Graeme Who and David What?
You might well ask but be assured, what this week's joint tenants lack in profile they more than make up for in their thorough-going commitment to the principles that have made the Tool Shed what it is today.
David Barker is Australia Post's, Group Manager Human Resources who apparently moonlights as an ideas man for current affairs television. He's the bright spark who delivered Cori Girondoudas and Richard O'Brien into our living rooms.
Remember Cori? She was the Melbourne call centre worker who Australia Post's industrial relations policy saddled with an effective $3000 fine for displaying a photo or herself and girlfriends at her work station.
The sheer stupidity of Aussie Post's stance was reported by media as far away as the UK. After a flood of written support for Cori, one from Jamaica and another out of Canada, her employer withdrew the sanction and set about drafting an agreed policy with the CPSU.
With Cori's image barely flickering from our screens we were introduced to Richard O'Brien, the long-serving Australia Post worker forced onto sick leave, and threatened with retrenchment, because of his size.
O'Brien, unfortunately, is just the tip of this particular ice berg. The Sydney parcel post officer is one of 259 employees, in NSW alone, forced onto sick leave.
These people have all been directed to take sick leave with the ultimatum that if they don't reach their employer's required health or fitness status they will be medically retired. Another victim was a woman with breast cancer.
CEPU is challenging the company's unilaterally-imposed policy in the AIRC next week.
Graeme John, or GT as he likes to be called, is Australia Post's managing directior - the turkey who lets the HR man get away with this sort of carry-on.
Under GT Aussie Post has gone the way of most corporates, substituting undiluted cobblers for plain English when it comes to such things as "mission statements".
"We have a People Management Strategy built on a strong workplace culture and relationships, and an integrated approach to managerial leadership. This will help us achieve the next wave of improvement across Post's operations," the statement reads in part.
In the annual report, GT waxes lyrical about life under Barker's HR regime.
"I've never heard so many rewarding stories about our people, at all levels, working so closely together, sharing ideas and improving work practices to achieve our common goals."
To this end, no doubt, his man Barker oversees a number of other policies that are currently under worker challenge.
Posties claim that his Management Operating System and Performance Review Programme impose unrealistic targets. In order to meet them posties delivering mail by scooter have been forced to exceed legal speed limits, putting themselves and pedestrians at risk.
Then there's the move to take action against a left-handed postal delivery officer in Sydney, rather than adjust his equipment as advised by Government medical body, Comcare.
The company also goes for something called Facility Nominated Doctors. This is code for making employees visit a doctor in Australia Post's pay rather than their own GP and, after a series of complaints, CEPU has banned these visits.
The most serious allegation, to this point, comes from a female employee who visited a FND with an elbow problem. She was instructed to strip naked and hold her arms in the air for five minutes while the male doctor observed.
Overseeing that sort of carry-on should make GT and his off-sider hang their heads in shame.
Still, a week in the shed might just restore their spirits. Regular visitor Abbott is not a man to hide his Tool behind anything and there's every chance he has left behind his infamous press clipping about a bad boss being better than no boss.
That's about as good as it's likely to get for GT and his HR man at the moment.
The Australia newspaper has made its anti-union bias explicit, telling applicants for the vacant position of Work Writer that they should turn their attention away from issues raised by unions.
In an internal memo to staff from deputy editor Deborah Jones, applicants are told they must look belong the grand theatre of industrial relations - the AIRC and the courts.
"Increasingly the work writer must think outside of the traditional industrial relations square as more and more Australians turn their back on unions and recast their relationships with their employer," the memo says.
With News Ltd itself attempting to push non-editorial staff onto individual contracts, the position is consistent with a company that questions the legitimacy of organised labour in the public debate.
Whether it will also quell the tide of destructive stories about internal union affairs, that have become the signature of the Oz in recent years remains to be seen.
No-One At Home
The Australian vacancy, following the departure of Kris Gough to a job with the Bracks Government, leaves Sydney without a dedicated IR writer.
- the Sydney Morning Herald's Brad Norington is currently working out of Canberra filling a gap in their political staff.
- the Daily Telegraph's Anthony Peterson is juggling IR with the State Political gig at Macquarie Street.
- ABC Radio's Liz Foschia is on extended leave and her position has not been filled.
- ditto AAP's Natalie Davidson, overseas with noone to take he place.
- and Stephen Long has left the Financial Review after his weekly Work Relations column was cut. Long is now with ABC Radio and his position has not been filled.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson says its surprising that mainstream outlets are downgrading their coverage of workplace issues at a time when union membership is on the increase.
"You have to wonder about the priorities of some outlets, who'll run a missing bird on the front page for a week but don't see the value of dedicating a reporter to cover people's working lives," he says.
Parramatta and Auburn Councils have rejected the advice of the State Government Medical Officer to tip long-serving parking officers out of their jobs on medical grounds.
Distressed former Parramatta parking officer, Gloria Hogan, pledged she would take the council before the Anti Discrimination Board, with Labor Council support.
Hogan, and an Auburn counterpart, are victims of the July transfer of parking duties from the NSW Police to local councils.
They were sacked, despite all clear's from Healthquest, on the recommendation of council-appointed doctors.
Parramatta has refused to furnish Labor Council with the medical report on which it based Hogan's sacking but says it alleged she "would have problems" with prolonged walking, standing or bending. Hogan dismisses that "excuse" as "rubbish".
She estimates she has walked eight-to-ten kilometres every day since becoming a parking officer. The council dumped her one day short of qualifying for 10-year long service entitlements.
Hogan says the only problem she has had during that time was time off, four years ago, after developing heel spurs on the job.
The Phillipines immigrant was particularly incensed when Parramatta Council HR manager, John Child, told her her English wasn't up to being an "ambassador for Parramatta" with tourists.
"I was really hurt when he told me that," Hogan said. "I've lived in Australia for 17 years and married a fair-dinkum Aussie. Before joining the police I worked in customer service for a tourist hotel and with State Rail."
Besides near-perfect English and her native Tagalog, Hogan has a passing grasp of Japanese, German and Spanish.
"I really enjoyed my job, working with the public and helping the community," she said.
"Every morning I used to get up and say - another 50 cents - but it was just a joke. I liked coming to work.
"I'm fit and I want to work. I think the way I have been treated by Parramatta Council is very unfair."
Every council, other than Parramatta and Auburn, accepted Healthquest reports on the fitness of employees transferring from the Police Service.
Under the proposal, employers would pay a top up levy into the National Entitlement Security Trust (NEST) to allow women to access 14 weeks leave at full pay when they have a child.
Unions are arguing strongly that the 14 weeks at full pay should be the standard for universal maternity leave, which would cost employers less than $1 per week per worker.
The Senate Inquiry into Paid Maternity Leave is being held as the Howard Government leaves open the option of some form of universal taxpayer funded scheme of a more modest duration.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union argues that to reach the international standard of 14 weeks a combination of taxpayer funded safety net and an employer-funded top-up is required.
That money could be held in either a government pool such as the Australian Tax Office, or preferably a scheme such as NEST - jointly administered by employer and employee representatives.
The Umbrella Trust
The bid to handle top-up maternity leave payments is part of NEST's transition from the nation's first industry specific entitlements fund (previously known as Manusafe) into an all-purpose entitlements trust.
NEST is also moving to establish sector or industry based schemes that would manage portable long service leave entitlements for the millions of Australian workers who will never hold the same job for ten years.
NEST CEO Andrew Whiley says one aim is to create a one-stop shop for entitlements that workers could draw upon throughout their working life - be it to take time off for training, long service leave or when they were retrenched.
NEST is run as a non-profit organisation with investment returns going back to employers to assist schemes to reach self funding. Its board has recently welcomed its first employer representative to complement the current trade union nominees, with negotiations with other employer representatives well advanced.
