Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What part does Aldi play in safety in transport?

What part does Aldi play in safety in transport?

When wealthy retailers like Aldi squeeze transport, drivers are pressured to work longer hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks to get the job done.

But Aldi refuses to acknowledge or address the risks to safety they cause in their supply chain.
In fact, Aldi took the TWU to the Federal Court in an attempt to silence truckies speaking out on safety.

Coles and Woolworths have signed charters with the TWU to ensure safety in their transport supply chains. It’s time for Aldi to come to the table.

Last year alone, 60 transport workers were killed on the job.

Transport workers serve a claim on Aldi

Monday, May 25, 2020

Polling conducted for the ACTU shows a staggering lack of basic preventative measures

Polling conducted for the ACTU shows a staggering lack of basic preventative measures in Australian workplaces and highlights the need for immediate action to improve WHS standards.

Key findings from the poll:

Asked if their employer had implemented basic preventative measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19;

11% of those currently in the workplace and 4% of those working from home said they had additional hygiene measures like hand sanitiser or access to soap and water

4% of those in the workplace said there was additional cleaning or disinfection occurring
9% of those still in their workplace and 8% of those working from home said there was a plan in place in case they or a co-worker developed symptoms or tested positive

1% had access to additional paid pandemic leave
0% of those still in their workplace said their employer had made any effort to support their mental health

Social distancing, the highest-profile preventive measure, which states, territories and the federal government have been mandating for months, is only in place for 70% of people still in their workplace, and 59% of those working from home.

The polling shows workers on lower incomes are more likely to say they would go to work even if they were sick. Universal paid pandemic leave would allow all working people to take time off when they need to in order to protect themselves and the community.

This data shows there is an overwhelming majority of Australians without the basic protections we know will help prevent the spread of the virus.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“More needs to be done to keep workers safe. We are more than two months into the lockdown period and almost 90% of working people say their workplaces don’t have hand sanitiser.

“Pandemic leave, or some form of additional paid leave is necessary to ensure that people can get tested or self-isolate, but has been provided to 1% of working people.

“This polling shows how much work is left to be done before the economy can be safely re-opened. The union movement is launching a campaign to make workplaces as safe as possible, but we need immediate action from all governments to prevent a second wave of infection.”

Saturday, May 23, 2020

ACTU Federal Court has ruled to protect the rights of working people

The Federal Court has ruled to protect the rights of working people who are labelled casuals purely to strip them of job security, rights and pay in a landmark ruling in the case of WorkPac Pty Ltd Rossato.

This decision is a massive step forward in the fight for more secure work for Australian workers.

It shines a spotlight on the unfairness of casualisation and has shut down a loophole that labour hire companies have been exploiting to undermine job security and pay.

Working people need more job security, this decision confirms their rights to permanent rights if their job is permanent.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“This is a huge win for the workers involved and their union the CFMMEU, but it is also a win for all workers who are suffering because of systemic casualisation. It clearly demonstrates the need to reduce workplace insecurity.

“We need the stop the practice of some employers labelling jobs “casual” when they are in fact permanent. This has stripped workers of rights and security.

“It’s time for employers to accept that finding new ways to make permanent jobs casual has to end. We should be working together as a country to reduce the number of insecure jobs, it has got out of control and unfortunately too many people are now feeling the harsh reality of having no job protections during the pandemic.

“We congratulate Paul Skene, the worker whose case led to this decision, for standing up with his union and fighting for this win for casual workers.”

Friday, May 22, 2020

AMWU Welcomes Labor's Support for Manufacturing

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) welcomes Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s focus on revitalising Australian manufacturing and investing in infrastructure as part of a COVID-19 recovery strategy.

“This crisis has demonstrated the importance of having a domestic manufacturing industry” said AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian.

 “Manufacturing has been vital to get us through this crisis, with firms retooling to provide essential medical supplies like masks and ventilators. We cannot return to an economy solely reliant on tourism and exporting raw materials in the wake of this crisis. We must support Australian manufacturing, and we welcome the vision of the Federal Labor Party outlined by Mr Albanese today”, Mr Bastian said.

