Monday, April 30, 2018

NYT – Developments in Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — Keeping diplomatic developments coming at a head-snapping pace, the South Korean government said on Sunday that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had told President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country.

In a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting with President Trump, a suddenly loquacious and conciliatory Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country’s only known underground nuclear test site.

In Washington, Trump officials spoke cautiously about the chances of reaching a deal and laid out a plan for the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program, perhaps over a two-year period.

That would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification,” said John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser.

The apparent concessions from the youthful leader were widely welcomed as promising signs of ending the standoff on the Korean Peninsula, frozen in place since fighting in the Korean War ended 65 years ago.

But skeptics warned that North Korea previously made similar pledges of denuclearization on numerous occasions, with little or no intention of abiding by them. Mr. Kim’s friendly gestures, they said, could turn out to be nothing more than empty promises aimed at lifting sanctions on his isolated country.

A South Korean government spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, provided remarkable details of a summit meeting the two Korean heads of state held on Friday, when Mr. Kim made history by becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South.

“I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific or at the United States,” Mr. Kim told Mr. Moon, according to Mr. Yoon’s account.

It was another in a series of startling statements by Mr. Kim, whose country threatened to do exactly those things during the height of nuclear tensions last year.

Mr. Kim’s apparent willingness to negotiate away his nuclear arsenal was revealed just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke for the first time about a “good conversation” he had with Mr. Kim during his secret visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, over Easter weekend.

Mr. Pompeo told ABC News in a broadcast on Sunday that the Trump administration’s objective was “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” with North Korea, and that Mr. Kim was prepared to “lay out a map that would help us achieve” denuclearization.

“We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries,” Mr. Pompeo said. “I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left, Kim Jong-un understood the mission exactly as I described it today.”

ACOSS – Consensus builds on need to raise low safety net payments in Budget

ACOSS has welcomed the call in the annual Deloitte Access Economics Budget Monitor, released today, for an increase to Australia’s 'embarrassingly inadequate unemployment benefits' in this year’s Federal Budget.

“Deloitte Access Economics is spot on to nominate the single standout fairness failure in Australia in 2018 to be the low level of income support payments for unemployed people and students,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We know that Newstart and related payments have not been increased in real terms for 24 years, leaving around one million people battling to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves, and hamstrung in looking for paid work. People locked out of paid work simply cannot survive on the unemployment payment of $538.80 a fortnight.

“The single most effective way for the government to relieve the worst poverty is to raise the lowest social security payment.
  • "As Deloitte Access Economics rightly concludes on the need to lift these low payments: 'As a nation, we can and should do better. History will judge us harshly if we don’t.'
  • "ACOSS shares Deloitte’s concern about the sustainability of the budget if the next election becomes a race to the bottom on tax. Recent polls show that most people would be underwhelmed by another round of income tax cuts.
  • "Most people give higher priority to improving our health system, creating jobs and reducing unemployment, investing in quality education, affordable homes, and a decent safety net for people who fall on hard times. This is of more lasting value for people than a 'half a sandwich and half a milkshake' tax cut.
  • "We know from the experience of eight tax cuts during the mining boom that it is foolhardy to base the budget strategy on the assumption that so called 'rivers of gold' will flow again, when the reality is the economic future remains uncertain.
  • "An arbitrary, permanent cap on government tax revenues of 23.9% of GDP, as proposed by this government means a cap on medical services, aged care, schools spending, and social security for people doing it tough.
  • "If essential services like the NDIS are deprived of the solid revenue base they need, future governments will be forced to cut corners, ration services, and lift out of pocket costs for everyday families.
"The truth is that the progress in restoring the budget to surplus has been made off the backs of the most disadvantaged, such as single parents, people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. These same groups will be worst affected if there is a race to bottom on tax.

"This government has already slashed $12 billion from the social security budget, and plans to rip out more in unlegislated cuts still before Parliament. Enough is enough. It’s time for an end to this onslaught and the demonising of people whom we’ve allowed to fall behind for too long.”

UK – Amber Rudd Resignation in racist Windrush Scandal

Theresa May                                                               Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd has dramatically resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.

In her resignation letter to the prime minister, published hours after the latest leak, Rudd said she had “become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility that I was not.”

The prime minister replied that she believed Rudd had given her evidence “in good faith”; but that she could “understand why, now you have had chance to review the advice that you have received on this issue, you have made the decision you have made, and taken responsibility for inadvertently misleading the home affairs select committee”.

May added that Rudd had led her department with “great integrity, compassion and selflessness – notwithstanding the personal and political challenges you have faced during this period”.

ACTU leader to visit Island State for May Day

29 April 2018

The Hobart May Day March will host a guest from the mainland this year, with ACTU Secretary Sally McManus crossing Bass Strait to march alongside Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday and hundreds of working people.

The Sunday march and rally marks the beginning of a series of Change the Rules campaign events nationally. The campaign aims to win more secure jobs, fairer pay rises and restore working rights to people.

The march will proceed from the rear of the CPSU building at 57 Victoria Street through the CBD, and is expected be the largest since the May Day tradition was revived in Tasmania in 2015.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “At a time when big business has too much power, when the cost of living is rising faster than our pay, people in Tasmania know it’s time to change the rules.
  • “Working people are strong, united and determined in Tasmania, and we are seeing more people join the movement for change every day.
  • “We need more secure jobs, fair pay rises and rights that we can enforce. These are reasonable and achievable if we come together as working people and take action for change.

Quotes attributable to Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday:

  • “Working people around Tasmania know that we can change the rules so that our pay rises are fair and our jobs are more secure.
  • “We have a huge problem with under-employment here and that’s something we can change. We have seen near record low wage growth in part because of a 2% wage cap imposed on state servants promoted by the Tasmanian Liberals.
  • “This sort of policy causes many problems and contributes to our housing crisis with working people struggling to pay rising rent costs.  
  • “On Sunday we will be marching for more secure jobs, fairer pay, and more respect as working people.
  • “And we know that when we work together and bring new people into the movement for change, that we can change the rules and win better lives for working people.”

The banks, the Government and the half-trillion-dollar super grab

By business editor Ian Verrender
Posted about 3 hours ago

Just when they appeared on the cusp of victory, the major banks and AMP have had their ambitions to grab control of a lucrative section of the superannuation industry crushed.

After just two fortnight-long public sessions, Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne and his ruthlessly efficient senior counsel Rowena Orr have unearthed widespread corruption, lax regulatory oversight and even potential criminal behaviour at the most senior levels of our financial institutions.

Senior government ministers, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have been forced to backflip on their attitude to the industry, with many expressing regret for their staunch opposition to a royal commission.

It may also nudge them to rethink their unwavering support for the banks in a long-running campaign to muscle their way into the MySuper default schemes.

The Government's misjudgement on the need for a banking royal commission has come back to bite it, writes Michelle Grattan.

For the past two years, the banks have railed against the current system that restricts their access to around half a trillion dollars of savings in the MySuper system.

Suddenly, they've gone very quiet on the issue which, given the crisis now engulfing AMP and casting a pall over the four majors, is hardly surprising.

Oddly, despite a quarter of a century of outperformance by industry funds over their bank-run rivals, the Government until recently has thrown its weight behind the banks in the fight, arguing not-for-profit industry funds needed greater transparency and accusing them of siphoning off money for unions.

While superannuation — and the role of industry funds in particular — has yet to be examined by the royal commission, only the bravest punter would bet they could come even close to our major banks on corruption, malfeasance and outright theft.

Even if nothing more comes from this inquiry, it's already had one hugely beneficial impact: the Federal Government is almost certain to adopt a far more balanced approach to much-needed superannuation reform.

The great superannuation fee-for-all

Our pollies love to boast about our world-class super system. Except, the only thing world-class about it is in the amount of fees our money managers manage to rake off the top.