"For millions of workers the absence of traditional entitlements like long service leave and are an emerging industrial issue," Whiley says. "The old notions of one or two jobs in a lifetime are gone, and the traditional way many workers accrued entitlements from extended service with a single employer has gone with it."
" All the flexibility seems to be one side of the employment equation, with many workers having to be more mobile whether they like it or not. It's time to have some flexibility on the other side, so that workers can accrue and carry leave with them from job to job.
"I see NEST as providing unions with the basic infrastructure to underpin various campaigns and initiatives - especially in industries with high levels of labour mobility, multiple employers and broken work patterns. With a credible and effective trust fund now in existence workers will have extra ammunition in the growing push for recognition of service to an industry and portability of their entitlements."
NEST is targeting traditional blue-collar workers as well as workers in the burgeoning casual sectors such as labour hire child-care, education, hospitality and the media.
"We remain a solution for protecting workers entitlements; but we offer a generic vehicle for the labor movement to access when grappling with the reality of employment patterns facing more and more Australian workers. Baby NEST is yet another example how a generic trust can be adapted to meet differing needs of Australian workers.
NEST will officially unveil a new board - including a high profile chairman - later in the year.
The Casino workers, members of the LHMU, are the first group to secure a clause recognising their right to refuse to work unreasonable amounts of overtime since the ACTU's ground-breaking test case decision last month.
Workers have also won improved rostering, a better range of work hours for part-timers, new maternity leave, salary sacrifice options for super and child care - in the proposed agreement.
Star City may require an employee to work reasonable overtime at overtime rates subject to the following: an employee may refuse to work overtime in circumstances where the working of such overtime would result in the employee working hours which are unreasonable having regards to:
- any risk to employee health and safety
- the employees personal circumstances including any family responsibilities
- the needs of the workplace or enterprise
- the notice (if any) given by the employer of the overtime and by the employee of his or her intention to refuse it; and
- any other relevant matter
"The reasonable hours clause will give our people better control over their working hours; not forcing them to take on unreasonable overtime in an around-the-clock industry," LHMU Casino Union assistant national secretary, Tim Ferrari, said.
"Star City Casino - which is now the largest employer in the Sydney CBD - has been involved in six months of tough negotiations with the union delegation, but I believe these talks have come good for the 3200 workers."
Star City workers are being delivered copies of the final offer and will vote on it over the next fortnight.
Proposed wage rise range from $42 to $70 per. Six weeks maternity leave has been agreed to, along with a 'preferred shift' system to take into account family, carers, study and travel needs
The union has made it clear to management that, with the support of members, it will continue its campaign to eliminate passive smoking and get a uniformly applied Zero Tolerance policy enforced against unacceptable patron behaviour;
Labor Council secretary John Robertson contrasts the lack of hard evidence uncovered by Cole with “immorality on a grand scale” revealed in concurrent inquiries into the failures of One.Tel and HIH.
Despite evidence of businessmen awarding themselves multi-million bonuses and handing out six-figure sums to accomplices as their companies imploded, Prime Minister John Howard said this week there was no need for further corporate regulation.
Robertson called the contrasting responses a "joke".
"What we have seen from Government this week is stark evidence of just what a politically-motivated snow job the Building Industry Royal Commission is.
"They heard from more than 100 witnesses during five weeks in Sydney and uncovered no hard evidence of corruption," he told Labor Council.
"They claimed some union officials had sworn at employers. Gee, what a shock, and Abbott wants a Task Force for the Industry.
"At the same time we hear horror stories about Brad Cooper, Ray Williams, Jodee Rich, Brad Keeling and others, how their greed impacts on workers and shareholders and the Prime Minister says - no action.'
Robertson says any Task Force set up by Abbott will have the same rationale as the NSW Task Force that followed the Gyles inquiry - hamstringing construction unions in their efforts to improve the wages and conditions of members.
He predicted that like its forerunner it would be unsuccessful in achieving that goal.
Maritime Union members involved in the operation say they were horrified at the poor seamanship by Greek masters and his Filipino crew of convenience, some of whom face charges associated with the grounding in World Heritage seas.
"It was obvious to all of us involved in the rescue operation that no-one on board was paying attention," MUA tug crew member Peter Lamond, one of around a dozen MUA salvage crew involved in the emergency response, says.
"They missed the channel and went aground, burying the vessel a good four metres into the reef.".
The MUA was vocal throughout the grounding, warning about the damage the Federal Government policy of opening our coast to more and more substandard ships of shame was causing to our environment.
"Our concerns were valid," says MUA Southern Queensland Branch Secretary Mick Carr.
"Divers, salvage crew and environmentalists have all confirmed the huge wreckage the grounding has done to some 3,500 square metres of coral and marine life. There is now special concern over the affect the anti fouling paint from hull of ship is going to have in the long term. A huge clean up operation is needed."
Carr says that only when there is a pro-active policy for Australian flag shipping can we be certain that the increasing incidences of ship groundings on our reef can be reduced.
"In the meantime Australia is stuck with the clean up operation while the vessel and its owners will escape with token fines. And once again the professionalism of Australian maritime workers response teams has been crucial in the emergency towage operation to free the vessel from the Reef.
"But if the Howard Government had its way we'd have poorly trained guest workers doing this job too."
The Doric Chariot was a Greek Flag vessel with a Filipino crew of convenience and Greek officers. It had sailed from Hay Point, near Mackay, on way to India with a load of coal when the grounding off Cairns occurred.
Towage vessels involved in the operation included Adsteam tug Werra from Townsville with Peter Lamond and four other MUA crew, the Redcliffe out of Brisbane, with four MUA crew, the Otto Assman from Marlyn, South of Cairns, with five MUA crew and the Brighton brought in from PNG.
Industry Training Advisory Boards (ITABs) have been the major avenue through which union and employer representatives could advise government and industry on the training needs of states and territories.
Their existence has ensured national uniform training standards are maintained, industry needs are met, and that trainee qualifications are portable throughout the country.
But NSW Labor Council's Michael Gadiel says ITABs have now become the latest victims of the Government's quest to attack any organisation through which trade unions operate.
"Brendan Nelson is playing politics with the nation's training agenda in a cynical move which will erode the quality and relevance of future training programs," Gadiel says.
"Three ITABs have already had to close and more will follow because the Federal Government is abandoning its commitment to sustaining a broad based and portable system of workplace qualification," he says.
The NSW Government refused to meet the funding shortfall, which would have involved dedicating an extra $2m to the ITABs on top of the $1m it already contributes.
The situation has left many ITABs with little choice but to close their doors. However Gadiel says the union movement is committed to finding a solution to the current funding crisis and is actively looking for ways of enabling the ITABs to continue.
Some of the options include amalgamation of various industry ITABs, parred down roles, replacing staff with solo liaison officers, and forming industry training committees similar to those operating under workers compensation legislation.
But Gadiel says preservation of the current system is paramount and believes many unions will now start searching for funding from other sources.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has urged car industry employers to support the establishment of the Vehicle Industry Consultative Council to deal with industry-wide issues and to help resolve industrial disputes quickly.
Combet told a Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers' dinner in Melbourne last night that the Federal Government's proposed legislation to cut workers' bargaining rights would destabilise the industry and inhibit the development of a co-operative approach to change.
And he accused the Government of politically motivated blackmail in threatening the industry with tariff cuts unless it adopted an anti-employee agenda.
He said Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott was talking down the industry and talking up disputes in order to pressure the Senate to pass the so-called Genuine Bargaining Bill, Secret Ballots Bill and Remedies for Unprotected Action Bill.
"Tony Abbott's out-dated, class war hysteria is a threat to investment and jobs, and is damaging our export potential. Despite record improvements in productivity and industrial dispute levels at historic lows, Mr Abbott is using the vehicle industry as a political plaything.
"Employers and employees can rise above the Government's confrontational agenda to find common ground in resolving the challenges confronting the industry.
The Consultative Council would provide a forum for constructive dialogue and leadership to deal with industry problems and issues such as safeguarding employee entitlements and improving skills and training," Combet says.