Mr Bastian said that government investing in infrastructure to get the economy moving again was “absolutely the right thing to do.”

“We need to fill up the factories with work as soon as possible. The best way to do that is for the government to invest in nation-building infrastructure.”

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the dangers of hollowing out our manufacturing sector and becoming reliant on long international supply chains.

“For decades, governments have chosen to send manufacturing jobs offshore to the cheapest bidder. We welcome Mr Albanese’s recognition of the damage this has done to manufacturing communities across the country, especially in regional areas”, Mr Bastian said.

“We strongly support Mr Albanese’s call to build Australian-made trains and invest in high speed rail. We need to build back better from this crisis. Governments spending taxpayer money here at home, buying and building locally and supporting Australian jobs, Australian businesses, and the Australian economy just makes sense”, Mr Bastian said.

Mr Albanese also spoke of the need to better commercialise scientific research, and invest in skills and training.

“A well funded TAFE and Vocational Education and Training sector is vital for Australia’s future. We’ve lost a lot of our sovereign capability through successive decades of neglect. To create the highly skilled workforce that will be essential to rebuild our manufacturing capability, we must invest in TAFE as Mr Albanese said”, Mr Bastian said.

“The Federal Government should take Mr Albanese’s suggestions on board as they chart a course forwards through this crisis”, Mr Bastian said.

TAFE and NSW Teachers Federation

Despite the NSW Government walking away from the TAFE Enterprise Agreement in March, Federation has secured a commitment from TAFE NSW for certainty of ongoing employment for long-term temporary employees.

Federation is “appalled” at the behaviour of the Government in dropping the Enterprise Agreement (EA) in March but welcomed the TAFE Managing Director’s advice that TAFE NSW will work with Federation to uphold the commitment to the conversion of temporary employees, agreed to in the bargaining process.

Federation began bargaining with TAFE NSW for a new Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement late in 2019.

Federation and TAFE NSW held many meetings, at which we progressed toward finding agreement on key issues. Those key issues, identified by TAFE members who had undertaken a pre-bargaining survey distributed to all workplaces, included a 2.5 per cent pay rise with no loss of conditions, an increase in permanency, and access to genuine professional development to maintain vocational currency.

Mindful that TAFE teachers and related employees last received a pay rise in late November 2018, Federation worked with a view to finalising bargaining as soon as possible after the expiry date of the current EA on 3 February, 2020. This would have allowed TAFE teachers and related employees to complete a ballot period as required by Fair Work, and receive their first pay rise in the first quarter of 2020.

On 27 February, a joint communiqué signed by Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos and TAFE managing director Steffen Faurby was sent to TAFE members advising that bargaining had progressed to a point where very few matters required more detailed discussion.

On Wednesday, 11 March, TAFE NSW and Federation met for a marathon seven hours, where wording for a new EA was finalised.

TAFE NSW sent Federation correspondence late that night – a full copy of the proposed EA and all documentation that would sit alongside it (such as recommittal of the Administrative Agreement) – allowing the union to take a recommendation to our TAFE TA Council on 13 March and then to Federation State Council the next day. At both councils, a recommendation to accept the EA was endorsed unanimously.

TAFE NSW had informed Federation that should we indicate a positive response from Council, TAFE would commence the Fair Work ballot on the following Monday or Tuesday, 16 or 17 March, with a view to close the ballot on 1 April.

If this ballot of employees was affirmative, this timeline would have allowed the first pay rise to occur before the commencement of term 2.

However, on 18 March, Mr Faurby informed Federation the Berejiklian Government was no longer honouring the commitment it had made regarding the TAFE Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement (correspondence). This decision was ostensibly related to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Federation immediately sought legal advice regarding this delay and responded to the TAFE Managing Director.

Further, Mr Gavrielatos petitioned the Premier to alter the decision and honour the agreement that was made in good faith.

This resulted in further correspondence from TAFE, received by Federation on 30 March.

Federation is appalled at the behaviour of this government regarding this matter, and continues to canvas all legal, political and industrial options available to bring this matter to a swift and just conclusion.