In the past decade, a little under a quarter of a trillion dollars has been siphoned off our retirement savings: $230 billion in the years since the financial crisis.

That's from a total pool of around $2.3 trillion. It's an extraordinary number and nothing short of a national scandal.

In 2016 alone, total fees amounted to $31 billion, according to research house Rainmaker.

Of that, about 26 per cent, or $8 billion, was for administration, $7.8 billion went to investment managers and a whopping $8.4 billion for insurance sold through superannuation funds.

As for the rest, financial advisors took around $5.9 billion while $600 million went towards asset consultants.

Why so much? It may come as a shock to learn that almost no-one in the industry is paid purely on performance. For the most part, fees are generated not by earnings but by the amount of money under management.

Given 9.5 per cent of almost every working Australian's salary is shovelled into the industry, the amount of funds being managed grows enormously every week. It's money for old rope.

Perhaps these gargantuan fees could be excused if our money mangers regularly produced world-beating performances. Sadly, that's not the case.

Mostly, they perform in line with stock markets. When markets are rising, they produce good returns. When they tank, as they did a decade ago, super members see their funds shrink. But the fees roll on regardless.

The default fund battle ground

We're a notoriously ambivalent lot, even when it comes to money. Vast numbers of Australians just don't care about superannuation until it's too late.

That's why a default superannuation system was developed several years ago in the wake of the Cooper Review: to put those who can't be bothered into a no-frills, low-fee-charging fund. It followed years of fee gouging which left many working Australians with little or no retirement savings.

AMP customers were charged for financial advice they never received 

The system is overseen by Fair Work Australia, which allocates a superannuation fund to each industry. If you don't specify a fund, you're automatically allocated a MySuper default fund.

Industry Funds dominate this area, primarily because they've traditionally charged much lower fees than the for-profit funds run by the banks.

But as you can see from this Productivity Commission table, there's an awful of Australians who really don't care about super. And so, more than half a trillion dollars now is in default funds, the vast bulk of which is managed by Industry Funds.

To get a foothold, many of the big banks have created no-frills MySuper funds and slashed fees. But they still have to turn a profit, so they've struggled to make much of a mark. Hence the political campaign.

Industry funds and trade unions

The common myth about Industry Funds is that they are trade union-dominated. It's a view commonly reported in most parts of the media and perfectly articulated by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton shortly after the royal commission was called.

"There's another element to it — that is to have a look at some aspects within the industry super funds which have union members and whatnot on the board," he told Sydney radio 2GB.

While he was correct that union members are on industry fund boards, the "whatnot" to which Mr Dutton was referring are, in fact, business people who share equal billing.

Industry funds are a partnership between workers and bosses. That's why Inness Willox, who runs business lobby group AIG, is on the board of Australian Super as an employer group representative.

The Productivity Commission escape plan

The bank campaign for a slice of the default fund loot followed their strident opposition four years ago to a proposal that financial advisors should be forced to operate in their clients' best interests.

Despite the shake-up caused by those Future of Financial Advice reforms, the corporate regulator in January found most planners who worked for the big banks still failed to put their clients' interests first.

Extraordinary deception. Atrocious behaviour. No concern about consequences. This week's evidence was consequential and now the political environment has shifted, writes Dan Ziffer.
Combine that with the $220 million the banks and AMP have charged for services they had no intention of providing, and you get some idea of the potential for fee gouging that could take place within the default fund system.

That aside, the default system is far from perfect and, like the rest of the industry, needs an overhaul, particularly when it comes to fees.

Many workers are put into multiple funds, each time they switch industries or jobs. Then there's the issue of performance. Industry funds overall have performed far better than bank-run funds. But not all industry funds have performed well.

Sorting through this mess is the Productivity Commission, which is engaged in a major review of how best to improve our super system.

It's not due to be handed in until next year and won't be released until 2020. But it provides a valuable escape clause for the Government.

It was the Turnbull Government which called for the review in 2016, a call that provides it with the perfect cover for a quiet retreat from its recent support for the banks over super.

Friday, April 27, 2018

ACTU plan to restore authority of workplace umpire

27 April 2018

The peak body for working people has called for the independence and authority of the Fair Work Commission to be restored so the body is able to deliver fairness for working people.
In a speech to think tank Per Capita on Friday, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus will outline changes that will enable the industrial umpire to be an effective "one-stop shop" for resolving disputes and addressing mistreatment at work.

The changes would see working people able to enforce their legal rights quickly, easily and without a cost.

It would allow disputes between working people and big business to be resolved more fairly, negating the unfair advantage big business holds in an expensive and technical court process.

The proposed reforms include:

  • The power to make orders that will see victims of wage theft repaid in full in a faster, more efficient process than the current expensive and drawn out court processes
  • The power to make decisions based on what is fair and reasonable in a broad range of matters, including applications to vary the minimum wage and ensure that awards keep pace with community standards
  • Empowering the umpire to resolve workplace disputes fairly and quickly

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “At a time when big business has too much power, working people need a strong umpire to help restore the balance.”
  • “To end wage theft, restore fair wages and make our jobs more secure, we need to be able to enforce our rights.
  • “But when working people today try to enforce their legal rights they’re faced with a complex, costly and overly technical court system.
  • “A strong and independent umpire in the workplace is a vital part of changing the rules so Australians can have more secure jobs and fair pay rises.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ACTU to dismiss BCA Corporate Tax Cuts pledge at Senate Inquiry

The ACTU will today appear before a Senate inquiry investigating the BCA’s tax pledge to demonstrate that the hollow words from the BCA and its members are a cynical and misleading ploy to gain political support for the government’s deeply unpopular corporate tax cuts.

 The ACTU will argue these tax cuts will not lead to more secure jobs for Australian workers or give workers the pay rise they desperately need. Malcolm Turnbull’s signature corporate tax cuts will simply result in $65 billion being taken away from our schools and hospitals.

Half of the companies that signed onto the statement from the BCA pledging to invest more in Australia and pay better wages if the Turnbull Government passes the remainder of its $65 billion corporate tax cuts, did not pay any tax in Australia in 2015-16.

Energy Australia, JBS, MYOB, Origin Energy and Qantas did not pay a cent of tax between them last year despite a combined income of $35 billion a year according to the most recent figures from the tax office, but say they need a tax cut so they can invest in Australian jobs.

 Quotes attributable to ACTU National Campaign Coordinator Lance McCallum:

  • “Over a third of corporations in Australia are already not paying tax, but they want $65 billion in tax cuts. It’s pure corporate greed.”
  •  “We’ve seen shocking revelations from the banking royal commission, so it is particularly obscene that the government and BCA have the gall to argue for billions in tax cuts for the big banks.
  • “We have had record low wage growth while business profits have increased.
  • “Wage rises don’t trickle down from employers, they are won by workers, and we need to give workers more power to demand the wage rises they need.
  • “Big business needs to pay more tax, not less.
  •  “The government should be investing $65 billion in job creating projects and services like transport, schools and hospitals.
  • “We need to change the rules so that everyone pays their fair share of tax.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Great Australian Bank Subsidy

Former prime minister John Howard weighed in last week, warning government members that any inquiry would be "rank socialism".

It was an odd choice of words. Our banks and financiers have been happy recipients of state sponsored socialism for the past decade.

Prior to the financial crisis, there was an understanding the Reserve Bank would stand behind any bank in trouble as a lender of last resort.

As the crisis took hold, however, almost every Australian commercial bank was in danger of collapse because they could no longer refinance their debts.

The Rudd government stepped in, guaranteeing all new borrowing by allowing the banks to use the Commonwealth's AAA credit rating.

As a result, taxpayers delivered a $120 billion bailout to our banking system as the banks refinanced their international loans.