The Workplace Relations Act administered by Mr Abbott encourages the establishment of Industry Consultative Councils. A senior member of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission would chair the proposed Vehicle Industry Council.
Australia's largest apparel manufacturer announced last week that it would introduce 12 weeks paid maternity leave for permanent employees with more than two years of continuous service.
The company, which manufacturers Berlie, Bonds, Clarks, Dunlop, Everlast, Grosby Heleproof, Hush Puppies, King Gee, Razamatazz, Sleepmaker and Tontine brands, is the first in the sector to embrace widespread maternity payments.
TCFUA secretary Barry Tubner said the Pacific Brands shift was important because of its overall size and the number of women it employer.
Of more than 5000 employees around Australia and New Zealand, 60 percent are female.
Tubner said his union would seek to have the public commitment formally written into three agreements coming up for renegotiation in the near future.
It includes Sydney and regional organisations expected to close, cutback services or sack workers because the Federal Government refused to fully fund an IRC ordered wage increase.
The hit list is being updated weekly.
ASU Assistant Secretary Sally McManus says $68 million in Federal funding is owed to community organisations and must be paid as a matter of urgency;
"These are essential community services for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in NSW.
"They include refuges for women and young people fleeing domestic and other violence as well as disability services, services for housebound people and migrant settlement services.
NCOSS Director Alan Kirkland says
"As well as devastating Sydney based services, regional centres including Wollongong, Griffith, Kempsey, Bathurst, Armidale and Wagga Wagga look likely to lose essential services including crisis, support and accommodation services."
Chief Industrial Magistrate, George Miller, found Walter Ingenhoff guilty of two charges of obstructing, and two of intimidating AMWU officials who had sought to carry out a safety inspection at HighLube Fluid Engineering, Unanderra.
The maximum fine for each of the four convictions is $2200. Ingenhoff will be sentenced in the Wollongong Industrial Court on August 16.
NSW Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, says unions are "celebrating a major victory in the battle for workplace safety".
Robertson says the vindication of the two AMWU organisers is "highly significant" for two reasons.
First, that the prosecution, the first of its kind, was mounted by state health and safety authority, Workcover, and, that it should bring to an end a spate of employer challenges to the entry rights of accredited union officials.
The rights of authorised officers to carry out health and safety inspections became a key issue in Sydney hearings of the Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry. Employers, the Office of the Employment Advocate and commission counsel all questioned the legitimacy of health and safety inspections.
Robertson said NSW law sought to recognise unions as partners in the state's economic development and provided a role for them in a a key issue for their members.
"This decision is unequivocal. We have the right to carry out health and safety inspections. We will continue to do them and we will continue to do them responsibily," Robertson said.
Building Workers Demand Protection
Meanwhile, a spate of construction site accidents has sparked calls for a Government Task Force to investigate health and safety in the industry.
Last week a demolition worker crashed four floors from the roof of a building in Bondi, and only yesterday a Glebe demolition site was shut down on the insistence of Workcover and Leichhardt Council officers.
There have been at least three reported incidents, in the past month, of cranes toppling over on Sydney building sites.
Labor Council is backing CFMEU calls for a state government task force into safety standards in the industry.
The two organisations have been backed by NSW Demolition Association president, Bob Brady, in calls for the reinstatement of specialist Demolition and Asbestos divsions within Workcover.
Meanwhile, Labor Council is backing a CFMEU protest to welcome Commissioner Cole's Building Industry Royal Commission back to Sydney.
Safety will be the focus of the rally scheduled for noon on Wednesday, August 28.
"This is an opportunity for workers to let the Commission know what they think of its contemptuous refusal to investigate the major issue facing our industry," Ferguson said.
The revelations come hard on the heels of questions about OEA-endorsed AWAs which cost Virgin Mobile call centre workers as much as $4000 a head.
Unions are working for the striking down of bodgey individual contracts rubber-stamped by Tony Abbott's controversial Office of the Employment Advocate.
To sell AWAs to the electorate, Workplace Relations Minister Abbott said nobody would be forced onto individual contracts.
Australian Services Union secretary, Michael Want, said the Office of Employment Advocate had abandoned any pretence of looking after worker interests in the AWA process.
Employers have become so bold that, in a letter to employees, Thorn didn't even try to conceal its real intention.
"A pre-requisite of your employment is that you will be covered by an AWA," employees were told.
"Therefore, should you not wish to sign the agreement, your services will be terminated and you will be compensated for the period you have worked for Thorn."
Clause 5, of the AWA itself, reads: "This agreement was not entered into under duress by any party to it."
Labor Council has written to the OEA asking it to investiage Thorn's behaviour.
According to correspondent Rowan Cahill, the Wollongong-based playwright was "an exciting talent (who) is developing an entertaining, intelligent, astute, robust" form of Left political theatre.
Earlier this year Badham's play Kitchen, a clever and dark satire on labour relations and global capitalism, set in a domestic kitchen and ending with cannibalism, played to small, appreciative audiences in Sydney. It was ignored by the mainstream media.
Currently Kitchen is playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and earlier this week was selected by leading UK newspaper The Guardian as its theatrical 'Pick of the Day'. A couple of days later The Scotsman joined the chorus of acclaim.
According to The Guardian reviewer Kitchen is "a very funny, unusually political" play which "cleverly uses the domestic to highlight the insanity of a wider world where people are expendable to the interests of multinational corporations and governments, and lives and communities are casually destroyed in the pursuit of profit".
The Guardian considers Badham "has the potential to be a major talent".
Sydney Social Forum Information Night
6:30pm, Thursday, August 15
Tom Mann Theatre
136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills
Footage from the World Social Forum will be shown, courtesy of Actively Radical TV, as well as a short film from the US entitled "Another World is Possible":
"What if 51,000 people from 131 countries put their heads together to discuss what is wrong with the world and how to work together to change it? In early 2002, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, public officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, indigenous nations, farmers, and labor -- including 11,000 young people -- gathered for the World Social Forum. Called in response to the elite gathering of the World Economic Forum in New York, this week of workshops, panel discussions, and high-spirited demonstrations was inspirational for those attending."
Amongst the speakers featured in the film are Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Kevin Danaher, Wolfgang Sachs, and Rigoberta Menchu.
There will also be discussion and personal report-backs from the WSF, what we can hope to achieve here in Sydney, and how people can get more involved.
Entry is suggested at $3/$5 to help out with cost of venue hire.
Participants at the Sydney Social Forum on September 20-22 include: AidWatch, Greens NSW, CFMEU, National Union of Students, Refugee Action Coalition, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Aid/Watch, Socialist Alliance NSW, The Wilderness Society, Brisbane Social Forum, Student Environment Activist Network, Mineral Policy Institute, New Internationalist magazine, People for Nuclear Disarmament (NSW), Midnight Star Social Centre, 2SER Community Radio, and more.
For more info:
phone: Luke 0419 135 019 or Glen 9282 9553
email: [email protected]
Debunking Myths about Asylum Seekers
DO YOU KNOW ALL THE FACTS AND MYTHS ABOUT REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS?
We invite you to our Information Evening
Tuesday, 13th August 2002
6:30pm - 8:30pm
St Francis' Catholic Church Paddington
463 Oxford Street, PADDINGTON NSW 2021
Confirmed Speakers Include:
Secretary, Aboriginal and Islander Commission, NCCA
Former Adviser of Howard Government
Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the community will be present to share their practical experience in Immigration Detention Centres
Ample opportunity for audience questions and comments
Organised by the Coalition for Justice for Refugees in association with Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Catholic Mission, SEARCH Foundation, Sydney Palm Sunday Committee, SHOW MERCY - Rights for Asylum Seekers, Just and Fair Asylum (JAFA), Franciscan Friars, Labor for Refugees, UTS Students Association and many other organisations.
