs and 'Local Labor Against WestCONnex' councillors asking for their support.

Join us outside the NSW State Labor Conference at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday June 30th at 10am for a peaceful gathering. We will be handing out a leaflet calling on delegates to amend the policy platform to commit to halt WestCONnex, reverse privatisation and establish a Royal Commission into transport planning in NSW. Strong statements now could land a decisive blow to the impending sale of Sydney Motorway Corporation. Such actions do not come without costs, but the risks are not nearly as great as going ahead with the major disaster that is WestCONnex.

What: Stop WestCONnex action at NSW Labor State Conference
Where: Sydney Town Hall steps
When: Saturday June 30th, 10-11am

In the meantime, the DoGooder petition to Luke Foley has been updated, so please use it to send another email. See you next Saturday. If you can't make it but would still like to help with costs, please make a donation here. We greatly appreciate your support.

NoWestConnex: Public Transport · Australia 

PSA – Tony Wright explains NSW Budget 2018-2019

ANMF announces new Federal Executive positions

Tuesday 19th June, 2018

The country’s largest union, the Australia Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Annie Butler as its new Federal Secretary.

Ms Butler replaces Ms Lee Thomas, who stepped-down from the role, in December, 2017.

The appointment of Ms Butler was resolved at an extraordinary meeting of the ANMF’s Federal Executive in Melbourne yesterday.

The Federal Executive appointed Ms Lori-Anne Sharp as the ANMF’s new Assistant Federal Secretary.

Mr James Lloyd, the President of the ANMF Tasmanian Branch, was appointed ANMF Federal Vice President, replacing Ms Sharp in that role.

Ms Butler, Ms Sharp and Mr Lloyd join the ANMF’s Federal President Sally-Anne Jones as Federal Executive Officers of the union.

The ANMF wishes to thank Ms Thomas for her commitment and dedication to the union and its growing membership, having served as Federal Secretary for eight years.

The ANMF, with over 268,500 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

ANMF media inquiries: Richard Lenarduzzi – 0411 254 390

Friday, June 22, 2018

NSWTF – NSW Government ‘efficiency dividend’ cuts will hurt schools and students

June 21, 2018

The NSW Teachers Federation is deeply concerned that the Berejiklian Government’s annual ‘efficiency dividend’ will hurt our schools and students as each year it rips hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Education Department’s budget.

Originally set at 1.5 per cent, the annual budget cut for all State Government departments rose to 2 per cent last financial year and is now being increased to an unsustainable 3 per cent.

  • “The Education Department has already been gutted and hundreds of positions that once supported schools have been lost because of this so- called ‘efficiency dividend’,” Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, said.
  • “This year’s 3 per cent cut could slice up to $420 million dollars from the Education Department’s budget.”
  • “That’s $420 million that should have been going to assist schools delivering a better education for the students of NSW.”

Mr Mulheron said the mandated cuts would mean a significant loss of capacity in the Education Department to provide any support for schools.

  • “Before the Coalition began cutting staff from the Education Department there were experienced teacher-consultants deployed across the state to assist schools to manage a range of issues including children with challenging behaviours, community and parent liaison, drug and alcohol education, student welfare, multicultural education and anti-bullying strategies. As well, there were curriculum experts working in specific subject areas.”
  • “This ‘efficiency dividend’, marketed as ‘Local Schools Local Decisions’, has resulted in state-wide programs and front-line support either being scrapped or the additional responsibilities placed on already over-burdened schools.”
  • “As well, hundreds of public service positions have disappeared from payroll, staffing, assets, leave and other Department branches, with that work now also forced down onto schools.”
  • “The loss of these positions will mean that principals and teachers will be forced to pick up this administrative work and this will take away time from teaching and learning.”
  • “Efficiency dividend? There’s nothing efficient about forcing 2200 schools to do the work of the Department. And State Treasury, not students, receives the dividend.”


MUA wins battle against Fair Work Ombudsman over 100 workers sacked by text

Posted by Mua communications on June 21, 2018

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says the decision today by the Federal Court to reject the massive fines sought by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in the Hutchison sacked-by-text scandal is a victory for common sense.

On 6 August 2015, Hutchison Ports Australia sacked 100 workers in Sydney and Brisbane by text message the day before many of them were due to go on shift.

The company then placed guards on the gates and workers were not even allowed to clear their lockers.

The MUA responded with a massive community based campaign.

After 136 days, the company relented and after the sacked workers returned, the MUA negotiated an agreement with Hutchison. 

The campaign was supported by labour leaders and unions from all over the world.

MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said: “The Australian community got behind Hutchison workers because they understood that if more than 100 workers could be sacked by text at midnight, it could happen to them too.