It was the greatest industry subsidy in our history. And it continues.

That once implicit guarantee for individual organisations became an explicit guarantee for the entire industry, forever changing the relationship.

It's a guarantee the Reserve Bank has calculated to be worth about $5 billion a year to our big four banks.

It didn't stop there. Short selling of financial stocks was banned temporarily, following furious lobbying, particularly by Macquarie Bank.

As an added bonus, the Rudd government guaranteed deposits up to $1 million in an effort to stop any run on the banks.

Those guarantees have remained in place ever since although the deposit guarantee has been wound back to $250,000.

They are an insurance policy — delivered free of charge courtesy of the taxpayer — that the banks have happily accepted ever since. Not that there has been any gratitude.

When Treasurer Scott Morrison announced a bank levy on bank transactions in the May Budget, the outcry from the banking sector was deafening.

Once upon a time, this type of behaviour was laughingly referred to as agrarian socialism — maximise your profits and socialise your losses — because it largely was confined to the rural sector.

ACTU to Industry Super Funds: Use Clout to Call Banks to Account

23 April 2018
ACTU Secretary Sally McManus has written to the CEOs of industry superannuation funds asking them to reconsider their relationships with dodgy banks in the wake of the scandals uncovered by the Banking Royal Commission.

In a letter sent to fund CEOs Ms McManus says that she has been appalled by the “outrageous and illegal behaviour” uncovered by the Royal Commission, which has included charging dead people for non-existent financial advice, deliberately dudding clients, ignoring and covering up fraud, leading people to financial ruin, lying to ASIC and charging the wrong interest rates.

The letter asks fund bosses to “review and consider these relationships [with lawbreaking banks] in accordance with your existing ESG policies”.

Industry Superannuation funds control the retirement savings of millions of Australians, worth a combined $590 billion.

They have consistently out-performed the for-profit funds run by the banks who are in the spotlight at the Royal Commission.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Working people in Australia gave up pay rises in order to get universal superannuation off the ground to provide access to a dignified retirement for everyone.
  • “In light of the revelations of the past weeks at the Banking Royal Commission, I am asking Industry Super Fund CEOs to reconsider their commercial relationships with banks.
  • “The retirement savings of working people should not be used to prop organisations that house rotten, corrupt and unethical behaviours like those revealed over the past weeks at the Banking Royal Commission.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

NSWTF – Dr Les Perelman – Towards a New Naplan 4 May 2018

Dr Perelman has found that the NAPLAN writing test is, “By far the most absurd and the least valid of any test that I have seen.”

The Perelman Report was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation on behalf of the teaching profession.

Teachers Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, said,

“This historic Perelman Report now provides overwhelming evidence that the existing NAPLAN testing regime is harming our students and harming our nation'.

Book online Phone 1300-654-369

PSA – Drastic Cuts to National Parks and Wildlife Service

The NSW Government are marking the 50th anniversary of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) with a massive restructure that will cuts jobs and push hundreds and hundreds of years of experience out the door.

The Berijiklian Government is overseeing the scrapping of 13 highly experienced Area Managers – who have a critical role in bushfire management. In recent years NPWS has downsized from 66 areas across the state to what will be just 37 under this latest restructure.

Due to the current restructure, Pest Management Officers and Fire Management Officers have been slashed across the state with the new structure containing just eight PMOs.

These cuts to specialist roles mean fewer conservation programs, reduced maintenance of facilities and fire hazard reduction, less focus on dealing with pests and weeds, and the increasing problem of wild dogs and deer.

Admin support has been downgraded all across the state resulting in loss of crucial regional jobs and in many cases, massive wage reductions. With wage growth at all time lows, the impact of this restructure will be felt hardest in the regions.

These cuts are being made because of the massive reduction in funding from the Berejiklian Government, with 121 million dollars slashed from their budget.

To register your opposition to these cuts, you can contact your local member HERE.

Acoss – Raise the Rates

Newstart has not increased in real terms in 24 years.

  • The single rate of Newstart is $278 per week, $175 per week below the pension.
  • More than half (55%) of the people on Newstart live below the poverty line.
  • There is 1 job available for every 8 people looking for paid work or more hours (ABS 2018).
  • 70% of people receiving Newstart have been unemployed 12 months or more.
  • Single people on Newstart receive only an extra $67 per week if they rent privately.
  • There are just 28 private rentals Australia-wide
  • that are affordable for a single unemployed person (Anglicare 2017).
  • Buying the basics like housing, food, transport,
  • etc. costs a single person a minimum of $433 per week (UNSW 2017). But Newstart is just $278 per week.
  • Over 3 million people live in poverty in Australia, of whom 731,000 are children (ACOSS 2016).
  • Spending on the Age Pension is the largest area of social security expenditure (40%) while Newstart and related payments is just 7%.

Government can Raise the Rate in three steps:

1. Raise the rate of the single unemployment and student allowances, and index them to wage and price movements.
2. Establish an independent statutory Social Security Commission to advise on the financial needs of people requiring social security payments to simply afford basic essentials.
3. Improve employment services so that people locked out of the labour market receive the help they need to get paid work.

A roof over every head, a meal on every table. We must Raise the Rate.

ACTU – Polling shows overwhelming support for better rights

Polling shows overwhelming support for better rights for working people in marginal seats nationwide

23 April 2018

New polling in 11 key federal seats nationwide shows massive support for the ACTU’s Change the Rules agenda for more secure jobs and better pay.

The ACTU and ReachTel polled more than 800 people in the seats of Petrie, Forde, Bonner, Leichhardt, Capricornia, Flynn, Robertson, Banks, Gilmore, Hasluck and Swan.

The polling indicates broad support for stronger equal pay laws, measures to reduce insecure work, flexible working arrangements for carers, and family and domestic violence leave.

A majority of people in the seats polled supported better bargaining laws that go beyond enterprise-only bargaining, restoring the right to take industrial action as a last resort, changing
the law to stop wage theft, and preventing an over-reliance on casual work by employers.

The polling also shows that local people are concerned about their living standards, with most saying they expected their own living standards to either stay the same or go backwards.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “People around Australia are telling us that working people need fairer pay and more secure jobs.
  • “These people are telling the Turnbull Government that working people need stronger rights, that protections for working people have been eroded and that we are not getting the secure jobs and fair pay rises that we need.
  • “We can change the rules so the people have more secure jobs, fair pay and a better quality.
  • “Instead of addressing the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the community, the Turnbull Government is persisting with $65 billion in corporate tax cuts for big businesses and the banks.”

Saturday, April 21, 2018

MUA - The Lockout 20 years On

Listen to an MUA song composed 20 years ago by Tim O'Brien
Listen to an MUA song composed 20 years ago by Maurie Mulheron

Listen to an MUA song composed 20 years ago by Mark Gregory

More than 300 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), their families and supporters gathered at the M Club in Maroubra on April 7 to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic Patrick’s dispute in 1998.

The Patrick stevedoring company had conspired with the John Howard Coalition government to send in security guards in balaclavas, dogs and scabs to force waterfront workers out and attempt to eliminate the MUA from the docks.

After one of the biggest industrial confrontations in Australian history, involving mass support from other unionists and the public, MUA members were able to march back into the Patrick terminals in ports around the country a month later, on May 7. While the employers and government were defeated in their aim of smashing the MUA, significant redundancies followed at Patricks and other stevedoring companies.

Paul McAleer, Sydney branch secretary of the MUA, told the gathering: “Our struggle continues all across the industry. They tried to de-unionise us, but we still have 100% coverage on the wharves today.

“We have maintained the traditions of the MUA since the original union’s foundation in 1872, and later generations of workers have started new ones. The MUA is strong and disciplined in our continuing struggle against the ruling class.

“MUA, here to stay! MUA, here to stay!”

