Fresh from being ravaged by the Australian markets, media and general public for his under whelming Positioning for Growth statement, he has now earned the ire of the entire Scottish nation by accusing them of having been in "permanent recession" for the last 200 years. At the risk of following Frank down the path of racial stereotyping, this is akin to telling Australians that they can't hold their piss.
Cicutto's offending comments were made last week, in his capacity as chief of Clydesdale Bank - a wholly owned NAB subsidiary and another outlet slated for some of the PfG pain with 500 jobs to go. In response to a question by a banking analyst about why NAB was not pursuing growth in Scotland, he said: "Scotland has been in permanent recession for close enough for 200 years and if you look at the opportunities in Scotland, they're significantly inferior to the opportunities in Yorkshire."
To say the comments set the cat amongst the pigeons, is an under-statement. John Downie, the head of the Scottish Federation of Small Business, condemned the remarks as "frankly insulting" and warned of a backlash among Clydesdale's business customers. A Scottish Executive spokesman rebutted the claims in a record-breaking 35 seconds, while Andrew Wilson, the SNP economy spokesman, dismissed the outburst as "neither accurate nor helpful".
Meanwhile, Scotland's Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander, speaking at the Scottish Trades Union Congress annual meeting hit back railing against 'pesky Aussie putdowns'. She then drew on the phrase "Gnomes of Zurich" used by the late Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, when he blamed financial speculators in the Swiss city for the sterling crises which dogged the UK in the 1960s. "There was a certain gnome, not of Zurich but a gnome of Melbourne, who as we say here in Scotland got a bit stuck in yesterday," she told delegates. "And so rather than saying Scotland doesn't give a four X I thought I would start by setting the record straight."
Similar barbs were fired across the nation. The Scotsman newspaper got stuck in through its editorial: "Frank Cicutto . . . has got his facts, as well as much of his assessment, upside down." Meanwhile, the Scottish union movement said the comments smacked of arrogance in the extreme. UNIFI finance sector union general secretary Jim Caldwell said: "This is a man who is presiding over a business that lost billions [of dollars] in America, which has resulted in worldwide job losses, including a considerable number in Scotland."
By week's end, Cicutto had been forced to make an apology to the entire Scottish people, claiming his 'light-hearted' comments had been taken out of context. "I have the highest regard for the country and its people and I am sorry if my attempts at a light-hearted comment caused offence," he grovelled.
All of which at least served to divert Frank from the disastrous response to PfG, with the business sector dismissing the glossy McKinsey strategy as fluff, the unions continuing to scrutinise the job cuts and the media putting Cicutto's long-term tenure under the spotlight. As one scribe put it: "Analysts in Australia have recently warned that Mr Cicutto is one mistake away from getting sacked, though it remains to be seen whether insulting an entire nation qualifies as a fatal gaffe." Indeed.
Less than a week after being lacerated by a High Court judge for its corporate behaviour, the NSW Labor Council is demanding WorkCover action against the cigarette manufacturer.
Teresa Loyzaga, single mother of two young boys, insists she was sacked after complaining about smoking in a workplace contracted to call centre operator, Adecco.
"I don't like smoking but they told us when we started it was a smoking workplace and, at first, I accepted that," she told Workers Online. "I just wanted to be moved from the small enclosed room, which was full of smoke, to a desk in the outside corridor where it wasn't so bad.
"The smoke was aggravating my throat and chest. Eventually, I had to go to a specialist in Randwick and he sent a letter to the company saying I should be moved for my health.
"But they have a policy of drawing seating positions from a hat every three months and I kept drawing a desk in the enclosed area.
"I had smoker friends willing to give up their seats so I could work in the corridor but management wouldn't allow it."
Loyzaga said that after tendering the ENT specialist's letter, she got her marching orders.
"My jaw dropped, I said 'hey I'm a single Mum, you can't just fire me on the spot - what about my kids?"
That plea, she reported, won her a one week reprieve. Adecco told her they had looked for alternative jobs and, apart from a one-day placement, had nothing available.
Loyzaga, an immigrant from the Phillipines, hadn't been in the country long enough to qualify for any Centrelink support. By the time she started training as a bank teller, this week, she had run through the family's savings.
She has lodged an unfair dismissal claim and filed separate Occupational Health and Safety complaints through Labor Council and the ASU.
Labor Council OH&S specialist, Mary Yaager, is seeking a WorkCover investigation of the Pagewood call centre that employs around 100 workers.
FOOTNOTE: Adecco Group Asia Pacific chief executive officer Ray Roe said Loyzaga had been offered and refused five alternate positions in non-smoking call centres elsewhere in Sydney.
He said the British American Tobacco call centre in Pagewood was a known smoking environment.
``We ask the people who want to work there to sign a waiver acknowledging they know it is a smoking environment,'' Roe said.
The NSW Labor Council says the research, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, underlines why the federal government needs to develop a universal approach to paid maternity leave.
The AISF study found that employers were most likely to offer family friendly work practices to employers with high skill levels or in whom employers had invested in the form of training.
In contrast, employers with the lowest levels of education, job tenure and organisation-provided training are least likely to have access to family-friendly work practices.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the findings show the working experience is very different for high-skilled and unskilled workers.
"This is proof of the so-called McJobs syndrome; while gold-collar workers are enjoying more flexible work practices, service sector workers are locked into highly rigid, impersonal structures.
Unions Welcome Federal Report
Meanwhile, the ACTU has welcomed the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner's options paper on maternity as a first step towards ending discrimination against most Australian women workers.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Prue Goward was a welcome move forward and called on the Federal Government to take action to develop an appropriate system to benefit all working women.
"We welcome the fact that this leading Government agency is no longer talking about if Australian women should have maternity leave, but rather how it can be implemented," Burrow says.
"It is unfair and discriminatory that less than one-third of Australia's working women have access to paid maternity leave, and most receive less than 12 weeks, with the average being far less."
A new study by the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training (ACIRRT) at Sydney University found only 6.7 percent of current enterprise agreements contained paid maternity leave provisions. Just 3.4 percent of private sector enterprise agreements and only 0.7 percent of AWA individual contracts provided paid maternity leave.
CFMEU Mining Division president Tony Maher revealed the deaths during an emotional plea for Government to stop “grandstanding” over unfair dismissals and address injustices “threatening families and tearing apart whole communities”.
The CFMEU wants legislation to stop multi-nationals with deep pockets side-stepping laws that everyone else is bound by.
"The scales of justice are being titlted out of the reach of ordinary Australians when big companies are allowed to use their economic power to see off people with just cases," Maher said.
He was speaking after hundreds of mineworkers, construction workers and their supporters rallied outside Rio Tinto's AGM this week, protesting further delays in reinstating 206 Hunter Valley and central Queensland mineworkers who have won three separate cases against the company, since their 1998 sackings.
In the course of those judgements, Rio Tinto was found to have operated blacklists and destroyed documents relevant to the proceedings.
The company, which has appealed every verdict, has so far spent more than $10 million in keeping the workers away from their jobs at the Blair Athol, Hunter Valley No 1 and Mt Thorley mines. During one case, alone, it had a high-powered legal team operating for 60 days.
After the rally, addressed by ACTU secretary Greg Combet and attended by supportive Labor MPs including Kirsten Livermore, Kelly Hoare, Kerry Hickey and shadow Resources Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, protesters used proxies to enter the belly of the beast.
Sacked workers, former workmates, their wives, union officials and MPs urged Rio Tinto to face up to its responsibilities.
Speakers gave the lie to company claims there were no jobs to return to, revealing hundreds of contractors on higher rates than miners, were keeping the operations ticking over.
Men and women told of how the dismissals and resulting divisions had damaged previously tight-knit communities.
Maher said his union had spent "a fortune" chasing Rio Tinto around the legal block and there had to come a time when even the biggest company bowed to the rule of law.
"The law must be changed," Maher said. "Three times these people have been proven right but the company is allowed to keep on appealing at the expense of Australian families and mining communities.
"It's unfair, it's crazy and, because of the human cost, it's bloody disgraceful."
NSW unions are stunned at the Office of the Employment Advocate’s move to reject the Lucas Heights project award, agreed between the Labor Council and construction contractor John Holland.
Industry sources say it has baulked at clauses covering delegates rights and immigration.
Abbott and Employment Advocate, Jonathan Hamberger, are the architects of the controversial Cole Commission into the Building Industry and the latest rejection is viewed as another step in their campaign against the CFMEU.
Illegal immigration has become a tool in the bid to drive down wages and conditions in the building industry. Government has all but given up policing the issue, leaving unions, particularly the CFMEU, to monitor a situation with serious implications for workplace safety, tax and compo compliance.
CFMEU branch secretary, Andrew Ferguson, calls the OEA's stance on the union's standard immigration clause "outrageous".
It is a line developed by Labor Council secretary John Robertson who will ask both the Minister and the Employment Advocate to explain themselves.
"This Government went to the last election saying it would determine who was going to come into Australia but, in practise, that isn't happening," Robertson said.
"We have employers using illegals to pay cash in the hand, avoid payroll tax and a number of other requirements.
"They have left a huge loophole in the law which employers exploit by simply failing to ask the relevant question - are you a legal worker? If, by some chance, they are caught they simply deny any knowledge and walk away."
Robertson said the issue was the "acid test" of whether or not the Howard Government was serious about combatting illegal immigration.
The problem, he argued, is that for political reasons it has concentrated its firewpower on 5000 illegal entrants, rather than the 58,000 people who overstayed their visas, last year alone.
Labor Council will meet OEA representative next week in an effort to resolve the impasse.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson is throwing his organisation’s weight behind a national campaign to vaccinate as many people as possible, healthy adults included, before this year’s virus strikes.
"This should be a basic workplace issue," Robertson says. "Preventative action means a win-win outcome. Workers will increase their chances of remaining healthy while employers can save costs on unnecessary absenteeism.
"We will be encouraging all workers to pressure employers to organise and pay for flu vacinnations."
Robertson says Labor Council will give a lead by making vacinnations available to its staff.
The council was addressed by Commonwealth Serum Laboratories director of public health, Dr Neil Formica, who warned against viewing the flu as just another cold.
"It is a distinct viral infection causing severe symptoms which result in widespread illness every year," he said.
He said while the elderly and those with chronic conditions faced higher health risks, everyone should consider the benefits of vacinnation.
Dr Formica told delegates researchers had likened working with flu to working drunk, revealing it could slow reaction times by as much as 40 percent.
Robertson said the latter point made combatting flu a frontline union issue.
"It's health and safety, in more ways than one," he said.
The six artists will play-off at a special May Day gig at the South Sydney Leagues Club on Wednesday May 1, with the winner walking away with $5000 to go towards a recording of the song.
Judges include representatives of the Musicians Union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 2JJJ and Radio fBi.
The competition is being sponsored by the NSW Labor Council, which launched the search for a union anthem for the 21st Century.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says he's been stunned by the quality and scope of the entries. "They underline the potential for popular culture and politics to sit much closer together," Robertson says.
The list of finalists who will all be invited to play at the Sydney May Day dinner and gig is as follows:
Swarmy G - May Day, May Day (NSW) - A driving hip hop tune with clever samples and smart lyrics.
Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis - Hold That Line (TAS) - A more traditional, folk flavoured contribution.
Mahuia Cooper - Union (NSW) - Sweet retro-pop with rock filled choruses.
Urban Guerillas - Touch One, Touch All (NSW) - An energising and empowering rock tune.
Dogbite - Clout (VIC) - Musically sweet with great girl vocal harmonies but still a strong shout-out for joint action.
Mischevious - Who I Am (WA) - Another hip hop tune, this one's a more personal story from a working man.
To hear more of the entries check out Wobbly Radio on http://www.wobblyradio.com
A meeting of disgruntled Public Service Association members in Sydney's Metropolitan West resulted in a one-day strike as concern over resourcing and poor management escalated.
The PSA has given a commitment to the IRC there will be no further industrial action until it meets the Community Services Minister on Monday but general secretary Maurie O'Sullivan warned the mood of strikers mirrored that of others DOCS employees.
"Essentially, the issue is one of resourcing and the failure of senior management to accept responsibility for the Department's deepening crisis," O'Sullivan says.
New child protection legislation, introduced in December 2000, has seen child abuse and neglect reports escalate from 72,000 a year to more than 140,000.
O'Sullivan says less than 10 percent are now being investigated.
"Even worse, a number of urgent cases, requiring a 24-hour response, are being left unallocated," he says.
The PSA has been hammering departmental management about the crisis since last April but, O'Sulluvan said, the necessary resources had not been forthcoming.
Management, he claimed, had washed their hands of the issue by shifting blame or denying the existence of a problem.
"This is never more evident than in the event of a child death when the department will automatically blame staff by initiating disciplinary action and failing to acknowledge the chronic staffing issue," he said.
Labor Council will join the PSA in campaigning for an adequately funded service in NSW.
The survey of 1000 workers in 88 call centres nationally found only half said they always received the minimum wage specified in the industry standards code adopted by many call centres as well as by State Governments in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Code's minimum base rate is $13.90 per hour for a customer service officer.