Endorsed by Australians for Just Refugee Programs Inc (AfJRP)
ENTRY BY DONATION IS ENCOURAGED
ENQUIRIES: 02 9764 1330 - 0405 112 778
Labor for Refugees NSW Plenary meeting
Wed 07 Aug
LHMU Auditorium 187 Thomas St HAYMARKET
All ALP and Trade Union members welcome
Hiroshima Peace March and Rally
Sat 10 Aug - 12 Noon
Assemble Town Hall Square; March at 12:30 pm;
1:00pm Rally at Belmore Park
more info: www.anti-bases.com.au
Hiroshima Nevera Again. No Nuclear War. No US attacks
on Iraq etc.
Wars create Refugees.
Protecting Citizen's Rights: a critical discussion of
the Howard Government's Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Sun 11 Aug
2:00 - 3:30 pm
Sydney Town Hall, Marconi Room (enter from Druitt
Sen. John Faulkner, Prof. George Williams, Cameron
Murphy, Talal Yassine
organised by ALP NSW Branch Law Reform and
Constitutional Processes Policy Committee
Mon 26 Aug
Sydney: Town Hall (vigil)
During the day, wear a black armband to show your
disgust at the shameful treatment
of refugees on the first anniversary of the "Tampa
Come to the candle-light vigil at the Town Hall
It's hard to know what was more sickening to read in Workers Online #146 - reading Malcolm Fraser's bleatings about refugees or reading that he had been invited to address the AMWU National Conference. It's not that I'm anti-refugee. On the contrary. Rather, I have a good enough memory to recall what Fraser did as a Liberal Prime Minister - and I have maintained the rage.
Does anyone remember Medibank, the national health insurance scheme introduced by the Labor government in 1975? Fraser came to office promising to retain it, since it was so massively popular. He then spent the next few years slicing it up piece by piece, till nothing remained but a publicly owned private health fund. The ALP had to start again with Medicare when it was elected in 1983.
Well, how about "monetarism" and the massive attacks that Fraser tried on the public sector during his term of office? He wasn't able to make much headway due to stout resistance from the community & from public sector workers, but his failure wasn't from the want of trying.
And what about the workers? Fraser spent his term of office arguing in the Arbitration Commission for workers to get pay rises less than the rate of inflation (while simultaneously nobbling the Prices Justification Tribunal) & even descended to arguing often for "zero indexation". That is, he wanted workers' wages to remain stagnant while saying "let 'em rip" to prices in the supermarket. And we mustn't forget his continuous attempts to demonise the union movement (especially the then leadership of the AMWU) in search of a method of crushing it. Once again, if he didn't succeed, it wasn't for the want of trying.
So, Malcolm Fraser has demonstrated himself a loyal warrior for the employing class. He's close to the LAST person I'd want to invite to convince workers to take up the cause of refugees. And they do need convincing. All opinion polls show a solid majority supporting Howard's disgusting policy, so we have our work cut out for us in bringing the bulk of the working class across to a pro-refugee position.
How are we to convince workers to support the refugees if they don't already? It won't be by appeals to a classless "humanitarianism", especially from someone whose track record combines such "humanitarianism" with unremitting struggle on behalf of the employing class and against the workers. Rather, it will be by accepting that refugees are workers and arguing from the foundation principle of unionism - that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Using the "touch one, touch all" principle, we can demonstrate that:
(a) The key issue behind the demonisation of refugees & the panic about "border protection" is racism; and
(b) Racism can only divide the working class in the face of attacks by the Howard government or the employers, leading to a far greater likelihood that these attacks will succeed.
To win this argument, the only one which can bring the bulk of workers across, we need allies like Malcolm Fraser like we need a hole in the head.
by Peter Lewis
During the accord period, Labor championed the idea of universal superannuation. What's Labor's big idea for the 21st century?
On the fundamental issue of compulsory super it was to provide an additional retirement income, that the majority of low and middle income earners didn't access or didn't have access to. The first of our current discussion papers, and there will be two of them, focuses on broader choice and stronger protection and fairer tax. The feel is stronger protection, making sure the system is cost effective in what it delivers, that people don't pay unnecessarily higher fees and charges. Because higher fees and chargers mean a lower retirement income, that's a very important principal.
Do you see a responsibility for a Labor Government to actually be supporting certain types of super funds?
The Labor Government has an overall responsibility to ensure we have cost effective system and that there are not excessive fees and charges. That does happen in respect to industry funds or corporate funds or public sector funds for that matter, its not just industry funds that are cost effective. There's a responsibility to ensure that all Australians who have super, whether in an industry or not an industry fund, have a cost effective product that does not have excessive fees and charges.
So, you don't see it as Labor's role to actually champion the industry model?
It's not up to a Labor Government to prescribe that all Australians would be in an industry fund. The current system of industrial commission, state and federal, determining as an independent body, determining what's the most effective mechanism is a good system.
What do you see as the impact of the Liberal decisions in government to basically scrap the superannuation levy that was going to go up to 15 per cent if Labor had stayed in power after 1996?
Well, that was the co contribution. It was an incredibly short-sighted decision. If we'd got to 15 per cent we would have no arguments about the adequacy of super, it clearly would have been adequate. It was a short sighted decision, which has resulted in millions of Australians effectively having a significantly lower retirement income than they would otherwise have had. That opportunity has now been lost, because the money that was allocated in the budget for the co contribution model of three percent from the government has now been spent elsewhere, and I think the reality of the budget today is that that money will not be available in the future.
Your discussion paper has already drawn criticism from at least one union, the LHMU, who says that it's quite naive to be promoting choice and that really industry funds are the best way of protecting the interests of workers. What's your response to those criticisms?
I think if you look at the options paper, it recognises that industry funds are good value for money. As corporate and public sector funds are good value for money. But we also have to deal with the issues relating to entry and exit fees, I'm not criticising industry funds in that respect, but there are some products in the market that have entry and exit fees which shouldn't be allowed. We have to deal with that issue. We have to deal with the issue of excessive fees and charges, where they exist, and again I'm not critical of industry funds on that, they are good value for money. We have to deal with those issues and we also have to deal with the issue of multiple accounts. There are 24 million accounts for eight million workers, so again we've proposed an automatic consolidation regime, from which you can opt out, rather than consolidation, which requires people to opt in at the moment.
At the moment when you do move jobs that process is highly bureaucratic and quite difficult to manage. Is there a push to centralise that whole process?
Well the way I envisage a possible model working is the Australian Tax Office at the end the financial year would use TFN number and consolidate automatically into the last fund. That's the way I would envisage that working. We have to minimise the number of lost accounts, its clearly excessive at the moment.
Some on the progressive side of politics look at superannuation funds and think well there's a huge opportunity in using savings in an ethical way What does your paper have to say about the whole realm of ethical investment?
What we've said is that the majority of fund members now have access to investment choice, there's a category they can pick from, that's a good thing. But at the moment that is not available to all fund members and we argue in the paper that it should be made available to all fund members as a matter of right and that within the investment you would include an ethical investment option which the individual can elect to invest in if they wish. Again even where you've got investment choice being offered many do not offer an ethical investment area and they should do that.
It seems your package is more about offering consumer choice rather than actually having a vision how a super system should work in the broader social context. Is that something that you will also will tackle as you develop your policy?
Our second discussion paper will focus on adequacy of contribution levels, health and/or education and other accounts, women, investment and income streams.
What are some of the key issues you see in that discussion?
There is the issue of the role of trustees and some managers in exercising a greater level of accountability in corporate governance. And in respect to ethical investment there are issues there, there has been some quite widespread debate in the super industry about those, and the community for that matter. The paper focuses on broader choice and consolidation but with the very strong regulatory protection, and also on the tax issue as well.
On the general level there's a feeling within the community, particularly for younger workers, that by the time the baby boomers have gone through, there's not going to be really much of a scheme left for them to access, when they're at the end of their working life. Are you optimistic about the strength and durability of super funds?