ACTU secretary Sally McManus told the crowd: 

  • “The legacy of the historic Patricks dispute changed our trade union movement in a number of ways. It united the movement, helping overcome divisions on the picket line.
  • “The dispute was an iconic ideological battle designed by the Howard government and the bosses to destroy the union movement, just like Margaret Thatcher tried to do against the British miners in the 1980s. Howard and the employers failed in their aim.
  • “The Patrick dispute taught us how to campaign along with the community to defend the union movement.
  • “And, the dispute forged a generation of warriors, prepared to wage the campaign against Work Choices in later years. In a sense, John Howard helped create a stronger union movement for future battles.”

Other leaders of the MUA, veterans of the Patrick dispute, thanked MUA members and other unionists, as well as supporters, for their strong solidarity on the picket lines and in other ways. The crowd gave rousing applause and expressed their determination to continue the struggle.

UK – The Windrush Scandal and the National Archives

The Empire Windrush arriving at Tilbury Docks from Jamaica, with 482 Jamaicans on board 
The Windrush generation might be offered a lifeline after it was revealed that the National Archives hold arrival records of thousands of people who came to the UK decades ago.

Details from arrivals into the UK, including name, birth date, and details of the journey taken were all recorded on passenger lists drawn up for the Board of Trade between 1878 and 1960.

These records – which are filed in nearly 1,500 boxes at the National Archives – could include those who came to Britain from the Caribbean by ship.

Recent restrictions in immigration law require people to have paperwork proof of near-continuous residence in the UK.

Many of those in the Windrush generation lack these records, having never applied for British citizenship or passports, and are now struggling to prove they are here legally.

However, it has emerged that thousands of landing card slips recording the arrival of Windrush-era immigrants were destroyed by the Home Office in 2009.

These records could help those looking to support claims of their arrival on British shores.

It comes as more stories from those affected by the issue have come to light.

Gretel Gorcan, 81, is reported to have been denied re-entry into the UK after going to her native Jamaica for a funeral.

Ms Gorcan told the Daily Mirror she has been stuck in the Caribbean since 2009, having been told she needs a visa to return to the UK.

She told the paper: “I travelled to Britain to help out on the promise of a new life but now they have turned their back on me.

“My children are still in London but I am left here. It is not how I wanted to live my final years.”

The Home Office told the Mirror it is urgently reviewing cases.

Meanwhile, the Government is to make compensation payments to members of the Windrush generation who suffered as a result of official challenges to their migration status.

Downing Street declined to give details of the compensation scheme, saying that they would be announced “shortly” by the Home Office.

It is thought that payments will probably go beyond the reimbursement of legal bills and include a recognition of the anxiety caused to long-standing Commonwealth residents of the UK whose right to be in the country was questioned.

NSWTF – Minister commits to permanent teachers in TAFE

April 20, 2018

The Minister for TAFE Adam Marshall has listened to TAFE teachers and committed to recruit permanent teachers to TAFE NSW.

In a media release this week, Minister Marshall announced more than 200 new TAFE teachers would be employed in the first significant recruitment drive for TAFE in many years.

Responding to discussions between the union, TAFE management and the Minister, the majority of this recruitment will be permanent and temporary teachers, who will take up positions across the state.

The largest group will be recruited to western Sydney, which Federation agrees will go some way to redressing the heavy teacher redundancies undertaken by the previous South Western Sydney Institute management.

Federation looks forward to continuing to work with the Minister to restore TAFE NSW to its pre-eminent position within the Australian vocational education system.

Friday, April 20, 2018

ACTU – A $50 raise to the minimum wage could create 57,000 jobs

19 April 2018

Raising the wage of the lowest-paid workers in Australia by $50 would supercharge job creation, with projections showing that up to 57,000 jobs would be created in the first year.
In a reply submission to the Fair Work Commission the ACTU provided two separate methodologies projecting the effect of a higher minimum wage on job creation.

The two methodologies determined that between 40,000 and 57,000 full-time equivalent jobs would be created in the first year of higher wages.

The first was based on information from the Government’s own submission about the households of people on low incomes, while the second employed used the same assumptions as Treasury when calculating the multiplier effect of a wage rise.

The first projection showed that between 50,000 and 57,000 jobs would be created as a result of a $50 wage rise in the first twelve months, with 30,000 following in the second year.

The second projection found a 40,000-job increase in the first year and 27,000 in the following year.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australia needs a pay rise, and we need more secure jobs. If Malcolm Turnbull wanted to raise the pay of working people he could make a submission supporting a fair minimum wage rise today.”
  • “When people on lower wages get a pay rise they spend it in the local economy, and that creates more jobs.
  • “Raising the minimum wage by $50 a week would create up to 57,000 jobs in the first year that it was introduced.
  • “The Turnbull Government and the business lobby are trying to keep wages down by running a scare campaign against higher wages.
  • “That’s the same discredited, untruthful, damaging trickle-down economics this government loves to roll out.”
  • “The truth is that pay rises will create jobs and move our economy forward.”

ACTU – March Jobs Figures Show Rise in Insecure Work

19 April 2018

Labour force data released today shows that full-time work opportunities for Australians are declining, and being replaced by part-time and insecure work.

Full-time jobs decreased by 19,900 on a seasonally adjusted basis, and were replaced by 24,800 part time jobs.

With 40% of the workforce now facing one or more dimensions of insecurity in their work, the figures are further proof that the Turnbull Government has failed to deliver more secure jobs for working Australians.

The number of people unemployed has remained virtually static at 5.5%.

The numbers were released as ACTU modelling showed that a $50 increase to the minimum wage – the amount requested in the peak body’s submission to the Fair Work Commission – would create between 40,000 and 57,000 jobs in the first year of higher wages.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australians need more secure jobs. We cannot pay full-time bills with part-time pay.
  • “People who want full-time work are finding it harder than ever to get, and these figures illustrate that.
  • “The Turnbull Government could urge the Fair Work Commission to raise the minimum wage by $50 a week tomorrow, and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next year if they wanted to.
  • “The Turnbull Government is in denial. They’re focussed on their $65 billion big business tax handout, and they’re won’t acknowledge the nation-wide problem of insecure work and unfair pay.
  • “But we live in the real world with working people, and we know that Australia needs a pay rise, and we need more secure jobs.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ACTU – Turnbull Ideologues and mounting Road Death Toll

18 April 2018

Crashes and fatigue increasing as truck drivers mark second anniversary of Turnbull scrapping Road Safety and Remuneration Tribunal

Three hundred and sixty-one people have died in truck crashes since the Turnbull Government bowed to ideologues and put politics before safety. In NSW in 2017 40% of all workplace deaths involved a transport worker. Since the watchdog was shut down there has been a 92% increase in truck crashes in NSW.

Truck drivers are rallying today to mark two years since the Turnbull Government scrapped the road safety watchdog, as rates of crashes and fatalities in the industry shoot up more than 90% in some states.

The Australian union movement campaigned against reducing regulation and oversight in the industry in 2016, but the Turnbull Government scrapped an agency designed to keep truck drivers and other road users safe.

Details of rallies are below:
  • SYDNEY: Aldi Darlinghurst, corner Oxford St & Pelican St. 10.30am
  • MELBOURNE: Aldi CBD, Franklin Street. 11am
  • ADELAIDE: Aldi West Lakes, 44 Frederick Road, West Lakes. 11am
  • BRISBANE: Aldi Cooparoo, 296 Old Cleveland Rd. 11.45am
  • PERTH: Aldi Dog Swamp Shopping Centre, 6 Wanneroo Road. 9am

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
  • “The Road Safety and Remuneration Tribunal was set up to keep truck drivers safe and to protect everyone who uses our roads. In scrapping it the Turnbull Government put ideology ahead of safety.
  • “Since Turnbull scrapped the RSRT we have seen more deaths, more crashes, and more fatigued drivers being pushed to breaking point by a broken system.
  • “Fatigued drivers and increased fatalities are a symptom of the Turnbull Government walking away from its responsibility to keep drivers safe.
  • “We need to change the rules so that all Australian workers are safe in their workplaces and have the power to stand up for their rights. That includes an immediate restoration of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ANMF – Better staffing will fix the crisis in aged care

Tuesday 17th April, 2018

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) does not dispute Minister Ken Wyatt’s recent comments that the government was working hard to ensure older Australians had the best care possible, but it does reject his claim that increasing staffing levels won’t necessarily solve the problems in aged care.