Our EA determines our working conditions and, along with the National Employment Standards, contains all teachers and related employees’ industrial entitlements. When bargaining for an EA, the union is concerned about more than just a pay rise; it is always looking to include wording to alleviate any ongoing workplace difficulties.

During this recent bargaining, Federation gained a commitment from TAFE NSW to include a clause in the EA that converted long-term temporary teachers to permanency.

Those who have been TAFE employees for some time may remember the Temporary Teacher Agreement before being moved into the federal Fair Work industrial system. This agreement outlined a process where part-time casual teachers, who had been merit-selected into a temporary teacher position and had held that position continuously for two years, were converted to permanency.

While this agreement had occasional hiccups in implementation, there were large numbers of teachers who benefitted from it. Unfortunately, once we were moved into the federal Fair Work Act, all policies and agreements that were not a part of the EA were disregarded by subsequent management.

Further, the Fair Work Act does not allow the commission to rule on issues outside an EA. Thus, even where a management decision is patently unfair, an employer cannot be instructed by Fair Work to implement a policy that is not in an EA or the National Employment Standards.

During this recent bargaining process, Federation was able to negotiate the introduction of a similar concept into the 2020 Enterprise Agreement. The (unimplemented) EA, as negotiated earlier this year, contains a discreet clause, Conversion of Temporary Employees to Permanent Employment.

Correspondence from the Managing Director on 1 May included a reference to TAFE NSW upholding these commitments.

"TAFE NSW is continuing to work with the NSW Teachers Federation to honour commitments that can be implemented outside of enterprise bargaining, including the conversion of temporary employees to permanent employment, and also establishing new consultation arrangements between the two organisations. We look forward to sharing more information about these commitments in due course."

Key concepts of this are:

After completing two years of continuous service in the same temporary position, a temporary employee will be made permanent providing:

there are no excess permanent employees who would match the position
the initial appointment was on the basis of merit ongoing work is available as determined by the

Regional General Manager and General Manager People and Safety
the temporary employee has the relevant skills qualifications, experience and work performance standards to enable the employee to perform the duties of the position concerned.
Requests for conversion from temporary to permanent employment will not be unreasonably refused.

While it is terribly disappointing the government chose to walk away from committing to this reasonable clause by enacting it as law, we welcome the TAFE Managing Director’s advice that TAFE NSW will work with Federation to implement this clause before finalising the implementation of the new EA.

Up until now, teachers who have been long-term temporary employees had no certainty of ongoing employment, and often relied upon Federation advocating for their conversion to permanency with TAFE NSW.

This was never ideal and certainly not fair. Until this clause is formally included in the Teachers and Related Employees Enterprise Agreement, Federation will continue to monitor temporary employment. This is reliant upon those members who are long-term temporary employees contacting the union to advise us of their circumstances.

To assist this, we will be asking all temporary teachers and related employees to attend Federation meetings (currently being held using various video and teleconferencing platforms) to alert Federation Representatives and Organisers of the status of your employment, so you can work with us to ensure the smooth facilitation of this new process/clause.

While we are affected by physical isolation due to COVID-19, Federation will continue to make contact with members in different ways.

We are currently conducting meetings via Zoom, Teams and Skype, and some Organisers will be attending TAFE colleges for one-on-one discussions with members while following physical distancing protocols.

The union also relies on you, as a member, to pass this information on to colleagues who may not be members of Federation.

It is important they are aware of their working conditions and have an opportunity to join the union to assist us in our important work of supporting you at work. If an employee doesn’t understand their entitlements, they are likely to undermine them. This can undermine everyone’s working conditions.

It is important that every teacher in your workplace is a member of the NSW Teachers Federation.

Message from Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary

Message from Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary

2020 – International Year of the Nurse & Midwife – this must be our year

2020, the World Health Organisation designated International Year of the Nurse & Midwife, is our year.

It is the year for our voices to be heard and for Australia’s politicians to recognise our value by investing in the nursing and midwifery workforce. Genuinely. Properly. Truly.

