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  Issue No 101 Official Organ of LaborNet 06 July 2001  




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Trades Hall

Neale Towart's Labour Review

The man who has brought librarians out of their flares and into the arms of modern Hip returns from a stint of sheep shearing to pull the wool back from the cloistered world of IR.


Our Very Own Neale Towart

Agency Shops in Australia? Compulsory Bargaining Fees, Union (In)Security and the Rights of Free-Riders by Graeme Orr

Assesses the merits of 'agency shop' or 'fair share fee' common in the North American collective agreements and their potential application in Australia.. It describes and draws lessons from US legal practice. Enforceability and legality under Australian certification and freedom of association law is discussed. Concludes that agency shop fees would be a welcome and justifiable addition to the Australian enterprise bargaining scene, but they would be no panacea. They would probably benefit unions who least need security, and could lead to increased regulation of internal union affairs.

(Australian Journal of Labour Law; vol. 14, no. 1, May 2001)

Family Friendly Provisions: giving with one hand, taking away with the other

10 years after the introduction of enterprise bargaining, work and family issues are still a pretty tiny blip on the radar screen of flexible work practices. This is despite even the critics of enterprise bargaining initially viewing the system as one way of addressing the work family balance issue.

Whilst work and family issues seem to feature in many agreements, their impact tends to be overridden by other features of enterprise agreements, giving employers more flexibility, not employees. Existence of a family friendly provision in an agreement does not necessarily create a family friendly work environment.

(Workplace Intelligence; June 2001)

Prisons Ignore the Law by Jackie Delorme

Prison labour is one of the five exceptions stipulated in ILO Convention 29 concerning the prohibition of forced labour. Unfortunately this statutory provision has opened the door to all kinds of abuses. The abuses in China and Russia are well known but it is in Anglo-Saxon world where the cogwheels of this huge and illegal grinding machine run most smoothly. prisons are increasingly being run like fully-fledged businesses to the detriment of their inmates, whose basic rights are regularly violated.

A profile of the activities of Sodexho, well known to many workers at the Sydney Olympics is included. Sodexho owns 8% of Corrections Corporation of America, 100% of its Australian subsidiary and 100% of UK Detention Services.

Victoria has the highest proportion worldwide of prisoners in privately run gaols at 45%. The ACTU has lodged complaints to the ILO about the practices of these prisons.

(Trade Union World; no. 6, June 2001)

'Women and Superannuation in the 21st Century: Poverty or Plenty?' by Kelly, S., Percival, R., and Harding, A.

The ageing of the population and its consequences is widely recognised as one of the major public policy challenges facing Australia, with likely future retirement incomes emerging as a key policy issue. In such debates, the future fortunes of women loom large.

Will compulsory employer contributions to superannuation make a difference to the financial position of women in retirement? Will increased labour force participation result in a better retirement? What of the women who were relying on their partner's superannuation but their marriage has ended in divorce?

Paper for the SPRC National Social Policy Conference, UNSW 4-6 July 2001

(NATSEM Conference paper no. 3 of 2001)

Victims of Crime Entitled to Unpaid Leave

Amendments to the NSW Industrial Relations Act will allow victims of crime to take unpaid leave to attend court proceedings.

Victim's leave:

· Could be taken by a victim of a serious indictable offence involving violence, including sexual or indecent assault;

· Could be taken by members of the immediate family where the victim had tragically died because of the offence;

· Gives victims of crime the right to be reinstated or compensated if they have been unfairly sacked; and

· Provides for unpaid leave for court sitting days, including travelling time.

Industrial Relations Amendment (Leave for Victims of Crime) Bill 2001

Informed Consent: What is it?

Vice President of the AIRC Iain Ross, in a presentation jointly prepared with Sydney barrister John Trew and delivered by Trew at ACIRRT's annual labour law conference, set out a checklist of key points that parties must address to establish informed consent when the Commission considers certifying agreements and the Employment Advocate (or Commission in some cases) considers approving an AWA.

Checklist of key points on informed consent

· Employee(s) must be given (or have ready access to) a written copy of the agreement at least 14 days before any approval is given. (Note: AWA - existing employee only five days before.)

· Terms of the agreement must be explained to all employees (have regards to employees with special needs).

· Take steps to ensure employees fully understand agreement (use of comparative table, agreement vis-ŕ-vis relevant award).

· Non-union certified agreement - written notice of intent to make agreement must be provided 14 days before agreement made.

· No coercion (legal advice).

Hanging On to Call Centre Employees

Call Centre operator Service Partners Pty Ltd have tackled the high staff turnover rates in a new agreement. In the Sydney outbound call center the following entitlements have been agreed to with the ASU:

· 6 weeks paid maternity leave

· enhanced carer's and sick leave

· rostered day off per month

· 7% pay rise over 2 years

· performance incentives and a commitment to consultation.

The ASU says that the agreements were the best so far foe employees in the call center industry where there are still no awards.

(CCH Australian Industrial Law Update; newsletter no. 5, May 2001)

Buying Out Penalties, for Better or for Worse?

A software package developed at Victoria University, called "Better or Worse Off?" enables the comparison of enterprise agreements against each other and against legal minima. Elsa Underhill claimed at the recent 10 Years Of Enterprise Bargaining Conference that the buying out of penalty rates in annualised salaries has had a dramatic negative effect of take home earnings. She said that AIRC members had been using the software to help then analyse agreements.

(CCH Australian Industrial Law Update; newsletter 5, May 2001)


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 101 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: A Little Knowledge
Labor's science spokesman Martyn Evans was the Opposition's key player on the Knowledge Nation inquiry. He fills us in on the process.
*  Education: Theory and Practise
Whether or not you agree with the priorities for of Barry Jones’ Knowledge Nation Taskforce, Julie Wells argues its boldness has to be admired.
*  E-Change: 1.1 Email Nation
In the first of a series of articles on politics and the new economy, Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel argue network technologies are reshaping the fundamentals of society.
*  Economics: Banking on the Goodwill
Given their history, Evan Jones wonders whether banks can really claim to be "just like any other business"
*  International: A Deathly Struggle
In this dispatch from PNG, a trade union leader briefs us on the situation following the shooting of seven students at an anti-privatisation rally.
*  History: Enlarging Human Personality
Mark Hearn argues that Lloyd Ross's post-War approach to Workplace Democracy seems contemporary by today's standards
*  Satire: Shit is a Four Letter Word
Australian TV drama is lame and gutless just look at the ABC's Love is a Four Letter Word, says Tony Moore
*  Review: Tribute to an Artist
Dalgarno painted the seagulls circling the seafarer like flies buzzing around the face of a bushman. Thus did the artist depict the maritime worker.

»  Academic Freedom On Trial
»  Unified Approach to Sheahan Inquiry
»  Living Standards Shape as Election Factor
»  Clairvoyant PM In Secret Deal Fantasy
»  Hotels Face Workers Quiz
»  Call for Senate to Decide Spammer's Fate
»  PNG – Howard Should Speak Out
»  Couriers Buck Over Tax Ruling
»  Kempsey Killing Highlights Health Fears
»  Checkout Operators Better Paid Than Aged Care Workers
»  ACTU Weighs Into Bank Campaign
»  Fund Bad Health for Families
»  Australian Music Web Radio Station Needs Recruits
»  Activist Notebook

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Mate Against Mate
»  Disconnected from Reality
»  Applause for the Ton
»  Unions Online? Not Yet!

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