|Issue No 109
|31 August 2001
Neale Towart's Labour Review
After failing to walk away with the blue ribbon for best-hung bull at this week's Parkes Show, Neale is back doing what he does best - dissecting the crazy world of IR.
Time to Act on Air Rage by Shane Enright
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) believes the time has come for an international convention offering a global legal framework to prosecute all incidents of air rage, wherever and whenever they occur.
International law at the moment places the responsibility for criminal or violent actions that take place on board aircraft on the country in which the individual aircraft is registered. In practice this can present many barriers to the prosecution of disruptive passengers.
(Transport International; no. 6, 3, 2001)
The Slow and Agonising Death of the Australian Experiment with Conciliation and Arbitration by Braham Dabscheck
After being to the fore through the 1980s, the AIRC has seen its role come under fire from the early 1990s from the ALP and then more strongly from the Coalition government. Both the ALP and the Coalition introduced legislation to reduce the Commission's role. Using regulation theory Dabscheck argues that the Commission dealt itself a blow in the late 1980s by not recognizing the "signals" from the players in the IR system that were calling for far reaching change. The Commission's perceived failure to respond in innovative and activists ways saw the government override it.
(Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 43, no. 3, September 2001)
Apprenticeships - Positive Findings Surprise Researchers
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) says that apprenticeships are re-emerging as a key remedy to skills shortages. The recently developed flexible approach has seen Australia emerge as one of the leaders in new apprenticeships. By the end of 2000 nearly 300,000 people had newly enrolled in apprenticeships. The report gives the first accurate picture of post-school training than ever before. Problem would seem to be in the increase in the lower skilled apprenticeship areas such as clerical and hospitality rather than in engineering. The report also shows the low participation rate of non-English Speaking background people. Women's involvement has increased since 1992.
The report concludes that apprenticeships are by far the best pathway to full-time employment or self-employment.
(Workplace Intelligence; May 2001)
Commission Deals Blow to Manusafe
In a crippling blow, the IRC has found metal unions cannot lawfully take industrial action in pursuit of the Manusafe trust fund or substantially similar trust funds.
In a s127 ruling handed down this afternoon, Justice Paul Munro found that Manusafe did not pertain to the employment relationship and therefore couldn't form part of a claim for inclusion in an enterprise agreement.
However, he left the door open for other arrangements to secure employee entitlements, including provisions making them portable, and set out in some detail the form that such arrangements could take.
MTFU secretary Dave Oliver. said Justice Munro had made it clear in the s127 decision that employee entitlements arrangements including trust funds, insurance bonds and bank guarantees could form the basis for legitimate bargaining claims and protected industrial action.
Transfield Pty Ltd v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union. PR908287 (30 August 2001)
Order PR90282 (30 August 2001)
Paid Maternity Leave Burgeons
The proportion of women employees entitled to paid maternity leave under agreements registered last year was up by 40% in comparison to deals registered in 1997, according to a snapshot released in the DEWRSB wages report.
While the Department cautioned that a different mix of agreements in different years might make comparisons unreliable, the data might indicate an important trend.
Substantial growth in the proportion of female employees entitled to paid leave occurred in finance and insurance, electricity, gas and water, health and community services, education, and personal and other services.
Just 1% of female retail employees were entitled to paid maternity leave in both 1997 and 2000, while no female workers in mining or agriculture forestry and fishing had an entitlement.
Entitlements to paid leave fell in transport and storage, wholesale trade and communications services.
Contractor v Employee
Non-standard employment is growing rapidly in Australia. The difference between casual and permanent employees is crucial. State and federal tribunals are developing new tests to distinguish between true and permanent casuals. This article looks at the recent High Court judgement in Hollis v Vabu where the definition of employee extends to dependent contractors.
(Workplace Intelligence; August 2001)
Green Ban On Gas Fired Electrical Generators
The ETU in Victoria has put a green ban on new gas-fired generators in Victoria. The ETU is opposed to the construction of gas fired electrical generation plants in Victoria without due regard to a full energy industry strategy. We feel the construction of these plants would compromise any strategy to develop wind generation projects, and in particular wind generation manufacture in the State of Victoria.
Gas fired electricity generators are designed as we understand it, to meet peak electricity load demands in the warmer summer months in Victoria. Further the generators proposed are of the lowest efficiency. Overall we believe Victoria lacks a comprehensive and well thought out electricity generation strategy that reflects the current and future needs of electricity consumers in Victoria. A proper strategy should combine the needs of Victorian consumers and industry, along with an environmentally sound and stable electricity generation strategy that will serve this State well in the decades to come.
The ETU will continue to work with employers and lobby government and take industrial action if necessary to fight for Victorian manufacturing industry jobs and fight against environmentally unfriendly proposals planned throughout Victoria.
The ETU has also endorses the Greens candidates in the Melbourne City Council elections and their green energy plan which would create 1000 jobs in the alternative energy industry.
Contracting Out and Freedom of Association
A company's decision to contract out part of its operations may in the circumstances offend not only the freedom of association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, but may also constitute coercion that involves unlawful, illegitimate or unconscionable conduct.
Her Honour held that in the circumstances, the inconvenience likely to be suffered by the employees, if they were dismissed in breach of the Act, outweighed the inconvenience to BP of the employees continuing in employment, even though no breach may have been committed.
Transport Workers' Union of Australia v BP Australia Ltd,  FCA 1174 (23 August 2001),
Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU�s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia�s Oldest Rock Fans review the week�s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren�t nearly as hostile as Australia.
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