It is not the year for more platitudes, lip service and ‘pats on the back’ in lieu of genuine recognition of nurses’ and midwives’ work and honest, meaningful support for that work.

It is the year to guarantee:

Safe staffing ratios for nurses and midwives across every sector

Safe environments in every place nurses & midwives work and an end to workplace violence
Nurses & midwives are enabled to work to full capacity

Urgent action on climate change and its devastating health effects, which could not be more critically needed than right now in the midst of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

This will require politicians and governments to respond to the evidence before them and invest in staffing ratios in all sectors and in creating safe working environments across the country. It will require the expansion of nurse and midwife-led models of care that are innovative, increase access for all and lead to better health outcomes for communities and much better use of nurse practitioners working in proper jobs.

It will require legislative and policy support to enable all nurses and midwives to work to their full scope of practice. And, it will require immediate action and an urgent, whole-of-government response to climate change.

It will also require us, Australia’s nurses and midwives, to take action to make this happen. If we want our voices to be heard, then we have to speak up. We have to make sure that nurses and midwives are present and contributing at all levels of critical decision-making processes, from the patient’s bedside to national health taskforces and committees. We must not accept others imposing decisions on us without consultation.

The evidence is behind us, our work is the proof of the difference nurses and midwives can make  – this year must be our year to shine.

The ANMF will be celebrating the work of nurses and midwives throughout 2020, with a series of national and ANMF Branch events and activities to be held across all states and territories. Stay tuned for regular updates here on the ANMF website and for more details on what’s happening in your state or territory go to your branch’s website.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Acoss Media Release

Jobs figures show importance of JobKeeper and new JobSeeker

The April employment figures out today demonstrate the importance of a decent, secure safety net for people without paid employment, says the Australian Council of Social Service.

“We’ve already seen the official unemployment rate rise to 6.2% in April and we know this would have been worse had the JobKeeper payment not been announced," ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

“Startlingly, 20% of people previously employed (2.7 million) became unemployed or had their hours reduced between March and April.

“For people without a job, or those who need more hours, there is currently very little opportunity to find paid work. Not only is this financially distressing, the great uncertainty that people are going through deeply affects mental health.

“People need security for the future and business needs confidence in order to be able to rebuild. That’s why it’s so important that the Government extends the new JobSeeker Payment until we have an income support system in place that protects people from living below the poverty line.

“Under the compliance system before COVID19, people had to search for 20 jobs a month, participate in Work for the Dole and attend regular appointments with employment service providers under pain of losing their next payment.

Payments were automatically suspended on the same day if someone didn’t attend a provider appointment regardless of the reason, and people had to contact their provider to get payments reinstated. In many cases, people weren’t even aware of the appointment. "This system was harsh, and caused a great deal of anxiety for people.

This compliance system has been suspended since the lockdowns commenced.
"Given the high level of anxiety among people who lack paid employment and have to rely on Jobseeker Payments, we welcome Employment Minister Cash’s announcement today that the suspension of activity requirements for Jobseeker Payment will continue at least until June 1, and that the Government will take account the scope of lockdowns and state of the labour market before reinstating it.

"We call on the Government not to reinstate the harsh system that was in place before this crisis, and to work with employment service providers and representatives of people affected to redesign the system so that people can prepare and search for jobs, while feeding and housing themselves, with the certainty that their payments won’t suddenly be suspended," Dr Goldie said.

Media contact:  Australian Council of Social Service, 0419 626 155


The COVID-19 situation is rapidly and significantly changing work at Australia Post. From work health and safety and working from home, Australia Post’s ‘Request to Take Leave’ and now bargaining for your future pay and conditions.

Australia Post management have put forward an unappealing proposal for your future pay and entitlements in lieu of the standard enterprise bargaining process. We need to explain this proposal to you, listen to your feedback and discuss what approach you would like us to take. To do this we have scheduled Australia-wide briefings for all Australia Post staff members to attend via Zoom teleconference due to current government policy.

How will it work?

We will run six 30 minute all staff member Zoom meetings to attend in their own time. We’re spreading them over three days so everybody has the chance to find a time that suits.

