Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 12 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 May 1999  




*  Interview: The Call of the Wild
We meet a union organiser who’s taking the union message into the call centres.
*  Unions: After the Gold Rush
Call centres are the boom industry and governments everywhere are touting them as major job creators - particularly in regional areas.
*  History: From Steam Trains to Information Superhighways
A new project is dedicated to promoting the heritage of the Eveleigh railway workshops.
*  Work/Time/Life: This Working Life: Issue #1
The debut issue of the ACTU's new monthly bulletin for it's Working Time and Employment Security Campaign.
*  International: British Unions Halt Membership Decline
Union membership has stopped falling in the UK for the first time in 18 years, suggesting that unions’ increased committment to recruitment and organising is starting to pay off.
*  Review: Cold Warriors' Secrets Exposed
NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw looks at two books that lift the lid on Cold War espionage.

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Workers Online - 2nd place Labourstart website of the year


Wobbly Radio


Union Samaritans To Storm Rescue

Push for Decent Call Centres
NSW unions will ask the Carr Government to introduce minimum standards for all call centres as it pushes to create 60,000 new jobs in the industry by 2003.
[ Full Story » ]

Shaw Unveils Second Wave
NSW Industrial Relations Minister Jeff Shaw has unveiled his plans for industrial relations reform including freeloader legislation, new controls for labour hire companies and rights for unions to be a party to non-union agreements.
[ Full Story » ]

Union Raises the Roof for Beryl
CFMEU roof tilers have come to the aid of an uninsured pensioner who lost her roof in the Sydney storms.
[ Full Story » ]

Cotter Withdraws Currawong Standover Claims
Marrickville Mayor Barry Cotter withdrew claims Labor Council officer Mark Lennon had threatened affiliates in the lead-up to the Currawong vote following a fiery meeting in Trades Hall this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Reith Second Wave Will Prolong Industrial Disputes
Plans by the Howard Government to further radically change the industrial relations framework will backfire and actually prolong industrial disputes.
[ Full Story » ]

It’s Rio Telstra -- Union Braces for Attack
Telstra has been accused of using Rio Tinto-style tactics to undermine unions fuelled by the new powers in Peter Reith’s Workplace Relations Act.
[ Full Story » ]

Fears of AWA Push in State Rail
Unions believe the State Rail Authority is planning to introduce Reith-style individual contracts for senior management as part of a new “get tough” approach to industrial relations.
[ Full Story » ]

Age Tele-Centre Seeks Pay Equity
A landmark equal pay case involving women at the Melbourne Age’s telephone sales centre was back in court this week, with legal arguments again keeping the key issues from being aired.
[ Full Story » ]

Advocate Ads to be Referred to Auditor-General, ACCC
The Employment Advocate is facing legal action on two fronts after commencing a tax-payer funded advertising blitz to promote Peter Reith’s secret non-union individual contracts.
[ Full Story » ]

Labor Council to Stage Pre-Drug Summit
The NSW Labor Council will hold a Drug Policy Forum next Thursday ahead of the State Parliament Summit the following week.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Wran Wrong on Wrepublic

  • Digging the Dirt-Digging

  • Editorial

    This Is Tomorrow Calling

    The call centre is often held up as a symbol of the Information Age.

    What that symbol is depends on where you sit. To many they are the lifeblood of the clever country of the future; to others they represent a return to the coal-mine.

    The State Government is vigorously promoting call centres as a cornerstone of its development strategy. It aims to create 60,000 call centre jobs over the next five years.

    The problem is that most of the industry is currently non-unionised and many companies take steps to keep it that way. Without an industry award, there are no minimum standards and conditions.

    Worse, some call centres operators are pioneering ways of using advances in technology to place their workers under increased scrutiny. Everything from average call times to toilet breaks are under the electronic eye.

    Workers Online does not subscribe to the view that call centres are evil sweat-shops that should be wiped out. The good centres are based around team-work, affirmation and self-improvement. They offer an entry level into interesting and challenging careers.

    The challenge for Labor policy-makers is to ensure that the call centres we entice to NSW are committed to this model, rather than merely being the bottom end of a cost-cutting process.

    A good first step would be to set some standards for the industry so that the good employers are not undercut by the cowboys, who treat their workers as post-Fordist cogs in a machine.

    Those who don't want to contribute to our society by creating decent jobs should be invited to invest elsewhere. We support jobs, jobs, jobs. But not at any cost.

    Peter Lewis
    Workers Online


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Kristyn Thompson on Unions and Generation X Let He Without Sin Kick The First Goal Naomi Steer on the Drug Policy Forum Witness for the Piers-ecution



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