In fact, increasing staffing levels is precisely what will solve the problem for elderly, vulnerable Australians in nursing homes, according to the ANMF’s A/Federal Secretary, Annie Butler.
  • “The aged care sector presents complex problems that successive governments have grappled with, unsuccessfully, for years. They’ve conducted myriad reports, reviews and inquiries looking for complex solutions to complex problems rather than going straight to the core of the problem. Chronic understaffing,” Ms Butler said.
  • “As we see, aged care providers continue to employ fewer and fewer nurses to care for an increasing number of vulnerable residents with increasingly complex medical needs. In a sector which has been systematically decimated with regard to staffing for more than a decade, staffing levels have now reached a critical low.
  • “From 2003 to 2016 there was a 13% reduction in trained nursing staff working full-time in aged care facilities while there was a 40% increase in the number of residents needing ‘high care’. Recently released research found that in the same period there had been a 400% increase in preventable deaths.  ANMF members both in aged care and acute hospitals also know that there are many more preventable incidents occurring in aged care leading to unnecessary transfers to emergency departments and hospital stays.
  • “These are incidents that could have been prevented if there had been the right numbers of the right staff. This is exactly what could be provided if the sector had laws which mandated minimum staffing ratios.
  • “Furthermore, we have the evidence: the ANMF’s National Aged Care Staffing and Skills Mix Project (the Project) demonstrates that, on average, elderly residents in aged care receive 2 hours and fifty minutes of care, almost one and a half less hours care than the 4 hours and eighteen minutes they should get every day. The project also demonstrated that this care should be provided by a mix of nurses and carers, that is a skills mix, of 30% registered nurses, 20% enrolled nurses and 50% carers.
  • “We also have strong evidence from a large and increasing number of international and Australian studies, which demonstrate the relationship between low nurse staffing levels and adverse patient outcomes, including higher mortality rates. And conversely, higher nurse staffing levels with improved patient outcomes.
  • “The ANMF acknowledges there’s been a lot of recent commentary from the aged care sector, and the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce in particular, about the need to improve qualifications of workers in the sector. We do not disagree; aged care is a specialist area requiring specialist skills and knowledge. Hence the Project’s skills mix recommendations stated above.
  • “However, focusing just on the need to improve workers’ qualifications in the sector ignores the bigger and much more pressing problem – the need to improve the number of workers in the sector. There may be the most highly qualified registered nurse working in a facility but when that one nurse is expected to manage the overall care for 115 residents or more, quality care is just not possible.
  • “The Minister attempts to use Oakden as an example of the failure of ratios. While the Minister, like all of us, was deeply disturbed by the events at Oakden and is rightly looking for solutions, his criticism of ratios in this instance is misguided. While Oakden did have mandatory staffing requirements, they were not implemented nor was the staffing skills mix appropriate for the facility, leaving the facility consistently understaffed by staff members who lacked the skills to care for the residents properly.
  • “Oakden, at the time, was treated as an ordinary aged care facility rather than a specialist mental health facility, which required a different set of skills, namely mental health nursing skills. A fact recognised in the recommendations of the Inquiry into Oakden which states: all dementia-related and other mental health services delivered in an aged care context must be correctly classified as health services not aged care services.
  • “Ensuring the right number of people with right mix of skills to care for our elderly Australian is what can be delivered by mandating minimum staffing ratios and skills mix. It works in our public hospitals and in works in our child care centres.
  • “Minister, surely it’s time we cared enough about our elderly to give them to care they deserve,” Ms Butler said.

20% of Australian kids went hungry last year.

20% of Australian kids went hungry last year. Turnbull continues to deny wage crisis
16 April 2018

20% of Australian kids went hungry last year. Turnbull continues to deny wage crisis

A new report from Foodbank found that one in five kids had gone hungry in the last year, due to increased cost of living and stagnant wage growth.

Parents also reported skipping meals to keep food on the table for their kids, in a stark reminder of the realities of life for many working Australians under the Turnbull Government.

Despite evidence of workers and their children going without food, the Turnbull Government continues to deny that there is a crisis in wage growth.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
  • “No one should go without food and it’s outrageous that this government is insisting that nothing is wrong.
  • “No kid should have to go to school hungry, that one in five have is a savage indictment of a government that could not be more out of touch with ordinary Australians.
  • “We need wage rises for all working people. People are being left behind, and unable to afford the essentials of life, let alone be comfortable and secure. Working people need power to win pay rises now.
The ACTU’s blueprint for wage rises is a comprehensive set of policies which will allow working people to bargain where the power is and exert their power when they need to. We need to change the rules now.”

ACTU – Hundreds to march on ExxonMobil HQ after 300 days of protest

Hundreds to march on ExxonMobil HQ after 300 days of protest for fair pay and conditions

Union delegates from across Victoria will march on ExxonMobil headquarters in solidarity with Esso/UGL Longford plant workers – all AMWU, AWU and ETU members - who were sacked 300 days ago for refusing to accept major pay cuts and changes to their rostering arrangements that would have taken them away from their families.

ExxonMobil is one of Australia’s most notorious and sophisticated tax dodgers, using a vast international network of subsidiaries to avoid contributing to the countries where it operates.

The situation these workers are in highlights how far the balance of power has swung towards powerful employers and multinational corporations. We need to change the rules so that workers can protect their wages and conditions, and fight to improve them.

Esso/UGL worker and Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union delegate Troy Carter is a husband and father of two young children. He worked for the company offshore for nine years before it sought to tear up the enterprise bargaining agreement and slash wages by up to 30% and cut the conditions of 230 workers.

Quotes attributable to Troy Carter – AMWU delegate and worker
  • “For 300 days we’ve stuck together and stood up against corporate greed. Exxon and UGL tried to take away our union agreement, they tried to cut our wages and conditions, they tried to fly in workers instead of employing us locals, and they tried to break our resolve. But we will not be broken.
  • “We know that corporate greed like Exxon’s, like UGL’s, is coming to an end.  I think they know too that Australians won’t cop this sort of harmful corporate behaviour any more.
  • “We are here today to remind Exxon and UGL that we aren’t going anywhere and we will continue our fight for fairness for another 300 days if we need to. 

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
  • “These workers have been fighting for 300 days for a fair go at work. No one should be forced into a 30% pay cut.
  • “Esso’s parent company ExxonMobil operates a massive tax avoidance network to shield its immense profits from scrutiny, and is the worst tax dodger operating in Australia.
  • "Despite its massive profits and the fact that it pays no tax, ExxonMobil is trying to cut the pay of workers in Australia.
  • “We must change the rules to ensure that employers pay their fair share of tax and workers have the power to fight for better pay and conditions.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Salinas, California – Thousand Farm Workers Fill Streets

In Salinas, California, on Sunday, over a thousand farm workers and allies filled the streets of its working-class barrio to protest the Trump administration's immigration policies, including an increase in immigration raids that, according to United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, are "striking terror in rural communities across California and the nation." It was one of six marches taking place this month in agricultural communities around California, Texas, and Washington state.

