by Andrew Casey
"Australian workers who are having their passports confiscated as they arrive in Nauru, are forced to buy drinking water at inflated prices and are being refused assistance by the company when they fall ill," Jeff Lawrence, LHMU Security Union National Secretary said.
" These security guards are earning almost half what they would be earning if they were doing the same job in Australia.
" One of our members, working for Chubb Protective Services, has lodged a complaint of sexual harassment. The allegation is that she was asked for sexual favours in part in return for chocolate, sunglasses and mosquito coils.
" Our union is investigating this complaint further and taking all necessary steps to ensure that it is dealt with comprehensively and appropriately.
" Another member who was unhappy with the working conditions, and had fallen sick, was told that he would not be given his passport back and could not get off the island for three weeks. The member arranged his own ticket and escaped from Nauru within days."
The three security guards, who got back to Australia this week, had to break into a cupboard to 'steal' their own passports so they could get home.
The LHMU is angry that the Australian Government has contracted out the security services at the immigration detention facilities in Nauru to Chubb Protective Services without ensuring the job security and the job standards matched Australian conditions.
" Our information is that the terms and conditions of employment applying to these security workers in Nauru are significantly less than those that would apply to such work carried out in Australia," Jeff Lawrence said.
" We have demanded to be told by both Chubb and the Federal Government what steps are to be taken to ensure proper employment practices apply to Australian workers in Nauru.
" It seems to us that an extremely expensive, ill-thought out and slap-dash public policy initiative is being run only to help deliver John Howard an election result, as well as the continued occupation of an exclusive harbourside PM's residence in Kirribilli, Sydney.
Detention Facilities in Australia
" At the same time as detention facilities have been established in Nauru - and now elsewhere in PNG - we understand from our sources in the security industry that similar privately-run immigration detention facilities are going ahead, being quietly established in Australia.
" If our information is correct, by the end of this year, or early next year, the Government will decide that the Nauru and PNG exercise is too expensive and draining on our economy - and once more boat people will be housed in Australian-based detention centres.
" This seems to be a cynical exercise to the detriment of the Australian voter, Australian security workers employed in Nauru and elsewhere - and possibly the boatpeople being smuggled across the waters."
Jeff Lawrence said the Queensland branch of the LHMU has now met with the State Manager of Chubb Protective Services to raise the very serious complaints made by three employees who had been engaged at Nauru for a brief period.
" We told Chubb management that upon arrival at the island, the employees passports were confiscated. After experiencing severe illness, the employees had to leave the island at their own initiative when assistance was refused by the company.
"Due to the LHMU's intervention, the Queensland manager has now agreed to cover the employee's medical expenses, after initially refusing such a request.
" The LHMU members had a number of other matters which were raised with the company. These included: the lack of drinking water which had to be purchased by employees at a cost of $5.00 per bottle; and inadequate preparation and protection of employees in the conditions of work at a detention facility, including instances of violence towards employees.
" These workers had no experience with detention facilities before they went to Nauru, which our union's involvement with such facilities in Australia clearly shows requires specialised security staff who are well trained," Jeff Lawrence said.
The IT Workers Alliance site
Within days of the launch the virtual union has:
- signed up nearly 100 members
- had over 2,000 visitors who have viewed over 10,000 pages
- received 22 applications to join a union
- received 6 requests from IT Workers needing union help at the workplace
And all this with the paint hardly dry on the ITWA's virtual shingle and the Alliance yet to knock any company doors.
The site was launched by NSW IT minister Kim Yeadon this week at the Sydney offices of Social Change Australia.
While there is no formal membership structures in the short-term, workers are being encouraged to be part of the Alliance by participating in forums and sending in leads to the ITWA team.
They are also being referred to existing unions with a stake in the industry and being encouraged to choose to join one of them. As the Alliance matures and the network grows, members will be canvassed for the appropriate structures and services.
The IT Workers Alliance's new Join-a-Union form at: http://itworkers-alliance.org/home/join.html even received several applications from programmers in Sao Paulo in Brazil (Sao Paulo has a boom IT industry).
They nominated a union: the niao dos Consultores Independentes do Brasil. ITWA staff translated the site using Google and a message was translated into Portuguese to make sure the message got through to the Brazilian union using Altavista's Babelfish translation engine.
First Union IT Deal Struck
Meanwile, workers at a Sydney IT company have established a new best practice framework covering all aspects of their work.
The agreement between Social Change Online and the Australian Services Union (Services Branch) will provide
It will provide the basis of an enterprise agreement for the business, employing more than 60 workers, and become a benchmark for other workplaces in the industry.
Key aspects of the agreement include:
- development of competency-based training and career paths
- a commitment to paying above award conditions, where financially possible
- provision of flexible, family-friendly working hours
- encouragement and support of union participation
- commitment to collective bargaining with union involvement.
Social Change CEO Sean Kidney said, "Having a unionised workplace is good for business, it means workplaces issues are resolved promptly and fairly.
"I'm a financial member of a union myself and encourage all my staff to not only join a union but get active.
Australian Services Union state secretary Luke Foley said he was committed to working with Social Change to create stimulating and sustainable jobs.
"From the ASU's perspective, we want to work with IT workers to ensure they have a stake in this growing industry."
The deal coincides with the launch today of the IT Workers Alliance, a new initiative to create a union presence in the IT industry.
Hamberger had challenged the ETU's right to have a bargaining agents clause inserted in over 1000 electrical contracting agreements covering 9000 workers. It states that "the company will advise all current and existing employees that a Bargaining Agents' fee of $500 per annum is payable to the ETU."
Workplace Express reports that the Full Bench found the clause wasn't an objectionable clause under s298Z of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, upholding a February decision by Vice President Tony McIntyre.
Hamberger had tried to claim that the clause subjected non-members to a detriment in breach of s298K(1), for a prohibited reason under s298(1) relating to their non-membership.
The bench cited four reasons for rejecting Hamberger's position:
1. The clause doesn't require employers to discriminate between members and non- members when offering terms of employment.
2. The discriminatory action alleged wouldn't arise until the union waived the bargaining fee for members. But such an action wouldn't be a breach of s298K(1), which only covers conduct by an employer.
3. The bargaining fee clause binds employees via the contract of employment and the agreement and can't be waived by the CEPU. The likelihood that the fee obligations will only be enforced against non-members doesn't alter the legal character of the obligations.
4. A term in an agreement can't constitute adverse conduct under s298K(1), so no question of a proscribed reason under s298L(1) arises.
The ETU's Victorian secretary, Dean Mighell, said the decision "righted a very old wrong" and gave the green light for unions to ensure that "freeloading" workers paid their way.
The CEPU also has included a $500 fee in its fifth round of negotiations with Australia Post.
The CFMEU in Qld has been investigating the use of such a clause and attempts have been made to introduce it in the private transport sector. The AMIEU has such a clause in some of its enterprise agreements. The AMWU has a clause recognising the union as the sole bargaining agents in enterprise negotiations, as well as a clause requiring the $500 fee in some agreements.
After pre-empting a new attack on workers rights for some weeks, the Prime Minister today unveiled a series of measures aimed at weakening employees powers to bargaing collectively.
- empowering the Industrial Relations Commission to move from umpire to police officer and undertake prosecutions against unions on behalf of small businesses.
- abolish unfair dismissals rights for employees in small businesses
- make the secondary boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act even more Draconian
- forcing workers to undertake a secret ballot for taking part in industrial action.
Beazley Secures Awards, Entitlements, Super
In contrast, the ALP based its industrial relations policy around strengthening workers rights through protecting entitlements and turning back the tide of deregulation.
Addressing a group of displaced Ansett workers at Brisbane airport, Beazley said Labor comprehensive job security plan would make the lives of working Australians fairer, safer and more productive.
"Under John Howard, Australians have come to fear for the security of their jobs, their wages, their conditions, and even their legal entitlements in the case of company collapse," Beazley said.
The policy includes specific commitments to:
· Protect 100 per cent of workers' entitlements when the employer becomes insolvent.
· Protect 100 per cent of superannuation entitlements from theft and fraud, and require super payments to be made quarterly rather than annually.
· Strengthen the independence, authority and resources of the industrial umpire to safeguard the wages and conditions of employees.
· Strengthen the award system to guarantee decent wages and conditions of employees.
· Establish an industrial inspectorate to ensure awards and agreements are properly enforced.
· Boost resources to protect workers' occupational health and safety.
"A fair, safe and productive workplace is central to the prosperity and development of Australia's economy and society. It is also central to the wellbeing and security of Australia's working families," Beazley says.
"It is time for John Howard's war of attrition in the workplace to end. Labor's plan will give all Australian workers the security they want and deserve."
Unions Focus on Job Security
The policies have been released as the ACTU urged Australians to vote for the political party that most clearly demonstrates its long-term commitment to jobs and jobs security.
Launching the ACTU's election theme - tell John Howard it's over - President Sharan Burrow said the election was critical to the security and wellbeing of working people, small business owners, and the investment and business community.
"At a time of great uncertainty in the world, every vote is vital for the future security of our families, our communities and our nation," she said. "Australia can grow and prosper in the future, but only if we all work together.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has endorsed Labor's policy as striking a balance between the interests of workers and employers.
"It respects the right of workers to bargain collectively and the role of the independent umpire and there is a genuine plan to protect workers entitlements," Combet says.
"It's in stark contrast to the industrial relations agenda pushed by the Howard Government towards confrontation and division, fear in the workplace and greater insecurity about employment."
The full list of seats being targeted by the ACTU and unions can be found on the ACTU's website http://www.actu.asn.au.
"The CFMEU cannot see how complying with the Royal Commission's demands that emerged in today's proceedings would be a responsible investment of our members' funds," said National Construction Secretary John Sutton.
Compliance with Commissioner Cole's directions would be a hugely onerous task, given the breadth of the material required and the October 31 deadline for such material.
"To follow Commissioner Cole's directions fully, the CFMEU Construction & General Division would have to supply full details of, for example, every safety incident and every wage claim investigated by this union for the past three years! The mountains of paperwork and research involved would be incredible," said Mr Sutton.
Additionally, the Commissioner's demand for full details of all unlawful or inappropriate incidents known to the organisation raises concerns about prejudicing the position of all manner of people and organisations.
"Why should we even try to comply with these directions, when doing so could leave the union open to prejudicing its case, if anything was left out inadvertently?" Mr Sutton said.
Unions Olympics Role Exposed
meanwhile, unions plan to tender a new book on the union movement's contribution to the Sydney 2000 Olympics as evidence to the Cole Royal.
'The Collaborative Games' by Tony Webb, highlights the vital and constructive role unions played in the Games' success.
"The Sydney Games will be remembered as the best games ever, and this book shows how unions were of fundamental importance in this achievement," Labor Council secretary John Robertson says.
"In particular, it exposes the visionary role played by building unions - including the CFMEU - in maximising job opportunities and pay for its members while ensuring the construction deadlines were met," Mr Robertson said.
"In this light, the book also exposes the Howard Government's campaign against the CFMEU as the anti-union bullying it is.
"While Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott attempts to characterise the union leadership as dinosaurs, the reality is that unions are motivated by the interests of their members and the community in general.
"I believe this book would make enlightening reading for Commissioner Cole and urge him to accept it as evidence of the vital work the CFMEU has performed in the national interest."
The book highlights the union role in:
- establishing an over-arching industrial agreement for the project
- ensuring the Games venues were built on time and under budget.
- providing a stable labour base of service workers for the Games
- and resolving any disputes that occurred during the event.
Abbott was at Sydney's Darling Harbour presenting the Equal Opportunity for Women in Workforce Agency Business Opportunity Awards when Ansett workers gathered outside.
When the workers began their peaceful protest, calling on Mr Abbott to back a union rescue plan for the airline and protection of their entitlements, the Minister cut short his speech and left.
Ansett worker Elizabeth Krstevska said the group had wanted to speak to the Minister to brief him on their plight.
"When Mr Abbott was confronted by a group of women who wanted their own opportunity to get their jobs back, he turned and ran," Ms Krstevska said.
"We expected more for a man with a reputation as a Tough Guy, instead he acted like a wimp."
Ansett workers are planning to shadow the Howard Government and his ministers throughout the election campaign.
"We feel betrayed by the Prime Minister and we want all Australians to understand the way he has betrayed the Ansett workers," she said.
Howard could sabotage Ansett jobs
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Government documents released by the Federal Court last night show that the Howard Government could sabotage the Ansett Administrators' plans to save thousands of jobs and rebuild a viable business.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet says a letter dated 7 October to the Administrators from Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson showed the Government was trying to tie the Administrators' hands, thereby driving Ansett towards liquidation.
"John Howard is pretending to help Ansett workers with their employee entitlements, but this letter shows that the Government does not intend to put in any money unless the Administrators first sell Ansett's assets. This threatens the Administrators' rescue plan and 17,000 Ansett jobs.
"To save it from paying a single dollar in employee entitlements, the Government is also demanding that the $150 million agreed to be paid to Ansett from Air New Zealand be frozen. This could sabotage the Administrators' chances of developing a viable airline. At the same time the Government is collecting the $10 ticket tax, which was supposed to fund the employee entitlements", said Mr Combet.