Registration is essential, so please register ASAP only for the session you intend to participate in. Once you register you will be able to dial in via your Zoom application or like a regular phone call.

ASU Federal Government has recklessly changed the law

The Federal Government has recklessly changed the law to reduce the usual time for voting on enterprise agreements from seven days down to one.

Big business has been asking for this for weeks.

One day is not enough time for workers to contact their union, consult with their colleagues or speak with their families about big decisions about their hours and pay.

It’s unfair and unnecessary.

Secretary of Australian Unions, Sally McManus said, “These changes will allow employers to ram through reductions in pay and undermine job security.”

If you are on an Enterprise Agreement and you are told about a change or a vote – call us immediately on 02 9310 4000 or email help@asu.org.au.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020



Workers at Kenworth Trucks in Bayswater, Victoria will return to work today after spending the last three and a half weeks, from March 25, at home with pay while the worksite was reconfigured to make social distancing easier.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) welcomed the move to continue paying permanent employees as an example of businesses and workers being in the COVID-19 crisis together.

“This is what doing the right thing looks like,” said David Smith, AMWU Assistant National Secretary.

“Workplace health and safety has to be a priority but doing that during these unprecedented times should not come at the cost of workers being able to pay their bills.”

Steve Kearney, a motor mechanic by trade, is an AMWU delegate at Kenworth. Along with his fellow delegate, he’s been consulting with Kenworth HR on the workplace changes.

“‘When we heard about the temporary closure we were concerned they’d make people use their leave and not everyone has a lot of leave available, but then we were told they’d paying us for the period of the shut down,” said Steve.

“The feedback I got from members was that they felt relieved. They were glad Kenworth was trying to do the right thing about safely social distancing and that wasn’t going to come out of their pockets.”

As well as introducing additional safety measures, Kenworth have also implemented an afternoon shift to add further distance between workers.

“I put my hand up for an afternoon shift, that’s what I was on when I started here and I like it. So far it’s just been workers volunteering to take up that shift and the people I’ve spoken to so far were also happy to put their hand up for it,” said Steve.

“We were actually due to start ramping up production before the crisis hit and so far it seems like Kenworth are doing everything they can to get us back to work with proper social distancing and protections. We’ll keep working with Kenworth to prioritise safety and keep us operating. There’s definitely still plenty of work to be done.”

MEAA Today is World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day but there is little for us to celebrate here in Australia.
The police raids in June last year on the home of a News Corp journalist and the ABC offices in Sydney were a wake up call to the wider Australian public that our nation’s reputation as a healthy democracy is now at risk because of growing attacks and restrictions on public interest journalism and the right to know.

On World Press Freedom Day, MEAA is calling for serious reforms to reverse a raft of ‘national security’ laws that can be used to criminalise journalism and punish whistleblowers for telling the truth, and which have sent Australia backwards on press freedom.

MEAA has been cataloguing the deterioration of press freedom in an annual report for 15 years. This year’s report is aptly named The War on Journalism, and much space is devoted to analysing how we got to a place where police are raiding journalists’ homes and offices.

These raids were the culmination of almost 20 years of parliament legislating sweeping powers in the name of ‘national security’ which enable government agencies to reach into our homes and offices, into our phones and computers, and intrude into our lives in an effort to control the possession and flow of information.

These laws allow governments to hide information from public view and punish those who reveal that information.  This cloak is also being used to shield the governments from embarrassment.

As a member of the Your Right to Know campaign with major publishers and broadcasters, MEAA is advocating reforms to restore the balance of freedom of information and expression versus the needs of national security. The reforms are:

•  The right to contest the application for warrants for journalists and media organisations;
•  Exemptions for journalists from laws that would put them in jail for doing their jobs, including security laws enacted over the last seven years;
•  Public sector whistleblowers must be adequately protected – the current law needs to change;
•  A new regime that limits which documents can be stamped secret;
•  A properly functioning freedom of information (FOI) regime; and
•  Defamation law reform.

Journalists are not above the law but bad laws must be reformed if freedom of expression, and press  freedom, is to be upheld.