  • “The community understood that conduct of Hutchison was a shabby, mean-spirited and heartbreaking attack on an innocent workforce.
  • “The union fought for 136 days to save their jobs and we were ultimately successful but instead of punishing a rogue employer the Fair Work  Ombudsman chased the union for protecting our members' jobs.
  • “The Fair Work Ombudsman’s claim for $3.7 million in penalties and $600,000 in compensation to Hutchison was outrageous and shows that the system is broken.
  • “The Federal Court comprehensively rejected the FWO case for compensation and reduced the fine to one per cent of what the FWO was seeking. 
  • "This decision was a win for common sense and demonstrates that the fight must go on to change the rules, so workers and their unions get a fair go from the industrial relations system.”



ACTU – Sexual harassment inquiry to shed light on broken workplace rules

21 June 2018

The inquiry by the Human Rights Commission into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces will shine much needed light on a system which is failing Australian workers.

The current rules which are intended to protect workers, predominately women, who experience workplace sexual harassment focus on individual claims and settlement processes.  This approach has failed and the laws need to be changed to allow for systemic action against workplace sexual harassment.

While women have lost out under the Turnbull Government’s attacks on working women & essential community services, this inquiry being led by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner is a step in the right direction.

Quotes attributable to ACTU National Campaign Coordinator Kara Keys:

  • “The rules for women in work have failed to end workplace sexual harassment. We need new approaches to this endemic problem and we hope that this inquiry will lead the way in changing the rules in this area.
  • “Most women, and many men, will experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, and the tolerance of sexual harassment lays a foundation for other forms of gendered violence which occur at shocking rates in our society.
  • “Stopping sexual harassment, and giving people who experience it fast and effective avenues for recourse will not only help those directly affected, but will also send a message that workplace sexual harassment is largely experienced by women and it doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  All forms of gender inequality, and gendered discrimination, directly contribute to violence.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

ACTU – Turnbull’s tax plan will hurt working people, won’t create jobs

21 June 2018

New ACTU empirical analysis covering 10 years and 34 OECD countries shows that when you cut corporate taxes no jobs are created and wages decrease.

The report also finds that the cost of cutting income tax for people earning $200,000 is $24 billion per year, enough to fund the education of 1.9 million secondary school students, according to figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The Turnbull Government’s proposed changes to income tax would entrench inequality, as low-income workers’ pay the price for handouts to people earning $200,000. 

Removing an entire tax bracket will leave the government less equipped to provide the essential services that all Australians rely on.

The Abbott/Turnbull Government have already cut essential services, resulting in higher costs and lower quality services for working people.  Education, healthcare, skills training, and the NBN have all faced cuts that have reduced the quality of the service, and forced working people to pay more.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Giving multinational corporations and the big banks $80 billion will fuel inequality. It will make it harder to get a pay rise and it will increase the cost of living.
  • “All over the world we’ve seen when you cut taxes, and give big business more power, wages fall.
  • “This plan gives more power to big business. When big business has too much power, everything gets more expensive and our wages flat-line.
  • “The proposed changes would move Australia further down the path of Americanisation – entrenched inequality and failing services.
  • “The very rich simply need to pay their fair share of tax. We must not lower the tax rate for the rich elite, including most politicians, while someone who makes barely more than the minimum wage struggles to keep their head above water.
  • “The government’s plans ensure more cuts to essential services. It will mean people struggling to get by.
  • “We need to be improving wage growth, investing in education and healthcare, cracking down on tax evasion, wage theft, superannuation theft, and the exploitation of vulnerable workers, not giving a big handout to people earning 2.5 times the average wage.”


ACTU – Telstra job cuts a betrayal of working people and customers

20 June 2018

The peak body for working people has condemned the announcement of 8,000 sackings at Telstra, saying the company has betrayed its customers and staff.

The unilateral move by the company to make 8,000 people jobless and destabilise an entire workforce who now have to wonder about their job security as part of its restructure represents the one of the biggest corporate downsizes in Australia’s history.

People working for and contracting to the company were not informed that Telstra was about to make them unemployed before this morning, when the company live-streamed an announcement to staff.

It is still unclear who will be sacked and when. People working at the company are understandably distressed and outraged at their employer’s actions.

The CPSU has urged Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash to take action by bringing Telstra management together with key stakeholders – including unions, consumers and community representatives – to work out an alternative.