"By attempting to tie the Administrators' hands, the Federal Government is forcing Ansett closer to liquidation, with the loss of 17,000 jobs.
"The Court documents also confirm union concerns that the Federal Government has been on Qantas' side since at least June this year, when the Government blocked Singapore Airlines' investment plans and torpedoed the attempted recapitalisation of Air New Zealand and Ansett.
"John Howard owes it to thousands of Ansett employees and their families around Australia to let the Administrators get on with their job. Mr Howard should withdraw this grab for Ansett's assets and instead do everything he can to save thousands of Australian jobs", Mr Combet said.
The Australian Services Union, Assistant National Secretary, Greg McLean, says Labor's Climate Change Policy will support jobs and future employment in Australia's Electricity Industry.
"The Policy is what the Union Movement has been looking for and is pleased to see Labor take the steps forward and deal with both the environment and jobs," Mclean says.
"ASU Members that work in the Electricity Industry, whether in distribution, transmission or generation, including coal fired power plants, are like most families in Australia concerned about the environment, but they want to see a Government that can show common sense ways to reform the industry, use our existing and paid for resources and maintain jobs, jobs and jobs."
McLean says Labor's Policy goes down this path with its references to:
« Demand side management
« Commitment to use of current resources (including coal fired power stations)
« A drive towards more efficient use of coal, improved coal efficiency and technologies
« Targeted review of the National Electricity Market and more.
Many of the above points were first raised by the ASU and it's Branches across Australia in it's publication "Powering the Future" in the 1990's (the ASU was the main financial contributor and backer of this publication).
The federal ALP's announcement that it will implement a national nursing policy if elected on November 10 is a policy breakthrough that will leave the Howard Government stranded with nurses if it does not offer similar action.
The Australian Nursing Federation was responding to the release of the ALP's nursing policy by Shadow Health spokesperson, Jenny Macklin, at the ANF's biennial national conference in Adelaide this week.
A Howard Government representative, Senator Jeannie Ferris (for Education Minister Rod Kemp), also addressed the conference, but did not announce any new nursing or health policies because nurses were already "living" the Government's policies.
ANF federal secretary, Jill Iliffe, said the ALP has recognised that we face a national nursing crisis, which is impacting on the quality and availability of public hospital and aged care services.
"This stands in stark contrast to the Howard Government, which has refused to recognise it has a key role to play in building up the nursing workforce and getting more nurses into vital public hospital services and aged care facilities. In fact, conference delegates were outraged by the Howard Government's failure to address the nursing crisis.
"The contrast between the ALP and the Howard Government approach was on full display today. A continuation of the Howard Government's long term neglect of nursing will have devastating consequences for Australia's public hospital and aged care systems. Hospital and aged care services are already being reduced or compromised because of the serious nursing shortage confronting Australia.
"The number of students completing undergraduate nursing courses has been dropping. The latest published figures - 6397 in 1993 to 4661 in 1998 - indicate how serious the drop has been. And 30 per cent of the current nursing workforce is due to retire in the next ten years. So we have a large section of the workforce due to leave, with reduced numbers stepping in to take their place.
"Between 1986 and 1996 the number of nurses under 25 years of age decreased from 20.9 per cent to 5.9 per cent. Over the same ten years the number of nurses over 45 years increased from 18.9 per cent to 31 per cent. On top of all this you have thousands of nurses leaving part way through their careers because of the poor pay and conditions and the cost of ongoing education.
"If these trends are not reversed, and quickly, then our health and aged care systems will be in even more serious trouble in the years ahead. We will have a major catastrophe on our hands. The only way to reverse the trends is by implementing a national strategy and that is what the ALP is proposing. This is a welcome development and the specific nursing initiatives outlined by Ms Macklin today will greatly assist that strategy.
"The appointment of a national Chief Nursing Officer within the federal Health Department to oversee the development of such a strategy is an excellent idea and one the ANF has been pushing for many years.
"The massive wage differential between the aged care and acute hospital sectors is now more than $80.00 per week in most States and Territories. Labor's commitment to fix the problem is excellent news for the aged care industry and aged care nurses. Again this is something the ANF has been working on for many years, but the Howard Government has turned a deaf ear.
"The cost of nurse education is a major contributor to the current nurse shortage and the ALP's announcements on postgraduate HECS payments are a good start to an overhaul of the whole system," Ms Iliffe said.
Singtel controlled Optus announced the sacking of 244 permanent employees and 100 contractors this week, with the sackings to take effect on Wednesday 17 October 2001.
These retrenchments accounted for approximately 20% of the sales, marketing and human resource functions in Optus.
During urgent meetings called by the CEPU with Optus, indications were received that further sackings from the remaining operational areas of Optus are likely to occur in 4 weeks.
The remaining areas comprise the Data and Business, Mobile and Consumer & Multimedia divisions of Optus. Optus indicated during the meeting that there is likely to be the same order of magnitude of sackings in these divisions.
"Should a 20% reduction in these divisions occur then up to 1600 Optus workers could be facing a bleak Christmas" said Mark Brownlow, CEPU Communications Division spokesperson. "This would have the same impact as OneTel dumping 1600 workers onto the job market earlier this year when it spectacularly collapsed" he also said.
Mr. Brownlow said "that any Optus worker who is sacked during this process will be guaranteed their entitlements through a union award with Optus and an enterprise agreement."
The union is pressing for a different process to be used in determining the next round of reductions by having the company call for volunteers once an area to be reduced in staff number has been identified. "This will lessen the impact on workers and reduce the shock to those Optus employees who have to bear the brunt of this cost cutting" said Mr. Brownlow.
"We were horrified to see distraught workers leaving Optus premises yesterday with boxes of personal belongings in their arms and tears rolling down their cheeks."
by Andrew Casey
" Unfortunately little is done to ensure that airport security screeners have got the best training, best equipment and best conditions to keep this front line strong," LHMU Airport Security Union National Secretary Jeff Lawrence said.
LHMU Airport Security Union delegates from around Australia met this week to discuss the international security crisis and how security workers can help to create a safer environment for airline passengers.
" We've had a lot of talk about sky marshals battling terrorists in the air. It makes good headlines in an election atmosphere, but we'd all be better off if we got back to basics.
" John Howard should give priority to improved resources and training for airport screeners and security staff to detect and stop the instruments of terror getting onto our planes in the first place," Jeff Lawrence said.
" Our union members welcomed Kim Beazley's weekend security statement as it provides the basis for a comprehensive review of security arrangements.
" The LHMU will campaign around a plan to deliver the highest possible security standards and seek to meet with relevant agencies, Government bodies and airlines to discuss the union plan," Jeff Lawrence said.
Particular problems identified
The particular problems identified by security workers and screeners, and the LHMU plan devised to resolve these issues, include:
· Strict guidelines and regulations must be developed by the Australian Government and enforced by the Civil Aviation Safety authority( CASA) at all Australian Airports;
· Security contractors must comply with the minimum standards;
· Minimum formally accredited training standards must be developed by the government, with curriculum to be approved by the government, and audits regularly conducted to ensure training is being implemented;
· Wages and conditions for airport security officers should be reviewed immediately to ensure that they reflect the important role of security officers and improve the status of this important function:
· Ageing screeing equipment at most major airport should be urgently updated. This equipment is crucial to the proper detection of threatening substances before they are taken on to the aircraft;
· There should be a review of factors which create low morale amongst the workforce, including increasing casualisation, poor rostering arrangements and inadequate staffing levels, with a view to eliminating these practices.
Screeners and security staff are often the lowest paid workers within the airport terminal. Rates of pay are between $12.30 an hour and $13.04 an hour.
In Melbourne our union, after an aggressive campaign for proper recognition and pay for our members, won a 20pc pay increase which delivered up to $20 an hour for security guards at the Ansett terminal.
" If we are not prepared to act to change the status, and improve the pay, of these key workers we will continue to undermine our nation's ability to deliver security to all Australians using our airports," Jeff Lawrence said.
" Security companies and their employees are providing a service to clients - who are the airlines and the airport authorities. They are caught in a bind when these clients are not prepared to pay for the increasing costs of these services, or to spend money on the equipment necessary for the job.
" Our members in remote and regional areas of Australia are especially concerned that there is no screening of small and regional services due to a lack of preparedness by airlines to spend money on this basic security service.
Making an extra buck, or saving a life?
" Our members complain that too often commercial imperatives have become the priority at airports, rather than security," Jeff Lawrence said.
" The push to privatise airports - to make them into swanky shopping centres - has often meant our security screeners are under pressure from their managers, and the shop owners, to get people through fast, so airport visitors can spend more dollars at airport shops.
" In light of the US tragedy the airport privatisation program should be reconsidered. The government should carefully scrutinise all tenders for airport privatisation, especially those tender groups who include major retail chains and mall operators whose commercial interests may undermine the essential security needs of an airport.
" Making that extra buck should not take priority over saving the lives of human beings," Jeff Lawrence said.
Network Design And Construction Limited (NDC) is a market leader in the provision of wireless, fixed and submarine telecommunications networks to the global telecommunications industry.
NDC's core business involves the end to end delivery of operational networks utilising the full range of technologies and a substantial specialised in-house technical workforce. So says NDC's own publicity.
Yet NDC continue to threaten the job security of the highly qualified NDC workers throughout Australia with another announcement of several hundred redundancies.
Many in regional & rural Australia. The Communications, Electrical & Plumbing Union (CEPU) has commenced an NDC/Telstra Campaign to stop any further job losses and attempts to sell off this vital part of Australia's telecommunications infrastructure.
The CEPU's campaign to fight the planned job losses in NDC and Telstra is now rolling out in various areas, in parallel with the Federal Election activity. Public meetings/rallies are being organised to highlight the importance of Telstra and NDC issues to our members and the public, including job protection. The meetings/rallies are planned as follows:
WEDNESDAY 17/10/01 at 12.15 pm at Geelong T&LC, 127 Myers St.
THURSDAY 18/10/01 at 12.15 pm at Bendigo T&LC, 40 View St.
TUESDAY 23/10/01 at 12.15 pm at Morwell Tel Exch. 7 Victor St.
THURSDAY 25/10/01 at 12. 15 pm at Ballarat T&LC, 26 Camp St.
TUESDAY 30/10/01 at 12. 15 pm at Melbourne Telstra HQs 242 Exhibition St.
At the same time they will be galvanizing a mass campaign to unite road transport workers worldwide and fight for improved conditions.
Road transport workers' unions in Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe will be taking part in the day - now marked annually by the ITF.
In 2000, more than 250,000 workers participated. In its fifth consecutive year of organising this event, the ITF is calling on its members to campaign for the improvement of road transport workers' conditions - and to pull them into the ranks of the trade unions.
The deregulation of road transport over the last two decades has produced a downward spiral in the working conditions of truck, bus and taxi workers. Although the road transport industry is poised for rapid growth worldwide, and its activities produce millions of jobs, this is underpinned by cutthroat competition between deregulated transport companies and contractors.
Mac Urata, Secretary of the ITF Road Transport Section, said: "The liberalised road transport market is characterised by dangerously excessive working hours, reduced pay and small operators vying for business at any cost. Unions are acting to get the growing road transport industry to deliver decent work - not exploitation and danger."
"On 15 October, the ITF and its road transport affiliates are saying 'enough is enough'. We have had enough excessive working hours, enough devaluation of earnings. There has been enough standing by while the collective rights of road transport workers are lost to a system that encourages individuals to take work regardless of worsening conditions," Urata added.
For background and more campaign information, please visit:
ACFOA - the peak body of Australian NGOs - passed to this effect during its Annual Conference held in Brisbane between Friday 5 and Saturday 6 October 2001.
ACFOA declared its continuing support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence and condemned the violations f human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
It urged the Australian) Government to extend humanitarian aid to the 170,000 Saharawi refugees and to give its full support to the United Nations in its efforts to organise a free and fair referendum for the people of Western Sahara.
They have called on the Federal Government to establish official contacts with Polisario Front representing the independence movement in Western Sahara.
"The crisis in Afghanistan is growing daily, with a possible 7.5 million people needing urgent assistance as many are displaced and winter sets in" said Phillip Hazelton, the Executive Officer of APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad, the humanitarian overseas aid arm of the Australian trade union movement. This latest suffering for the people of Afghanistan comes on top of more than three years of drought and two decades of war.
Donations to APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad from union members throughout Australia will be distributed to two organisations working with Afghan refugees.
· Handicap International is assisting refugees near Quetta in Pakistan, concentrating on helping those refugees who are the very old or those suffering from disabilities, usually caused by landmines.
· Merlin, a British-based health organisation is providing medical assistance to Afghan refugees living in neighbouring Tajikistan.
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad supports the call from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to ensure that "military action taken against the Taliban be concentrated exclusively on targets directly related to terrorist networks and avoid causing civilian causalities ... the people of Afghanistan have already suffered extreme hardship for many years."