What the current Senate Committee Inquiry which is looking at adequacy shows, is that a person who is in the system for most of their working life, that's the under 30s, their outcome with super together with the part or full age pension, will be a good outcome for them. The problem is with those who have only been in the system a short while, the people who face the most significant problem are those who've only been in compulsory super, which is the majority of the workforce, for the last 15 years. They are the ones who will have shortfall on a reasonable retirement income. They haven't been in the system long enough.
That's why the PMs saying they'll have to work longer.
Well, that's his solution, it's not a Labor solution, and I don't think we should be forcing people to work longer.
The other argument that is put around is that there is probably as good a return in investing money in property as in super. Have you a view on that?
In superannuation you have to diversify investment. Some funds have an investment in property, so there is investment in property. But I think its really important for a system to have diversified investment across a range of investment types. We've seen a property boom in some areas in Australia, although Tasmania is a bit different, where I come from. The other issue you have to look at is the long term average real rate of return, not the return this year but the average rate of return over the last 5 or 10 years, and even with poor returns this year, which most funds are going to experience, the average real rate of return is still very good.
Finally what are the risks if we don't get our superannuation policy right?
Well, the importance of super is to maximise the retirement income of Australians, and if we don't maximise the retirement income of Australians by having an efficient system, strong protections, an adequate level of contributions and fairer tax, then many Australian will struggle when they retire. The central issue is maximising the retirement incomes of Australians, particularly low and middle-income earners. Everything else is subsidiary to maximising the retirement income of Australians.
Pigeons are the only things moving on the eastern end of Westfield's $320 million shopping centre redevelopment at Bondi Junction. Even they pick their spots on the giant concrete floors and exposed steel reinforcing rods, and their caution is well advised.
At least three serious incidents on the Adelaide St end of the redevelopment have the CFMEU and Labor Council demanding a joint Workcover-union construction industry safety blitz.
Since workers went onto that part of the site a giant underground steel pin has been driven through a power cable, cutting electricity to Bondi and putting at least one commercial radio station off the air; a concrete slab, roughly 20m by 20m, has broken off and tumbled nearly two metres to the deck; then, on July 31, demolition labourer Willie Tawhai fell four floors when the concrete roof he was working on broke away.
Tawhai was admitted to St Vincent's Hospital with a broken arm, severe bruising and lacerations. Not bad, considering.
Visitors said he told them he thought his number was up.
One moment he was standing on the roof, hosing down the surface to keep the dust from nearby shoppers. Next thing, he was falling. Tawhai opened his eyes, thinking he was dreaming, until seeing workers from the adjacent Westfield site clambering towards him.
He had landed, fortuitously, between two concrete slabs, having avoided a mass of sharp, steel reinforcing rods on the way down.
The figures he saw were not angels but trained first aiders, Steve Hollis and Steve Healey, who had been working just outside the demolition zone.
Hard-bitten Westfield CFMEU site delegate, Bill Docherty, labels their efforts "heroic".
"When we got there Willie was lying in the rubble. Our blokes didn't think about themselves, they just went in to help. I believe, in all honesty, what they did was ridiculous but commendable, and I've told them that.
"They took a risk. We are all conscious of health and safety but, in emergencies, you find most construction workers will do what they think is right. That means helping someone in trouble."
Healey was first across with an oxygen bottle. Hollis was right behind him and Docherty arrived from the main site with the first aid kit.
It's important to understand that the demolition site isn't, technically, Westfield's responsibility. They've handed it over to demolishers, RJ Brady, until the demolition is completed.
Bob Brady is president of the Demolition Association and he wants greater regulatory oversight before he puts other employees at risk.
Brady is backing Labor Council moves to have the demolition division of Workcover reinstated. Equally important, he says, it should be a condition of Development Applications that builders register design specification for posterity.
"Honestly, you come onto some sites blind," he said. "You try and get the specifications off councils and they say they've been lost.
"What demolishers need is access to the as-built drawings so that when our grandchildren are tearing these places down they know the design philosophy
"They shouldn't get a completion certificate until that information is filed."
Back in the 70s, when this shopping centre was going up, the principal builder went bust. Different firms completed different sections and, with the façade ripped away, their shortcuts have been exposed.
There is no reinforcement around some of the columns. Most of the concrete in the central columns is white, a sure sign that it doesn't include a hell of a lot of cement.
Looking at the exposed concrete floors is intriguing. On the Oxford St end they are thick with steel reinforcing but just 50m back there is barely any support at all.
CFMEU organiser Martin Wyer has seen it all before.
"You know what's happened here?" he asks, rolling back the decades like some archealogical detective. "The concrete's been ready, they haven't got the reinforcing in and the boss' said - f?** it, let's pour."
He shakes his head.
Brady's no more upbeat. He was on site when Tawhai fell.
"The column in the middle just went," he says. "One of the slabs pushed against it and it just collapsed.
"We knew the site was bad. It was worse than we thought, that's all."
A posse of unionists, including Wyre and Docherty, join Brady, his engineer and Westfield's site boss for coffee at the mall across the road.
The discussion's polite but there's an edge.
Experienced CFMEU safety officer, Brian Miller, holds the floor. He's reasonable, but insistent. Not just about the demolition site but the Westfield area as well. He wants protection for workers and he insists on improved barriers, and traffic control, to keep shoppers and the general public out of harm's way.
"You're going to have to shut that road and the council's just going to have to live with it," he insists. "If that wall tumbles out, people could be killed."
Brady takes copious notes.
Labor Council's Mary Yaager will set out all the issues by fax for sign-off by Brady or Westfield.
Westfield's man is in a hurry. His company is said to be losing tens, if not hundreds of thousands, every day the pigeons rule the roost.
Docherty wants hard info, so he can call his workmates together and tell them exactly what happened, next door, and why? Brady agrees to address their meeting.
Once the demolition phase is complete and building gets into full swing there will be 1000 workers employed on the site. With just 65 there at the moment, Docherty is confident he will have collected $2000 by the end of the week to help Tawhai and his family.
Driving back to the city, Miller is filthy.
"It's all bloody wrong," he says. "Some of these people don't really care about safety."
He has a few targets in his sights - Workcover for not taking action when it was informed of the first slab collapse; and councils in general, for not policing or encouraging safe practises in their jurisdictions.
The Cole Commission, he insists, is derelict in its responsibilities to industry workers and the public for failing to highlight the issue. Worse, Miller argues, it's become a screen dodgy bosses are increasingly hiding behind.
by Jim Marr
Strong had Commission counsel drooling with sensational witness box allegations that a CFMEU organiser had threatened to break her arms and legs, then intimated harm would befall her young children.
For their part, union witnesses categorically denied the allegations, arguing they were a smokescreen for a dodgy operation that cut corners, particularly with regard to workplace safety.
On Thursday, in Greek St, Glebe, the paths of the CFMEU and Barbara Strong crossed again. This time it was the demolition end of her operation, on a building that is to be converted into luxury apartments.
When CFMEU officials called to check out her paperwork and safety compliance, she invoked the name of the Royal Commission. It's hardly surprising she should feel the Commission is firmly in her corner but her willingness to use other taxpayer-funded services to try and defeat her responsibilities is what elevates her into the Bad Boss running.
When Old King Cole's name failed to frighten away worker representatives, Strong put through a call to Tony Abbott's Office of the Employment Advocate, or Emplotyer's Advocate as it was referred to in the Commission. Then she rang the police.
With, at best count, 14 inner city police officers on site, the OEA badgering union secretary, Andrew Ferguson, and Leichhardt Council officers on the way, it was decided to send for the calming influence of experienced CFMEU assistant secretary, Brian Parker.
When Parker arrived at Greek St he was appalled.
"It would have to be one of the worst sites I have seen in my 13 years as a union official," Parker told Workers Online. "There was just no attention to safety at all.
"Workers were at risk but so were motorists and the general public."
Why? Well, where do you start?