The survey also found that 84 percent of respondents did not receive regular ear tests, 56 percent were never consulted about how call monitoring is used by management and one third of employees reported insufficient breaks to follow up a customer's issues.
Releasing the results at a call centre conference in Brisbane today, ACTU President Sharan Burrow called on the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to follow Queensland's lead in adopting the Minimum Standards Code.
"About 70 percent of all call centre workers are employed in NSW and Victoria, but these states are dragging the chain in adopting the Minimum Standards Code already used by many private employers," Ms Burrow said.
"Call centres represent one of Australia's fastest growing yet least regulated industries, with a mainly young and female workforce who deserve decent minimum wages and conditions.
"Companies looking to invest in Australian call centres list a skilled workforce as one the key factors. In order to maintain a competitive edge in attracting new employment opportunities, government and industry must invest in quality long term, highly skilled jobs. The Minimum Standards Code helps meet that need," Ms Burrow said.
Over the last fortnight the production of news and sports programming has been affected, along with the popular Movie Show.
While management recently upped their pay offer to 11 percent over three years, staff feel SBS is still failing to address their concerns about pay, temporary employment, performance assessment and working hours.
Community and Public Sector Union spokesperson Adrian O'Connell said staff were fed-up with management's refusal to bargain in good faith.
"We are completely frustrated with the approach management are taking. They are using negotiators who aren't authorised to reach a deal at the table. They are seeking unreasonable things such as 'temporary employment' for up to five years," he said.
Unions are seeking a 14 percent wage increase, severance pay for long-term temporary employees, a 25 percent casual loading and prohibition on solo camera crews. Further industrial action is possible.
On a more positive note, CPSU members are claiming a victory following the broadcaster's agreement to declare over 30 long-term temporary employees permanent. All had been at the station for two-and-a-half years or more, with one having worked more than 16 years consecutively on temporary contracts
Meetings with state Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, and the NSW Labor Council have been set up in a bid to save the South Coast Workers' Medical Health Centre, threatened by changes to Workers Compensation Legislation.
South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the centre's predicament was of "great concern" to people in the Illawarra.
New Workers Comp guidelines restrict the assessment of compensation to body part specialists, meaning registered ENT specialists are in line to take over the hearing assessment work traditionally done by the centre.
Della Bosca has already written to the South Coast Labor Council, reaffirming the guidelines while giving a commitment that WorkCover will assist the medical centre by "developing arrangements" with local specialists.
NSW Labor Council will ask him to extend that support by providing urgent financial assistance until the hearing testing issue is resolved.
LHMU airport security members handed out hundreds of information leaflets to the travelling public during their stoppages - explaining the campaign for improved security standards.
Sydney airport members have scheduled a meeting in May with the local federal and State Labor MPs, whose electorates cover the airport.
The union has scheduled a national meeting of airport security delegates in May to discuss the best strategy for an on-going campaign.
Queensland airport screeners and security workers will begin negotiations for their enterprise agreement in a few weeks time - so they have watched the activity of Sydney union members with some interest.
LHMU members at Brisbane Airport passed a motion to support the industrial action being taken by security guards employed by SNP at the Sydney international and domestic terminals.
The motion adopted said:
We urge fellow guards in Sydney to stand strong to get a decent wage increase and improved conditions in your enterprise bargaining negotiations.
The Brisbane aviation guards employed by Group 4 congratulates you and supports your struggle. We know that it can be won by maintaining unity and our thoughts are with you.
Similar statements of support have been passed by meetings of airport security workers at a number of other Australian airports.
The ACTU International Committee included that assessmet in a call to both sides to commit themselves to the peace process.
"Terrorism, involving attacks on innocent civilians and the use of highly destructive modern weapons against refugeee camps, must both stop," it says.
The ACTU is seeking an urgent meeting with the Israeli ambassador and urging the Australian Government to back UN intervention in the region.
The ACTU intends conveying the concerns of affiliates to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and will ask for sanctions to be considered in a bid to stop the bloodshed and destruction.
Sydney technicians rallied outside the company's headquarters this week as workers pushed claims for $2000 wage rises, reinstatement of rostered days off and an increased walking allowance for CBD-based operators.
ASU secretary Luke Foley says the action has extra significance because Canon workers were supported by colleagues from Fuji Xerox, the long-term union stronghold in the industry.
Fuji workers mounted a successful industrial campaign for a collective agreement last year.
The case, now before the California Supreme Court, is seen as crucial by union organisers who want to use e-mail technology to campaign for workers' rights.
While the right to use e-mail as an organising tool seems to be under attack in the USA British workers are set to win important protections against snooping bosses under a new code determining the rights to privacy at work.
In Britain, blanket monitoring of e-mails and internet usage in the office will be banned and hidden cameras can be used without staff consent only in criminal investigations where police have been informed, according to a new code under the Data Protection Act.
Employers in the UK should give staff access to private e-mail and internet accounts, the code states, and not monitor e-mails where there is 'reason to believe' they are personal, even if sent or received on a work computer during office hours.
In the USA Intel won its District Court case against the worker activist on the basis of a legal argument called " trespass the chattels" a doctrine which prohibits others from interfering with personal property.
Intel sued ex-employee Ken Hamdi because over a two-year period he had six times e-mailed employees attacking the company's treatment of its workforce.
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation - a civil liberties organisation working to protect rights in the digital world -have supported Ken Hamdi in an appeal, claiming that his right to free speech was violated.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues the 'trespass chattels' victory was an incorrect use of the doctrine because the interference must be intentional, physical contact with someone else's property that results in substantial interference or damage of the property.
The company acknowledged during the case that none of the messages had harmed Intel's computer systems and caused no delays but nevertheless a California District court ruled for the company that e-mails were an "illegal trespass."
by Andrew Casey
The May 1993 murder of 25 year old Marsinah, a worker activist employed by PT Catur Putra Surya, a watch manufacturing company in East Java became a cause celebre among Indonesian activists and the international union and human rights community.
It was widely believed that her death was related to her leadership role among the workers participating in strike action at the factory.
The Indonesian pro-reformasi website - Laksamana-net - has applauded Megawati for ordering the human rights probe but is cynical about its results saying it seems unlikely the killers will ever be brought to justice because of the military's alleged involvement in the case.
" Now is the time for Komnas HAM ( the Indonesian human rights commission) to prove that it cares more about human rights than conspiring to protect the military's image," Laksamana.net commented after the announcement of the new inquiry into the Marsinah murder.
ILO Pressure for new Marsinah Investigation
The Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights Djoko Sugianto told reporters this week that President Megawati responded positively after the Commission reportert o her the issues involved, and the fact that the International Labour Organisation had discussed the case at its annual conference.
Djoko Sugianto said the commission had planned to renew the investigation on the grounds that the case had not been resolved properly after almost a decade.
The strike at the Catur Putra Surya watch factory started on May 3, 1993 after the company failed to comply with a circular from the Regency Governor stating that workers wages be increased from Rp 1,750 to Rp 2,250 per day.
On May 4 workers returned to the factory but refused to begin work until their demands were met.
Company Agrees to Worker Demands
That afternoon the company agreed to the workers demands. Marsinah participated in the negotiations.
The next day, 13 of the workers' representatives (not including Marsinah) were ordered to Kodim (District Military Command) office, where they were forced to sign letters of resignation. The 13 workers then sent letters to a number of government agencies protesting their forced resignation.
After finishing work that evening, Marsinah went looking for her friends at the Kodim offices but was informed they had been released.
She then visited the homes of two friends (workers who had earlier been ordered to Kodim) to obtain a copy of the agreement. At 9.30pm, Marsinah left, telling her friend that she would get something to eat on the way home.
Three days later, on May 8, Marsinah's body was found in a hut next to a rice field in the village of Jedong, Desa Wilangan, in the Nganjuk regency 200 kilometers from the factory.
The medical examination found that Marsinah had died as a result of injuries inflicted during torture. Wounds on her neck and both wrists indicated that she had been severely beaten, had suffered internal hemorrhaging and been raped with a blunt instrument before being killed.
A number of people at the watch factory were arrested for the crime but all eight defendants in the case were exonerated either because they were found not guilty or because the prosecution had been misdirected from the beginning.
Within a year of the trial the activist, pro-union, Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) released its own report that concluded there was a strong possibility that Marsinah was murdered by the military at the Kodim headquarters.
This report has been largely ignored by Indonesian officialdom.
Soon after the fall of the Suharto regime the Indonesian National Police reopened the investigation into the murder, but pressure allegedly from military sources led to no clear outcome.
The Human Rights new investigation will be based on the results of trials carried out during the regime of ex-president Suharto.
The trials conducted in 1993 were a complete sham, as managers at the East Java watchmaking factory where Marsinah had worked were used as scapegoats jailed, while the real killers were never brought to justice.
The head of the Human Rights Commission Djoko Sugianto told reporters that Indonesia had been asked by the ILO to reinvestigate the case.
"As a matter of fact, the ILO has been persistently enquiring about the case and asked Indonesia to answer its questions with evidence," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.
You can read a very good history of the whole Marsinah murder saga at the Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor website just click here.
INVITATION TO AFTINET PUBLICATION LAUNCH
12.30, 24 April 2002,
Parliament House, Sydney
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) invites you to the launch of its new publication: The MAI Resurrected?
What the New Round of World Trade Organisation Negotiations could mean for Australia by Dr Patricia Ranald, Principal Policy Officer, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
When: Wednesday 24 April at 12.30 pm.
Where: Jubilee Room, Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney.
The Australian government is taking part in negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and on proposed new WTO agreements on investment,
competition policy and government procurement. These proposals resurrect many of the negative features of the discredited draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which collapsed in 1998 after it was exposed by community debate.
These negotiations could result in:
reduced ability of governments to regulate essential services like electricity or water to ensure equitable prices and environmental sustainability
privatisation of public services like health and education by opening up their funding to transnational corporations
removal of the right to limit level of foreign investment in strategic industries like the media, telecommunications or airlines, or
to use government purchasing to help local
The publications explains the WTO process, how we can hold our government accountable and campaign against these outcomes, and for a trade framework which respects human rights and the environment.
Speakers include :
The Rev Dr Ann Wansbrough, Uniting Church Minister
Julius Roe, National President, Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union
Dr Meredith Burgmann, President, Legislative Council of NSW
Senator John Cherry, Australian Democrats Spokesperson on Trade
Senator elect Kerry Nettle, Greens NSW
For more information contact Sarah Mitchell at [email protected]
Thanks to the Uniting Church for funding assistance with the publication and to the Mercy Foundation for campaign funding.
Free Trade ???????????????
Dear Peter ,your editorial on free trade while clearly true and in no way is enhanced by hyperbole it has the same underestimation which has been the Achilles Heel of Trade Unionism for quite some time , the focus on the little picture.
For years now from the Hawke governments crushing of the Pilots governments have isolated areas of the workforce demonised them then crushed them with the blessing of the other Unions, and Union Officials have done the same to the rank and file activists. It is am immutable law, "That which ye sow, so shall ye reap".
Lets move on to this address :
What an interesting presentation* given by Mr. Gary Banks the Chairman of the productivity Commission.
Mr. Banks claims that our prosperity highly dependent on International Trade , or course our prosperity depends on trade , but we no longer have anything to trade , unless we participate in "Slave trading" this way we can get rid of all the excess unemployed at a profit. Silly me, sell yourself, that's' prostitution. No Australian would do that?
He also makes absurd claims that this International Trade has become a key to the performance of our manufacturing Industries. One must ponder on what industries he refers to, the ones that Hawke and Keating sent overseas, or the ones that Howard and Frazer sent overseas. I have nightmares of Comrade Doug Cameron having an aneryrism over absurd claims such as this, then where would our Manufacturing Industry be .Is the Comrade asleep?
(I recall many years ago a Scottish activists Betty McQuiggian#, putting a spoke in the wheels of a smaller version of this Globalism, (Europeanism) through mirroring the activities of the oppressor, and networking with other oppressed workers, much in the same way Ghandi gained empathy from the downtrodden mill workers of Bradford and Leeds, when he visited the UK., for talks on Indian Nationalism.
But listens here; Mr. Banks, still not satisfied with such ridiculous hyperbole, asserts that the service industry will also be saved from disaster by International Trade.
What utter crap has emanated from this source! Is it not jobs in our service industry that are at risk from that bastard child of the "WTO", the "GATS" agreement?
This is the agreement which has now all but circumvented the previous resistance against the "Multi Functional Polis ", where cities under foreign rule which were supported by the Hawke Keating governments, business centres had workers imported from the cheapest source of labor that could be found, while more Australians are forced onto rapidly shrinking , Welfare Payments. Methinks!
This "GATS agreement forces this migrationary labor transfer at all levels between joint signatories , and seals the fates of millions of Australians into lower living conditions.
That which we feared the most, has already come upon us! Are we the "Economic trash of Asia"?
I have suggested it before in many forms, and I suggest it again, the Trade Union movement should rather than fight to stay within this dysfunctional socialist family and continue to suffer what could be termed as child abuse, it must fly the coop, leave the nest and establish its own family.