Highlighting the cost of the immigration crackdown was the deaths last month in Delano of husband and wife Santos Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Garcia Porfecto. On March 13, the couple, both farm workers, had just dropped off their daughter at school on their way to work when two black unmarked Jeeps with tinted windows, driven by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, stopped them. The couple drove off, but lost control of their car, hit a utility pole and flipped over, killing them both. They leave six children behind.

According to a police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times, immigration agents told police that they were not in "pursuit with emergency lights/sirens," but that surveillance footage appears to show the ICE vehicles following the couple with emergency lights flashing.

The Delano Police Department have asked Kern County prosecutors to investigate the discrepancies in the immigration agents' accounts of the incident. On Monday, ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha sought to divert blame in a statement to the Times that sanctuary policies, "have pushed ICE out of jails," and "force our officers to conduct more enforcement in the community - which poses increased risks for law enforcement and the public ... It also increases the likelihood that ICE will encounter other illegal aliens who previously weren't on our radar."

The marches, which also commemorated the birthday of UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez follow several months of UFW activity opposing immigration enforcement, and organizing workers to defend themselves against it. The union has distributed flyers in the fields that tell workers, "Don't sign anything and demand to speak with a lawyer. Take photographs, videos, and notes about what happens, including names, and license plates." It lists a toll-free number to call for help.

In March, UFW protesters in Hanford, Visalia and Modesto picketed the offices of Republican Congressmen David Valadao, Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham, respectively. General meetings denouncing ICE actions were also held in Salinas and Orosi, and protests in Merced and Bakersfield.

"Do growers who supported and financed the campaign that put Donald Trump in office condone the climate of fear that is gripping farm worker communities?" a union statement asks. It points out that growers are currently supporting bills in Congress to remove protections from guest workers recruited in Mexico. "Such legislative schemes are aimed at driving down the wages and working conditions of all agricultural workers. We will fight them."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Zealand – Taking Climate Change Seriously

The New Zealand government will grant no new offshore oil exploration permits in a move that is being hailed by conservation and environmental groups as a historic victory in the battle against climate change.

The ban will apply to new permits and won’t affect the existing 22, some of which have decades left on their exploration rights and cover an area of 100,000 sq km.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said her government “has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance”.

“Transitions have to start somewhere and unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country.”

The Labour coalition government was elected last year and made tackling climate change one of the cornerstones of its policies, committing to transition to 100% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2035 and making the economy carbon neutral by 2050.

Greenpeace New Zealand said the government’s announcement was a “historic moment” for the country and “a huge win for our climate and people power”.

Last month Ardern accepted a 50,000-strong Greenpeace petition calling for an end to offshore oil and gas exploration.

“The tide has turned irreversibly against big oil in New Zealand,” said the Greenpeace New Zealand executive director, Russel Norman.

Half the world’s whale and dolphin species visit or live in New Zealand waters

“Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation. New Zealand has stood up to one of the most powerful industries in the world.

“Bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time has never been more urgent and Ardern has stepped up to that climate challenge.”

The opposition party slammed the government’s ban as “economic vandalism” and said it made no environmental sense.

“This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high-paying jobs and $2.5bn for the economy,” National’s energy and resources spokesman, Jonathan Young, said.

“This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.”

But the Forest & Bird conservation group said the ban was a “huge step forward” for the country and sent a message to the oil and gas industry that New Zealand waters were no longer “their playground”.

“Half the world’s whale and dolphin species visit or live in New Zealand waters, from the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin to giant blue whales,” said the group’s chief executive, Kevin Hague.

“Today, these sensitive creatures are made safer from the threat of oil spills and the sonic barrage of seismic testing. Keeping New Zealand’s oil and gas in the ground reduces everyone’s risk, and tells the world we’re serious about reducing our contribution to climate change.”

RAGE AGAINST WESTCONNEX Saturday April 14 – 1pm. King George Park, Rozelle

Don't forget! This Saturday at 1pm.

This will be a huge rally uniting all of Sydney to send a big message: we don't want this pointless polluting toll road scam!

Confirmed Speakers include:

  • Mehreen Faruqi: Greens MLC NSW
  • Jamie Parker: NSW Member for Balmain & Rozelle Resident
  • Mary Court: Penrith Valley Community Unions
  • Davie MacDonald: Convenor of STOP Western Harbor Tunnel and Beaches Link
  • Pauline Lockie: WAG Co-founder & Inner West Council Councillor
  • John Lozano: Inner West Activist

(NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley and Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne were invited but unable to attend)

The entire Balmain peninsula is under sustained attack from Berejiklian’s NSW Government. The Rozelle Interchange, the Iron Cove Tunnel and the Western Harbour Tunnel (WHT) means the compulsory acquisition and demolition of homes, businesses and parks including Yuralbin and part of King George Park, as well as the Balmain Leagues Club.

The WHT will release highly toxic sediments including PCBs throughout the harbour and much of the foreshore will be acquired for drying of the sludge. The Dawn Fraser Pool will become unsafe for swimming for years. 

The round the clock dredging of toxic sludge will rob Balmain and Rozelle residents of sleep as will the 24/7 operation of the proposed Concrete Batching Plant.

Subsidence due to tunnelling will cause structural damage to homes in Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Rozelle, Annandale, Balmain and Birchgrove. Heavy trucks and trailers operating continuously in local streets removing tunnel spoil will make sleep impossible.

And for what?

Bero benefit to Sydney motorists! 40 years of tolls punishing Western Sydney. A huge windfall for the multinational toll companies, while the Anzac Bridge is still gridlocked, Victoria Road and the Iron Cove Bridge at a standstill. Premature deaths due to the tonnes of imported cancer-causing diesel exhaust pumped into Rozelle from the four unfiltered stacks. Thanks Gladys. Nice one.

And to top it off? A $45 billion bill and counting! Money just poured down the drain!

WHEN: April 14, 2018 at 1pm – 4pm
WHERE: King George Park, Rozelle
RSVP: or on the Facebook event

NoWestConnex: Public Transport

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

CFMEU Wins Entry Dispute in Queensland

11 APR 2018

The CFMEU has won an appeal against a decision in a long running dispute between the union’s Queensland Construction branch and property developer Susan Menso.

In July last year, Federal Court Judge Vasta ruled in favour of the developer and her company over a dispute around right of entry at a work site in South Brisbane. The union was refused entry to the site by Susan Menso on three occasions in December 2015.

The union appealed a series of legal arguments around the Judge’s right of entry ruling, which it won in a full court today. Three Federal Court Judges found that Susan Menso and her company had contravened the Fair Work Act by refusing entry on three occasions.

The matter was referred back to the Judge Vasta to determine penalties for Susan Menso and her company.

CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said it was a common-sense decision by the full court.
  • “This decision will help ensure our officials are able to exercise their right to enter workplaces and conduct important safety work, without interference by employers,” Dave Noonan said.
  • “It will also act as a future deterrent to employers in using overly technical arguments to try and defeat the right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act.
  • “The union has been vindicated in its long drawn out pursuit of justice for construction workers.”

He said the case was another example of the ABCC’s failure to do anything about employer breaches in the construction industry, with the matter only being pursued by the union.

“The ABCC is meant to be the construction industry watchdog but they do nothing about breaches of law that compromise the safety of construction workers. They are only interested in partisan attacks on unions and their workers.”


ACTU – Tax cuts for big businesses are a major fail for working Australians

11 April 2018

Big business and their representatives at the Business Council of Australia are deceiving the Senate and the Australian people about the impact of tax cuts for working Australians.

Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, it’s a lie. Tax cuts to big business do not generate jobs for working Australians, nor do they improve wages.

The ACTU’s submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics inquiry into the BCA’s commitment to the Senate argues these tax cuts will not lead to more secure jobs for Australian workers or; give workers the pay rise they desperately need.