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad, while condemning terrorism, also calls on world governments to deal with the basic causes of terrorism, not just the symptoms. The world community must show compassion, not just force, and must work to overcome poverty and injustice which is the cause of so much discontent and provides fertile soil for terrorism to flourish. APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad calls on all governments to protect human rights, including the rights of refugees, to provide more aid, to write off debt, and to make an even-handed attempt to solve two of the great problems in the Middle East - independence for the Palestinian people and an end to the sanctions against Iraq which have already caused over one million deaths.
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad Chair, Tas Bull, called on all union members and all Australians who believe in peace and compassion to give generously to this appeal. "We who believe in solidarity cannot stand by, indifferent to the need of millions of refugees who have suffered so much and whose very lives are in danger." he said.
Donations are tax deductible. To make a donation:-
Phone: 1800.888.674 (business hours)
Fax: (02) 9261.1118
Email: [email protected]
East Timor Community Computer Project activist to Speak in Sydney Rowan Mitchell, of the East Timor Community Computer Project will be in Sydney next week to give a talk on the history, achievements, and current status of the project.
He will be speaking at 7:00pm Tuesday, October 16th, CFMEU NSW Branch Main Office, 12 Railway St., Lidcombe (two minutes from Lidcombe railway station).
Any inquiries about the event can be directed to Matthew Davidson at mailto:[email protected] or phone 0419 242 316.
Politics in the Pub
JOHN SUTTON (National Secretary CFMEU) SPEAKS NEXT Friday NIGHT, 6 pm 19 October at the GAELIC CLUB (64 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills - near Central Railway) at a session of Politics-in-the-Pub entitled WHAT IS THE LEFT OFFERING IN THE FEDERAL ELECTION?
An Evening With Billy Bragg
Roxbury Hotel, 182 St John's Road , Glebe at 6.30 PM
FRIDAY OCTOBER 19
In the midst of a war and an election, hear singer, songwriter and activist Billy Bragg speak his mind about politics, pop and the clash of ideas in Britain, Australia and the world.
With special guest Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor Member for
Grayndler(to be confirmed). MC Steve Cannane from Triple Jay. Questions and comments from the floor welcome.
When : Friday 19th October , 6.30pm for 7pm
Where: Roxbury Hotel, 182 St John's Road, Glebe
Cost : $8 at door ($5 unwaged)
Proceeds go to help Strewth! and Pluto print bills. The Forum starts promptly at 7pm. Drinks and food at pub prices! NB This is a forum not a concert.
For more information contact Paul Smith at [email protected]
Media enquiries to Morag White, Push Productions,
ph 02 93656365
YOUNG WRITERS GET A CHANCE
NOISE, a media-based festival in October exhibits the works of young Australians. NOISE has teamed up with Pluto Press to publish a special anthology book that features exciting new works from young creators from across Australia. ANTHOLOGY - new words and pictures by young Australians - will be launched at Gleebooks on Monday 22 October at 6.00 PM.
Triple J's Steve Cannane will do the launch and invite some of the young contributors to read from their works.
From broken hearts and first love, through to unorthodox parking methods and protests against stereotypes of cola drinking "yoof", ANTHOLOGY is a window into a new wave of work being churned out in bedrooms across Australia. Compiled from submissions to the NOISE festival, ANTHOLOGY showcases new words and pictures by young Australians - a collection full to the brim with energy, irony, iconoclasm and desperation.
More information: http://www.plutoaustralia.com
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation
to join the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, Patrick Dodson and Wendy McCarthy (and Sean Kidney!)
For cocktails and a talk about about where the reconciliation process goes from here and the exciting work Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) is doing to bring all Australians towards a future of justice for Indigenous Australians.
Help make something positive happen in these grim times.
Thursday, October 18, 2001 at Government House, Macquarie Street, Sydney - 5.30 - 8.00 pm (briefing at 6.00)
Parking is available in the grounds of Government House.
Cost: $55 per person. It's a fundraiser for ANTaR!
RSVP by Wednesday October 10, 2001
NO WAR RALLY
11:00am Saturday 13 October
Before the bombing started, this rally was an important anti-war action - now it is essential. No US war; No Oz involvement; No racist scapegoating; Defend Democratic Rights.
[where] Sydney Town Hall
[contact] Network Opposing War and Racism (NO WaR)
Ph: 0412 751 508; 0408 619 152
[email] [email protected]
Globalisation and PNG
Film Screening and Forum
Monday 15 October - 5.30-7.00pm
CFMEU Office: level 1, 12 Railway Street, Lidcombe
Tuesday 16 October - 5,30-7.00pm
CFMEU Office 18 Commonwealth Street Sydney
Contact: Karen Iles on 0412 462646
Action Against Malaysian Detantion
October 26: Solidarity action outside Malaysian Airlines office over detention of labour activist Tian Chua, held without trial since April 10.
Stephen Holt's article about Jim Maloney may be an accurate account of his life, but the comparison with Eric Blair (George Orwell) is totally inaccurate.
Blair was an anarchist. 1984 isn't about communism, it's about totalitarianism, Left and Right.
I was brought up in the Cold War to believe that as 1984 & Animal Farm, being critical of the USSR, indicated that the author supported the capitalist system. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If readers really want to find out about Eric Blair, they should read Homage to Catalonia, in which he relates his experiences in Spain where he was a member of the POUM, the Trotskyite/Anarchist trade union group.
You are right to focus on Education as an issue in the election. But please don't forget to alert your readers to the hassles that are looming in Health. Chronic underfunding and understaffing in public hospitals, GPs failing to maintain bulk-billing, cutting of preventive programs, no free dental services are just some of the problems that the Coalition isn't interested in.
Years of satisfactory Medicare have made us complacent;it's hard to believe that a two-tiered system is being being quietly put in place. Talk to anyone who's been to the US and you'll learn of the insecurity and unfairness which result from our present trends.
Households can lose more than just a few bucks of their pay-packets if someone unexpectedly needs medical care in the user-pays "I'm all right Jack" set-up being planned. We need to tell the talk-back jocks that Health matters to us, as well as Education.
We are not going to win an election in this climate unless we come up with a campaign that is too good to refuse!
Howard is making his parties usual mistake in believing that we the working men and women of Australia are so simple that he can shoot off oversees under the premise of representing Australia in Americas time of need.
Beazley will be left to fight a shadow that will be popping up continuously on the world stage.
Beazley in my humble opinion needs to fight a different fight on local issues, whils being smart enough to not ignore the world turmoil that all astute polititions will be making good milliage from!
Take the GST by the throught and shake the life out of it....... reduce it to a level we can cope with for a start!
Keating went the bigger picture route and lost badley.
Keating also won the unwinable...based on the GST, so can Beazley.
Iguess you have to believe you can win before you can even contemplate winning.
Im not sure that Beazley thinks he can win????
This election will come down to strength of character and leadership.
So Mr Beazley, get tough, make us start believing you can win, LEAD us.
Your article excellent "WorkCover's Adverts 'Devoid of Meaning" in issue 114 of Workers Online, aroused not only a personal interest for me, but caused me to open up "me wee Sporran" of angst and disappointment. Emotions which I had squirreled away from what I believed to be, dangerously inappropriate responses to complaints, made to Work cover, about being knowingly and willfully exposed to danger, by my employer, Parramatta City Council.
I made complaint in reference to where I was instructed to work alone on a traffic island on a busy intersection at Darcy Road and Mons Road, Westmead , during the morning peak hours of Friday August 3 2001.
At a rough estimate the hourly rate of cars on this intersection would have been in the hundreds, which would have been dangerous even if protection had been provided, but to exacerbate this negligence, there was no protection provided, and no signs or barriers of any kind provided on this work site, and it was only through divine intervention that a serous injury or fatality was not sustained. (God looks after his own?)
My complaints to Work cover were reluctantly taken on board, and after much perseverance, I finally got a response that my employer's safety committee would be referred to another body with more experience, "for advice", and instructions such as this would not be countenanced again.
Obviously as this was a personal experience , my views are , were and rightly so , entirely subjective , and it was and still is , my view that my employer Parramatta City Council should be/ have been prosecuted, but my views apparently did not concur with that of Work Cover.
I was advised , that if I it was my belief , that this was a deliberate exposure to danger, then it possibly could be a criminal matter , and I should refer the matter to the police , obviously , in the light of these and previous unusual work instructions I have been given , I shall be seriously considering this option.
These expensive Work Cover advertisements certainly belie the reality of the service/protection provided by Work Cover as it is presently structured. Must there be an injury or fatality before a prosecution is instigated. Perhaps if all Work Cover funding was derived from the fines imposed on recalcitrant employers, it would be an extra incentive to prosecute employers who refuse to provide a safe work environment, or attempt to use a dangerous work environment to achieve an outcome.
The Work Cover advertisement states: "Someone to watch over me "
Fecken Hell , with protection like this who needs enemies?
How is the NSW Government managing its IT roll out?
I think very well up to this point in time. The approach that we take is leading edge rather than bleeding edge, so we want to stay right at the forefront. We are conscious of not just simply pouring taxpayers money down the drain, which I have seen some classic examples of in government, and in the private sector too, I might say.
What are your specific priorities at the moment?
Our priorities are to enable ourselves, as a government. That is because we want to provide our services to the citizens of NSW in an efficient way. But the other attribute is that as we enable ourselves, it encourages others, particularly in the business community, to enable themselves, and therefore it takes the whole community forward in this information revolution. Enabling ourselves is doing the best that we can possibly do for our citizens, and at the same time really driving economic activity along that line in NSW as well. So enabling ourselves, and also ensuring that we keep the whole situation as equitable as possible to avoid the digital divide. A lot of our policy component is about ensuring that we don't end up with a digital divide. And that runs on two lines which are primarily socio-economic on the one hand and geographic isolation on the other.
Apart from saving money on the budget bottom line, what are some of the projects you think have actually improved the quality of public service through IT?
I think the sort of transactions - electronic service delivery that we are putting online. We have got about 600 out there now. We will have about 800 to 850 by the end of the year. With more than half of those you will be able to do a full transaction online and I think that is a great thing for citizens. They can access government and to be able to use those services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of where they are, and that is a great plus to them.
Is the planning of IT in the NSW Government centralised under your Department, or do individual departments come up with their own plans?
It is a dual approach if you like. One of the things about the history of NSW is that it had a very flexible approach - and in fact probably too flexible - to various platforms and technology that was out there. We recognised that in a world of connectivity with the emergence of the world wide web, this was not entirely satisfactory, so we have brought it down in a more specific way as to what departments do and how they go about doing it.
One of the things that we want to stay away from is getting into a direct proprietary type relationship. Unfortunately some governments in Australia are just simply too small to do it any other way and have entered into direct proprietary relationships with the one proprietor and I think that is bad news for governments. We have tried to keep it spread out a bit within the government in terms of our platform.
That being said, agencies go about doing their own service delivery through their own initiatives. They are more the smaller type end projects, but in conjunction with that is a centralised approach where we assist from money that we have within my department to enable larger whole of government projects and the clustering of agencies. Something that is entirely up to the agency itself and doesn't have a wider whole of government - they do it themselves.
What about the debate between contractors or in-house staff? Is there a government policy on that?
We take the view that we don't want to go out and re-invent the wheel. There are a lot of people out there with products and approaches that we can use, but we apply that in individual circumstances and the individual job. We do not have a philosophy of outsourcing. We look at it on a case-by-case basis, but one overriding aspect is that it is imperative that the government retains a level of expertise and integrity over its own systems, and that feeds our policy approach as well.
So, are there job opportunities for IT workers within the public sector at the moment?
Absolutely. There wouldn't be a department within government that doesn't have its own IT unit or department at the present time. So certainly there are IT jobs within government and there will continue to be.
Do you see working within government a different philosophy to web infrastructure in the public sector, compared to the corporate world?
I think there is. In the private sector if you have got a product that is enabled, you can just simply go out into the market and pitch for people that are online. In other words, you are not going to worry about those that are not enabled, because you don't see it as your space. One of the issues that government is going to have to deal with, and is dealing with, that as we move to electronic service delivery, we have still got to maintain other channels if you want to call it that, if you want to use the jargon. Traditional channels for people that want to use that, and that goes all the way down to face to face, over the counter customer interaction.
It is not a technical thing, it is a process human thing if you like, but one of the distinguishers for us is that we have got to maintain services in a whole range of channels, whereas a pure private sector roll out person can just simply look at the enabled environment and concentrate on that. That is all that they are interested in, whereas we have got to provide all citizens with a whole range of approaches.
Looking to the Federal arena. What has the Howard Government done right and what has it done wrong in terms of the Web?
I don't think it has done a lot that is right, and I think that the thing it has done wrong the most is its outsourcing approach to IT. I think the evidence is now in that they really have spent large amounts of money to get very bad results in terms of their IT expenditure and the evidence is out there for that. And I think that is a salient lesson in not allowing ideology to drive this type of area.
Technology is neutral. It depends on how you use it as to whether or not it is good or bad from a range of people's perspectives, and I think the Federal Government has demonstrated how having an ideological approach to these things gives you bad outcomes at the end of the day.