But, back to Banks, and his crumbling defense of the WTO.
Lets' cut to the chase, "What's in it for Australia".
The claims that we have been able to enhance our economic interests, provide nothing of substance, rather just some good old fairground spruik and fairyfloss.
As for me, I'll have the boiled lollies; at least they take the bad taste away.
To quote Mr. Banks, he states Australia has long been able to
"punch above its weight"
Och! Give us a fecken break, Mr. Banks , I for one am getting a bit tired of these Bloody Banks Ripping us Off ,first its Keating selling the Commonwealth Bank , and telling us it good for us , Then it's the NAB Bank , closing the branches and telling us its good for us , and then it's the Productivity Commission Banks , selling us, and telling us its good for us . More like Tales of the Riverbank? Without stereotyping (I'm fibbing , just look at these people) ,and fortunately for us, those powers that be, have never heard that old truism, from Mr. Toad , "Never hire a ferret to do a weasels job" Is it time for a bit of good old fashioned "Union Weasels Fight Back"? (No I don't mean Trotskyism and blood on the street)
The substantiated claim of a victory in getting America to back down on the Lamb, appears "kosher", until carefully examined, and that it is revealed, the only Lamb America will let in is us, and that is on a temporary visa and only until they can fleece us.
Hidden away in the middle of his address, is a part of the real issue for the WTO that is Domestic Industrial Reform.
Oh! I wonder what that means, surely not third world wages and conditions, with a large pool of unemployed as an insurance policy against a refusal to tug the forelock. This is reinforced by the repetitive mantra coming from the Liberal Government over the past few weeks, that Industrial (Domestic) Reform is the main course on the menu for the rest of their elected term. And through the alternative being spookier than the incumbents, with some gentle massaging of special interest groups they just might succeed.
Let's face it, the only foundation the ALP has left are a few disgruntled middle class public service employees.
Mr. Banks waffles on for page after page with the same un-substantiated blether, with as' a tiresome a' funeral drones that ever came out of a Campbells' windbag.
The fact is that with few exceptions, most Australians are worse off every year than the previous year for the past 40years, with the losses in the manufacturing over the past 20 years creating a debilitating atrophy in the Australian psyche of self reliance.
Creating a Welfare State Mentality, this has now matched the excess of the United Kingdom prior to their embrace of Thatcherism.
If Australia signs this GATS agreement , which is an agreement more along the lines of the European Union with free movement between countries I can't see our Trade Union Industrial Awards lasting any longer than the next negotiating date.
This did not affect the E.U., because most European countries have similar working conditions, whereas some of our potential partners in GATS, have conditions for workers below that of an Afro-American prior to their civil war, and they consistently use their military to attack their workers.
This "GATS" agreement has been described by many as "an anarchy of purchasing power", with large corporations swooping like Vultures on country to country , conquering these sovereign states by purchasing their essential services such as , Power , Gas , Water , Hospitals , Schools, and even in some cases governments departments.
But this is not some new idea as some would have you think , this is as old as Methuselah , just a new shiny sheen has been put on it , and like milk tops attracting magpies or a flicker attracting a moth , it attracts the daring and foolish.
In a willful praise of John Howard, if not all his collaborators, his return to the fifties has some merit, it was according to Kenneth Davidson from the Melbourne Age "Remember 1952, Welfare didn't exist. In its place Australia had "Keynesian", full employment and the generous, and needs based "basic wage".
Many disadvantaged Australians may agree with this statement and are still looking for the third way.
What is this with a new young opposition leader in NSW?.
This man is an uneducated product of the Liberal Party. He has had less schooling than the average tradesman and he is to pontificate on matters such as education.
The Liberals normally manage to get a silver-tail lawyer to lead them but now we have an upwardly mobile man of no qualifications. But he did marry well.
by Peter Lewis
As someone who's been active in both wings of the Labour movement, the political and the industrial wings, how do you contrast the two cultures?
Both the Party and the union movement have been around for a long time now, over 100 years and they are very established institutions. The organised labour movement in Australia both politically, and industrially, has achieved a hell of a lot over 100 plus years but both need to recognise changing times. There's a drastic need for both union renewal and ALP renewal.
What are the differences in culture?
Well the ALP seeks to win elections and form governments; hopefully to advance the common good. You have a lot of good principled people in the Labor Party; but you also have a few spivs and carpetbaggers frankly, who are on about nothing but themselves.
Unions exist as a vehicle for people to improve their lives at work. For the union movement, I think the greatest problem is it's a very big ship to turn around. I just think there has to be a sense of urgency today at all levels of the union movement.
You're someone who's had a choice out of working full time in the political or the industrial wing. What was it that made you choose to work full time in the Union?
I don't think that unions have an automatic right to exist and if unions don't switch resources to grass roots organising, if they don't genuinely try and develop workplace leaders and shift resources to growth, I've got no doubt that we'll be down to American levels of density. Given that, it seems to me that the most important job to be done in the labour movement in Australia is to re-build union strength, so that people can exercise some say over their lives at work. I think one of the really healthy things over the last five years is that a hell of a lot of young activists are devoting themselves to working in unions rather than pursuing Parliamentary careers and that's enormously important for our renewal.
You took on the leadership of the ASU Services Branch in NSW at the age of 30, what were the major immediate challenges you had to face moving into that role?
Our Branch is an amalgamation of ten small unions. Those unions were across the public, private and community sectors, but the traditional strengths and the majority of members have always come from the public sector - the railways, the water industry, the electricity industry, the ports. In all of those areas employment levels have declined markedly and will continue to decline. In other areas of our coverage, employment is increasing, yet union penetration is minimal. The ASU is obliged to organise workers in the community sector and in those private sector areas of our coverage. No other union is going to do it. If the ASU doesn't do it people working in those industries aren't going to be organised. And if they're not organised, they'll suffer.
The ASU project - if you want to call it that - is to organise workers in the community sector and in those private sector areas where workers haven't been well organised before. That's not to say we're going to forget or neglect our coverage in the public sector. We've got a very important role to ensure workers in the water industry and the railways industry for example are organised and we're going to continue to do that. But we have to vigorously pursue growth in those areas of our coverage where workers haven't been organised before.
So how do you go about doing that?
Let's look at the community sector for example. The ASWU which is now part of our union, is one of the youngest unions in Australia. It wasn't formed until the late 70's. There was no history of worker organisation in the community sector. Many in the labour movement saw the people working in the sector as volunteers who were somehow not deserving of the rights and conditions that other workers have. But that's crap.
Employment in the social and community services sector has been sky-rocketing and will continue to do so because there's such a call on the non government sector to deliver services that governments won't deliver anymore. It's a really important job for the union movement to ensure that workers in that sector enjoy respect and dignity at work. We've put a lot of resources into that. We've campaigned for years and years to improve the pay and conditions of workers in the community sector in New South Wales. Just before Christmas that came to fruition with the new SACS award. We just didn't run a legal case to achieve that. The legal case was important and I think we got a pretty good result down at the Commission. But if it wasn't for the on the ground campaigning that our members did, I've got no doubt that the state government simply wouldn't have coughed up the dough to ensure community organisations can afford the improvements.
The Carr Government has been good on this. Within a week of the decision, Michael Egan announced that the Government was going to fund all the community and charitable organisations in the community sector to pay for the award improvements. The challenge now is to get the Federal Government to do the same thing. But those gains have only come about because workers in the sector across the state have got themselves organised. They got themselves organised under the ASU banner, appropriately so. But if we simply said it's too hard, we've got to put all our resources into the areas where we've traditionally been strong, these workers rights and conditions just wouldn't be moving forward at all.
Give me an idea of the resource shift internally that's been involved in moving from a focus purely on industrial to support an organising operation?
Traditionally union organisers have had a defined area of responsibility ie. a certain number of members or workplaces on a geographic basis or an industry basis. We've got some organisers who don't have such a portfolio but are responsible for organising in non-union and poorly unionised workplaces. Now that's got to be targeted, you don't just say go out there and find where the non-members are and bring them in. There's pretty rigorous planning in assessing what workplaces are targeted. At the same time we've got people devoting themselves to industry wide campaigns as well as targeted workplace campaigning. In the community sector we've got people whose job it is to ensure that we're campaigning around sector wide issues. That's by no means unique. A lot of unions now have made that shift over the last five or so years and I think shifting resources to organise the unorganised is now pretty much mainstream opinion amongst union leaders.
A strike such as the one by Photocopier Workers this week is a sign of the success of that approach?
We're pretty encouraged by what's happened at Canon this week. You see we've got responsibility for photocopier technicians, that comes from the old Technical Services Guild. The pace setters have been the workers at Fuji-Xerox. We said to our members there: how much longer do you think you can get pay and conditions better than the staff of Xerox's competitors if we don't organise them? There would be a commercial imperative for Fuji-Xerox to take you on if their competitors' wages bills are so much lower. So we've taken the view that we've got a responsibility to get out there in large companies in that industry where workers haven't been strongly organised in the past. Canon has always had a fair few union members but they haven't exercised power frankly, and this week for the first time the staff at Canon have taken industrial action. They went out for a day and there was great support for that.
What role did the Fuji workers have, how did they play a part in the action at Canon?
Our key delegates at Fuji-Xerox have been involved in discussions with their colleagues working for Canon. They do the same work, a lot of them know each other. They've talked to them about what they've achieved. It's not a hard argument to sell, hey look guys we got organised and these are the results we've achieved, you could do the same thing.
Moving on to the ALP Election Review a lot has been said about what needs to happen for the ALP survival, but how important is this sort of review for the union movement?
Well there's been a lot of talk about the relationship between the ALP and the unions, a lot of that has been driven by the conservatives. The conservatives know what they're on about, that's destroying unions' ability to organise. Why I think there's a lot of disquiet from unionists is that there's been a lot of timidity from the ALP. There seems to be a reluctance to defend the relationship with the union movement. Now I think it's a pretty important relationship. There are not many countries in the world where you've got a good chance of having national government formed by a trade union based political party. I think that's a pretty valuable thing and we don't want to let go of it lightly in Australia.
So the challenge then for unionists becomes ensuring that the Labor Party is responsive to working peoples' issues. One of my concerns is that the debate really is a top down one at the moment, conducted between union officials and Labor frontbenchers.
But if it's simply a debate between insiders, I think the point's being missed. Everything we're trying to do to re-build union strength is focused at the grassroots level, we're talking about developing workplace leaders, we're talking about member activism, we're talking about delegates' rights. For me, one of the key things I'd like to see out of the ALP Reviews that are underway is some bottom-up initiatives. There's now a whole lot of ALP Parliamentarians who hardly ever come across a unionist. They've got very little exposure to our people and our issues. So I'd like to see the ALP require it's MP's to develop a dialogue with working people in their local electorates. That is, some mechanism where local Labor MP's are required to engage regularly with the local union delegates working in their community.
You're talking about maybe an alternate form of branch structure where each electorate has a body of unionists from across the movement meeting regularly with an MP?
Absolutely. The party of the workers has hardly any workers who are members. The affiliated unions in NSW have 482,000 members, only about 3,000 of them are actually members of the ALP. That's woeful. Sixty percent of ALP members don't work for a living!
You've now got a whole lot of Labor Parliamentarians who are pre-selected and get themselves back into Parliament election after election, who hardly have anything to do with working people. There's a real disconnection now between what unionists do and what Labor politicians do. So we've got to look at structures and mechanisms to ensure that a connection is there in the future.
In the NSW rail industry our delegates meet with Carl Scully, the Minister for Transport, so he's not just talking with me, he actually fronts a room full of delegates a couple of times a year. We reckon that's a good thing. He doesn't just report to them, he also listens to them. But why isn't every Labor MP required to do the same thing locally? The smart MP's would use it to develop and build a grassroots network in his or her community. If unions are fair dinkum about fostering workplace leadership we have to give a role to our workplace leaders to help shape the political agenda.
What does that mean for the factionalism you spoke about earlier?
In an era of 25 per cent union density the traditional left-right factional battles ought to mean very little. There's left wing and right wing and union officials leading the union renewal project. That's a good thing. The left-right battles simply don't mean that much anymore when the union movement could go out of business if we don't get serious about our future.
So do you see a prospect of say the left and right factions collapsing and a new industrial faction maybe emerging within the Party?
Look, I'm a realist. The factions continue to exist. I am not one of these people who pretend that they shouldn't exist or is embarrassed about being a member of a faction. At the same time though, I acknowledge that no faction or group has a monopoly of good principled and active people. But I repeat, in an era of 25 per cent union density, some of that history has to be put to one side. There's only one issue for unionists, that's union renewal, so that people can exercise some control over their lives at work. It can't be approached in a factional way.
The ACTU warned a senate committee this week that routine political and industrial activism could be criminalised as terrorism under the Howard Government's new security bill.
High on the ACTU's concerns were that the new law could be used to limit the civil liberties of union members, to work against union activism and to weaken unions.