Half of the companies that signed onto a statement from the BCA pledging to invest more in Australia and pay better wages if the Turnbull Government passes its $65 billion tax cuts, do not currently pay any corporate tax in Australia.

This results in $65 billion being taken away from our schools and hospitals

Energy Australia, JBS, MYOB, Origin Energy and Qantas did not pay a cent of tax between them despite a combined income of $35 billion a year according to the most recent figures from the tax office, but say they need a tax cut so they can invest in Australian jobs.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “The Business Council’s statement to the Senate is a farce. The Turnbull Government is handing billions of dollars to big business to reduce the tax rate of companies which do not even pay tax.
  • “Rather than endlessly doing the bidding of the BCA, the Turnbull Government should be making sure that big business is actually paying their fair share of tax.
  • “The hypocrisy of these companies is breathtaking. They’re crying poor while enjoying record profits and avoiding paying their fair share of tax while the wages of their employees are barely improving above inflation.
  • “The only obvious beneficiaries of the tax cuts the Turnbull Government is proposing are those calling the mostly loudly for them – overseas shareholders and CEOs in their bonuses – not working people.
  • “Tax cuts to big business are nothing more than a tax-payer funded handout to big business.”

Monday, April 09, 2018

NSWTF – Time for a new NAPLAN

April 09, 2018 

A major report released today has revealed Australia’s NAPLAN testing regime is failing the nation’s students and is quite possibly contributing to declining performance standards across the nation.

The report was researched and delivered by Dr Les Perelman, an academic with a distinguished intellectual career specialising in writing assessment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [M.I.T.].

Dr Perelman has found that the NAPLAN writing test is, “By far the most absurd and the least valid of any test that I have seen.”

The Perelman Report was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation on behalf of the teaching profession.

Teachers Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, said,
  • “This historic Perelman Report now provides overwhelming evidence that the existing NAPLAN testing regime is harming our students and harming our nation.
  • The Report shows that NAPLAN is a recipe for mediocrity, reinforcing low level student writing capacities at the expense of higher order performance skills”, Mr Mulheron said.
  • “A monolithic NAPLAN test causes Australia to disregard the sophisticated and adaptive assessment examples of successful systems and nations.”
  • “NAPLAN encourages teaching to emphasise low standard, formulaic student writing performance that harms student achievement across the spectrum.”
  • “There is widespread and growing professional and parental alarm at the negative effects of the one size fits all NAPLAN testing regime. NAPLAN results have flat-lined and in some cases regressed over recent years. This concern is evident across most schools and all systems in Australia.
  • “The Perelman Report, with its brilliant and erudite analysis of the NAPLAN writing assessment, uncovers the essential causes and justification for this national anxiety.”
  • “It is now both essential and urgent that responsible policymakers conduct a review into NAPLAN with the goal of replacing it with systems that are crafted around the principles of varied and differential teaching and assessment; that recognises that a student-centred approach to assessment requires the abandonment of lockstep, monolithic, often harmful and regressive, testing.”
                                sign up for FAIR FUNDING

MUA Merger – Paddy Crumlin Speaks to Members

Friday, April 06, 2018

BMUC – Empty Coal Trains: 19-20 Monday to Friday

Saturdays: 24 Sundays: 23

Although a Senate Inquiry proposed that coal wagons should be covered up on grounds of public health and safety, the NSW Government has failed to act, saying that detailed air monitoring should take place first.

Members of BMUC's Cover the Coal Wagons Group (CTCWG)  held a meeting with EPA representatives Jacinta Hanemann, Regional Manager Operations, Metropolitan Infrastructure, Sarah Thomson, Unit Head Metropolitan Infrastructure and Yvonne Scougie, Senor Team Leader, Atmospheric Research Office, Department of Environment and Heritage to check the progress of air monitoring in the Blue Mountains.

"Although it was a positive meeting", said Peter Lammiman, co-ordinator of CTCWG,"It's absolutely clear that the NSW Government has done no work on monitoring coal dust in the mountains nor does it intend to any time soon.
  • "The government representatives stated that obtaining accurate air quality readings is a contestable area of scientific research.”
  • "They explained that that obtaining reliable air quality readings across the Blue Mountains rail corridor posed real difficulties because the rail line and the Great Western Highway ran close  to or alongside each other."
Another source of pollution  is diesel emissions from engines pulling  coal trains. BMUC was informed that the State Government is working on  a refit to reduce emissions - but again, as with coal dust monitoring - no time frame was given for the work to be completed.

However the EPA has agreed to work with BMUC to  set up a portable air monitoring pod, which could be used to begin a general air monitoring program near the  mountains rail line.
  • "Although it won't give us a detailed breakdown on coal dust, it's a start", said Mr. Cooke.
  • "You can't put a price on fresh air. It's the reason so many people visit the mountains - to escape urban pollution in our ever growing cities.
But how fresh is our air? We intend to find out.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Sagging School Funding Fuels U.S. Teacher Protests

U.S. teacher demonstrations are likely to spread as more educators hit the streets to take on states that they claim are choosing tax cuts over the education of students in elementary and secondary public schools.

Teachers rally inside of the state Capitol rotunda on the second day of a teacher walkout to demand higher pay and more funding for education in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 3,
Protests have erupted in states with some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation, leading to multi-day job actions in a few states.

Educator unrest began in West Virginia, where teachers ended a nine-day strike last month after the state approved a 5 percent pay hike.

This week, massive teacher protests closed schools in Oklahoma.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the demonstrations, which have so far taken place in right-to-work states with weak labor laws, underscore how fed up teachers have become over the deprivation caused by inadequate funding due to tax cuts.

“I do think this will happen more and more because the era of passive resignation seems to be over. And that’s only good news for the children that we serve and the educators we represent,” Weingarten told Reuters.

Oklahoma has the lowest median pay among states for both elementary and secondary school teachers, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s budget has been hit by a combination of tax cuts and a slump in energy prices, a significant source of tax revenue.

Weingarten said teachers there are struggling with stagnant pay, decades-old textbooks and big class sizes.

Meanwhile, teacher unrest is growing in Arizona.

Median teacher salaries in the Grand Canyon state are among the lowest in the nation, leading to a retention problem. A report last year by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University found that almost a quarter of teachers hired between 2013 and 2015 were no longer teaching after a year, while 42 percent of teachers hired in 2013 lasted no more than three years.

Dan Hunting, a senior policy analyst at the institute, said taxes in Arizona as a percentage of the economy have been reduced by about a third since the early 1990s, resulting in less state money for schools.

“It’s going to take a while for us to get out of this. There’s not going to be a magic bullet,” Hunting said.

The common thread in all three states is tax cuts that were undertaken in the years before and after the Great Recession, according to Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The group describes itself as a nonpartisan research institute.

“Teacher compensation is the biggest part of school budgets,” he said. “If you cut the revenue that’s available to spend on schools it makes it hard to pay for qualified teachers.”

On a national basis, 47 percent of funding for public schools comes from states, with 45 percent raised locally and 8 percent coming from the federal government, Leachman said. In more than half of the states, per-pupil funding from state and local sources from 2008 through 2015 was below 2008 levels.

50 years – Dr. Martin Luther King Assassination

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis after marching with black sanitation workers on strike. Today, more than 2,000 UNITE HERE members and allies went to Memphis again. Click here to hear the stories about what coming to Memphis means to us.

In 1968, the Memphis sanitation workers were fighting to be treated like human beings. Wages were so low that full-time workers still had to sign up for welfare to feed their children. They carried leaky trash tubs on their heads that poured maggot-filled water down their backs. Working conditions were so unsafe that workers had been injured and even killed in the malfunctioning compactors of their old trash trucks.

But we’re not just here for a history lesson. We came to Memphis to carry on the legacy of Dr. King and the sanitation workers of the 1968 strike. Watch now to hear our stories.