The good thing that they have done? I don't know. Some of the Gatekeeper stuff is starting to develop up OK, although far too slow from our perspective. One view that we do take is that privacy and security and so forth have to be dealt with nationally. It is an international technology. It is an international phenomenon if you like, and it is going to be silly to have various States doing isolated approaches in terms of regulation. I like their leadership in that regard, but would say that it has been too slow, and the worst thing they have done is just wholesale outsourcing.
Speaking of philosophy, are Labor values applicable to the Net?
I think they are. Particularly the empowering aspect for Labor in the broader sense if you like. In both its industrial and political wing I think there is enormous scope there for empowering workers and you can put a human face on what people regard as a threat to their industrial space or their workplace or their work environment. And I think that is going to be the great challenge over the next decade for, not just simply Labor governments, but for all governments, and I think Labor can show the way on how that might be done.
And a role for the IT Workers Alliance working with you in NSW?
Absolutely, and I am delighted to see the Alliance out there and with their virtual union on this site, and I am going to be a very close watcher of it, and see what is occurring there and look forward to working with the people involved in it to see how we can progress these issues.
Recruitment agencies derive substantial profits from the efforts of IT workers and exert a considerable impact on their lives and careers, yet insist on not revealing their commissions, often display poor understanding of skills and are not accountable.
Unlike other industries where sophisticated sales-driven organisations interact with members of the public in transactions involving substantial sums of money, such as real estate and car sales, the recruiting industry is subject to no regulatory overview or required minimum standards of conduct.
Further, when challenged on these issues, the recruiting industry has the gall to dismiss workers as irrelevant third parties. For example, the recruiters' lobby group, ITCRA, is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying: "The margin paid to an agency is the fee for service paid by the client. It is a business arrangement between them and has nothing to do with a third party." http://it.mycareer.com.au/recruitment/20000307/A58136-2000Mar6.html
The fact is that IT jobs would exist whether there were recruiters or not. Recruiters earn their income by maintaining control of job vacancies on the one hand, and job candidates on the other.
IT Workers believes it's time for full disclosure in the recruitment industry, and for an externally monitored code of ethics fairly representing the interests of all parties. The ITCRA's current code of conduct is mostly oriented towards the interests of employers, and is not subject to independent scrutiny.
Recruiters generally refuse to disclose their margin on contracts because the margin is sometimes substantial and in all cases is higher than the contractor would probably accept as reasonable, if it was negotiated openly. Even the smallest common margin of 20 percent can deliver recruiters around $24,000 for a 6-month contract, which is excessive given the amount of work and expertise involved.
Margins up to $100 per hour are not unknown, which usually means the recruiter is being paid more than the worker.
How Recruiting Works
In dealing with recrutiers, it is important to know what type of job you want, and what your skills are worth in the market. Contractors generally believe that recruiters try to obtain the highest possible rate of pay for them, because it gives them a higher commission.
In fact, the opposite can be true, for two reasons. Firstly, recruiters are more likely to win business from employers if their candidates are cheaper, provided they are also capable. Some recruiters market their ability to find low-cost staff.
Secondly, some contracts involve a fixed payment to the recruiter, out of which the recruiter pays the contractor. Obviously, lower rates for the candidate translate to a higher profit for the recruiter.
Resist inappropriate offers
Recruiters aim to fill positions, not to help contractors' careers. This can result in candidates being talked into accepting unsuitable or dead-end positions that they would not otherwise consider. Therefore, always think twice before accepting unattractive job offers.
At least one recruiter markets the fact that the employer can terminate contractors at any time, without consequences. Yet the same recruiter requires that contractors give four weeks notice if they wish to change a contract. Reasonable notification on either side is fair. Insist on this in contracts.
Unethical recruiting - discussion at Software Contractors Guild - http://www.scguild.org/B1.html
Janet Ruhl's Real Rates site - http://www.realrates.com
NetSlaves - http://www.netslaves.com
ACS Contractors SIG - http://22.214.171.124/ACS/chapter_sigs/consultants.htm
For years there have been a couple of myths in particular that are often repeated about IT workers.
The first is that we don't need unions. We're all quite well paid, there's a lot of industry activity, a lot of jobs around, we're in strong bargaining positions, so why would we need unions?
The other is that for whatever reason - whether it's the nature of the work or it's something genetic - IT workers are particularly individualistic. We're not into collective action and very much like to operate as individuals.
I've been working as a software engineer for around 10 years or so, across a number of sectors in the industry, and my experience is that IT workers, while certainly enjoying relatively good incomes, are not at all hostile to union organising, and that there is now, more than ever, a real need for us to get organised.
Of particular concern is that in our industry there are a lot of excessive hours being done, fifty hours a week being not out of the ordinary. In fact it's more often that not expected. I try to do only my 7˝ or 8 hours a day, but to do that I find myself arriving at work after many people, and leaving before they take off. There's a pressure there, a real culture of having to stick around and do the hours.
If you're a permanent employee, the extra 10 or 15 hours worked on top of, say, a nominal 38 hour week, are also more often than not unpaid. There are very few employers that actually pay overtime. If you're a contractor, you may be getting paid, but from personal experience, there's only so long you can keep up these sorts of hours before something gives - either in your personal life or in terms or your health.
Of course, this situation is completely unreasonable. The industry really needs to be organised so that, like other more mature industries, we can get some fairness and sanity, more regularity, into expected working hours.
But there's more to it than simply hours of work. Because the IT industry relies on various forms of individual contracts and the market to "regulate" conditions, it's common to come across a number of other issues.
Basic conditions, such as your annual and sick leave entitlements, vary greatly from employer to employer. Recruitment agencies can take inexperienced contractors for a ride. Things like salary and performance reviews often rely on a great deal of subjectivity and arbitrariness. Often it's not quite clear what your job description is, even whether you have been hired as a "contractor" or a permanent employee. Generally, there's no award safety net.
Working in a relatively new industry and using new technologies can certainly be rewarding, but working under out-dated employment conditions is no fun at all.
Two years ago I was working for Toshiba and we actually found ourselves in exactly this sort of situation. There was major discrepancy between the employment conditions of people doing exactly the same jobs. The contracts of people working side by side varied enormously. For example, some workers were being paid annual leave loading, while others weren't. And because employment arrangements were made confidentially between the individual worker and the employer, most people were unaware of the situation.
Not surprisingly, there was also an established culture of doing long hours for particular projects. Some people, including myself, who had to go "on-site" were, on occasion clocking up to 70 hours for a nominal 35 hour week.
I'd regularly had private words with my managers, but found this particularly unhelpful.
After a few conversations with co-workers and discovering that most people weren't really happy with the situation, I began to investigate the possibility of organising ourselves within a union. It wasn't immediately obvious which union we should join, so we shopped around and found that the Australian Services Union (ASU) were willing to help us out. I met with an organiser and she agreed that there were plenty of possibilities for us getting together as a group, sorting out our employment conditions, and presenting a collective voice to management.
It was during the process of joining people up to the union and getting ourselves organised collectively that proved to me that there really is no more effective way to negotiate in a workplace.
Over several months, and after many meetings both as a group of workers and with management, we were successful in standardising employment conditions throughout the workplace, more accurately defining job descriptions and, most importantly, negotiating acceptable working hours - including penalty rates for overtime.
Of course, it wasn't exactly easy, and management tried all sorts of things to try to "convince" us that we should accept less than what we considered to be reasonable. We were forced to take various forms of industrial action, including going on strike - the first time IT workers in Australia had gone out - to win our demands.
Now, while my experience of unionism in the industry isn't, unfortunately, the norm, I think it shows that there's nothing particularly unusual about IT workers. In our industry there are issues which need addressing, and if it's pointed out that there are very good reasons for being in a union and working together to actively organise your workplace, people will join and they will stick together.
This is why I'm excited about the formation of the IT Workers Alliance.
Until now, it has been pretty difficult to openly discuss what's going on in the industry, to find out who to contact and how to go about it all. This is what is great about www.itworkers-alliance.org - it's all there.
The Alliance is an important step towards getting IT people switched on to the good and the bad of working in IT and what we can do about it. I'd encourage people to check out the site, to have a say, and try to get their workmates taking an interest. If we make it work, it can become an important voice for workers in our industry.
The year was 1945 and the scene the San Francisco Conference at which the United Nations was formed. Hasluck was there as an adviser to the Australian Minister for External Affairs, H.V. Evatt.
One evening some Australian delegates walked into a bar where they encountered the Czech politician, Jan Masaryk. Earlier in the day, Evatt had criticised Masaryk for failing to support an Australian proposal.
'Here come the Australians,' announced Masaryk jovially, 'the people who have no geography.' When one of the Australians protested lamely, Masaryk walked over to a map of the world on the club's wall. 'Where is Australia?' asked Masaryk in mock puzzlement. 'Ha, here it is, way down here. And what is around Australia? Nothing. Water. No neighbours. A long way from everywhere. And where is Czechoslovakia?' Sure enough, Masaryk found it in central Europe, looking vulnerable to the Soviet giant looming on its eastern border.
These geopolitical realities would have tragic consequences three years later, when a coup brought Masaryk's nation within the communist bloc and he was himself almost certainly murdered by communist thugs. Evatt, on the other hand, died in bed in 1965, the privileged end that most Australian politicians enjoy.
Half a century later, as the Australian government was provoking a diplomatic incident over the arrival of a few hundred boat people, there were millions of refugees and asylum seekers around the world sitting in camps in much poorer countries than our own. Australia, in fact, will never have to deal with anything more than the merest trickle of refugees because she is, as our national anthem tells us, 'girt by sea'.
Australia arguably owes 'Girt' a great debt. She has provided the country with a measure of natural protection against 'cheap' foreign goods, potential invaders and hordes of 'coloured' folk. 'Girt' has also helped to breed insularity, a fear of the foreign and a naivety about the scale and significance of Australia's problems in the global scheme of things.
Two fears have long exercised white Australians, both legacies of our sense of isolation as European peoples in the Asia-Pacific region. One, less powerful today than even 30 years ago, is the fear of invasion. The historian Robert Hyslop has estimated that there were nearly 200 war scares in Australia before Federation. The feared enemy varied, but included France, Germany, Russia, the United States, China, Japan and even occasionally Holland and Spain. In September 1854, at the time of the Crimean War, Melbourne went into a panic when some of its citizens heard cannon fire and rockets appeared in the sky above the city. Word got around that the Russians had landed. It soon emerged that the racket had been caused by a ship celebrating her release from quarantine.
Yet a more persistent Australian dread is that of being swamped by 'undesirables'. This has a long history, which perhaps found its clearest expression in the publicity given to a reported remark of a Chinese man during the gold rushes of the 1850s that all China was coming. In recent times, the threat has been similarly identified as Asian, as in Hansonite rhetoric, but early in the 20th century the intruder was sometimes Jewish or European--particularly Southern European.
The danger has most commonly been perceived as racial, but not always so. Convicts were a particular concern. In 1852 the Victorian parliament passed a bill that sought to prevent convicts with conditional pardons flooding into the colony from Tasmania. Australian governments in the 19th century were also hostile to the presence of French convicts in that country's Pacific possessions because of the possibility that they might end up here. And the appearance in Sydney in 1849 of the convict ship, the Hashemy, set off angry protests led by our federation father, Henry Parkes. This agitation ended an unpopular attempt by the British government to renew convict transportation.
Parkes was also in the forefront of anti-Chinese manoeuvres in 1888 when a ship (called, ironically, the Afghan) arrived in Sydney, carrying about 250 Chinese immigrants. It had previously tried landing at Port Melbourne, but the Victorian government managed to contrive reasons for sending the ship away. It then moved on to Sydney, where there were violent anti-Chinese protests. Parkes, as premier, rushed through draconian legislation in a single day to stop the Chinese from landing. Sound familiar?
The appearance of a ship carrying 'undesirables' has on more than one occasion in Australian history been the focus of government concern and popular protest. In 1916 the arrival in Australia of a boatload of Maltese immigrants was badly timed as far as Prime Minister Billy Hughes and the advocates of military conscription for overseas service were concerned. Its appearance during the height of the bitter debate over conscription added credibility to the claims of some anti-conscriptionists that employers intended to replace white Australian conscripts with cheap 'coloured' labour. Rather like the appearance of the Tampa, the Maltese immigrant ship served a useful domestic political purpose.
In 1885, at the time New South Wales sent troops to an imperial war in the Sudan, a little boy from Manly named Ernest Laurence wrote to the premier sending money to assist the cause. A Bulletin cartoonist seized on the event, and created an Australian symbol--The Little Boy at Manly--who came to stand for a people who had not yet grown up. This Australia was impudent, naive and ignorant of the ways of the world; it was yet to put away childish things. The Little Boy at Manly appeared in cartoons for years, but seems to have eventually disappeared, perhaps at the point when Australians had the Anzacs and Gallipoli to show that they had come of age.
We may have dispensed with the Little Boy at Manly prematurely. He was on display during the Tampa crisis, when an affluent Western nation in its centenary year tried to convince itself and the world that it is hard put upon by the world's riff-raff. I would like to advocate that the Little Boy at Manly be taken out of retirement.