Under the new law the activities that could be defined as a terrorist act includes any action or threat made with the intention of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause. Acts include those involving harm to persons or property as well as acts which constitute a risk to the health or safety of a section of the public, or interference with an electronic system, including telecommunications, financial, essential services, public utilities or transport.
Under this definition finance sector workers who 'jam the fax" of their CEO, or telecommunications workers who ban repairs to faults could be deemed to have engaged in a terrorist act, punishable by life imprisonment.
Poor Protection of Industrial Activity And Activism
The ACTU regards the exemption of industrial action as inadequate. If the Bill becomes law, participating in an information picket involving a public utility, health provider or other essential service provider, would become punishable by life imprisonment.
Rallies such as the reconciliation marches, peace vigils, Palm Sunday walks, and reclaim the night marches would all be caught within the Bill. And punishable by life imprisonment!
There are also strict liability offences, also punishable by life imprisonment, for providing training in the use of firearms and explosives or for collecting or making a document connected with a terrorist activity.
A TAFE teacher providing training in explosives to miners would be vulnerable, as would the owner of a PC running distributed computing software. Academics researching terrorism would be liable for merely collecting a pamphlet produced by an organisation engaged in terrorist activity.
Another section of the bill gives power to the Attorney General to ban organisations if he is satisfied the organisation is committing terrorist acts, or is on the UN Security list of international terrorist organisations or the organisation is likely to endanger the security of the Commonwealth or another country.
Had this been law in Australia over the past two decades, it is possible that membership of organisations that supported the East Timor. Independence movement, or the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa could be deemed as endangering the security of another country, and thus be banned.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the bill jeopardises key tenets of the democracy it seeks to safeguard.
'These kind of laws have no place in a democratic society that respects human rights and if we as Australians were to abandon our commitment to such basic freedoms then terrorism will have won the day,' she says.
Media onlookers, male and female, were non-plussed by the Federation's approach to sacked netball mum, Janette Wynbergen, during evidence in her IRC case against infant wear retailer, BabyCo.
Advocate, Dru Gillan, virtually told the mother of four she should have left two daughters in the care of anyone she could find in order to work changed rosters demanded by the company.
Mother of four Wynbergen had told the Commission of being offered alternative shifts on her demotion from a managerial position. She chose the Monday-Friday option and immediately signed-up pre-teenage daughters, Tiffany and Stacey, with Saturday morning netball teams.
Babyco, however, came back on the eve of the season and told her she had to work Saturdays, after all.
Wynbergen explained that, with both girls in action, she and husband Michael needed, and wanted, to be at netball on Saturday mornings. She volunteered to work Thursday nights, Sundays and even, every second Saturday, in a bid to "meet the company halfway".
But when she dug her heels in, insisting on being a netball mum for at least half the season, Babyco sent her packing.
After hearing of Wynbergen's unsuccessful efforts to have one daughter supervised by a mother she knew, the man from the Retailers Federation wanted to know why she hadn't farmed her daughters out to other netball families.
"Because I didn't know them," Wynbergen said.
"I put it to you, you were dealing with responsible adult people and you would have known that?"
"I think it's my responsibility to make sure my children are safe," Wynbergen contended.
"What I am putting to you, is that to make matters work we have to be practical and make compromises to find a solution."
Gillan then hammered away at why, months earlier, she hadn't enrolled the girls, 14 months apart, in the same team.
Told the girls were individuals, with their own friends, who wanted to make their own ways in life and sport, Gillan questioned whether, in fact, it was true they had special needs, educational or social.
Wynbergen told the IRC both daughters' netball careers finished within 24 hours of her losing her job at the Bankstown store.
"We withdrew the children the following day because we couldn't afford the couple of hundred dollars it was going to cost," she said.
Babyco managing director, John Langley, said the change to Wynbergen's roster had been brought about by his attempt to protect jobs in the wake of closing the company's Guilford shop.
One of the displaced workers, he said, had been relocated to Bankstown, necessitating a change in rosters.
Langley said, contrary to the union claim, Babyco ran a family-friendly operation but didn't like to "blow our own trumpet" on the issue.
Langley conceded the treatment of Wynbergen ran counter to normal work provisions in the retail award.
The case is being run as an award dispute by the SDA. A separate unjustified dismissal claim has also been filed.
The Wynbergen case is being closely monitored as the first practical test of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Carers' Responsibilities) Act, which is supposed to give practical effect to the state Government's policy of allowing employees to balance work and family commitments.
It is being argue before NSW IRC deputy president, Peter Sams, and continues next week.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson is highlighting the wider implications of the case and his organisation has been granted leave to intervene in the procedings.
Indian and Italian national trade union centres successfully co-ordinated national strikes and mass demonstrations this week to protest against their respective governments plans to introduce new labour laws which will make it much easier to dismiss workers.
In Italy on Tuesday nearly 12 million workers backed a national 24 hour general strike - that's almost the whole of the national workforce.
On the same day in Indian unions took our more than 10 million workers in state-run firms, banks, as well as insurance and financial sector, to protest government plans to amend a 55-year-old labour law, during the coming parliamentary session, which will make it easier to lay off employees.
These massive strikes on the same day, in both a developed and a developing country, show that while governments are prepared to buckle under pressure from corporates to make it easier to hire-and-fire working people are prepared to fight back against these pressures.
In recent years the pressure of globalisation has forced even labour and social democratic government's to swing to the right, cutting back spending on the public sector, cutting back workers' rights and privatising larger hunks of the state sector.
The only effective opposition to this swing to the right seems to be coming from organised labour using industrial and political muscle to drag their government's back towards the Left.
Certainly in Italy political commentators are arguing that the Left political parties are unable to put up a fight, and the only real organised opposition to the laissez faire politics of the Berlusconi government is coming from the union movement.
And the union movements throughout the rest of Europe are watching anxiously the fight now being conducted by Italy's trade unions.
They acknowledge that if Berlusconi wins it will create new pressures on them from their respective government to 'liberalise' hire-and-fire laws.
Tony Blair is rooting for Berlusconi, while the British TUC and its affiliates are actively backing their trade union sisters and brothers in Rome and the rest of the Italian peninsula.
A number of European trade union centres have passed motions of solidarity but several industry unions - especially in Germany - are hinting at stronger industrial action by their members, in support of Italian workers.
The Italian general strike - the first in 20 years - was co-ordinated by the three national trade union centres the CGIL, CISL and UIL.
The three trade union centres rarely co-operate but the feeling among rank-and-file workers about the threat to job security from the Berlusconi government was so strong that the union leaderships felt compelled to put aside their normal hostility and work together on this dispute.
The anger among the workforce is due to the Berlusconi government's plan to scrap Article 18 of the country's 30-year-old Workers' Statute, which says employees cannot be sacked "without just cause".
The evident success of the general strike has forced the conservative Italian PM to act to defuse union opposition to his reforms by offering a new round of talks and adding new social security benefits for workers who might be sacked because of his reforms as well as extra benefits for part-time workers, female workers and retirees.
At this stage none of the union centres is budging and all are committed to a new round of strikes and protests on May Day.
The stoppage by Indian trade unionists was called to protest amendments to that country's Industrial Relations Act which would increase the number of companies, both public and private, that can dismiss workers without government permission.
The proposed law would mean that firms with less than 1,000 employees would not have to seek authority to relocate or fire their employees. Current law sets the threshold at companies with 100 or more employees.
According to the organisers of the strike, 98 percent of Indian factories would be able to dismiss workers without official oversight.
Workers in India have been traditionally well protected by industrial relations laws which have come under pressure in the last decade as government s in New Delhi seeks to liberalise its laws and change the balance of power to favour employers.
In the last decade both central and state governments have rushed headlong into privatisation; the selling off of state corporations has always been accompanied with massive job losses.
The strike in India on Tuesday comes just ahead of a new parliamentary session where plans to increase the rate of privatisation are about to be debated.
The trade union campaigns are beginning to bite with commentators claiming the criticism of the pro-boss reforms has become so widespread that many believe that the Coalition government running India is about to find excuses to decelerate the rate of privatisation - and to halt the changes to the industrial laws.
Trade unions since their beginnings over 200 years ago have produced many powerful posters about struggles for pay, better conditions, social justice and human rights. Fortunately some union members have also been keenly aware of their history and the need to preserve memories of these campaigns. Rodney Mace has performed a great service by putting together a book of British trade union posters. The book has been made possible by the largest British union, UNISON.
John Gorman began the work for the book in 1988 after publishing his successful book on union banners in 1986. Unfortunately John passed away before finishing his work but Rodney Mace has developed it into the present book.
The posters are drawn from archives and libraries throughout Britain and tell of strikes, picket lines, recruitment drives, demonstrations, meetings and social struggles held by workers whose activities have been a major force in shaping British society over the past two centuries.
The posters are drawn from about 350 uncovered during research for the book and are arranged into six historical periods from 1800 to 2000.
Up until about 1860 posters were most like handbills as they advanced arguments and reasons for strikes or disputes. Poetic language was also a feature of many, particularly the miners union posters. The works of Shelley inspired some miners.
Some appealed to the moral basis of society. The mason's strike of 1841 during the building of the Houses of Parliament was not about wages but that "the employer not only expected to purchase the labour of a man but also his soul."
The change from explanatory posters to those with a short simple massage reflected an awareness of the importance of media. The simple placard message could quickly become a newspaper headline that got the message out further. Mace thinks that the mass carrying of banners and placards did not really become widespread until the 1960s.
The way posters have been designed and manufactured has also changed dramatically over the past 200 years. Through the nineteenth century unions employed local printers who used wood-type to design and make their posters with attention being paid to simple legibility and eye-catching headlines. The development of lithographic printing in the 1890s was the beginning of the modern poster design.
Since 1970 unions have employed well-known poster designers and some have used sympathetic design companies. Some of the larger unions like the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the National Association of Local Government Officers (now UNISON) have their own in house design teams.
The importance of modern media a nd communications skills has lead the push by some unions to professionalise poster production. There is a still a place for quick, handmade just-for-the-event posters. The problem for poster archivists is that few of these survive. They do because of the efforts of interested individuals like Gorman and Mace (and in Australia Alban Gillezeau).
The posters in the 1800-1840 section are organized into three themes:
· The struggle to maintain craft skill and wage levels and to abolish child labour
· The use by the state and employers of anti-union legislation
· The fight for political reform
The period 1840-1880 saw radical politics affecting trade union struggles for reform and justice. Victories were gained on issues of recognition and the extension of the franchise for some working class men.
From 1880 to 1920 the posters reflect the growth of general unionism under the influence of socialist and European Marxist ideas and the triumph of labour representation in Parliament.
The posters from 1920-1950 show the twin crises of capitalism impacting on the workers -fascism and the Great Depression. The call for nationalization of industry to protect workers, and the powerful simple message of one poster: WORKLESS MEN HOARDED MONEY IDLE MACHINES SPELL CAPITALISM SUM IT UP.
The period from 1950 to 1980 saw unions go from being almost a part of the government to being seen as the cause of the decline of Britain in the world economy. Unions and the governments from both parties fought over anti-union legislation and the decline of traditional industries. We see the beginnings of the cuts to the public sector, the attacks on the miners in the early 1970s (under Heath), a defence of shop closing hours and cuts to local government.
The vicious attacks of the Thatcher years dominate the 1980s posters as she challenged the very existence of trade unions. The post war welfare state also came under the gun and unions were heavily involved in the defence of many services that are very important to working people. Issues such as equal pay, racism, rights of gay and lesbian people, the poll tax (which eventually brought Thatcher down), the bitter coal dispute of 1984 and environmental concerns feature.
This is beautifully produced book and its great that UNISON have backed it. UNISON has been a standard setter in union communications through posters and the Internet. As the author says, it may stimulate unions to see the value of the "ephemera" they produce as important for the historical record and the future of the union movement.
BRITISH TRADE UNION POSTERS: an illustrated history by Rodney Mace published by Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud, Gloucestshire in association with UNISON, 1999
From the devastation of Afghanistan, through to the financial crisis that has beset Argentina; from the reality that over half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day, through to the experience of increasing global interdependence: financing international development is a crucial issue.
The international community has begun to focus on the growing and increasingly explosive inequities globalisation entails. At the major international United Nations conferences of the 1990s, such as the World Summit for Social Development, proposals for a more balanced and equitable approach to development were articulated and agreed by world political leaders. The Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000 articulates clear goals and a framework for action. The conference on Financing for Development offers an unprecedented opportunity for further advances.
The decision of the General Assembly in December 1997 to convene a "summit, international conference, special session of the General Assembly or other appropriate high level intergovernmental forum on financing for development" was a breakthrough. Developing countries had been proposing a conference on financial issues for many years. Amongst the reasons noted in the resolution were the continuous decline of official development assistance and the need to "explore ways of generating new public and private resources to complement development efforts ...".
It was said at the time that the growth of foreign direct investment in developing countries had led to the expectation that private capital flows could provide the external financial resources needed by most developing countries. One can assume that the proposal for a conference on financial issues must have been more difficult to resist after the Asian financial crisis. Moreover, the realities of the global economic and social situation were also clearly powerful factors. These factors include the following.