The fact that such a large, iconic and profitable Australian company was able to embark on mass sackings to increase its bottom line at the expense of working people shows that the rules that govern our working lives must change.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Telstra has betrayed the people who work for them by making them jobless and the people who rely on their services with today’s mass sackings announcement. They have made the wrong decision.”
  • “They have chosen to make 8,000 people jobless, they have destabilised an entire workforce, they have chosen to deliver poorer service to their customers – they have chosen to put profits ahead of people, jobs and service.”
  • “Unless this decision is reversed, the company will end up paying the price, as their reputation disintegrates, their service and coverage erode and their standing as an iconic Australian company is irrevocably damaged.”
  • “Today’s events show that the end point of the privatisation process is joblessness, reduced service quality and the enrichment of a small group of senior managers at the expense of working people and staff.”


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

ACOSS – Australian Local Government Association votes in support of an increase to Newstart

20 June 2018

It’s a good news story! The Australian Local Government Association votes in support of an increase to Newstart

Delegates from local councils across Australia supported a motion at their national conference yesterday (19 June) for the federal government to increase the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments as a matter of urgency.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS congratulates the National General Assembly of Local Government for recognising the urgent need for an increase to the lowest income support payments in Australia, which would benefit local communities across the country.
  • “Polling shows more than two-thirds of people in Australia want Newstart increased. We have leaders from across the community calling for an immediate increase, including leading charities, the Business Council of Australia, the ACTU, and leading economists. Now the whole of the local government sector supports a motion calling on the Federal government to increase Newstart.
  • “What more does this government need to convince them that the rate of Newstart is a barrier to employment and training, and that people are struggling to put food on the table, let alone secure paid work?
  • “We call on the Federal Government to commit to increasing Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments as a matter of urgency because everyone should be able to eat three meals a day.”

Pas Forgione, State Coordinator of Anti-Poverty Network SA, has been leading the charge to get local governments to support a Newstart increase.

  • "By passing this motion, Australia's local Councils have stuck up for those who are out of work and experiencing increasing poverty,” says Mr Forgione.
  • “Raising Newstart would not only benefit the health and wellbeing of the unemployed, but also benefit the local economy by increasing the spending power of those on low incomes.
  • “Councils witness the direct results of residents experiencing poverty. They provide many free/low-cost services to the disadvantaged and excluded – services facing increasing demand, partly because of inadequate income support payments.
  • “The fight for higher income support payments is a fight that Councils should be part of, and we welcome their support for an increase to Newstart and related payments."

Media Contact:

Australian Council of Social Service 0419 626 155
Anti-Poverty Network SA 0411 587 663

"Nothing more than dog-whistle politics"

"Nothing more than dog-whistle politics" — that's what conservative News Corp columnist Sharri Markson, had to say about the government's latest plan to introduce an additional English language test for migrants.1 

 

Markson reflected that the test would have excluded well known Australians such as New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and business leader Frank Lowy if it were in place when their families migrated. 

The government's proposal would determine a person's value and contribution by their grammar skills. But regardless of who a person is or where they comes from, everyone deserves to be treated fairly, and provided the opportunity to become part of our community. 

With politicians back in Canberra this week, the government could introduce it's discriminatory changes any day. But if thousands of us pledge our support for multiculturalism, we can call on our Parliament to reject the Coalition's pandering to Hanson voters, and block proposals that discriminate against migrants. 

Can you stand up for multiculturalism in the face of these attacks? 

Minister Tudge's English test announcement is part of an alarming pattern by a Government desperate to appeal to Pauline Hanson voters — they're trying to strip migrants of income support like parental leave, force through discriminatory changes to citizenship, and — just last week — they tripled the cost of citizenship applications for widows and pensioners.2,3,4 

It's a cynical political game that threatens the very fabric of our society. 

Many of our families traveled to Australia to build a better life. Regardless of how good their grammar was, they worked hard and contributed to this proud multicultural community. 

But Peter Dutton and Alan Tudge seem determined to change all of that by putting obstacles in the way of people from non-English speaking backgrounds making Australia home. They risk creating a permanent underclass of migrant workers, denied equal rights as permanent residents, and as citizens.  

Can you pledge your support for multiculturalism and demand politicians stand up to this latest attack? 

Our community knows a person's worth shouldn't be determined by how fluently they speak a language— which is why we've fought these policies before. 

GetUp members stood alongside multicultural and migrant communities and pushed back on Dutton's proposed changes to citizenship last year – and we won.5 

And when Pauline Hanson introduced a near identical piece of legislation, but proposed making migrants wait eight whole years before becoming citizens, GetUp members rejected her proposal in our thousands.6 

With politicians back in Canberra this week — we need to remind them again that attacks on multicultural Australia will not be tolerated. 

Can you defend multiculturalism against this government's attacks? 