Frank Bongiorno lectures in Australian History at the University of New England, Armidale
For ten years Eureka Street has been publishing incisive articles on refugee and immigration issues. These articles are now collected in The Immigration and Refugee Resource Kit. This comprehensive collection of articles provides an independent account of the debates surrounding immigration and refugees in Australia for the last ten years.
Features: The resource kit provides a ten-year history, as well as up-to-date analysis of the latest news and policy developments.
· The Australian government's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers
· The global scale of the refugee situation
· Australia's obligations under regional and international treaties on human rights
· International political conflicts with effects beyond geographical and political boundaries
The readership: The resource kit provides a reference for secondary students, their teachers, and all those interested in the issues of immigration and refugees in Australia. The kit relates directly to the curricula of Contemporary Australian Society, Political Studies, and International Studies, but could also be used in the specific Country studies.
Brussels, October 9, 2001: On June 23, the lifeless body of Monzon Lima was found at the side of a Guatemalan motorway. He had been shot in the back after protesting against his dismissal for trade union activities and denouncing corruption at the company where he worked. In November, the Congolese trade unionist Odette Kasal Mukaj disappeared without trace. Observers believe the security forces are to blame. In Haiti, Elison Merzilus was abducted from his home in front of his wife and children. He was found dead a few days later. His crime: wanting to create a woman's association linked to his union. In India, two trade unionists from a car factory fought against their management for months. In October, their bodies were found near the factory perimeter.
This catalogue of violence comes from the latest edition (covering the year 2000) of the ICFTU Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights. Violence targeted at the women and men committed to defending their fellow workers against exploitation.
According to the Survey, which this year covers a record 140 countries, 27 more than in 1999, the trade union rights situation is the most disturbing in: Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Costa Rica, China, South Korea, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Belarus and the Gulf States.
The Geography of Danger
Colombia is still the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. 153 trade unionists were assassinated or disappeared in 2000, an increase of more than 100% on 1999. Trade unionists are regularly the target of attacks not only by paramilitaries and guerillas, but also by the authorities and employers. The State has not mobilised the resources needed to implement effective protection programmes.
Colombia is not alone in making the American continent the most dangerous region in the world for trade unionists. In Guatemala, they are threatened with death and confronted with the constant inertia and complicity of the courts. In Venezuela, the independent trade union movement is threatened with extinction following the constant attacks by President Chávez who imposed a referendum on the election of new trade union leaders. In Costa Rica all collective bargaining is at risk further to a ruling by the constitutional court.
Asia has also recorded a record number of violations, and accounts for 71% of arrests and 87% of cases of harassment of trade unionists throughout the world. In China any attempt to create an independent trade union is immediately crushed. Those who try to organise one are sent to psychiatric hospitals or forced labour camps where they are singled out for ill-treatment.
Africa also set new records: in nearly 60% of the countries examined in the Survey, workers were dismissed for their trade union activities. In nearly one African country in two trade unionists have been arrested.
The annual Survey points to 108 countries where there are legal obstacles to the establishment of a trade union. Some ban trade unions altogether, like Bhutan, Burma and Equatorial Guinea. In the Gulf States, trade union rights are virtually non-existent. So-called Consultative Committees replace trade unions in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. In Saudi Arabia trade unions are simply prohibited. Many other countries prevent all independent trade union activity, such as Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Syria and Iraq. Trade unions in these countries are subservient to the government and do nothing to defend workers' interests.
While trade union repression in the developing countries is more violent, employers in the west also try to undermine the unions, but take a more cynical approach. In the United States, employers regularly call on professional 'union busters' to destroy the union in their enterprise. In Canada, many sectors are not allowed to go on strike or to engage in collective bargaining. In Australia, the government distributed a manual to high-ranking civil servants on the tactics to use to sabotage collective bargaining with the unions. In Spain and the United Kingdom, the Survey reveals violations of trade union rights linked to using the internet.
Unions pay heavy price in struggle for democracy
In countries under authoritarian rule, unions are sometimes the only organised opposition. When the use of force is not enough to keep them quiet, the authorities do not hesitate to interfere in trade union affairs, forming puppet unions, confiscating union assets or aggravating divisions within the unions.
In Swaziland, one of the last absolute monarchies on the African continent, the government tried to pass a bill restricting trade union rights, particularly the right to strike. All strikes and protest demonstrations were repressed. It was only when threatened with the withdrawal of trading privileges that the government shelved the bill. But unions who actively campaign for democracy still face many restrictions. In Zimbabwe, dozens of opponents of President Mugabe's regime, including at least two trade unionists, fell victim to the violence that swept the country. The national trade union centre, ZCTU, was targeted by the authorities after condemning its behaviour. In Belarus, the trade union movement had to fend off numerous attacks by the presidential administration which impounded union bank accounts on several occasions and tried to bring dissident national centres under its control. In Fiji a coup d'état with strong racial undertones was condemned by the trade unions. The authorities responded to the announcement of a day of protest to call for the restoration of the rule of law by threatening all civil servants who took part. Many trade unionists were attacked or detained. In Peru, the national centre, CUT, joined the vast protest movement seeking to prevent the dictator Fujimori from serving a third presidential term. Its premises were ransacked and seven people were killed during the demonstrations.
Right to strike under threat
The right to strike has suffered particularly heavily from the negative consequences of unbridled globalisation. Force has repeatedly been used in the place of dialogue. Over 300 strikes or demonstrations in which trade unions took part were repressed by employers or the police, in nearly 90 countries around the world. All too often this resulted in the loss of human life. In Bolivia at least 14 people were killed by the police during two vast social movements calling for higher pay and lower water rates. In Costa Rica, Argentina and Paraguay, demonstrators also lost their lives. In Bangladesh, four workers were savagely killed by police in the port of Mongla while demonstrating to demand more staff.
In South Korea the police systematically intervene and imprison strikers on charges of "obstructing business". Since President Kim Dae Jung came to power, far more trade unionists have found themselves behind bars than during the government of his more authoritarian predecessor. In Indonesia, no less than 29 strikes were repressed.
Employers often use hired thugs to mix the strikers to give the police an excuse to intervene. In Turkey the government instituted legal proceedings or administrative inquiries against 86,000 civil servants who took part in a strike it had declared illegal. In Morocco, no less than eight strikes were repressed and strikers are regularly taken to court and sentenced to prison terms. In the Central African Republic, the government tried every means, including violence, to undermine strikes by civil servants demanding the payment of salary arrears that in some cases dated back ten months. In all the Latin American countries cited in the report, with the exception of Cuba, at least one strike was repressed last year. In Ecuador and Venezuela, the police intervened violently in no less than 10 strikes. In Europe, the right to strike is also trampled on. In Belgium, employers frequently use the courts to put an end to strikes by imposing excessive restrictions on strike pickets.
Where no violence is used, the authorities often resort to legislation to restrict the right to strike...80% of the countries examined have adopted restrictive strike legislation. In Africa, this applies to 84% of countries. In many cases the law imposes long and cumbersome procedures, during which workers are rarely protected. In Lesotho, not a single strike has been recognised as legal since independence in 1996. The law also allows the government to requisition workers during strikes. In Burkina Faso and Niger, the government also gives itself the right to requisition strikers. The number of workers required for a legal strike to go ahead is often too high. In Costa Rica, the unions have to draw up a lists proving that 60% of workers agree to the strike. All strikes carried out in the country during the year were declared illegal. Many strikes are also banned if they threaten the country's economy. Authorities sometimes abuse this right, for example in Mexico where the government used this as an excuse to put an end to a strike at the national airline company, Aeromexico. In the Middle East, strikes are virtually non-existent. The authorities impose countless conditions restricting strikes, any breach of which can incur heavy prison sentences. Migrant workers, who make up the bulk of the workforce, can be sent back to their countries on the spot if they strike.
Many states prohibit entire sectors from striking by drawing up a very long list of so-called essential services. The Survey shows that no less than 59 states use this tactic. And while some governments are content to impose a few limitations, others ban all strikes outright, such as Cuba, North Korea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Export-processing zones: rights-free zones
To counter these challenges, and in response to market pressure, there has been a steady growth in export processing zones. Here workers are usually deprived of all union rights. When unions are set up they are the target of constant attacks, with the support, if not participation, of the authorities. The Survey points to 33 countries where this problem exists. In the Philippines a study carried out in seven export processing zones in the country showed that unions were being targeted by employers who act with impunity. In Bangladesh trade unions are still banned from the zones and workers are harassed if they demand their rights. Five lost their lives after taking part in protests. Turkey still bans strikes, five years after the creation of its export processing zone. In Namibia, strikes continue to be banned in the zones. In Central America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama) export processing zones (maquiladoras) are rights-free zones where trade unionists are constantly persecuted. Employers systematically sack workers who try to carry out trade union activities and sometimes set up workers' organizations themselves, on condition that there will be no strikes. In Mexico's maquiladoras, the employers do not hesitate to deal brutally with workers who try to set up independent trade unions.
Weekend: Ansett Workers Kick Off the Show
The campaign kicks off the way campaigns always start - the campaign workers pounding the pavements. For Labor the charge is led by Ansett workers, in uniform, delivering open letters to households in marginal seats. They're good pictures and they carry an important message, Labor is not going to keel over and concede the election just because its being overshadowed by WWIII.
Howard must still be pinching himself, trying to believe his luck. Now One Nation are hinting at preferencing him, given he's stolen their immigration policy holus bolus. He struts along the campaign trail with his trademark jutting button lip and beady eyes staring into the middle distance, which were once the look of dodderer but have been transformed into the look of toughness that is now becoming his main campaign pitch: these are dark and dangerous times, I may be dull, small-minded and unimaginative, but so are you.
For Beazley and Labor, the rhetoric moved into bizarre territory: actually running on the fact that Howard's refusal to guarantee a full term were grounds to vote against him. Who, having observed politics for the past 20 years, would have ever believed that (a) John Howard was facing a third election by the Australian people; and (b) that there would ever be a vote to be gained for Labor in the prospect of his early retirement. But that's the sort of weird times we live in.
Monday: The Bombs Start Dropping
If headlines about refugees throwing babies overboard were not bad enough, the US began its attack on Afghanistan. Any chance of the election taking centre stage - an important precondition to selling Labor's alternative - was leveled in the collatoral damage. Beazley is left to make comments such as "The Opposition and the government are as one." This may be necessary to neutralise the issue, but is still hardly the sort of message an Opposition leader in the midst of a campaign wants to be spouting. As for Howard, national crisis actually suits his droning, carping style - it's as if this is the one situation where caution is rewarded.
An election campaign is like a game of cards. Each party attempts to grab the agenda by releasing a trump policy - the highest card wins the day. With a war, all Howard has to do is get up and say "we support the US:" and he's the lead story and talking about something everyone is interested in. Cruel, cruel fate.
Beazley is left with no alternative but to begin his rollout of policy regardless and hope it gets uin before the first ad break. Saturday it's the Ministry for Home Affairs, Sunday the family, Monday dental health. All are strong Labor lines, in a normal world they would position Kimbo as tough but caring, committed to building up government services not cutting them back. If only there was oxygen.
Tuesday: Everything's Gone Green
Beazley starts the day going head to head with the Parrot. Liberal partisan and talkback king Alan Jones baits him and the big guy bites back. Jones has accused the ALKP of burying its policies on the website - it's a furphy and Beazley says so. The interview soon descends into a slanging match with Jones accusing Beazley of lying about his daughter all those weeks ago. It may not be dignified but it works for Beazley - he lets out a bit of the passion he'll need if he's going to overcome the mounting odds.
But there's just a whiff that this is what he can do. The launch of Labor's environmental policy helps too, with its commitment to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. It may not knock the War and Terror off the front page, but it is a defining difference between the teams, a strong pitch to Green preferences and an important initiative for younger, environmentally aware voters.
By the end of the day, the Prime Minister's loose lips are the story - in Laurie Brereton's words his "sloppy" statement on the Australians held in Kabul. Attempting to defend them, Howard has inadvertently played into their captors' hands by saying they were only 'preaching Christianity'. This is exactly what the pair are trying to convince the Taliban they are not doing. Such loose lips are a slip once, but with Howard flaunting his international statesman credentials, they suggest a crack that could still become a crevice.
Wednesday: Who's Tougher?
Good news for Labor with a Morgan Gallup poll showing the parties are polling 50-50. After the crazy numbers of up to 60-40 for Howard in recent week's it's the first indication the madness may be settling down. If nothing else, the numbers are giving some impetus to the campaign officers, particularly those in the key marginal seats. And despite their gloom, there are those with the Machine -who are prepared to say, even privately, that they're still alive.
Both parties are now rolling out their advertising campaigns - and they are all tapping into the line of the need for toughness. For the Liberals - it's a simple line - "who'll make the tough decisions", making a virtue of the current global crisis. This is supplemented by the Liberal's latest code-attack on Beazley - "flip-flop" - they use it constantly and it's code for "fat". Labor avoids responding by attacking Howard's deafness and myopia, but does hone in on Costello's smirk. With a similar advert "Who'll make the tough decisions?" the answer is blurred, then comes into focus with a typically unflattering Costello shot.