1. Global interdependence is growing strongly.
2. After half a century of uneven but often rapid and widespread economic growth, the world is richer than ever before in human history and has unprecedented technological capacity.
3. Yet, despite the resulting opportunity to achieve security for all, half of humankind is living on less than $2 a day and is in or close to poverty, and so is certainly suffering from deprivation and insecurity of many kinds.
4. Inequality of income, wealth, assets and power between and within most countries is high and generally growing. One simple statistic is enough to illustrate this: the 20 per cent of people with the highest incomes receive 86 per cent of total global income.3
5. A particularly powerful symptom of the difficulties of the current imbalances is that, rather than the growth in net capital contributing to developing countries, in recent years a high and growing portion has been going to the US. In 2000 the US received two-thirds of net international capital flows. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that a "striking feature of international capital flows during the year  was the dominant position of the United States as a recipient of flows, compared with 60 per cent in 1999 and an average of about 35 per cent during 1992-97. Net flows to the United States exceeded $400 billion ... including a record level of foreign portfolio investment ...".
An accurate recognition of the international economic environment faced by developing countries involves acknowledging that:
Most receive little foreign private capital, and what they do receive is often short-term and volatile;
Potential foreign investors normally have several location options, putting them in a powerful position to negotiate major tax concessions and infrastructure assistance;
Capital flight is a continuing drain on their savings;
Exports of their agricultural and manufactured products are still restricted by import barriers in developed countries;
Debt service and repayment still absorb a large part of the budgets of many; Concessional support has stagnated.
Developing countries account for 85 per cent of the world's population, and that proportion is rising. At the United Nations, where each member state has a single vote, developed countries have 17 per cent of the voting power. At the World Trade Organisation (WTO) developed countries have 24 per cent of the voting strength. At the World Bank and the IMF they have 61-62 per cent, and at the IMF the US has an effective veto. There are no developing countries amongst the G8, and Mexico is the only member of the OECD that could be defined as developing. Also, it is government treasuries that generally have responsibility for national relations with the Bank and the Fund - though some countries send development ministers to the Development Committee - but it is the foreign ministries that have prime responsibility for intergovernmental relations work through the UN.
The Preparatory Process
The Millennium Assembly of the UN, attended by 147 heads of state and government, including the Australian Prime Minister, adopted a Declaration that begins by recognizing that, in addition to our separate responsibilities to our individual societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. ... [And in Para 5.] We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people. For while globalization offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed.
The Declaration goes on to express concern "about the obstacles developing countries face in mobilizing the resources needed to finance their sustained development. We will therefore make every effort to ensure the success of the High-Level International and Intergovernmental Event on Financing for Development to be held in 2001", promised the leaders.
The establishment of the High Level Panel on Financing for Development was announced in December 2000 and they reported at the end of June 2000. Ernesto Zedillo, who had just been replaced as President of Mexico, agreed to be chair, and the members included Jacques Delors, President of the EU for ten years, Robert Rubin, Secretary of the US Treasury for six years, and Manmohan Singh, the former Indian Minister of Finance.
The Zedillo Panel estimates that an additional $50 billion a year is required to achieve the international development goals by 2015. This includes ensuring access to basic education and health services; achieving gender equality in primary education; programs to halve the number of people living with poverty and hunger; halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS; and such goals as halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. More finance is still needed for secondary and higher education, communications and service infrastructure. Sources suggested by the Panel for these funds include Overseas Development Aid (ODA), improving developing country access to the markets of developed countries, debt reduction, improved tax co-operation, and consideration of a carbon tax.
All six of the themes for FfD are crucially important, but I will briefly discuss only some issues relating to domestic financial resources, ODA and global economic governance.
Domestic Financial Resources
Development principally depends on what countries do to help themselves. As the facilitator wrote in the draft outcome: "Our point of departure is the recognition that each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development." And in the next paragraph: "a critical challenge is to ensure the necessary internal conditions for mobilizing enough domestic savings to sustain adequate levels of productive and human development investments." The draft goes on to discuss a series of policies to this end, including consolidation of good governance and the rule of law, pursuing sound macroeconomic policies, promoting fiscal discipline and ensuring sustainable investments in education, health, nutrition, and social security programs.
Both private and public domestic financial resources are required. Crucial to the mobilisation of increasing saving for investment is the growth of a widely accessible retail banking system. Micro-finance schemes and post office saving schemes are other ways of mobilising savings for on lending that are proving successful in various countries. Subsidies for such small credit schemes are a cost-effective way of ensuring the availability of capital for small entrepreneurs with initiative.
The total amount of revenue available to pay for public goods is a political choice. There has been a widespread tendency recently to believe that revenue must be cut, under pressure of immutable global forces. In fact, this is a misleading oversimplification. In advanced economies, for example, revenue collections have not fallen at all to date. The average revenue collected as a proportion of GDP in the OECD countries continued to edge up through the 1990s. It has now plateaued, with the falls in some countries having been offset by rises in others. So, while there certainly is tax competition between countries in certain areas - notably corporation tax and perhaps top marginal personal income tax rates - this has been offset by increased collections from other sources, despite the alarmism.
Total revenue collections in many developing countries have been reduced as a result of structural adjustment programmes. Reduction in import and export duties, which have been major sources of revenue in many developing countries, have reduced revenue in some countries by as much as 1 or 2 per cent of GDP.
Moreover, increases in revenue collections are quite feasible for most countries. Increased collections could commonly be achieved simply by improving the efficiency, comprehensiveness and honesty of tax administrations. Technical assistance to improve tax administration is a particularly cost-effective form of development co-operation. Other possibilities with minimum political cost include: reducing tax expenditures; increasing the progressiveness of tax systems and introducing or increasing taxes on activities widely recognised as being damaging, such as pollution. As well, many reforms are possible that would expand the national tax bases of most countries. Examples include extending income tax systems, introducing domestic financial transaction taxes, resource rent taxes and property taxes, all of which are progressive and contribute to reducing inequities. Taxes and charges are more politically acceptable when linked with the improvements in services they are used to pay for. Furthermore, within many national budgets there may well be scope for reconsidering the allocation of resources, for example by reducing military outlays and corporate subsidies in order to release funds for higher priority human services. Such reallocation has the twin benefits of improving services and of increasing labour intensive employment.
International Co-operation on Tax Matters
There is a growing imperative to improve arrangements for co-operation between national tax authorities. Increasing international economic and financial interdependence is constraining national taxable capacity in relation to some traditional revenue instruments. Governments are limited by international competition in both the forms of tax and the tax rates they can apply. There is also a growing need to improve international co-operation between taxing authorities so as to: to reduce opportunities for evasion and avoidance; to mitigate international instability; and to avoid the danger of countries striving to increase their revenue in ways that deplete the global commons. These goals require major improvements in international taxation co-operation.
A careful study is required of potential means of improving co-operation. This study should include consideration of the possibility of establishing an international taxation organisation. The functions of an international taxation organisation could include: provision of a forum for the discussion of tax matters, including sharing of national taxation experience; the development of definitions, standards and norms for tax policy and administration; the identification of international tax trends and problems; the gathering and publication of statistical information; the production of a periodical world tax report; and technical assistance to national tax authorities. Such an organisation would typically have a governing body representative of the members and be responsible for drawing up broad objectives and major issues of policy; a highly competent staff, hold regular meetings and issue technical publications. The FfD conference may therefore wish to recommend the commissioning of a study of means of improving cooperation between national tax authorities.
Vito Tanzi, former Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF and currently a minister in the Italian Government, has published extensively and persuasively on the importance of filling this institutional and policy gap The OECD has published excellent studies on the subject and wants to continue to remain active.
New and Innovative Sources of Financing
The issue of new and innovative source of financing is within the category of domestic revenue, since only national governments have the power to tax. New sources of funding for development are vital, for there are tight constraints on what developing countries can generate themselves; ODA remains depressed; debt relief is sclerotic; further multilateral borrowing is a poisoned chalice; poorer countries continue to be unattractive to foreign investors; and short term financial flows add to the danger of volatility.
Many possibilities are available for new and innovative sources of external funding, including a carbon tax and a currency transaction tax. It is clear that carbon emissions are raising global temperatures and that this should therefore be discouraged. An international agreement to impose a tax on the consumption of fossil fuels would contribute to combating global warming. The Zedillo Panel has suggested that this could be structured in a way that could support developing countries by allowing them to recycle receipts into their own economies while industrial countries would be required to pay a part of their receipts to international organisations responsible for financing global public goods. The negotiation of such an agreement, however, would be complex.
An equally politically difficult but technically simpler proposal is for a currency transaction tax (CTT) or Tobin tax. A rigorous analysis of the possibility of recommending introduction of a currency transaction tax was mandated by the special session of the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva, and the meeting of European finance ministers has also commissioned a study from the European Commission. Leading figures in several developing countries have also spoken in favour of such a tax including from Brazil, India and Malaysia. It is worth quickly reminding ourselves of the reasons for this interest:
1. A CTT would certainly reduce the volume of short-term international financial flows, reducing the difficulty of monetary management.
2. It would contribute a little to preserving some measure of national monetary autonomy. This was James Tobin's principal original reason for suggesting the tax.
3. At a time when global integration is eroding some national revenue bases, especially from corporate tax, a CTT offers national governments a replacement that is easy to collect and politically acceptable. It is easy to collect because there are so few foreign exchange dealers, and as most of them are banks the incentive for them to conform and so avoid risking their licenses is very great. A CTT is politically acceptable because it taxes wealth holders and therefore is progressive. As a member of Australia's parliament, I received strong and widespread support in advocating a CTT and only one criticism - from an investment banker! A significant new source of revenue could be very attractive to governments and treasuries wanting to reduce other taxes, or to increase essential spending and that appears to be reason for the interest of the British Chancellor.
4. If introduced as the result of an international agreement, part of the agreement could be for the allocation of a portion of the funds for international purposes, such as development. A doubling of the current level of official development assistance would scarcely be enough to enable the achievement of such Millennium targets as universal access to primary education and basic health services.
Governments at settlement sites could collect a tiny levy from all foreign exchange transactions. Applying the levy at a uniform rate to wholesale trades at the point of bank settlement would make it possible to collect (without the hazard of avoidance through diversion from taxed to untaxed jurisdictions), provided only that the authorities issuing the currencies which are acting for the time being as vehicle-currencies (five or six at present) would co-operate. Such a tax would discourage very short-term financial movements, while making little impact on foreign direct investment or trade. Imposing a penalty tax on dealings with tax-free jurisdictions would minimize avoidance. The global daily currency turnover, of around $1500 billion in 1998, could well fall significantly if such a levy were introduced. A low tax rate of 0.1 per cent would generate substantial total revenue for governments, perhaps over $150 billion a year. The Zedillo Panel, while expressing scepticism of the proposal, also explicitly supported conducting a rigorous analysis of it.
Official Development Assistance
As well as domestic resources, an effective strategy for international development and social justice requires major additional international financial resources to fund economic and social programs, peacemaking and peacekeeping, protection of the environment and other global public goods, and to achieve a more equitable distribution of income, wealth and power. It is simply morally untenable for those who live comfortably in rich countries to neglect the impoverished half of humanity. Economic justice alone suggests that the beneficiaries of globalisation compensate the countries that receive little or no benefit. Of course, the sceptics argue that additional funds for development would be wasted, and that is a risk. But there is extensive experience now in implementing development strategies, and in allocating funds in ways that minimise these risks. To conclude, it is relevant to suggest some examples of sources of additional resources.
Despite enormous benefits, the rich countries have generally reduced compensating flows of aid during the 1990s and debt reduction has been very limited. The unweighted average ratio of aid to GNP in Development Assistance Committee countries fell from 0.44 per cent in 1986-87 to 0.39 per cent in 2000.8 The biggest beneficiary of globalisation, the US, is also the smallest donor relative to national income, contributing only 0.1 per cent of GNP in 2000.
Donor countries must redouble their effort to increase the amount of overseas development assistance and set target dates for achieving their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of GNP for aid. This continues to be essential because it is impossible for many developing countries to attract significant private funds, and they can only escape the poverty trap with additional external funding.
Recently there has been significant movement. The EU's Development Council, which includes the development ministers of all the member countries, supports the call by the World Bank for a doubling of aid, and envisages asking each member government to establish a timetable for meeting the aid target. Poul Nielsen, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, recently said that, "In view of how the world looks after 11th of September, ... there is a new understanding of interdependency."
Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor, made a major and important speech to the Federal Reserve in New York in which he endorsed the Zedillo Panel's recommendation to double ODA, saying that, "If we are to move with the urgency that the scale of today's suffering demands, we must each, as national governments, be bold and acknowledge the duties of the richest parts of the developed world to the poorest and least developed parts of the same world."
Global Public Goods
An intellectually powerful paradigm through which to evaluate and consider the reform of the international system is that of global public goods. Though the term may sound unfamiliar, global public goods are not at all strange in practice. The importance of the framework for international infrastructure, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Telecommunications Union, the World Meteorological Organisation and the International Monetary Fund is clear. The most recently negotiated global public good was the International Criminal Court.