Policies like these fly in the face of GetUp's vision for a fair and flourishing future for all Australians — and we're ready to fight it every step of the way. 

In determination, 

Matt for the GetUp team 

Patti Smith – Beds Are Burning – Dublin 6 June 2018


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

SING IT ! SAY IT ! CHANGE THE RULES !

ACOSS – Local Councils to vote on increasing Newstart at national conference

19 June 2018: Key national and grassroots community organisations are calling on the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to support a motion for an immediate increase to Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments being put forward by a local council at their national conference on Tuesday 19 June 2018.

Fourteen local councils in South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria have already passed motions backing an increase to Newstart to alleviate poverty and homelessness and increase dignity in their local communities.

One of those Councils – Moreland City Council from Victoria – will put forward a motion at their national conference today calling on Federal Government to increase Newstart.

The call to increase Newstart has the support of community organisations, business groups (including the Business Council of Australia), the ACTU, and leading economists like Chris Richardson.

The ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr also backs an increase, saying Newstart is so low ‘it simply traps [people] in disadvantage.”

Pas Forgione, State Coordinator of Anti-Poverty Network SA, has been leading the charge to get local governments to support a Newstart increase.

  • “We know from our members that the meagre rate of Newstart and other allowances affects every aspect of recipients’ lives,” says Mr Forgione.
  • “It means skipping meals, constantly falling behind with bills, going without dental care and medicines, feeling left out of the community and cut-off from networks and supports.
  • “ALGA support for an increase to Newstart would demonstrate that local Councils recognise how harmful poverty is for those out of paid work. ALGA would be listening to community sentiment on this issue, with 68 percent of Australians supportive of a raise to Newstart, according to a recent opinion poll.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, says local government areas will continue to pick up the pieces of poverty if unemployment and student payments continue to fall well short of living costs.

  • “The National General Assembly of Local Government presents an ideal opportunity for local government to establish its members’ support to increase Newstart and related payments.
  • “Newstart Allowance for people looking for paid work has not increased in real terms for 24 years.
  • “People locked out of paid work, single parents, students, and people with an illness or disability are all struggling to survive on these totally inadequate payments.
  • ”Many of these people live below the poverty line in local council areas where paid work is scarce and charity resources are already stretched.
  • “We are extremely pleased 14 local councils have taken stock of what is needed in their local areas and thrown support behind increasing Newstart to get better outcomes for local citizens.
  • “Poverty has an impact on every community member. Raising the rate of Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments will significantly reduce poverty and increase spending in local communities.

This Statement is endorsed by:

ACT Council of Social Service
Anti-Poverty Network QLD
Anti-Poverty Network SA
Anti-Poverty Network WA
Australia Council of Social Service
Australian Unemployed Workers Union
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Northern Territory Council of Social Service
NSW Council of Social Service
Queensland Council of Social Service
South Australian Council of Social Service
Tasmanian Council of Social Service
Victorian Council of Social Service
WA Council of Social Service

Contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hands Off Our Charities

Sign this open letter to tell Australian Parliamentarians about the harmful effects of these Bills, and to call for them to be redrafted:

"Dear Federal Members of Parliament,

On the 7th of December 2017 the Australian Government introduced into the Federal Parliament a package of three pieces of legislation. The three pieces of legislation consist of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 and the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017.

The stated intention of the Bills is to stop foreign interference in the Australian electoral process and on national security. But it has quickly become apparent to charities, community groups and other not-for-profits that the Bills propose grave and far-reaching changes that extend well beyond their publicly stated purposes.

If enacted, the proposed legislation will tear at the fabric of our democracy, unpicking the freedoms that have made our national conversation so rich. We are united in opposition to the proposed Bills. 

The proposed Bills conflate advocacy for good policy with political campaigning for elections. They impose severe criminal penalties on expression and access to information that is central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society. The changes will stop charities, community organizations and not-for-profits from speaking out about issues that are of great importance to the Australian community.

The people of Australia and our country’s civil society need to be free to air their views. This best guarantees that our laws and policies truly support the Australian community. That freedom is under threat from the proposed changes in this Bills package.

We are calling for the Federal Government, and all of our Parliamentarians, to pause, consult with those affected by these Bills and to redraft them. If left unchanged they will undermine the voice of the Australian community and threaten our democracy.

A simple, vital, step the government should take is to follow its own guidelines and prepare a Regulation Impact Statement, given that these Bills will have a huge impact on businesses, community organisations and individual Australians. 

We will continue to address issues raised by the Bills and bring to the notice of parliamentarians the harmful effects of this legislation on the participation of Australians in their democracy.