Meanwhile, Tough Guy Tony Abbott becomes a wimp, escaping a business lunch to avoid a confrontation with Ansett workers. Backing middle-class workers is regarded as less electorally popular than bashing building workers, who took to the Melbourne streets in numbers to mark the opening of the political witch-hunt trading under the Cole Royal Commission moniker. The suspicion the whole thing will be a Star Chamber was given extra life when Justice Cole demanded anyone seeking leave to appear chronicle every incidence of illegality and wrong-doing they had come ever across.
Thursday: Domestic Security
Queensland is a battlefield where both parties are clinging to marginal seats. Both leaders were on the ground dealing key hands in the unfolding game of policy poker. Kim Beazley launched Labor's IR Policy - repackaged as the Security at Work policy. It's all expected stuff, winding back the excesses of the Reith reforms, protecting all worker entitlements, plus a twist: protection of superannuation, a looming issue as the world economy teeters on the brink of recession. Across the city, Howard launches the Aged car policy then cops another earful from an angry Ansett worker. It's a spontaneous confrontation that serves to highlight the sensitivity of the collapse and the government's sorry role in the debacle.
Lunch-time's announcement of jobless figures play out like all economic announcements - fantastic or terrible, depending where you sit and what you are trying to argue. The headline unemployment rate has surprised the markets by dropping slightly, but the number of people looking for work has also dipped dramatically. Where have they gone? Given up, or just wiped off the books by the government's increasingly draconian welfare rules. As the talking heads gibber, they all realize that the real test will be next month's numbers - due just two days before the ballot opens.
In the evening it's wall-to-wall politics on the public broadcasters. Costello and Crean on 7.30 Report - The Smirk refuses to debate, instead smugly claiming credit for deregulating the economy. Crean makes some strong points - like the big debt reduction has been attained through the sale of national assets like Telstra. It's willing stuff, but like all economic debate. Then its over to SBS where the running sore of racism and immigration is debated, Phillip Ruddock doggedly working to explain why Howard's One Nation-inspired immigration policy is not inspired by One Nation. Then George Negus' 'Australia Whinges' with Downer, Meg Lees and Kate Lundy matching wits with a mad Greenie and an AFL player. Unfortunately most people are watching Law and Order, NYPD Blue and the live updates from the battle-zone. Still, those who care are getting a reasonable debate - now for the other 90 per cent of voters.
Lord Bill Brett, Vice Chairman of the ILO
At an employer-sponsored seminar in New Delhi last week, Lord Bill Brett, the Vice Chairman of the International Labour Organisation's governing body tackled the great question, "Capital and Labour in the 21st Century: Enemies or Friends?"
His answer borrowed from the strategic language of the moment: "We're not friends, we're not enemies. We're allies."
Just like America has the unlikely support of Russia, China and Pakistan in their bombing campaign of Afghanistan, Lord Brett says globalisation has forced labour and employers to become allies.
He acknowledged that globalisation as it stands is unfair. It is not spreading the benefits to many, it is something of a blank cheque for multinational companies, and it is diminishing the power of the nation state.
But he says workers have been left with little choice; "We can no more reverse globalisation than we can un-invent the cell phone. It is real and it is here to stay."
For workers and employers competing on an uneven global racetrack, it is futile to support developed country jobs in uncompetitive industries, he said.
"There is no way a British textile worker on 60 times the salary of an Indian textile worker can compete." Employers will obey competitive dynamics and shift manufacturing, he said.
Even benign employers, like IBM who offered lifetime employment as a condition of company policy, when faced with the tech-wreck, sacked their workers.
Events, fuelled by the process of globalisation have left workers with few alternatives. But it is right for workers to be sceptical of bodies like the WTO, he said.
Those who set the rules of the global race track - for instance making the race five kilometers long - knew that they were already three kilometres ahead. And the rules place developing countries at the start line.
To deal with this bias, Lord Brett suggested that workers and employers needed dialogue - such as European style tripartite talks- to ally in re-training and job creation.
In developing countries Lord Brett attacked the claim by employers for more flexible labour laws. Instead, it is stable government and a skilled workforce, not the ability to sack people that attracts foreign investment and development, he said.
But in India, although dialogue may be achievable in the organised employed sectors, poverty outweighs union-worker relations as an economic priority.
The official concept of poverty in India is based on a caloric value. Families that can't buy enough food to obtain a minimum amount of calories per capita per day (2400 calories per day in rural areas, and 2100 calories in urban areas) are below the poverty line.
Recent Indian government figures have calculated 193 million people in rural India and another 67 million in urban India living below the poverty line.
Lord Bill Brett conceded to insufficient knowledge of India's poverty problems but criticised the International Monetary Fund's poverty alleviation programs as "the same old wine in a new bottle".
If there is serious economic damage arising from the September 11 attacks, unions must pressure government and employers to ensure that poor people and workers in vulnerable industries do not bear the costs.
In Australia, the organising and political campaign by Ansett workers is a good example of a necessary resistance.
Lord Brett's argument that workers and capital are allies rests on the possibility of a global deal. Workers get social security improvements in return for more flexibility.
And workers get better use of foreign investment in return for citizens seeing industry move to areas where it hasn't invested in before.
For a capital-labour alliance to succeed, Lord Brett argued for national partnerships at a governmental level and internationally at the level of the multinational company. Workers, he says, need a multinational profile.
Lord Bill Brett was a former general secretary of a British version of APESMA, and presented the 1970's BBC radio show, "Union Scene".
He was made a Lord by New Labour in 1999 and is the author of the book, "International Labour in the 21st Century, a personal view on the ILO as a "monument to the past or a beacon for the future?"
by Ken Davis, Alison Tate and Jacqui Davison
The Sixth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, which ended in Melbourne on Wednesday 10 October, brought together more than 4,000 delegates representing educators, people with HIV, counsellors, donors, academics, health professionals, drug users, sex workers, indigenous peoples, and gay men -- all helping to fight the spread of the pandemic. The congress ended with the adoption of the "Melbourne Manifesto", which called for "the reallocation of resources currently devoted to military expenditures towards HIV programs".
Of the 36 million people living with HIV in the world, over 7 million are in the Asia and Pacific regions which include 60% of the world's population. Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, PNG and parts of India and China are already heavily affected.
At the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS in June, it was estimated that the cost of implementing programs that would defeat HIV globally was around $7-9 billion US. Already more than that has been spent on the war against Taliban, and is a fraction of the cost of the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York.
Opening the Melbourne congress, Dr Peter Piot, head of UNAIDS, the alliance of eight UN agencies working against HIV, affirmed that "universal access" to the anti-retroviral drugs that slow HIV infection was a realisable goal in the Asia and Pacific regions.
ICFTU and socio-economic impacts of HIV
Sharan Burrow, President of the Asia-Pacific region of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), opened the conference plenary on "socio-economic determinants" of the epidemic, raising some of the some of the issues other speakers don't dare to say.
She focussed on vulnerability to HIV infection of families in mobile workforces: refugee populations, transport workers, miners and builders, seasonal food and hospitality workers, teachers sent to isolated areas, soldiers and police. Trade unionists, Burrow asserted, see sex workers as workers with the "same rights as other workers to organise and to expect that their rights to health and safety at work are respected."
While feminist, class and economic analyses are still new frameworks for discussing HIV, we all know they are intrinsic to the respect and understanding of HIV as a human rights and development issue. The international trade union movement therefore has a lot to offer the ongoing fight to halt the epidemic.
Burrow went on to attack the dictatorship in Burma, "the vilest regime on earth": "The enforced labour policies of the Burmese regime are not only a breach of human rights. They are murderous. The International Labour Organisation has taken the unprecedented step of suspending Burma as a member nation because of these policies. Up to one quarter of working people in Burma have been or are in forced labour. Workers are forcibly removed from their villages and live in labour camps. Burmese workers are forced to escape and work over the border in construction jobs and live in camps placing them at much greater risk of HIV infection. Often the only means of economic survival for some women and children escaping from Burma is sex work. The actions of the Burmese regime are actually laying the groundwork for a huge AIDS epidemic in that country. They should be roundly condemned, as should countries that trade with Burma."
A key issue for the conference was world trade laws which will extend the exclusive patents of the western drug companies over essential medicines. Two hundred delegates from the PNG and Asia organised a march during the conference to protest for global treatments access. Noting the policies of ACTU, ICEM, ICFTU and COSATU, Burrow pledged the support of the trade unions in this struggle: "It is disturbing to hear that some countries and some pharmaceutical companies are resisting the notion that access to treatments for everyone is not possible. Access to effective treatments for all people with HIV/AIDS is not too hard and the trade union movement will not accept the idea that some people get to live and others don't... We are committed to working against companies who fail to balance the need for human rights with their desire for profit."
Regional trade union action
For the first time, union organisations were featured in the conference program, with a workshop hosted by APHEDA and the ACTU. Representatives of three International Trade Secretariats spoke, as well as Jason Lui, from the ICFTU regional office in Singapore, who reminded participants of the strong policy on HIV adopted by the ICFTU in April 2000 in Durban. ICFTU-APRO is beginning a new research program, to map all the initiatives unions in the region are taking in relation to HIV.
Many examples of trade union-run HIV programs were noted, among dock workers in Kampong Som in Cambodia, among hotel workers in the Philippines and Viet Nam, among garment workers in Phnom Penh, miners in PNG, seamen in Kiribati and building workers in Australia. Unions have different starting points in HIV efforts: occupational health, drug and alcohol programs, discrimination by employers or co-workers, forcible HIV testing by employers, ensuring sickness and death benefits, developing policy about essential medicines, media guidelines, as well as the loss of members and leaders.
Ruth Pollard, NSW President of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance spoke on the policy adopted at the recent Korea conference of the International Federation of Journalists. AIDS not only affects journalists directly, but journalists can play a leading role in public education on AIDS. The IFJ condemns instances where governments are repressing media workers for telling the truth about HIV.
From Aotearoa/New Zealand, Janet Quigley spoke on behalf of Public Service International, as Vice-chair of the PSI Women's Committee and Chair of the Oceania Women's Committee. As a health professional, Quigley is alarmed that Pacific communities are not yet able to discuss HIV prevention issues openly, and reaffirmed PSI's interest in finding ways in addressing these challenges in the region.
Education International was represented by it's international Vvice-President, Susan Hopgood, Deputy Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union. Teachers must respond to HIV both as trade unionists and as educators of the new generations in sexual health. Three other ITS apologised for being unable to send speakers from the region, due to disruption of air transport..
Many governments, employers, researchers and development organisations have begun AIDS education programs in workplaces in the Mekong region, in the Philippines and Indonesia, but most ignore or oppose trade unions which can play a unique role in providing credible messages to members. AIDS programs which neglect the fundamentals of workers rights are useless. "If, for example, young women clothing workers in the factories in Phnom Penh are defeated in their struggle against exploitation and for dignity as workers, how can they be empowered as women to refuse unsafe sex?" asked Ken Davis, of APHEDA.
ILO Code of practice on HIV
Gunnar Walzholz from the Bangkok office of the ILO explained the recently adopted Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work. According to ILO Director General, Juan Somavia, "HIV/AIDS is a major threat to the world of work: it is affecting the most productive segment of the labour force and reducing earnings, and is imposing huge cost on enterprises in all sectors through declining productivity, increasing labour costs and the loss of skills and experience. In addition, HIV/AIDS is affecting fundamental rights at work, particularly with respect to discrimination and stigmatization aimed at workers and people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The epidemic and its impact strike hardest at vulnerable groups including women and children, thereby increasing gender inequalities and exacerbating the problem of child labour." The long-awaited Code of Practice is and will be a useful tool for activating workers and their employers on the impact of HIV and strategies for reducing workers' vulnerabilities to the epidemic.
South African unions call for solidarity
Theodora Steele, the national campaigns coordinator of the Congress of South African Trade Unions was a guest of APHEDA and the ACTU, and was able to address the Commonwealth Medical Association Conference on AIDS in Melbourne on 4 October on behalf of the Commonwealth Trade Unions Council. Theo is also a leader of the Treatments Action Campaign, which won a major court battle against the Western pharmaceutical manufacturers in Pretoria in April. COSATU is the largest union federation in Africa, and has hundreds of thousands of members with HIV. Theo spoke passionately about the urgent need for international solidarity action campaigns on HIV between trade unions, religious, women's, health, human rights and development organisations.
6th ICAAP Congress, Melbourne 5 -10 October 2001 http://www.icaap.conf.au
ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and world of work - http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/trav/aids/
ICFTU HIV/AIDS Policy Statement, Durban 2001 - http://www.icftu.org/focus.asp?Issue=AIDS&language=EN
by The Collaborative Games
The Olympic Games collaboration between the unions and the NSW Government goes back, at least, to 1991. When Sydney was bidding for the Games the Liberal government in NSW under Nick Greiner recognised that success depended on union movement cooperation and that Labor Council involvement in this was critical. To Michael Easson, then Secretary of the Council, the issues were jobs for workers, and the need for contracts that provided certainty for both construction and operation of the Games. He says:
"On the union side we saw this as an opportunity for the union movement - winning the Games would be a fillip for NSW, would be good for jobs and therefore for NSW and good for workers."