Public goods are freely available to all roads, basic health services, and public open space generally without competition or exclusion.
One advantage of considering global public goods rather than the far broader issue of global governance as a whole is that the debate is immediately concrete and specific. Gaps and weaknesses can be identified and means of filling or strengthening them discussed. An extension of the range of global public goods is essential in many areas such as the control of diseases like malaria and AIDS, protecting the environment, reducing international crime, reducing financial volatility, extending distance learning, and to resolve or at least manage international conflicts more effectively. An example of a gap in the framework of global public goods is the inadequacy of co-operation about tax issues between countries.
Global Economic and Social Governance
The functioning of the institutions of international political economy needs urgent reform. The evolution of international political and economic institutions lags well behind the deepening of global interdependence. This holds true in particular for the institutions needed to make globalisation work for all. Interest in reducing the global democratic deficit and improving the political effectiveness of international institutions in achieving goals such as those articulated by the Millennium Summit is growing.
The Zedillo Panel has argued that "Despite recent worthy efforts, the world has no fully satisfactory mechanism to anticipate and counter global economic shocks." Further: "... global economic decision-making has become increasingly concentrated in a few countries. Tensions have worsened as a result. For a range of common problems, the world has no formal institutional mechanism to ensure that voices representing all relevant parts are heard in the discussion." The Panel describes several vacuums in global governance, such as the lack of any agency to provide some global public goods and the struggle of some existing agencies "to respond to problems for which they are ill-equipped or lack a precise mandate."
The Zedillo Panel endorses the recommendation of the Commission on Global Governance to "create a global council at the highest political level to provide leadership on issues of global governance. ... through its political leadership it would provide a long-term strategic policy framework to promote development, secure consistency in the policy goals of the major international organizations and promote consensus building among governments on possible solutions for issues of global economic and social governance." Recognizing the political difficulty of launching such a council, the Panel has suggested as a first step convening a Globalisation Summit "large enough to be representative and small enough to be efficient."
The establishment of a permanent global council within the structure of the UN would involve changing the Charter, an especially complex political task. An alternative, which is immediately possible, is to upgrade the existing Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). A simple means of increasing ECOSOC's effectiveness would be for it to meet more regularly, for a day or two, whenever economic or social circumstances suggested that would be useful. If there is a financial crisis or a natural disaster, ECOSOC should meet immediately to discuss responses.
Improvement of global governance is essential. New policies and institutions are required. The economic and social forums of the UN must be strengthened, and the international economic and financial institutions reformed. The extension of the range and depth of global public goods is necessary, as are rapid increases in finance for development. An additional $50 billion a year is required to achieve the goals for the provision of basic education and health services, and the other global goals, by 2015. This could be achieved through such measures as improved national tax administration, aid at the target level and the introduction of currency transaction or carbon taxes.
In a generation, we can expect that many of these proposed reforms will have been implemented and the debates about them will seem anachronistic. To paraphrase Hugh Stretton, the task for those concerned about equitable global development is to articulate simple visions, design the complex policies necessary to implement them and to ensure competent implementation. Advocates, networks and parties that do that will be basing their work on fundamental moral and political values, and responding to the felt needs of the majority of the people.
John Langmore is the Director of the ILO Liason Office to the United Nations, a former member of the House of Representatives in the Parliament of Australia, and a former member of the Evatt Foundation's Executive Committee.
See John Langmore's report on the outcome of the conference: Modestly hopeful Monterrey at http://evatt.labor.net.au/news/22.html.
For John Langmore's complete pre conference paper see http://evatt.labor.net.au/publications/papers/21.html
The Queen Mum's life was tragically cut short when she passed away suddenly in her home at Windsor Castle. English mourners have gathered in large numbers outside Buckingham Palace, silently holding candles as they try to come to terms with the premature death of the popular royal.
"It's tragic that she should go so early," said eminent royal watcher Sir Crispin Poncey-Poncey. "She still had her whole life ahead of her, and by all rights should have lived to the ripe old age of 900. It just seems so unfair that we should lose her so soon."
Tributes have poured in from around the world for the beloved monarch cut down in her prime. The British liquor industry is understood to be particularly affected by the loss. Gin retailers are nervous about how their businesses will survive now that their most loyal customer is dead.
"To lose both the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret is just disastrous," said one purveyor of gin. "Add to that the death of Dudley Moore, and you'd have to say it's not a good time to be selling grog. We haven't seen a downturn this big since Oliver Reed dropped off the twig."
The Queen Mother narrowly averted an earlier death on a recent trip to Paris, where she was nearly involved in a fatal speeding accident on her Zimmer frame inside a tunnel.
In a final gesture to symbolise her love of horses, the Queen Mum has requested that her body be taken to a racecourse, dragged behind a screen and shot.
Big Brother is the show that lets us, the viewer, decide who will continue and who will be evicted from the house. It is The People's Parliament.
The show is set in its own ornate parliamentary compound where people are denied access to the players and security guards patrol the perimeter. People come from miles around to visit the great building when it is not in session. But when in session, we are no longer allowed access to the main stage but have to view the events unfold either from the gallery or through the myriad of cameras throughout the building. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your viewpoint), these representatives are subject to the full scrutiny of the media and the people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The housemates as with politicians, are subject to a variety of rules and standing orders that are administered by the speaker (Big Brother) throughout session. Although the speaker is able to ensure the views of the people's representatives are managed, he too guarantees not all of them are heard.
And what of the political pundits? Is not Grettal the doyen of her field, the Laurie Oakes of reality TV? Able to ask the hard questions, cutting to the core and incisively extracting what the people have a right to know. And how about the show's new resident psychologist? (Where do these people get those earrings?) Does she not have all the traits the great political analyst Anthony Green brings to the ABC. Facts, figures insights and a somewhat unnerving disposition where there is something not quiet right but you still have to admire the knowledge.
Then of course there are the spin doctors, the farmyard of friends and relatives interviewed who continually try to persuade the viewer that the continual gratuitous comments and obnoxious behaviour of their particular housemate/friend/relative is nothing but wacky high jinks that masks a deeper more sensitive an intuitive side. (Obviously many of these people will go on to work for the democrats, no idea but we will keep on plugging away any old how). It is good to see that even in the face of outrageous behaviour they are still able to maintain a straight face when saying their candidate actually brings something to the House and that their contribution will develop and have a greater impact over time ("The GST will destroy the Australian way of life" or similarly "The sky is falling, the sky is falling").
What about the Housemates? Twelve individuals who have had to fight, force themselves forward, embellish the truth and be someone they are not, in order to get the prize, an opportunity to represent the people in the People's Parliament. They have only a short period of time between each election in which to use all their skills and cunning to endear themselves to their electorate, you the viewer, who ultimately holds their destiny in your hands. They are smart and manipulative. Prepared to do deals with one another in order to bring greater equity to the People's Parliament so that none will be disadvantaged. The most recent entailed a deal for all Housemates to shower collectively in order to minimize one of the main issues that appeared to assist previous Housemates in remaining in the People's Parliament, the mystry of the backroom shower deal.
Yet, as we all know, even with what appears as a selfless decision and example of cross factional cooperation, there is always the opportunity to position one's self in a slightly more favourable view point to the general public. Its about image and position not substance.
Finally, the voting system is fundamentally the twenty-first representational system outlined by Dick Morris in VOTE.com:
"In the new era, Congress (The People's Parliament) will have to listen to us. When we cast our votes, our opinions will be instantly conveyed to our congressmen and senator (re Housemates) and they will feel us breathing down their necks..."
Is not our little People's Parliament taking us to a new level of participatory democracy? Reengaging the young and feeding off the convergence of technology to give use, the vote, and direct control over our representatives?
Is this not the way of the future or has the future already come????
Are their not millions of constituents each week casting their vote? Identifying the under performers, those who have lied and cheated and those who have not represented who they really are?
Don't we finally have access to the powerful center of politics where the very decisions made will have the greatest impact on our viewing habits?
This show is the future, this show is democracy! Watch, vote, and participate!
The children overboard affair, recounted this week in evidence to a Senate Committee, tells us some interesting things about the new culture that appears to be developing in some senior echelons in the public service - which for so long has had a strong reputation for professionalism, impartiality and hard work. If these trends worsen, what might the bureaucrats be singing when the next Christmas party comes around...?
Silent night, wholely night,
See no sins, shine no light
Forget what is said when the truth has been strained
Make sure the shredder is fully maintained
You'll be promoted soon
And on the Honours list too.
From NAB's plummeting public image to BabyCo's trashing of family values, Rio Tinto's death-defying delays and British American Tobacco's support for workplace puffing, the target of anger has moved from the individual employer to the brand they represent.
Brand anger is a growing phenomenon, well chronicled in Naomi Klein's excellent book 'No Logo'. According to Klein, the focus of modern capitalism has shifted from the production of products to the promotion of brands.
Companies cut staff and outsource production to free up resources for the promotion of the corporate brand - an amorphous image like the Nike swish or the Golden Arches that is meant to have a Pavlovian hold on consumers.
Logos battle each other in the marketplace in a perpetual race for world domination - eating up competitors to become the dominant label in their market.
The strength of the brand promotion strategy is that the quality of the product ceases to be a core component of the business; but its weakness is that the new God, the logo, is a creature of image alone.
This makes the corporates vulnerable to campaigns that scrutinise the values that lie behind the logo - not the feel good images produced by advertising agencies, but the cold, hard reality of the modern production chain.
As Nike activists in the sweatshops of South-East Asia have so effectively shown
- an entity that exists on image alone can fall to it as well.
A baby ware company that markets itself with the catchphrase 'who loves ya, baby', can not just go and sack a Mum who wants flexible rosters to care for kids. And when a tobacco company that has been dragged through the courts in landmark smoking litigation is exposed for allowing smoking in its own workplace, it is playing with fire.
Unionists, along with other activists, are waking up to this new dynamic: logos are vulnerable to consumer scrutiny. One negative headline can undo the work of a multi-million dollar branding campaign.
There is one proviso of course; and that's the willingness of consumers to make decisions based on ethical considerations such as environmental standards, labour relations and shareholder democracy.
But we can help them take the first step, by providing information about the brands and logo, taking their stories of injustice to the media and logging them on websites like Bosswatch.
It's a tantalizing prospect. The revolutions of the 21st Century may not be fought on the streets, but in the supermarkets and malls of the world.
What do we mean when we talk about exempting employees of small businesses from the protection of Commonwealth unfair dismissal law? As the legislation acknowledges, it means taking away the right to a "fair go" which basically means a right to speak in your own defence before being given the sack.
A right, one would think, which would not be the cause of economic grief and even catastrophe.
I think fair-minded people would agree that you do not take away the rights of anyone let alone some of the most marginalised and vulnerable members of the workforce without compelling reasons. Do they exist?
Less than 0.3% of small businesses in Australia experience a federal unfair dismissal claim each year.
Less than 1.5% of small businesses which operate under the federal system experience a federal unfair dismissal claim each year.
Last financial year, the federal Commission made 42 orders for reinstatement, and 96 orders for compensation, against all businesses.
In the last 5 years there have been a total of 131 re-instatements by the federal Commission.
While, until recently, specific figures regarding small business have not been taken the best estimates are that about 33% of claims filed under the federal system would be in relation to small businesses. This is because to come under the laws a business must be both incorporated and a respondent to a federal award. In summary it does not apply to those businesses run by mums and dads as partnerships or to sole traders.
Accordingly, of the 138 cases that were granted a remedy last year it could be generously assumed that about 35 involved a small business.
Those employer organisations that are more interested in outcome than politics have put to me that a more pressing concern is the lack of national uniformity in this area.
That concern is valid - a small business proprietor is more likely to be the subject of an unfair dismissal action under state law than under federal law. Outside Victoria, there were 2534 claims filed against all businesses (large and small) in the federal system but there were 8,485 filed under state laws.
The Government's proposed legislation, which is basically a carve-out, would significantly impede the development of uniform national standards and procedures.
It is convenient for the Government to overlook these facts - they always stand in the way of a political campaign.
Last weekend, at the Federal Council of the Liberal Party, the Government tried to put unfair dismissal back in the headlines.
In his speech, the Prime Minister issued a "warning" to Labor and the Democrats that if they voted down the Government's exclusion of small business employees, the Government would simply re-introduce the Bill.
No one here would have failed to realise that the Bill is intended to be a double-dissolution trigger.
But it was refreshing to hear the Prime Minister finally acknowledge the fact.
Tony Abbott had already admitted as much by saying that the Bill was non-negotiable.
So the Government that brought you the "Tampa Election" now wants to give you the "Unfair Dismissal Election".
I can see the poster: "We will decide who is sacked in Australia and the circumstances in which they are sacked."
Of course, the Government denies that its proposed denial of unfair dismissal remedies to small business employees is simply a political tactic.
It would like us to believe that it is an employment policy.
Normally when a Government puts up an employment policy, it offers some evidence that it will work.