At stake is not just Australia’s reputation but also our ability to function as a healthy democracy that respects the human rights of its people.

On World Press Freedom Day, we also call for the release of all imprisoned journalists around the world who are in detention for shining the light on public-interest information that governments would rather keep secret, including MEAA members Julian Assange and Yang Hengjun.

The War on Journalism: the MEAA Report into the State of Press Freedom in Australia in 2020 is available at pressfreedom.org.au

ACTU Australian Unions call for 2 million new secure jobs

Australian Unions call for 2 million new secure jobs and halving of job insecurity to rebuild economy

 Rebuilding jobs and our economy beyond the COVID-19 health crisis
The peak body for working people in Australia has released a comprehensive blueprint for rebuilding the economy and restoring jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The ACTU’s eight-point plan has called for the creation of two million new secure jobs and the halving of job insecurity to be set as a target for rebuilding the Australian economy.  The plan aims to harness the spirit of cooperation between Australian governments, business, and civil society that has guided our response to the crisis to ensure we rebuild in a way that delivers a better and fairer Australia.

COVID-19 has revealed fault-lines in our economy that must be addressed as we look to rebuild.

Thirty years of neoliberal trickle-down economics have led to rising inequality, an erosion of the social safety-net, record-low wage growth, and too many people in insecure employment or without enough work.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

“We need to rebuild the Australian economy and society and make jobs more secure.  Setting a goal of creating two million new secure jobs and halving job insecurity in Australia can drive an economy wide rebuilding effort and lift the living standards of millions of working people.

“These 8 guiding principles will help shape a rebuilding effort that puts people in more secure jobs, gets wage growth going again, ensures Australia is making what we need, putting our national interests above any vested corporate interests and investing in our communities.

“We look forward to working with governments, employers and communities to develop the programs Australia needs to rebuild and make jobs more secure.

“We cannot allow the economy to go back to the way it was before: rising inequality, record low wage growth, a gutted social safety-net and public services, and too many people in insecure employment or without enough work.

“If a disaster destroys your house, you don’t rebuild in all the old cracks and flaws – you rebuild with improvements, you fix the things you know were wrong and you make your home even better than it was before.

“We must rebuild our economy and our communities so they work for all Australians.”

Our eight-point principles for the post-pandemic rebuild are:

 1. Improve the quality and security of jobs by creating 2 million new permanent jobs and halving the number of insecure jobs.

Ending forced casualisation, outsourcing, offshoring, continuous rolling contracts and over-use of labour hire.

2. Lift wages and living standards

Money in workers’ pockets drives business, creates jobs and lifts living standards.

3. Strengthen and invest in public and community services that are our first line of defence against ‘shocks’ like COVID-19, bushfires and drought

Strong healthy communities and strong public services create a strong Australia.

4. Support nation-building projects that create decent jobs and set Australia up for a brighter future

Building for the future provides jobs, training and incomes today and tomorrow. Investment in infrastructure, manufacturing and service industries.

5. Education and training

Rebuilding our domestic skills and training system with public investments in schools, TAFE and higher education will ensure working people are able to meet the demands of work in the post-COVID world.

6. Deal with the crisis of climate change

Reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency, restore the environment. Support existing industries and create new jobs in industries embracing new energy technologies.

7. Improve social, health and economic outcomes for people and communities that experience disadvantage

Improve and increase public and community services and income support payments.  Tax reform needs to be targeted at ensuring corporations are paying their fair share for the services and support every Australian needs.

8. Embrace industry policy and ‘Australian made’.

If we can make it or provide it here and create jobs here then we should make it or provide it here. Trade must deliver for our national interest, deals that give away our sovereignty, jobs, and undermine household incomes should not feature in our post-pandemic future.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

NSW Teachers Federation Vale Jack Mundey

Vale Jack Mundey (1929-2020)
May 11, 2020

Jack Mundey, the union leader who inspired generations of activists to build a modern environmental movement, died last night, aged 90.

Jack, as the Secretary of the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF), came into prominence in the early 1970s in an era of a massive building boom when developers were intent on destroying urban green spaces and huge swathes of historical Sydney. From a fledging start when Jack led his union to protect a small parcel of land on Sydney Harbour called Kelly’s Bush, a movement with international ramifications was created.