Nick Greiner, the NSW Premier, and John Coates of the AOC wanted union movement participation, in part because changing the IR image was critical to the success of the highly contested IOC bid process. They recalled previous support when the Labor Council opposed the boycott of the Games in Moscow (1980, over Afghanistan) and Los Angeles (1984, over Nicaragua). Discussions led to early agreement on both the Bid and the subsequent Games organising. Michael Easson says:
"Initially Greiner wanted a 'no strike' agreement - a blanket agreement. What we settled on was the form of words for an in-principle agreement that there would be no strike provided that the agreements negotiated were adhered to. We copped a lot of flack over this but it wasn't a case of giving away our rights - it was an agreement with two sides to it."
This was tested during the Bid phase. A one-day strike was planned over the Liberal government's IR legislation - inadvertently called at a time when an IOC delegation and President Samaranch were to be in Sydney. Rod McGeoch, who was managing the Bid, called Easson who recalls:
"We decided to delay the strike by one week. The result was a lot of favourable publicity but also I expended a lot of political capital in getting the delay."
Winning union backing wasn't easy. Some sections of the union movement felt passionately that the enormous amount of money the Games would cost should go to education and health rather than sport. There were also arguments from a militant group about 'collusive leadership' and how this benefited the government but not the unions. All these were aired on the floor of the weekly Labor Council meetings and provided a focus for discussion about supporting the Games. In the end the leadership won.
"I think it paid off in the long term ... we were involved in consultations at all stages of the Games and delivered what could be seen as best practice industrial relations and considerable benefits in terms of training. Unless we'd taken that decision the headlines would have been 'union movement destroys Sydney Bid' whereas the outcome created a lot of goodwill - a perception that the union movement was genuinely willing to be helpful on the Games Bid. When the Games decision was announced and everyone was being congratulated, Greiner called to say he was surprised the Labor Council was not mentioned in this post-Bid publicity as he'd valued the support and seen it as critical"
There were other examples of union cooperation. The Labor Council was called before the Technical Committee of the IOC. Michael Easson took Andrew Ferguson and Stan Sharkey of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
"This was a case of putting the unions' feet to the fire. The committee quizzed us on how far the union movement was behind the Bid."
And there was a dispute at the Opera House ...
"Workers were thinking of using the concert for the IOC delegates to highlight the issue. We worked through the early hours of the morning with Terry Ludeke [Judge with the Australia Arbitration Commission] to work it out and avoid the strike. In the Opera House even ... the smoke from the stage almost suffocated the IOC delegates - there we were fixing the IR problems overnight to have the performance almost choking them to death in the front rows the next day!"
In retrospect Easson has no regrets:
"The reality was that good people got behind the Games. We got good publicity from it and it had good employment practices. There was a willingness to regard the other side as worthy of respect. It's simple rather than complicated. Get people behind you on the idea of sensible industrial relations. A cooperative attitude - not one where you are there to be walked over - but one that contrasts cooperative IR with one where everyone does their own thing."
Industrial Relations at the Games - how it worked on the ground
"It got to the point where we almost forgot sport was involved we were so caught up in dealing with the problems on the site." Paul Howes, Unions 2000
What the unions also learned was that for all of the planning some of the arrangements for the Games workforce would be found wanting during the Games operation. Two weeks before the Games the unions were given accreditation for an official at each venue, allowing direct contact with the workforce, and 32 union officials from five unions were rostered to provide coverage throughout the Games. In addition members could access union support through a general call-centre number linked to a Unions 2000 office on site in the OCA building at Olympic Park. The plan was that unions would be in touch with the workforce and on call to identify and deal with any workplace or industrial relations problems that arose during the Games. In order to ensure efficient handling of disputes all officials involved went through a three-day training program organised by the Labor council and SOCOG. On site the rostered union officials had status on a par with venue staffing managers. The industrial structure envisaged by SOCOG was that each venue management would supervise the Games venue staff and volunteers allocated to that site. Contractor companies in the venue would have their own management and supervise their workers but report to the venue manager.
Fortunately a range of disputes in the 12 months leading up to the Games had helped in the building of trust between the unions, SOCOG and the companies. There had been:
Ř Changes to the awards
Ř Issues over paid and volunteer workers for the Ceremonies
Ř The question of bonuses for bus drivers
Ř A major dispute over young people, some as young as 14, employed as vendors who were being defined as 'contractors' with full responsibility for self-employment
Ř The problem of New Zealand security workers recruited without licences or job guarantees
Ř Underpayment of wages at Bondi Beach Stadium
Ř And a number of others
All had been resolved satisfactorily and a large reservoir of trust and respect had been established. But nothing like the problems encountered during the Games had been anticipated.
Even before the Games some problems were apparent. The opening of the Games villages in June 2000 exposed a lack of understanding among staff of the systems, particularly payroll for workers. The unions assisted with presentations to supervisors and helped with the interpretation of the award. Within a few days of the Games Opening Ceremony, caterers struck problems. People were simply not purchasing food on the scale anticipated and the contractors proposed to lay off 1,000 staff. Using the award provisions for flexible working the unions negotiated redeployment of some to other Games work. SOCOG staff used E-mail networks to contact a number of industry groups, letting them know that there were people willing, keen and available, and asking if they needed any staff. These industry groups sent the message on to their members and within minutes SOCOG had E-mails from all over town saying they had openings for this or that number, skill etc. and a hot line of positions found many people work. For the remainder, the unions and caterers negotiated an across the board reduction of hours rather than lay-offs so that no-one was without a job.
But above all the problem was with the payroll. Day in day out there were problems with people not being paid, in some cases for weeks. It was not that these were unusual, complicated or difficult to resolve. It was the sheer unremitting volume and the knowledge that the problem was a generic one - that the systems were simply inadequate and could not be reorganised during the course of the Games.
In all the unions negotiated 12 major disputes, eight with 'real strike-potential', during the Games period that required intervention from SOCOG at a senior level, and dealt with over 2,500 individual problems mainly over pay. The official procedure for dealing with issues through the venue manager was largely bypassed. Most problems were resolved directly with the companies involved. Many employers had people in place who were committed to resolving issues as they arose and networks of personal relations between the unions and these companies had been established. Some problems the unions stepped back from - judging that employers were acting with goodwill and working to deal with the issues.
One example might illustrate the nature of the collaboration. As part of the major problem we discussed earlier where caterers were laying off staff early I the Games, 20 workers in four bars in the Stadium threatened to walk out because three of their workmates had been laid off by the catering contractor Sodexho. Chris Christodoulou says:
"It took three meetings, at 10 pm, 12 midnight and 5 am, along with help from John Quayle, from SOCOG - along with a few drins I the bar ner the Novotel with the key workers in the dispute to fix it."
Paul Howes describes another:
"There were just two food halls for some of our people to take their meal breaks. We had employers saying the meal break starts when they leave work and they would have to get back in 20 minutes. As you know everything was jam packed on the site so it could take that long just to get between the buildings. SOCOG overruled the companies, saying that it starts when they get to the food hall but, during the Games, there were long lines in the halls - it could take ten minutes to get served - so it was changed again - based on the principle that workers deserved a real break - they had to be fed properly - we gave flexibility on meal times and short breaks - and the companies gave back within a human relations principled framework. Nobody abused the system and morale stayed high."
Overall the Games were a success, 'the best Games ever'. In the face of this the problems, large and small, pale into significance - unless that is, we wish to learn from both our successes and our failures in order to better understand:
Ř What are the underlying components of human relations framework that made this success possible?
Ř Which aspects were not in place I those 'near-disaster' areas and did their absence contribute to the problems?
Ř Why did these areas nevertheless succeed in spite of the problems?
Ř Whether any of these lessons might be useful in planning other major events or projects requiring collaboration between large groups of people in the future?
by The Chaser
The memo exposes massive self-doubt in the Greens ranks about the viability of seizing power.
A spokesman for the Greens wouldn't reveal the source of the memo, but did confirm that the mood of the party was currently pessimistic.
He said a recent poll which measured support for the Greens at just 1.8% had severely dented the party's hopes of forming a majority in the Lower House.
"Many of our candidates have virtually resigned themselves to the idea they won't win," the spokesman said. "Bob Brown himself has stopped talking about himself as a future Prime Minister. In fact, morale is so low at the moment we're not even confident of forming an Opposition."
Why does Australia need to export? There are, of course, macroeconomic reasons. We do so partly to pay for our imports and to help grow our economy in order to provide employment. There are also microeconomic reasons. By exporting overseas we compete with the best companies in the world and are therefore driven to be innovative and use the most modern technology and management practices. It is like playing 'away games' in sport. Only the very best teams win on the road as well as when they have the security of their home ground. This enables firms to increase productivity and therefore raise living standards for Australians overall.
But what about the effect of exports on the labour market? There is much debate about the effect of trade and the labour market. The net effect of trade on jobs will depend on both growth rates and structural change in the economy. It is also important to recognise that there are winners and losers as a result of trade. But for the most part, an open economy that is competitive and growing will produce more better quality jobs than a closed stagnant economy that is unable to adapt to new technology and changes in world economic conditions.
But whilst exports are good for the economy and for the successful exporters themselves it is important to know how exports benefit workers and the Australian community in general. A comprehensive study of 540,000 Australian companies by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) does confirm that overall; exports are good for workers. Exporters, generally speaking, are good employers as they outperform non-exporters in terms of wages and salaries, employment conditions, occupational health and safety and employment status.
In terms of wages and salaries, exporters, on average, pay better than non-exporters. This is because exporters are usually more innovative than non-exporters, investing in technology and using advanced management techniques. Their workers are typically highly skilled. The higher productivity generated enables exporters to pay higher wages. According to the ABS data, in 1997-98, exporters overall paid each full-time equivalent employee an average of $46,000 per annum compared to $28,600 being paid on average by non-exporters. Using an alternative measure, 34 % of exporters paid their workers above average weekly earnings (AWE) compared to only 12 % of non-exporters.
It is often said that this is a function of scale (exporters being larger firms and hence more capital-intensive). But the data shows that exporters pay better than non-exporters regardless of firm size. For small businesses (less than 20 employees) 30 % of exporters paid above AWE compared to 12 % of non-exporters. For medium sized businesses (20-199 employees) 43 % paid above AWE compared to 19 % of non-exporters. For large businesses (200 employees and above) 61 % of exporters paid above AWE compared to 35 % of non-exporters.
Workers have been able to achieve better pay through enterprise bargaining as opposed to awards. According to the data, exporters were more inclined to use enterprise bargaining than awards. For exporters, 39 % of their employees had their pay determined by enterprise agreements with 27 % determined by awards. By contrast, for non-exporters only 25 % of the employees were covered by enterprise agreements compared to 50 % by awards. This indicates that exporters are more likely than non-exporters to take the high skill, high wage, and high productivity route through enterprise bargaining rather than leaving conditions to the award safety net.
Not only do exporters provide a more technologically sophisticated work place than non-exporters but it is also likely to be safer as well. The statistical evidence clearly shows that exporters are more committed to a safe work environment than their non-exporter counterparts. This is the case for written management statements (36 % of exporters compared to 10 % of non-exporters); consultation programs (50 % to 23%); training programs (23 % to 10 %); provision of information (66 % to 38 %); regular workplace inspections (59 % to 36 %) and hazard guidelines (47 % to 31 %). According to the ABS data shown, exporters generally adopt a policy of high safety standards in their workplaces.
Finally, exporters are more likely than non-exporters to provide job security to workers on a full-time, permanent basis. According to the data, whilst exporters make up 4% of businesses they provide 16% of total employment. Exporters employ 91 % of their staff on a full-time basis, which compares to 69 % of non-exporters. Exporters are also more likely than non-exporters to provide more permanent employment. Exporters employ 90 % of their staff on a permanent basis compared to only 72 % for non-exporters. Casual work is far more prevalent in the non-exporting sectors of the economy.
In conclusion, the ABS data shows that exports are good for workers because on these criteria, exporters are good employers relative to non-exporters. On average, exporters pay better than non-exporters. Exporters are more likely than non-exporters to negotiate enterprise agreements than simply relying on the award safety net only. Exporters are more committed to occupational health and safety than non-exporters and provide a higher proportion of full-time and permanent jobs. This reflects the tendency of exporters to be more dynamic, innovative and modern than non-exporters because of the challenges of international competition. It pays exporters to be good employers as they gain in productivity benefits which raises living standards for the economy overall. In short, Australia needs more companies to export not only to assist our macroeconomic challenges but also to benefit Australian workers and their families. After all, we engage in trade not as an end in itself but to raise living standards for the Australian community as a whole.
Note: This is an edited extract from 'Why Australia Needs Exports: The Economic Case for Exporting' available from http://www.austrade.gov.au/economistscorner/
The big Balmain bookend earned his title during a tour of New Zealand with the national side. Legend has it, he leaned across the bus, feasted his eyes on the bucolic outlook and uttered something to the effect of - "gee look at all those sheep, no wonder they've got so much bacon".