With all the resources and expertise of the Treasury and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations at its disposal, you would think the Government could have commissioned some modelling or other research.
After all, its supposed employment policy has a significant potential downside. The economic arguments are not all one sided.
The last report of the Australian Industrial Relations Court showed that most claims of unfair dismissal were filed by those on incomes of less than $35,000 per annum. Let there be no mistake - it is these people and their families that will suffer the collateral damage of the Government's campaign against trade unions.
Employees of small businesses could no longer feel secure in the knowledge that they could not be dismissed without being given a fair go in answering their employers' concerns.
And any decline in employment security finds expression in employees' patterns of income, consumption, saving and investment. The simple truth is that when making important economic decisions, people look at how secure their job is.
It also finds expression in employees' relationship with their employer. It becomes much harder to build trust and co-operation if employees know their employer can dismiss them without warning. And without trust and co-operation, it becomes harder to manage changes in the business - changes which might enhance productivity and growth.
For five years, the challenge has been there - to come up with some evidence that the exclusion of small business employees is good economic policy.
And for five years, the Government has shirked it.
Most, if not all, of you would be familiar with last year's Federal Court decision in Hamzy v Tricon International Restaurants.
In what must be one of the most catastrophic blunders ever made on behalf of the Commonwealth in litigation, the Government decided to try to persuade the Court with expert evidence that if casual employees with less than 12 months' service were not excluded from unfair dismissal laws, employment growth would be adversely affected.
The Court, having been invited by the Government to make findings on the issue, was forced to conclude that there was no evidence to support this assertion.
The Court even suggested one way of testing it - that somebody look at the effect on employment of unfair dismissal provisions as they gradually appeared in awards industry-by-industry in the 1980s.
That data is clearly available.
But you don't even have to go back that far. Just look at the 1990s. After the unfair dismissal provisions were introduced into the Federal Act in 1993, we actually experienced a period of rapid employment growth. The Government's expert witness conceded that employment growth primarily resulted from broader economic determinates, not whether someone was entitled to a right to be heard before they were sacked.
I suspect that the Government will ignore the Court's reasonable suggestion. Facts can only get in the way of a political campaign.
Out of curiosity, we asked the Treasury during February's Senate Estimates hearings whether it had done any research at all on the effect of unfair dismissal laws.
The answers we got were depressing.
In the hearings, the Treasury officer was quite happy to assert that productivity improvements in the late 1990s were due to the Government's changes to the labour market.
But when questioned to provide a little empirical detail, the officer replied in classic hand-waving Treasury-speak:
"Conceptually we all agree that particular types of reforms will deliver particular types of productivity improvements, but how you quantify those and attempt to identify them in isolation is very difficult. In fact, I would go further and say it is probably impossible."
In the absence of other evidence, the Government has been forced to rely on selected business surveys which purport to show that businesses will not hire because they believe they cannot fire.
Of course, they never acknowledge the surveys, such as the most recent survey by the accounting body CPA Australia, in which unfair dismissal barely rates a mention among respondents.
What these surveys also tend to find is that anxiety about unfair dismissal laws tends to be fuelled by anecdote rather than fact.
The CPA study found that more than half of small businesses surveyed believed that they could not terminate the services of an employee even if found guilty of theft or if the business was failing.
The Government must bear much of the responsibility for this.
Its scare campaign on unfair dismissal has been relentless.
We recognise that any anxiety that exists about this issue needs to be addressed, rather than stoked.
One of the proposals we will make to the Government when the Bill comes before the Senate is that the Federal Government, in consultation with the States and Territories, produce an information package about sound recruitment and dismissal practices and disseminate it as widely as possible in the small business community.
On its website, the Department of Workplace Relations advertises for $26 a publication called Hiring or Firing - Are You Complying?
If you haven't heard of it, I'm not surprised. We will be asking for sales figures during the Budget Estimates process.
We say it should be rewritten as an information package in consultation with the states and territories, to provide information about the interaction of federal and state laws. As the debate about national uniformity of industrial laws progresses, it is important for the Commonwealth to adopt a co-operative and consultative approach with the States and Territories.
This information package should be made available for free and should be more actively promoted by the Government.
This is a simple, practical measure that has been adopted in the human rights area and would help take away anxiety and empower employers with the knowledge they need to comply with the law of dismissal and avoid any procedural challenge.
Labor's approach to unfair dismissal is guided by three central principles:
1. Unfair dismissal laws are as much educative as regulatory. Their development over two decades has been vital in promoting the concept of a fair go and a mutual obligation of good faith in the workplace.
2. Unfair dismissal laws should be workable and accessible for employers and employees. We recognise there are still problems of cost and procedure, and the Parliament should address them.
3. Unfair dismissal laws are designed to promote employment security. Changes to unfair dismissal laws should not erode employment security by stripping employees of the right to a fair go.
The Government's exclusion of small business employees fails this test badly.
In intent and effect, it creates two classes of employees - those with an entitlement to a fair go and those without. Those in the latter group will experience greater job insecurity. As a matter of public policy how can the Government justify a situation where employees working side by side have differing rights depending on whether they are employed under a federal or state award.
It makes it less likely that the Commonwealth could reach agreement with the States on harmonization of this important area of our industrial laws.
This is very much a case of not wishing for something too much because you might get it. The Government's legislation is expressed to exclude only the remedies in the unfair dismissal provisions contained in the Workplace Relations Act. Small businesses would be exposed to more expensive and unpredictable common law contract claims.
Of course, it is possible that the Government is happy for small business to take its chances with the common law. It is fair to say the Government is fond of the common law, particularly as a means of retribution for industrial action.
In 1986, Peter Costello waxed lyrical in an address to the HR Nicholls Society:
"The common law which applies to all citizens, individuals, companies and other legal entities such as trade unions, represents the one last area where litigants can obtain justice from ordinary civil courts."
How right he was. Let me read from a 2001 decision of the House of Lords, one of the Treasurer's beloved ordinary civil courts, called Johnson v Unisys:
"These considerations are testimony to the need for implied terms in contracts of employment protecting employees from harsh and unacceptable employment practices. This is particularly important in the light of the greater pressures on employees due to the progressive deregulation of the labour market, the privatisation of public services, and the globalisation of product and financial markets. ... The need for protection of employees through their contractual rights, express and implied by law, is markedly greater than in the past."
This shows how foolish the Government is to place its hopes in the romantic notion of a nineteenth century common law court which sees no difference between an ordinary commercial contract and a contract of employment.
Modern common law courts are alive to the realities of the labour market and basic human rights. Australian courts have assumed that the common law concept of a mutual obligation of good faith in employment contracts is part of Australian law. It also appears that Australian common law courts recognise an implied term that an employer will not engage in conduct that seriously undermines or destroys the trust and confidence inherent in the employment relationship.
There is no doubt in my mind that in an appropriate case, the common law would provide a remedy to a dismissed employee in those circumstances.
But it would not before several small business employers had been dragged through expensive and time-consuming litigation, thanks to the Government's decision to exclude them from the Commission.
Labor, on the other hand, has always thought it is better to retain the same unfair dismissal system for everyone, but explore ways to make it more workable and accessible for all parties.
We did so with our amendments to unfair dismissal laws in 1994 and 1995.
In addition to the information package, Labor is looking at three other ways to improve the operation of the laws for both employers and employees.
Firstly, without limiting its discretion to conduct its proceedings as it sees fit, we would like the Commission to give greater consideration to whether it permits legal representation in Commission proceedings, or whether settlement would be better facilitated if it has more direct access to the parties.
We are concerned that too many settlements result in low payments to workers because of substantial legal costs.
We believe that this is an area in which the trade union movement can play an important role. It is fair to say that some unions, for whatever reason, refer to law firms many matters that would be much more effectively handled by the union itself. A union, with its knowledge of the workplace, will in many cases be better placed than a law firm to evaluate the merits of the case and to conduct negotiations with the employer. I acknowledge that there is a debate within the union movement about the allocation of scarce resources between organizing and service provision, but I firmly believe that the service unions can provide in this area significantly enhances job security and would enhance membership recruitment.
The second area we are considering is the regulation of paid agents appearing in the Commission to ensure that they observe high ethical standards of conduct and advice. South Australia and Western Australia have regulation, and Queensland is looking at it. There have been recent calls for such regulation in New South Wales. Certainly, a lot of the complaints we have heard about unfair dismissal stem from the conduct of certain paid agents.
And thirdly, we think there should be greater use of electronic means of communication, whether telephone or videolink, particularly at the procedural and conciliation stages of a case. For example, it would help a regional small business employer if he or she could participate in a conference by telephone or video link, rather than having to travel to a capital city and be away from the business for up to two days. Of course, there would be limits to this freedom, such as where a party is giving contentious evidence in an arbitration.
We have also put our view about the Government's other Bill dealing with termination of employment, the Fair Termination Bill.
We do not support the enactment of a filing fee.
The filing fee was first introduced by the Government by regulation in 1996. It claimed then, as it does now, to be acting to deter frivolous and vexatious applications.
But as the Access to Justice Advisory Committee observed in its report in 1994, and as Labor pointed out when we moved to disallow the fee in 1996, filing fees are a blunt instrument, with a real potential to deny access to justice. A person with a substantial claim and limited resources may well be deterred, while a person with a frivolous claim and ample resources would not be.
The real motive of the Government in seeking to enact the fee is to remove it from parliamentary scrutiny. Presently, the fee is contained in a regulation that will cease to have effect on 31 December 2003. It is quite extraordinary for a filing fee to be prescribed in legislation passed by Parliament.
Given the potential for any court fee to act as a barrier to justice, it is appropriate that the Government remain accountable to Parliament when imposing them.
We also do not support a 12 month exclusion of casual employees.
Labor first introduced a 6 month exclusion in 1994 to address employer concerns that they could be sued by a genuinely short-term casual employee who could have no realistic expectation of continuing employment.
In doing so, Labor aimed to strike a balance between the legitimate need of some businesses for short-term casual labour, and the need to ensure that unfair dismissal laws did not provide an artificial incentive to hold employees as casuals rather than offering them more secure employment if the business could afford it.
When the Government moved in 1996 to extend the 6 month exclusion to 12 months, we moved to disallow the regulation.
In a deal struck at the eleventh hour, the Democrats allowed the Government's amendment to stand. However, the Democrats did so on one important condition - that the Minister review the regulations after 12 months and that the Democrats be given an opportunity to review empirical evidence of the operation of the exclusion after that period.
It is now approximately 48 months since that occurred. It will be very interesting to see what work the Department has done on this issue when the Bill is examined by the Senate Committee.
It is important to be clear about the impact of a 12 month exclusion.
Australia is close to leading the world in the trend towards casualization of the workforce.
According to the ABS, in 1982 there were 700,000 casual employees in Australia. By the turn of the millenium, there were 2.1 million. Casual employees now represent approximately one quarter of the labour force.
On the most recent ABS figures, from November 1998, 59% of casuals had more than 12 months service with their current employer, 21% had more than 5 years, and 10% had more than 10 years.
The reasons for this trend are complex and its consequences are profound. It is regrettable that this Government has shown no interest in exploring them.
Labor's approach continues to be that federal legislation should not provide an artificial incentive to employers to prolong the period in which a person is employed as a casual unnecessarily.
This Government professes to be concerned about the distorting effects of government regulation on people's economic behaviour.
We say that the Government's 12 month exclusion has precisely such an effect.
If a casual employee has been working for 6 months and has every expectation their employment will continue indefinitely, it is likely that the Government's 12 month exclusion is playing some part in the employer's decision to maintain the employee's casual status.
The Government will probably claim it has addressed this concern by denying the benefit of the exclusion to an employer where a substantial purpose of holding the employee as a casual is to avoid their obligations under the Act. As I recall, this exemption was extracted from the Government in 1996.
Labor does not regard this as an adequate protection. Firstly, a 12 month exclusion sends the wrong message to employers, and this provision does nothing to correct that message. Secondly, the provision only has any real effect if an employee can persuade the Commission, or a court, after lengthy evidence and argument, that of all the reasons advanced by the employer for keeping the employee's status as casual, a substantial purpose was to avoid the operation of the Act. We do not think it will realistically avoid artificial casualization.
For these reasons, Labor will move an amendment to restore the 6 month exclusion. Our amendment will also allow this period to be reduced by agreement between an employer and employee in an award or certified agreement. This is consistent with the Government's own principle of allowing employers and employees to agree on terms of employment in the workplace.
The organisers of this conference have asked me to say something about fixed-term employees.
The Government's Fair Termination Bill proposes to exclude employees "engaged under a contract of employment for a specified period of time".
We are alive to the fact that this exclusion does not impose any limit on the period of time, or require that the period of time be reasonable.
Under Labor, the regulations originally required that the period of time to be reasonable. They were later amended by Labor to require the period to be less than six months.
Again, the reason for this was simple. There has to be a balance between the legitimate need of a business to engage an employee for a specified term, and the need to avoid giving businesses an artificial incentive to avoid their obligations under unfair dismissal legislation by placing an employee on a fixed-term contract, when in reality their employment will be ongoing.