- strong concerns over the "structural integrity" of a 10m perimeter façade. All the main barriers and posts had been cut away from the top four metres.
- shards of glass scattered across the public footpath from where bricks had punched holes through windows
- no "competent person(s)" on site as required by regulation
- no lunch facilities or proper traffic control arrangements
- worries over inadequate first aid supplies, and access to a doorless toilet which was without such luxuries as soap and paper.
That, Parker said, was just the start, obvious from outside.
Parker didn't want a slanging match with Strong, who had famously told the Royal Commission she had "more balls" than a male building company supervisor, so he called Workcover.
There were moments of humour. State safety authorities forbad Strong entering her own site because she was improperly attired, then blocked her MBA rep because the pair of workboots he had borrowed had the toe ripped out of them.
Parker lent Strong a pair of his own Size 12s and the MBA man scabbed another pair of boots off one of the workers.
Then Workcover inspectors got down to the serious business of examining the health and safety issues. It wasn't long before they were writing out Prohibition Notices, Improvement Notices and issuing fines, amidst demands that the site be shut down.
That argument was resolved when council officers arrived and revealed no permission had been given for demolition work on the property.
Demolition is a dangerous business and practitioners have to be licensed. Parker believes Workcover should give serious consideration to S & B's future when its demolition licence comes up for review.
"We're not out to get Barbara Strong or her company but we are out to protect working people and the general public and we don't apologies for that," he said.
"When firms don't comply with the basics - getting council consent or having a competent person on site - you know they are cutting corners and evading responsibilities. Those attitudes are unacceptable when it comes to workplace safety."
Consumers of the mainstream media could be forgiven for thinking that Australian political history is simply concerned with the personalities and politics of the two major political parties, the personal lives of some of their members, and more recently the undergraduate posturings of the Democrats.
Those who care to dig a little deeper will find much more is going on. For example inside and outside Australian universities there is a thriving research industry devoted to the history of the left wing of the Australian labour movement, specifically that part involved with, and influenced by, communism.
In 1994 academics Beverley Symons, Andrew Wells, and Stuart Macintyre, produced the resource bibliography Communism In Australia. Published by the National Library of Australia the 282 page tome detailed over 3000 significant documents, publications, and archival material relating to the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and its allied and breakaway movements, from the Party's foundation in 1920 to its dissolution in 1991.
This book sold out, and quickly became recognized as a valuable research tool. It was followed in 1998 by The Reds (Allen & Unwin), an award winning history of the CPA from its beginning until the start of World War 2, written by Professor Macintyre of the University of Melbourne. A second volume completing the story is being prepared.
A major point established by Macintyre's history was the profound social, political, and cultural impacts the CPA had on Australian life generally.
Recently the Sydney Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History has published Communism In Australia: A Supplementary Resource Bibliography. The result of the patient endeavours of Beverley Symons, the book lists and details nearly 800 items, including manuscripts, oral history collections, books, chapters, articles and theses, that have been generated since 1994 in the subject area.
While primarily aimed at researchers, the book can be read as something other than a research tool. In particular the detailed descriptions of library and archival holdings generated by individuals and organizations, highlight the human and political richness and diversity of the Australian labour movement.
The depth and inclusiveness of much of the archival material suggests there is a bower bird dimension to many Australian labour movement people, who live out and work through their lives with an eye to history, and with the awareness that they are part of something grand and worthwhile beyond themselves, and in a sense, beyond time.
Copies of the supplementary bibliography are available from the Sydney Branch ASSLH, PO Box 1027, Newtown, NSW, 2042; cost $14.95 each (plus $2 postage each).
ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder has offered his organisation's full support to AFL-CIO actions to put an end to corporate corruption and false accounting.
Ryder pointed to the lack of strong and cohesive global rules on company behaviour as a major factor in the stagnant world economy.
"Big companies have been taking advantage of lax regulation for too long all over the world" he said, adding that "the AFL-CIO campaign is mirrored by union actions across the globe. As even more companies guilty of corporate greed hit the wall, the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people are under threat, and the position of responsible companies is undermined".
The United States trade unions have launched a major intensification of their campaign for corporate accountability and transparency, as fraudulent dealings are exposed at even more large US companies.
Following successful legal action by the AFL-CIO to win compensation for thousands of workers who fell victim to the Enron scandal, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has announced a raft of union actions around the country get effective regulation and to hold companies and their directors accountable for their actions.
"When corporate criminals invade our workplaces and our markets to steal our jobs and our savings, we must react every bit as decisively as when thieves enter our homes and try to bring harm to our loved ones", Sweeney said.
The scandals at Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen alone have cost over 28,000 workers their jobs, with thousands of additional jobs lost or at risk and huge numbers of US workers deprived of their hard-earned retirement incomes and essential benefits such as health care.
The AFL-CIO is targeting individual corporations one by one to work for reform, while pressing for strong legislation to stop future corporate rip-offs. Sweeney has said that the more than US$ 5 trillion in US union pension funds will be used to put pressure on companies to behave responsibly, and the unions will run high-profile campaigns such as the successful action to stop Connecticut-based Stanley Works moving its headquarters to Bermuda to avoid existing US legal and taxation obligations.
"Governments now have no choice but to heed our calls for an end to fast and loose corporate behaviour, if the confidence of working people and responsible investors is to be restored," said Ryder, adding that "the global economic and finance institutions need to do more than just talk about the problem.
Along with effective global regulation, the IMF and the World Bank must stop insisting that developing countries privatize necessary public services, many of which have been sold off at rock bottom prices, sometimes to the very same global corporations that have collapsed due to the criminal behaviour of a few company bosses.
It is often precisely these companies which exploit and victimize their employees, denying basic rights which are set out in international law but are not properly enforced".
The ICFTU and its Global Unions partners have been pressing for comprehensive action for corporate transparency and effective regulation at a range of global and regional agencies, as part of their campaign action to transform globalisation to the benefit of people rather than profit.
New policies are required to cure the seven deadly sins of capitalism that make it;
Some of the sins could be cured by a tax incentive that would also reduce the protests against globalisation.
However, the current form of corporate capitalism is highly inefficient because it allows the insidious creation of surplus profits that are not measured by accountants and so not noticed by economists. Surplus profits are the cash flows captured by investors after the time period that they require to obtain a return of the money that they invested plus profits to cover the risk of loosing their investment.
Because investors are not fortune-tellers they will not rely on obtaining any cash back after the foreseeable future that is described as their "time horizon". Direct equity investors generally have time horizons of less than ten years and it is usually much less. The time horizon get shorter as perceived risks increase. But in any event, any cash expected after ten years is discounted at a compound rate to diminish its value into insignificance.
For investments that have an operating life of say 20 years, the surplus profits generated in the last ten years could have a value greater value than the investment! It is by this insidious process that wealth gets concentrated and/or permits corporate executives to cream off so much for themselves with excessive salaries, shares and options. The value of options alone has been estimated to be worth over 25% of the value of all shares in the Standard & Poors New York Stock Exchange Index.
The solution is to transfer the ownership of corporations after ten years to the citizens on whom enterprise depends to sustain their operations. In this way, voting citizens who are corporate stakeholders as workers, management, customers, and suppliers could acquire ownership and control. This would phrase out foreign ownership and control of the productive wealth of a country as well as democratising it.
To encourage shareholders to agree to change corporate constitutions to create stakeholder shares, a tax incentive could be introduced. Because investors discount the value of distant uncertain cash so much, only a small tax incentive is required to provide shareholders with a bigger, more certain quicker profit in return for giving up long-term ownership. Ironically, government tax revenues would increase as corporate ownership transferred to voters who pay tax at a higher rate than the current owners who are mostly institutions, corporations and alien investors.
As a result, only half a dozen banks create one third of the value of all the 1,200 companies listed on the Australian stock exchange!