There are those, both inside and close to, that 1989 side who insist the Steve Roach story is apocryphal. That he never actually uttered the golden words but, being a prop, would have if he had thought of them.
Certainly, that touring party was more than partial to a peculiarly Kiwi version of bacon and egg pie. Pushed, in fact, most could think of little they liked about the host country with the exceptions of pig-based pastry and the female half of Rotorua's human population.
Now, after more than a decade at the pinnacle, Roach has been eclipsed by another graduate of the front-rower's school.
Melbourne's Robbie Kearns is the man in question and, unlike Roach, he cannot deflect credit because his words are set out, between quotation marks, on Page 34 of the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday, October 9.
In the course of worrying about an all-expenses-paid footy trip to the UK, Kearns expressed his fears thus:
"Britain is obviously one of the world powers and they bombed the World Trade Centre, which is a landmark in itself, and over in Britain you've got Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower, which are big buildings, so to speak."
Bacon from pigs, the Eiffel Tower in Britain - likely slips of the tongue from young men more practised at ball handling than verbal expression.
In truth, they don't sound silly at all when compared with some of the ideas coming from those who administer the game.
Without doubt the dopiest currently doing the rounds is the mini-controversy over Andrew Johns' suitability for the Australian captaincy.
Apparently, donning a wig and getting drunk, even while celebrating grand final success, is incompatible with the characteristics expected of a Kangaroo captain.
What are these people on?
Johns is the best promotions vehicle rugby league has had since the civil war, by approximately the length of the Flemington straight.
It's hard to believe some people tut-tut when he hurls his mouthguard away in frustration; high fives team-mates in jubilation; or parties like he means it.
Don't they know that his is precisely the sort of heart-on-your-sleeve emotion the fans are crying out for.
Three things are apparent to everybody when Andrew Johns plays - he loves the game; hates to lose and wants to share success.
Never, ever, does a game appear to be another day at the office and that is probably why most unattached fans were mighty pleased his Knights gave the Eels a grand final touch-up.
Besides all this, he can play the game better than anyone since Wally Lewis and, possibly, a good deal before.
Without any disrespect to Brad Fittler, Johns' attitude and ability mean he should be captain now.
Sure, captaincy comes down to more than what you do on the field but, that said, it does not require the diplomatic or social skills that might be asked of the ambassador to Afghanistan.
Besides, you don't have to have that long a memory to recall the outfit putting question marks against Johns' character, sending sides overseas under the captaincy of noted charmers like Lewis and Bobby Fulton.
Excuse our French but there is only one response to the Johns controversy - Pig's Arse!
POLTROON - go and look it up - is a word we've been dying to use for years then, praise be to Allah, along comes Colin Love and our prayers are answered.
This week's decision to blow-up international Rugby League was a bombshell.
Don't blame Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Shane Webcke, Darren Lockyer or even Robbie Kearns and his Eiffel Tower complex. The buck stops with the leadership, or lack thereof, of the once courageous but now craven ARL.
Players are just that, they are not elected to run the game. The fact that a 19-5 player vote in favour of touring turned to a 12-12 split in the space of 24 hours showed there was plenty of room for leadership.
Put the decision of the ARL, so adept at using war imagery to sell its product, up against those of Australian women squash players competing in the middle east; Chelsea soccer club competing in Israel; even the Wallabies; and they don't look too smart.
Who loses out of this? Let's start with Rugby League, not least in Britain, and finish with footballers like Braith Anasta, Nathan Blacklock and Daniel Wagon, denied a prize they had earned.
Who wins? Well you'd have to say it's probably a Love game to international terrorism.
Neale in a pensive moment
Average annual increases in certified agreements for the June quarter was 4.3%, up from 3.7% for the March quarter. Non-union agreements were up 4.1% and union agreements up 4.3%.
Wage dispersion: the range of annual average increases was between 3.3% (agriculture, community services and recreational and personal services) and 4.5% in mining and construction..
AWAs approved to the end of 2000: Delivered an annual average increase of 2.2%. Public sector AWAs delivered higher increases than the private sector (3.1% to 1.9%)
(ADAM Report; no. 30, September 2001)
Union Facilitative Provisions in Enterprise Agreements
ADAM includes a special survey of union friendly provisions. Half of union EAs contain explicit reference to unions. These provisions may be included elsewhere in company policy documents for example. Facilities provided for unions are also surveyed, including notice boards, office space, telephones, photocopiers and deduction of union dues. Rights of officials to enter workplaces are in about 25% of agreements.
(ADAM Report; no. 30, September 2001)
New NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act
The new legislation was passed last year and became operative from 1 September 2001-10-09
Important changes include:
· a new duty on employers to consult with employees
· a wider and more flexible range of sanctions, including the capacity to grant orders that an offender publicise an offence or undertake specified projects to address safety problems
· opportunities for victims of workplace accidents, including relatives, to make victim impact statements to a court prior to the sentencing of offenders
The duty to consult conforms with ILO Convention 155 on health and safety
Other aspects of the legislation including risk management, consultation, scope, general duties of employers and employees, offences and penalties, sentencing guidelines, enforcement, appeals against inspectors, union officials powers and coverage of the Crown. All are summarised.
(Employment Law Bulletin; vol. 7, no. 5, 2001)
The Spokes Turn: Employee versus Independent Contractor by Marilyn Pittard
Another review of the question of employee or independent contractor, especially with the recent Vabu decision by the High Court. Pittard provides a good discussion of the case, and looks at the differing views of various judges of the Court. In particular Justice McHugh concluded with the other judges that Vabu was vicariously liable, but differed from the majority in that he did not see the courier concerned as an employee. However the implications of the majority finding of the courier as an employee will impact on unfair dismissal, annual leave, sick leave and long service leave and tax instalment deductions.
(Employment Law Bulletin; vol. 7, no. 5, 2001)
Federal Dismissal Changes
Changes to the Workplace Relations Amendment (Termination of Employment) Act 2000 commenced on 1st August 2001. These changes were:
· All new employees will be prevented from making claims of unfair dismissal claims for the first 3 months of employment. A similar provision existed in the regulations, but that required employees and employers to agree before employment commenced. The new provision is an automatic exclusion. The new provision will not apply for unlawful (as distinct from unfair) dismissals
· The AIRC will be required, when assessing claims, to consider specifically the different capacities of businesses of different sizes to comply with "correct" processes
· Some constructive dismissal claims will be ruled out. For example, an employee who is demoted and continues with the same employer, but does not suffer a "significant" reduction in remuneration or duties will not be able to make a claim.
· The AIRC will be able to dismiss claims after the initial conciliation process if they have "no reasonable prospect of success."
· The AIRC will be able to dismiss claims at an earlier stage if they are beyond the AIRC's jurisdiction, where employees fail to attend hearings, or where second applications referring to the same dismissal are made.
· Lawyers and advisers who represent parties will have to disclose whether they are operating under "no win, no pay" arrangements.
· The AIRC's discretion to extend the time limit for accepting late dismissal claims will be reduced.
(CCH Recruitment & Termination Update; newsletter 29, 14th September 2001; CCH Human Resources Update; newsletter 253, 21 September 2001)
Understanding the New Privacy Laws by Joydeep Hor
An examination of the practical implications of the new privacy legislation, which commences in December 2001.
It defines personal information as information or an opinion about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can be reasonably ascertained, from the information or opinion. Sensitive information includes particular types of personal information such as health information about an individual or, for example, information about their racial or ethnic origins, sexual preferences, political opinions, criminal record or trade union membership. The National Privacy Principles are outlined and some practical implications of the changes are set out with regard to personnel files, medical files, email and internet use, employee phone calls, requests for information from third parties and related bodies corporate. Training and development for employees in relation to handling and developing policies in personal information handling.
(Human Resources Management Bulletin; issue 18, September 2001)
Paid Care Ruling in New Zealand
A landmark discrimination ruling by the NZ Complaints Review Tribunal may allow families to claim payment for looking after disabled relatives. The Tribunal found that the IHC, the body that coordinated care for a disabled man, had discriminated against the man's parents by refusing to consider them for the job of paid caregivers. The IHC claimed the state Health Funding Authority had a policy of preventing family members from being contracted to provide residential services. The Tribunal did not find evidence of such a policy.
(CCH Equal Opportunity Update; newsletter 122, 11th September 2001)
Bullying in the Workplace: Recognising and Preventing It by Mary-Jane Ierodiaconou
The Victorian WorkCover Authority has recently released an issues paper Code of Practice for Prevention of Workplace Bullying has definitions and examples of bullying. The author considers what sort of conduct amounts to bullying. Bullying can be unlawful at common law, under anti-discrimination law, under OHS law and under workers' compensation law. Preventative strategies are also outlined.
(CCH Equal Opportunity Update; newsletter 122, 11th September 2001)
A recent US case has provided a significant lead in the way tribunals may look at the issue of testing. In US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad the EEOC alleged that the railroad was secretly testing workers to see if they had a predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome. The matter was settled by the railway admitting it had tested certain employees for a genetic marker. AN agreement provided that the railway would not:
· directly or indirectly require its employees to submit blood for genetic tests
· analyse any blood previously obtained
· evaluate, analyse or consider any gene test analysis previously performed on any of its employees
· retaliate or threaten to take any adverse action against any person who participated in EEOC proceddings.
The Commission said that it "takes the position that basing employment decisions on genetic testing violates [US anti-discrimination legislation]."
Originally published in IR Update, from Industrial Relations Victoria
(CCH Equal Opportunity Update; newsletter 121, 10th August 2001)
Union Rights and Freedom of Association by Diana Rowlands
Freedom of association under the Workplace Relations Act has been a constant issue before the courts over the past 12 months or more. Diana Rowlands, at a recent briefing run by ACIRRT and Cutler, Hughes & Harris (where she is a Senior Associate) examined the legislative provisions and why they are controversial at the federal level, and also state level legislation that deals with freedom of association, right of entry of union officials. This is done in the context of the increase in outsourcing, questions of the dismissal process, and occupational health and safety issues.
(Diana Rowlands. Union Rights and Freedom of Association. Sydney: Cutler Hughes & Harris, September 2001)
While American bombers have been stirring up the rubble in Afghanistan our media has been dishing us up the usual banquet of rubbish that passes as foreign news. The last few months has seen three momentous political issues materialise from the ether - Tampa, the World Trade Centre carnage and the bombing of Afghanistan - all of which have turned our domestic politics on its head. A depressing feature of the last month or so is the inability or unwillingness of our media to interpret and provide context to help us all understand and deal effectively with these events.
About four days after the 'propaganda of the deed' that reduced the centre of Manhattan to a scene that looked like ... well, a bit like Kabul over the last 20-odd years really - I switched on the idiot box one morning to the Today show - on Nine where everyone gets their news. Today's analysis focussed on Nostradamus and how he had predicted the attack eons ago. You know the media has reached the bottom of the barrel when they wheel out that old geezer and his malleable prophesies as political analysis.
Later, on the morning of the first bombing raids on Afghanistan Nine ran some shots of kids playing in the rubble in Kabul. Without any sense of irony the voiceover stated that they weren't sure if the pictures were taken before or after the first US attack!
While there is understandable outrage at a pathologically motivated suicide attack and mass murder by a small group of nutcase militants there are some pretty obvious questions and issues that the media should be asking and exploring. A little bit of healthy scepticism would be helpful too.
Ironies abound. Who would have believed ten years ago that the USA and Russia would be cooperating together to invade Afghanistan? Aren't the refugees from the Tampa -so easily demonised - fleeing the maniacs we are now at war with? Wasn't it the CIA via their proxies in the Pakistani secret services the ones that backed, financed and armed the Mojahideen of which the Taliban were a significant force in the crusade against the Soviets? Doesn't the United States itself have an echo of the Islamic fundamentalism of Osama bin Laden within its own society with Christian cults like the Branch Davidians or the Rev. Jim Jones or the Montana militias with their armed resistance, mass suicides and organised terror?
Aren't there American religious fanatics - not always at the fringes but often within mainstream political life -Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority or the Morman theocracy of Utah - who influence American policy to an unhealthy degree? Don't other developed societies such as Japan have their pathological religious extremes as well - witness the Aum Shinrikyo and their sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway. Has the mobilisation of the world's biggest war machine ever been suggested as a solution to these other Christian and Buddhist maniacs? Isn't the zealotry of Jewish nationalism with uncritical American support at the core of Arab militancy? Hasn't the Hollywood fantasy factory been generating and exporting the ideas for these spectacular attacks through action and disaster movies for years? Will anyone get the little thrills and frissons from these movies ever again in the aftermath of September 11?
Good questions but well beyond the imagination of most of our gutless mudrakers. Call me a cynic but the impression I get about the coverage of these events is a cynical attempt to portray our unscrupulous PM as some sort of tough guy statesman with all the answers. What a joke!! And all the more reason why we need to create and nurture our own media. Someone needs to ask the simple question: 'Why?'
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