Even the Productivity Commission has recognised this. In its research paper on fixed-term employment published in February this year, the Commission acknowledged:
"an employer may believe that they can terminate a fixed-term employee at any point during their contract without the employee being able to take legal action for unfair dismissal. The employer may therefore perceive that fixed-term contract employees are less costly than ongoing employees to terminate."
In 1996, the Coalition Government removed the 6 month requirement from the regulations. To the Coalition's way of thinking, it makes no difference if an employee is engaged for a period of six months or six years - they should all be denied access to remedies for unfair dismissal.
Labor moved to disallow the removal of the 6 month requirement from the regulations, but the Democrats allowed it.
If not for recent court decisions we would have been inclined to have adopted a similar position because as I mentioned mentioned earlier, we do not think the "substantial purpose" provision meets our concern.
We note, however, that courts have taken a sensible and realistic view of whether an employee has been engaged on a contract for a specified period of time. For example, they have taken the view that the exclusion might not apply to an employee engaged under a contract which contains a power to dismiss the employee with notice, nor to an employee who has been engaged continuously under a series of fixed-term contracts.
We also note the paucity of systematic and ongoing data on the use of fixed-term contracts. It was a matter usefully addressed in the Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey in 1995. It is essential that the Government carries out another such survey in the near future and ensures that the survey examines this issue.
Because the courts have taken a sensible approach to the issue - in contrast to the Government - Labor will not move an amendment to this provision. Given the liberal and practical approach which has been taken by the Courts based on the wording of the current legislation there is always a danger that a revision of that wording may have unforseen consequences.
However, we will continue to examine the extent to which the Coalition's provision has the perverse effect of encouraging the use of fixed-term contracts to circumvent unfair dismissal legislation.
In conclusion, the Government is fond of making the claim that the assumption behind the unfair dismissal laws is that "all bosses are bastards".
We all know that this is nonsense.
You might as well claim that occupational health and safety laws assume that bosses want to injure their employees.
You might as well also claim that anti-discrimination laws assume that all employers want to discriminate against minorities.
You might also argue that laws to protect workers with family responsibilities assume that all employers are heartless and are not interested in family values.
Clearly this is a sham argument. The purpose of these laws is to set standards as much as to regulate.
The termination of employment provisions in the Workplace Relations Act implement our obligations under the ILO Convention on Termination of Employment.
The Government is still implacably hostile towards the ILO. It seems to forget it is a tripartite body.
The termination of employment provisions play an important role in promoting trust and fairness in Australian workplaces.
At the federal level, this process began with the Termination, Change and Redundancy Case and the gradual insertion of TCR provisions into awards in the 1980s.
In that context, excluding small business employees would be a terrible gesture. It says to them, "you should be grateful just to have a job. You are hired to be subservient and at all times you remain instantly expendable".
The provisions also contribute significantly to employment security. Tony Abbott appears to regard employment security as a luxury Australia cannot afford. We say it is an essential ingredient in productivity and economic growth.
Excluding small business employees can only diminish job security.
Labor has indicated it will propose and support measures that genuinely improve the operation of unfair dismissal laws for employers and employees.
So far the Government has only shown an interest in the politics of unfair dismissal.
Hopefully, once it has its double-dissolution trigger, the Government will realise it needs some policies that have support outside the HR Nicholls Society and it will look at genuine reforms based on a uniform national standard of "a fair go all round".
Delivered to the AWU Conference on Unfair Dismissals in Mealboure today
MEMO: NRL footy tipsters - If you haven't caught on to the implications of the new play-the-ball regime just yet, wake up and smell the roses, elsewise, think of your weekly contributions as more donation than punt.
Now, it's true to say, this correspondent has been a longtime critic of the NRL, and most other bastard progeny of that promise-the-world, deliver-nothing sire, Super League. In fact, some of my most treasured possessions are communications from the likes of John Ribot, Graham Carden, and Ian Robson, urging previous employers to take remedial action. Instant dismissal, from memory, was the Ribot prescription.
Still, give credit where it's due I always say and, believe it or not, the NRL has got something 100 percent right, and not just anything, but something central to the credibility of the sport.
They haven't changed a rule, just tweaked an interpretation, and the results are dramatic.
Effectively, at the ruck, sides are now only seven or eight metres apart, against the 12-15 that was in vogue when Super League tried to turn Rugby League into something utterly meaningless for the benefit, apparently, of vast American and Chinese audiences chomping at the bit to watch Wendell Sailor run the length of the field.
At least Wendell hung around a bit longer than they did!
But we digress. The point is, that a change in the off-side interpretation has given the sport, on the park at least, its soul back and, from the tipsters' point of view, there will be winners and losers.
One team we have to reassess, right from the off, is Parramatta.
Brian Smith is one smart cookie, sometimes too smart as it happens, but there is no denying he has constructed a squad to take maximum advantage of the Super League style, prevalent until this year.
Essentially, he did away with the variety of body types commonly associated with Rugby League in favour of the all-purpose athlete, best capable of running off the advantage line.
Melbourne was the other side that most clearly exploited the game's move towards becoming a turbo-charged version of touch but it, at least, utilised a halfback with an football brain to guide it around.
Smith went further. Versatility and interchangeability were the hallmarks of his squad, to the point where halfbacks were on and off the field as often as forwads.
It was the Super League contention that a faster game, enforced by greater distances between opposing teams, would be a better game. Well, depending on your take, it might have been but the problem is that it wouldn't necessarily have been football.
Suddenly, footy skills and footy brains are moving back towards the dominant positions they were always entitled to occupy.
This means three things for the punter - think twice about the Parramattas, Melbournes and, to a lesser extent, Brisbanes, of this world; remember, if you can, the value of really tough forwards who can win battles in the middle of the park; and, most importantly, give tight results to the teams featuring the best halves.
It was a central misunderstanding of what the game was about that led to the view that greater time and distance would showcase its best talents. On the contrary, the value of genuine footballers, playmakers and thinkers, rises with each metre and split second they, and those around them, are denied.
All of which probably goes a long way towards explaining why critics are saying Andrew Johns is playing better than ever; his brother has been "re-born" alongside Brett Kimmorley at Cronulla; and Stacey Jones is kicking ass across the ditch.
Bare those players in mind then keep an eye on the Willie Peters-Trent Barrett combination; respect Braith Anasta and the forwards in front of him and you'll find you've fashioned yourself a sturdy anchor to cling to when tipping waters are choppy.
Aussie Banks Deliver for Shareholders
While they may be closing branches and shedding staff, Australian banks are paying their shareholders some of the highest returns in the financial services world. A new report by strategic consulting firm Oliver, Wyman and Company shows that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia topped a list of 400 'large-cap' financial services companies in terms of returns paid to shareholders over the past five years. Westpac was third, beating giants such as ABN Amro, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, on the shareholder performance index compiled by strategic consulting firm Oliver, Wyman and Company. ANZ was 12th and the National Australia Bank 25th on the large-cap list, while Macquarie Bank and Suncorp-Metway were fourth and fifth on the index for mid-cap institutions, with St George Bank in 14th place.
Big Fat Pay Packets Keep On Coming
The sour economy and stockmarket slump has not stopped executives from scoring fat pay packets through stock option exercises last year. The top seven earners include two expat Australians, Coca-Cola's Doug Daft and Philip Morris's Geoff Bible, though they were a long way behind the top scorer, Oracle's Lawrence Ellison.
He scored total direct compensation of $US706.1 million. Mr Daft scored $US54.9 million, while Mr Bible got $US49.4 million.This week it was revealed that former Ford chief executive Jacques Nasser, believed to be back in Australia, was given $US23 million compensation. Of this, his 2001 salary was $US1.75 million. The rest was in options which could be cashed in when shares reach a strike price of $US30.19 - almost twice the current value. The figures turned up in Mercer Human Resource Consulting's annual compensation study, published in The Wall Street Journal.
Qantas Regional Restructure Threatens Jobs
Qantas Airlines is set to restructure its regional operations placing the jobs of some flight attendants and pilots in doubt. Qantas currently has five regional subsidiaries, but the ABC reports it wants to combine the regional carriers into two camps, one for commuter planes and another for small jets. It is likely their bases will be moved to two central locations, with other administration centres across the country to close. One of the subsidiaries, Southern Airlines, which operates in South Australia, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania, has told its flight attendants and pilots to apply for new positions and it is believed the airlines headquarters in Mildura in Victoria will close within three months.
Nine, SMH Plan Job Cuts
Two Australian media giants are planning job cuts in response to a downturn in advertising. The Nine Network is believed to be planning to slash costs by 10 per cent across the board, with widespread job cuts, according to industry analysts. Nine is also said to be scrutinising costs of its news operations and is reportedly seeking to extract 5 per cent in annual savings. Several analysts believe the cost restructure is more evidence that the network is being groomed for a potential sale, with Telstra again showing interest. Meanwhile, Fairfax has confirmed there will be jobs losses from a merger of its regional and community newspapers. The two divisions will form a single structure to be called Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers. The plan is part of a company-wide review aimed at cutting costs in an advertising market described by Fairfax chief executive Fred Hilmer recently as the worst in a decade.
Enron 'Tried To Buy Reporter's Silence'
The scandal surrounding fallen US energy giant Enron took on an international dimension, when an Indian journalist said the corporation had tried to buy his silence in order to push a lucrative project in his country. Raghu Dhar, the business editor at India's Zee TV, was a harsh critic of an Enron-led international consortium built in India's western Maharashtra state.He's told CBS's Sixty Minutes program that Enron officials had offered him what amounted to a concealed bribe. They suggested he join the corporate communications department with a salary of $US1 million a year and convert from a company critic into a promoter of its interests in India.
Bosswatch news is posted every Wednesday - to subscribe to the service go to http://www.bosswatch.labor.net.au
by Jim Marr
As the Libs and some of their media apologists try to rewrite history by arguing a wide mandate from their "asylum seekers election" attention shifts back to where it belongs, this time via news that Peter Reith's office told Government photographers not to take or circulate "humanising" pictures of asylum seekers, during the campaign.
It is also claimed, before a Senate Inquiry, that Government-distributed photos, claiming to show children being thrown into the ocean, were deleted from the email files of officials.
With Dubai Pete's reputation in tatters, his former boss, the PM, stills tries it on although, to be fair, on a less grand scale. This week's twist from Howard is his widely publicised, but unsubstantiated, claim that unemployment would fall if sections of the workforce were denied the right to contest unfair dismissals.
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A week pretending to be an honest broker in the Middle East breaks down when Ariel Sharon calls the US bluff.
Colin Powell, having wandered the globe on his way to the hot spot, tootles back home, having adopted the Israeli line that Yasser Arafat is to blame for the invasion of Palestinian territories.
Powell departs with the West Bank still under military occupation and the central issues of Jewish settlements, and military support for them, having hardly been raised.
It's his boss George Bush, though, free-wheeling in front of the field for this year's Joseph Goebells Award. It will be hard for anyone to match Bush's description of Sharon, with Israeli tanks still pounding Palestinian settlements, as "a man of peace".
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Australian Governments of varying hues are entitled to be embarrassed as former rebel leader Xanana Gusmao wins a resounding presidential election victory in East Timor.
Remember the deafening silence from successive Governments as Gusmao and his comrades fought to throw off Indonesian domination?
Independence leaders, though, have no beef with ordinary Australians. They have been lavish in their praise for sections of the labour movement and it wouldn't come as a great surprise if the new president was moved to return the favour when the CFMEU comes under fire from the politically-motivated Cole Royal Commission.
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Another mob hoist by their own propoganda are the operatives from Osama bin's Al Queda network.
The group, who traditionally promote their work by video on satellite channel Al Jazeera, are caught on film planning to bomb Strasbourg's Notre Dame Cathedral. The home-made video, now in the possession of German police, reveals that far from training freedom fighters Al Queda harbours religious fanatics of the most dangerous kind.
Their Arabic commentary says of Notre Dame "this cathedral is God's enemy".
"Here we see the enemies of God as they stroll about," it says of French civilians, in the vicinity. "You will go to hell, God willing."
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Historical leaps can span many decades or, in countries like Venezuela, a few days.
In the space of 72 hours President Hugo Chavez, the latest thorn in the side of US foreign policy, moves from finding himself deposed and arrested to being restored to office by popular demand.
Chavez's military-chosen replacement, the head of the country's largest Chamber of Commerce, barely gets his feet under the desk before the elected president, whose power base lies in the barrios of the cities and peasant communities, is back in office.
One US commentator sums up the original coup thus: "How do we know the CIA was behind the coup that overthrow Hugo Chavez?
"Same way that we know the sun will rise tomorrow," he answered. "That's what it has always done and there is no reason to think tomorrow will be any different."
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More information leaks to the public from behind the barbed wire at Woomera. This time it's child protection workers reporting children suffering suicidal thoughts, depression and disturbed behaviour.
South Australian Justice Minister Stephanie Key is moved to describe the situation as "intolerable".
Still, Ruddock and Howard defend their position, arguing Australia is meeting its international commitments.