It was based around a simple yet profound concept. His union would place an industrial ban on unwanted development only after the local community approached the union and supported such a ban. Importantly, the members of the union at the site would then vote to endorse the ban. Jack would famously quip to a journalist that it wasn’t a traditional “black ban” but a “green ban”, and thus a movement was born.

At their height, the Green Bans protected communities from billions of dollars of ugly development that had created concrete jungles in so many cities around the world. For cities such as Sydney it meant the protection of the historical Rocks area around Sydney Harbour, which had been destined to be razed and replaced with massive concrete and glass towers. Inner city suburbs such as Glebe were protected by the Green Bans after plans were created to bulldoze motorways through their heart.

From Sydney, the movement spread to regional areas, to other Australian cities, and to other countries.

The NSW BLF created a huge social movement that linked together so many disparate political struggles – it protected low-income housing for workers, fought for women to be accepted into male-dominated industries, placed a Green Ban on Macquarie University after one its colleges had denied accommodation for a gay student, stopped development in places such as Centennial Park, and exposed the corrupt links between politicians and developers. Importantly, the Green Bans empowered ordinary citizens to band together and act in the interests of the community.

While the NSW BLF had support from one allied building union, the NSW Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association (FEDFA), there were attempts to isolate the NSW BLF within the union movement at the time. Importantly, therefore, it is worth noting that the NSW Teachers Federation was the first union outside the building industry to recognise what the NSW BLF was campaigning for and to endorse formally the Greens Bans movement.

The Green Bans heavily influenced others in the international environmental movement. Petra Kelly, the famous German anti-nuclear activist on a visit to Australia, was so inspired by the Green Ban movement, that upon her return to German she created the world’s first Greens political party.

The struggle to build the Green Bans movement was difficult and opposed by powerful and vested interests. Jack was the subject of countless death threats, and developers with close links to some politicians worked to undermine the union while encouraging conservative media commentators to rail against the BLF and its leadership. Yet, over time, the Green Bans captured the imagination of the public leading eventually to significant legislation at a state and federal level designed to protect natural and urban environments.

Eventually, Jack and other leaders of the NSW BLF, were illegally removed from office after developers had colluded with corrupt federal officials. But the Green Ban movement had, by then, a life of its own. A small union consisting of labourers on building sites had shown the world that ordinary people can build a grass-roots democratic movement and by doing so challenge power and wealth in ways that until then had never been imagined.

On a personal level, Jack had rejected his Catholic faith as a young adult and had joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1955. But throughout his life, he worked to build broad alliances and to work with disparate groups and individuals. Jack could never be accused of being doctrinaire. As he once wrote: “My dream, and that of hundreds of thousands, or millions, of others might come true: a socialist world with a human face, an ecological heart and an egalitarian body.”

The NSW Teachers Federation expresses its condolences to Jack’s partner, Judy, as well as to his wider family, friends and close comrades.

ACTU -- Vale Jack Mundey

Statement attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

The union movement is devastated to hear of the passing of Jack Mundey and we offer our condolences to Judy, family and his comrades.

Jack changed the face and direction of unionism in our country and was part of transforming the status and jobs of “brickies” into jobs with rights and respect.

Jack lead the NSW BLF from 1968 to 1975 and under his leadership pioneered the “green bans” movement forming alliances with local residents to save the environment, our heritage and to stand up to injustice.

Because of Jack’s leadership bushland around Sydney was saved, from local pockets to the botanical gardens. Low income housing was saved, as was important heritage areas such as The Rocks. If it were not for Jack’s union these parts of Sydney would have been demolished by developers.

The BLF also initiated the first “pink ban” refusing building works at Macquarie University in solidarity with the dismissal of a gay academic.

The members of Jack’s union won significant increases in pay, workplace safety and working conditions, despite the opposition of powerful developers and Governments. Jack was an extremely principled leader who adhered to highly democratic practices and a belief in maximum terms for elected leaders. What was achieved during the relatively short time of his leadership by the union was remarkable.