Shareholders can unwitting purchase second hand shares from insiders or sell their shares to someone willing to pay a higher price to take over the company. The government should withdraw the licence for any stock exchange that does not disclose to the public the ultimate beneficial owners of any shares traded. The present system protects covert exploitation of insider trading and creates costly complex ineffective laws and monitoring systems.
The distribution of corporate ownership to stakeholders in their host communities would allow citizens to directly participate in the control of corporations. Citizen ownership would democratise corporate governance. This would enrich democracy and eliminate a number of concerns about globalisation. Stakeholder governance would also underpin political democracy by countering superannuation fund socialism. Just as importantly it would also align corporate constituencies with local political constituencies.
Dr. Shann Turnbull is the author of Democratising the Wealth of Nations and A New Way to Govern: Organisations and society after Enron
Heard about the 16-week-old foetus stored in the vegetable bin of a fridge at a residential address in Welling Drive, Narellan Vale, or the four-year-old prepared for burial on the kitchen table at the same address?
No? Well neither did Camden Local Court and that's got a former funeral director and the Funeral Workers Union spitting chips.
Both point fingers at a Health Department which still managed to get three convictions registered against GK Pride Funeral Directors on charges relating to using unauthorised premises for the storage and preparation of bodies.
Union secretary, Aiden Nye, lashed the department as "ignorant and incompetent" in its handling of the case.
Middle-aged former funeral director, Rosemary, not her real name, just shakes her head and sheds a tear.
She was the force driving the Pride prosecution but believes the Health Department let down her and, more importantly, the families whose loved ones were treated with "such disrespect".
This story began when Rosemary chucked in her long-time job as a salesperson to join two others in founding GK Pride. The business opened on July 1, 2001, but six weeks later Rosemary was out the door, distressed by her partners' insistence on "putting dollars ahead of decency".
She sat at home and mulled over the things she had seen until another funeral director pointed her in the direction of the union.
Discussions with Nye convinced her she should report activities at the Welling Dr house to the Health Department.
"It wasn't an easy thing to do," Rosemary says. "These families had been through the most painful times in their lives and they didn't need to be reminded of their losses.
"On the other hand, I wanted to prevent any other families suffering the indignities their loved ones had been through."
With Nye's support, she visited the Health Department's Liverpool office and drafted a statement about the goings-on at Welling Drive.
Nye described her experience that day as humiliating.
"They didn't know what to do, it was embarrassing," he said. "Trying to put that statement together was the most embarrassing four bloody hours of my life."
Worse, much worse, though, was to come.
Amidst a flurry of abusive and threatening phone calls to Rosemary's home the Health Department tried to pull the plug on the action, suggesting it would be preferable to let the matter rest.
When they finally got to court, they told Rosemary, as it had taken them more than six months to bring the prosecution they would be unable to act on the foetus or four-year-old allegations in her statutory declaration.
After convictions were entered, the Department declined to seek costs from the company, even to cover Rosemary's lost wages and travel expenses.
Nye labelled that action "piss poor".
More significant, he argues, it points to the mindset of a department which wants further de-regulation of the funeral industry.
That is the option being canvassed in the upcoming review of industry regulations.
The Welling Dr case, Nye insists, arose because the Department allowed funeral directors to register business premises in residential areas, "as long as they have access to mortuary facilities".
"Pride got the green light from Camden Council to establish an office in Narellan Vale but what is any business going to do when it picks up a body from that area and its mortuary facility is miles away at MacQuarrie Fields?" he asks.
"They make a business decision and the current situation encourages them."
He worries about the potential to spread infectious diseases as well as the propriety of storing bodies at residential addresses. It wasn't so long ago that he came across another operation storing bodies overnight in a garage attached to a Five Dock home.
Workers Online understands that more disturbing and sensational revelations will be aired when another case goes before the courts next month.
Nye warns that if Health Minister, Craig Knowles, generally a champion of industry standards, doesn't move against his bureaucrats we will see a return to the "bodgey" behaviour rampant before regulations were adopted in 1988.
Those regulations arose out of the Cross Report, which inspected 65 businesses, over a nine-week period in 1987.
It found, in part, that "although the majority of the operators in the industry endeavour to maintain a relatively high standard of procedures, services and ethics as espoused by the Funeral Directors Association of NSW, it was apparent that some operators failed to provide the most rudimentary basic requisites in respect to buildings, vehicles and services.
"Although most operators provide a high standard of services and observe the Code of Ethics of the Association, in my opinion some operators failed to uphold the industry's perceived standard of ethics, whilst a few had no concept of such a requirement."
Some of the examples discovered by Commissioner Cross, less than 15 years ago, follow. In most instances, he said, the businesses operated with council approval:
- An operator, in the business for more than 100 years, storing bodies on a dirt floor contaminated with straw and manure. There were no adequate washing facilities available.
- An operator, "whose office is in one location and mortuary in another" who used a "very, very old shed" to prepare bodies in open view of passing members of the public. Bodies were prepared on a cracked, uneven concrete floor and "body waste from this area flowed into an open drain on the street which then flowed into an open creek". This operator carried out an average of 103 funerals a year and had no adequate washing facilities.
- A business using a vehicle to "transport deceased persons whose cause of death was infectious or contagious diseases" which doubled as a team bus for kids' footy sides.
- A rat infested house with a commercial refrigerator attached, preparing bodies for burial, within two metres of the kitchen where food was being cooked.
Nye says the currernt deregulatory mood is "ill informed". He argues regulation is necessary for the health of his members and the general public.
Rosemary sees the point but her outrage is fuelled by an altogether more spiritual concern.
"I didn't agree with taking bodies back to the house or storing foetuses in a fridge, it was disrespectful," she said.
"To me, it doesn't matter what mistakes you have made with your life when you die, if at no other time, you are entitled to dignity and respect. Being a funeral director is a privileged position, you have an opportunity to bring comfort and dignity to people at the most vulnerable times in their lives.
"People who take on that role must be trustworthy and do it for reasons other than just money.
"I didn't last long but some of the things I saw in that time I couldn't even discuss with my husband. I hope they are things that never happen to other families in the future."
Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham is a movie with the lot: soccer, soccer and more soccer. It also deals with forbidden romance, cultural collision, modernity versus tradition, and gaiety in every sense of the word.
Its lead character Jess (played by Parminder Nagra) has been raised by traditional Indian parents that are determined their children will continue to uphold the social and religious values of their ancestors, despite growing up in modern-day Britain. But it is how they measure Jess and her sister's success in this area that causes Jess the most angst.
Because Jess favours tracksuits and soccer matches over personal grooming and cooking, her parents worry that Jess will bring shame on their family and will never settle down with a "nice Indian boy". Yet the subplot following Jess' sister reveals how unreliable surface impressions can be. Because while Jess is achieving recognition for her amazing soccer prowess, it is her sister that can be found canoodling in cars with her boyfriend.
Yet even her sister's unconventional approach to finding true romance leads to personal fulfilment and, ultimately, the traditional Indian wedding of their family's dreams. These two modern girls do not always fit the narrow mold their parents expect but the love and respect they feel for their family and heritage is unfaltering.
Both are guilty of lying to their parents in order to live life on their own terms but as the movie progresses Jess realises that a life of lies will never allow her to sustain the happiness she feels on field.
It has come time for her to choose from two paths which her parents have painted as incompatible: her desire to play professional football and her parents wish for her to live a life preordained by ancient tradition.
But it is not just Jess' Indian relatives that are having difficulty dancing to the beat of a modern drum. Jess' best friend and team mate is having similar difficulties with her mother, who is convinced the girls' close friendship and apparent disinterest in boys means they must be embroiled in some sort of lesbian affair, namely a torrid one in her eyes.
It is not until she learns this is not the case that she reveals it would have been fine by her anyway. After all, her mother says that while watching a tennis game she had found herself "cheering for Martina Navratalova as loudly as the next person". She believes herself to be a truly modern mother.