When I first heard my coworkers were organizing in union at the hotel where I work in New Orleans, I was excited. I knew that we weren’t getting the pay or respect that we deserved, but I was worried about standing up. But now that my 573 coworkers and I are negotiating our first union contract, we know what the Memphis strikers knew—and what Dr. King died for—fifty years ago: being in union is one of the most powerful ways for people of color to win respect.

Dr. King came to Memphis in 1968 to stand for the idea that dignity at work is part of winning equality for all people. Today, we in UNITE HERE came to Memphis from New Orleans and New Haven, Atlanta and Alberta, Miami and Honolulu, and everywhere in between because we know what it means to struggle to win a union. In 1968, the sanitation workers wore signs that said “I Am A Man” to remind the world that they were human beings. Today, we demand better wages, better healthcare, better working conditions, and the dignity of our labor to say that we are human beings.

Fifty years later, we still fight for what our ancestors died for. I’m proud I went to Memphis to honor them all.

Willie Woods
UNITE HERE Local 23 Member

ACTU – Working people to march for better pay and secure work around Australia

Change the rules rallies: Working people to march for better pay and secure work in scores of events around Australia

4 April 2018

Thousands of Australians are expected to hit the streets in April and May in a significant escalation to the Change the Rules campaign demanding more secure work and fair pay.

The events will occur in major cities and regional communities across Australia.

People will march, rally and gather in Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Wollongong, Adelaide, Cairns, Toowoomba, Sydney, Fremantle, Southport, Sunshine Coast, Maryborough, Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Darwin and Thursday Island with more events being planned in regional centres across the country

The events and subsequent campaign activities will represent the largest mobilisation of working people since the Your Rights at Work campaign more than a decade ago.

The rollout was approved by the ACTU executive on Wednesday.

Many of the events will coincide with May Day celebrations, which mark International Workers Day.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “People around the country are ready to take action to change the rules and win more secure jobs and fair pay rises.
  • “They know big business has too much power, and they know that when working people join together we are mighty and unbreakable.
  • “Wherever I go in Australia I hear the same story –we are ready for change and willing to take action to make change.”
  • “Anyone who wants to live in a better, fairer country, who wants more secure jobs and fairer pay rises, should attend these events and join the movement for change.

ACTU – Retail sales rising yet bosses demand pay cut

4 April 2018

The latest retail figures from the Australia Bureau of Statistics show that while retail lobby groups were asking for wages to be frozen or even cut in real terms, sales were more than healthy.

In their minimum wage submission the National Retail Association argued that wages should be cut by two percent in real terms because retailers weren’t making enough money.

The Australian Retailers Association wanted wages to stand still, with their submission arguing for a rise that barely kept pace with inflation.

But annualised growth figures for retail turnover in February put retailers well ahead of inflation.

Sales grew in February by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent, putting the year-on-year growth in the sector at 2.5 percent – well ahead of inflation.

A reversal of penalty rate cuts and a minimum wage that is 60 percent of the medium wage – two of the key fair pay asks the ACTU is campaigning for and that retail lobby groups oppose – would lead to even stronger conditions for retail business owners.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Retail bosses are already pocketing penalty rates pay cuts.”
  • “It is outrageous that retail bosses call for wages cuts at all, but to do so whilst business is doing so well is pure greed.”
  • “We need to change the rules to restore penalty rates and a minimum wage that is a living wage.”

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


MAR 28, 2018

The CPSU has condemned the Turnbull Government for refusing to release two consultant reports into the adequacy of funding for the cash-strapped Federal Courts.

Last week the Senate passed a motion noting that the Turnbull Government has failed to adequately fund the Federal Courts, specifically the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court, and ordering the release of two separate reports into funding arrangements and adequacy conducted by multinational consulting giants KPMG and EY.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has formally refused the Senate order, claiming Public Interest Immunity as the basis for refusing to release both reports. The Government response claims that releasing the reports would “have a chilling effect on the participation and advice of the courts” and that “it would undermine the Government's ability to support the courts in improving their efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit of all Australian families”.

CPSU Deputy National President Rupert Evans said: “What total and utter rot. The only thing ‘chilling’ participation in the courts is the Turnbull Government’s failure to properly fund these Federal Courts so that Australian families can access justice in a timely manner. The CPSU is highly sceptical of Attorney-General Christian Porter’s dubious use of Public Interest Immunity, especially his claim that it’s in the public interest for these two reports to remain secret. Our members working in these Federal Courts can see that no-one is benefitting from this secrecy except the Turnbull Government itself.”
  • “This Government has sliced, diced and amalgamated the Federal Courts, imposing a disruptive restructure while making short-sighted and unsustainable funding cuts. Courts staff and people using the courts have borne the brunt of this, and the situation is getting worse not better.”
  • “These two reports from KPMG and EY appear to have been relied upon by the Turnbull Government as it’s made these damaging decisions, which have caused major delays in litigation that have made difficult legal matters such as custody disputes and other situations even more difficult and traumatic. Could it be the Government paid large sums of money for these reports and then ignored their warnings?”
  • “The Attorney-General’s decision is disrespectful to the Senators who passed this motion but also disrespectful to the staff and clients in the Federal Courts who are increasingly frustrated. The Government needs to fix this situation by providing adequate funding for the courts, and properly supporting legal and support staff to do their important work.”
  • “Christian Porter is claiming that releasing these reports would discourage the Courts from providing frank and fearless advice in the future. If CPSU members, judges, barristers and clients have the courage to call out the current mess, then the Attorney-General should have the courage to release these reports.”

ACOSS – More than 80,000 people hurt by Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill

On the day after Newstart Allowance increased by just 50 cents, the Senate passed legislation that will make life even tougher for people living below the poverty line.

The poorly named Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill went through the senate this morning with few amendments, and is anticipated to go through the House next week.

In August 2017, community leaders from across the country joined forces to call on the government to stop the cuts and attacks on people already living below the poverty line and withdraw this Bill.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS says “we a deeply disappointed that this bill will pass parliament because it will worsen the lives of people experiencing disadvantage.

  • “This Bill will increase already shockingly high homelessness numbers.  More than 80,000 people stand to be cut off from payments after just 12 months of this new legislation.
  • “We congratulate the Greens, Labor and independent senator Tim Storer for opposing this Bill.
  • “We call on this parliament to focus on giving our communities hope and dignity, including those of us with the lowest incomes. We call on our political leaders to raise the rate of the lowest payments, and give people a decent chance of finding paid work.”

NSWTF – Public Outrage at Bus Privatisation

April 03, 2018

The privatisation of public services is an issue close to the hearts of public school teachers.

The privatisation of public bus services in Newcastle serves as a lesson as to why Federation remains resolute and antagonistic towards the concept.

The network is now in the hands of private operator Keolis Downer and the changes to bus routes have left many people literally stranded. Despite assertions from the private provider that patronage is up, an independent study suggests otherwise.

The privatisation of bus services has been, in a word, disastrous. For public schools, it has meant issues for students travelling to and from school and there have been prevalent stories in the local press of students with disabilities, in particular, no longer being able to travel to school.

The primary reason is that service routes have been radically revamped but not to the advantage of commuters, and more aimed at increasing profit margins for the new private providers.

A large protest, one of many recent actions, was held on 18 March, in front of the local bus depot. Speakers included a number of local state Labor MPs and a representative from the union representing bus drivers, the Rail Tram and Bus Union.

State Opposition MP Jodi McKay said Transport Minister Andrew Constance does not listen to the public’s concerns. Mr Constance has made some references to changing the bus routes but apparently not in the short term.

A debate in State Parliament is scheduled for 12 April after more than 10,000 community members signed a petition. A rally will be held in Macquarie Street, Sydney at 4pm to coincide with the debate.