Whilst Jack’s achievements have been celebrated by the establishment today with even a street named after him in The Rocks, he and his union came under sustained attack at the time from those in power.

Jack believed in the broader collective achievement of the working class and aspired to a better world for all.

Vale to a man who reshaped Australian union history, whose legacy is there for all to see in the beauty of Sydney and whose principles shone through until the end.

Jack Mundey's Song

During Mundey's visit to Liverpool in the UK Jack was met by veteran Union Organiser Pete Carter who handed him a song composed in his honour to the tune of "The Wild Colonial Boy".

It's of a wild colonial boy, Jack Mundey is his name.
A building workers' leader from Australia he came.
He said you lads in Birmingham can beat the bosses plan;
Do like we did in Sydney - just put on the old green ban.

That means you fight for wages, but you fight for something more-
Not only for the right to work - but what you're working for!
A place that's fit to live in, where your kids can thrive and grow,
And not a concrete jungle where you scurry to and fro.

The greedy men of property have knocked old 'Brum" around
Broad Street, Bull Ring, Aston Cross - they've razed it to the ground;
Put up skyscraper tombstones where a working city once stood
But there is still time to call a halt, hold on to what is good.

So listen to Jack Mundey when he says 'Green bans are beaut'!
A Green ban on Victoria Square will surely bear some fruit.
If you can win the Post Office, you lads of high renown,
You'll win the right to take the fight to every part of town.

ANMF celebrates International Nurses Day 2020

Tuesday 12th May, 2020

On International Nurses Day (IND) this year, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), the proud union of more than 285,000 nurses, midwives and aged care workers, is celebrating the work ANMF members do every day for every Australian.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler says that IND has a special and increased significance this year, both because 2020 is the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and because of the prominent role nurses have played around the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“IND is always important to our union, as is International Midwives’ Day (5 May) and is traditionally a day when we celebrate nurses’ work and its impact on the health of our communities. However, this year, with a world disrupted by the global coronavirus pandemic and governments scrambling to save lives, a job we have done very well in Australia, the critical importance of nurses’ work to the health of our communities has never been clearer,” Ms Butler said today.

“Nurses around the globe have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. From the onset of the outbreak in Australia, nursing organisations were centrally involved in implementing key health strategies to contain COVID-19 while thousands of nurses immediately volunteered to assist in whatever way they could. The desire to help and the courage and compassion of nurses on the frontline doing the best for their communities have been demonstrated in every country across the world.

“Sadly, this extraordinary effort has come at considerable cost, with hundreds of nurses around the world losing their lives to COVID-19. We have been very fortunate in this regard in Australia, but we want to honour the sacrifice of our global nursing colleagues on this IND. The ANMF, in collaboration with the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation, will tonight hold an online candlelight vigil at 7pm (AEST) to commemorate the dedication of our lost colleagues to caring for their patients and residents.

“Nurses’ extraordinary commitment and dedication for those in their care has definitely been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what we’re seeing in these extraordinary times is in fact what nurses, and midwives and care-workers, do every day, in every circumstance, for those in their care. Nursing is always extraordinary work, but in normal times, it is often less visible.

“This is one of the main reasons the WHO has declared this year as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The need to raise the profile of nursing and midwifery around the globe, underpins the WHO’s declaration because it recognises that this will lead to greater gender equality, stronger economies and healthier communities for all nations. To do this requires real investment and political commitment.

“While this year’s aim is to increase global focus on nurses and recognition from politicians, the community has always understood the impact of nursing. Every member of the community has been touched by the care and compassion of a nurse, midwife or care-worker.

“So for this year’s IND, in these extraordinary times, a number of well-known, much loved Australian celebrities, including Missy Higgins, Hamish and Andy, Magda Szubanski, Marcia Hines and others have joined us to share their stories and thank nurses and midwives for the care they have received and the lasting impact nurses and midwives have made to their lives.”

To watch the International Nurses Day video and the COVID-19 Nurses Vigil, go to the ANMF’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianNursingandMidwiferyFederation/

ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.