Bend It Like Beckham shows that breaking with tradition does not have to mean a full rejection of family values and cultural heritage. It laughs at the masks people wear to hide their fear of the unknown and at the ignorance these same people must carefully maintain in order to reject outright anything that does not fit their version of reality.
It also shows the suffering this approach can bring onto others, while highlighting how much things change for the better as soon as the web of lies is lifted and the sunlight is finally able to permeate.
And thanks to its cheery feel-good storyline and great soccer moves Bend It Like Beckham is virtually guaranteed to get audience members out of the home or office and onto the soccer field where they belong.
Rating: four out of five stars (for services to soccer)
by The Chaser
"Whenever I'm a bit down in confidence I turn to old Charlie," said President Bush. "So why shouldn't it work for Wall Street as well".
The cocaine policy did not however achieve the desired results.
"Sending cocaine to Wall Street is like sending coal to Newcastle," said one analyst.
Even those who supported the idea of sending cocaine to Wall Street criticised the President's decision to send the substance by mail so soon after the Anthrax scares.
"I was annoyed after the FBI made me take a decontamination shower," said one Wall Street trader. "But not nearly as annoyed as when I found out they'd thrown out good cocaine too."
After a week of market collapses there was some recovery in stock prices after both President Bush and Vice President Cheney assured the market that they are no longer involved in business.
"I can assure you that I am no longer involved in any businesses," said Bush. "I distinctly remember selling all my shares just before my company crashed."
The move to reduce the institutional votes of unions at Party Conferences may be reactive, insulting and ultimately symbolic, but it does provide a new avenue for trade unionists to have a greater influence in the party.
But in advocating for workplace based ALP branches and placing responsibilities on all MPs to engage with union activists on a regular basis, the review is broadly consisting with the union movement's own modernisation agenda.
While the headlines will undoubtedly chronicle how a Labor leader has won his battle to 'cut union power', it doesn't capture the essence of where organised labour is today.
- unions have never exercised their collective power in the ALP because they have traditionally given their votes to the political factionsgiz. When unions combine their votes on key issues, such as the human treatment of refugees or power privatisation, they will still have a profound influence on Labor's agenda.
- the views of unions and the rank and file are rarely at odds. The tension within the party is typically between the leadership and the rest of the party. How many rank and file members supported the Carr Government's cuts to workers compensation entitlements? If this policy had been subjected to a Party Conference, unions would not have needed 60 per cent to carry the vote - they could have got there with six per cent.
- unions enjoy far greater public approval ratings than any political party. What leader wouldn't swap their polling for the unions' 86 per cent rating? Plus, unlike the membership of the major political parties, our numbers have increased for the past two years.
- finally, unions are several years into their reform process, a process that shifted power to their membership and replaced the certainties of institutional power with the ongoing challenge of activating its rank and file.
The bottom line is new party rules that encourage grass-roots activism and give members a greater say can only benefit the interests of a defactionalised, energised and growing industrial wing.
While the symbolic push to 'reduce union influence' by dint of the party conferences may be portrayed by some as a defeat for unions, the reality is that rank and file unionists will have more reason than ever to get involved at a political level.
If the causes that unions have championed within the Party through their institutional strength can be translated into rank and file causes, it will make it harder rather than easier for the apparatchiks to stifle them.
If the end point of the Hawke-Wran review is that it motivates both affiliated and non-affiliated unions to transfer their grassroots industrial organising strategy into the political arena, it will have been a valuable process.
A dead body is found in the cold room at the Wasworth Hotel.
The cause and time of death are not known.
It's the summer holiday season of 2013. Everyone who can afford to has fled the greenhouse heat and freeway fuelled Sydney smog. The Brogden government, now in its third term, corporatised the coroner's office back in 2004.
The NSW Police Service has surrendered most of the CBD to private security firms. The security firm, Chup, has little interest the paperwork and additional costs involved, let alone the negative publcity for the hotel should the dead body be found a murder victim.
So cause of death is explained as an accident. He fell over and knocked himself unconscious, and because he was working night shift the body was not found until the following day.
But the LHMU organiser Jade Bandara knows there is more to the death of Fred Power - who happened to be the Wasworth Hotel's union delegate - than meets the eye.
And when he receives an envelope in the mail sent by Fred [fight the] Power the day before his mysterious death and then reads in the Australia Financial Review that the Wasworth Hotel is about to be sold to the property developer, Harry Ugliboth - to be concerted into luxury apartments - he begins to learn of the extend to which corporate Australia will go to keep the union away from its money making plans.
What follows is a suspense thriller exposing murder, blackmail, sexual intrigue [of course!] and the union busting antics of the Australian capitalists at its worst. The story follows Jade as he pieces together the mystery of the murder of the union delegate Fred Power. His investigations eventually see Jade bring down the Brogden government and see the jailing of Harry Ugliboth.
Our hero Jade saves, unites and unionises all the workers at the Wasworth Hotel, and saves their jobs by blocking the Hotels conversion into apartments, convincing the NSW Labor Council to buy the hotel for use as a CBD based Yoga, meditation and union delegate training Centre.
Court room doco - title: "the truth? you can't handle the truth!"
Set: the cole royal commission into the building industry.
I don't need to write the script - the sydney morning herald + daily telegraph have already written it!!!
About A Boy
Brian parker - a union head kicker fighting corruption across the city. Gets death threats every day - but one day gets a death threat from queen Elizabeth herself. Why??? Sparkles (there's a sub plot about how he got the name sparkles - also about his nick name "Hollywood") had shut down a refurbishment job on the governor general's residence.
The whole world trade union movement goes into bat for sparkles. It's an international scandal. The media is going crazy and the queen ends up getting the sack. The first time in history that the queen has been given the sack.
Film called: the day god didn't save this queen - long live sparkles
Grapes of Sloth
Set on a cherry farm at picking season.
About the various groups of workers, their conflicts amongst themselves and with the boss and management.
Focus on the different groups of people and their vulnerabilities to exploitation and injury.
Local retired couples taking cash in hand to supplement paltry pension payments. Local youth without permanent employment, who rotate from local casual jobs, rouseabouts, working in supermarket, pub. Professional pickers, back packers
Union involvement - attempts to unionise, hostility from professional pickers (who are at a financial advantage over beginners and don't want award rates enforced - disinterest from tourists, fear of penalty from old folks.
- Reliance of local community on transient employment and their inevitable exploitation
- Injury of one of the retired couples, unable to claim workers' comp because not on the books. Thrown off the property.
- Tension between professional pickers and back packers and unions
- Sexual assault of female back packer by station manager. Complains and is put on a bus out of town.
The Fall of the Empire
How about a movie on the "Fall Of The Trade Union Empire".
A sad sags of how in less than 10 years ,the child of the Trade Union Movement , being the Australian Labor Party , not only committed matricide , but then proceeded to cannibalise its victim.
How in less than 10 years ; 100 years of comradeship was betrayed by egotistical lawyers and Bankstown bovver boys , of how the trust of all Australians was betrayed by incompetents who had long reached not only their use by date , but their level of incompetence and only survived by voraciously feeding on the excrement of cronyism and nepotism.
Of how the pseudo socialists took over the role of establishing powerful family dynasties from the conservatives, and not content with that, they began to inbreed, resulting in abhorrent retards sitting in all state and federal parliaments, legislating restrictions on the citizens with abandoned lust and with out moral values. Legislation than even Joe Stalin would not have been game to do in his prime.
Stars should include, The Whitlam's, Andersons, Keatings, Bretons, Creans, Beazleys , Fergusons - this list is fecken endless, without starting on the campfollowers and arse lickers who like mangey dogs follow the camp eating what is dropped from the feast on the table.
Oh! I am a bitter and twisted sole, that's probably why I t/walk with Limp
Thanks for inviting me to speak to you this evening. It's a timely opportunity because there's no doubt the vehicle industry is at the centre of the industrial relations debate at the moment.
Given recent headlines you could be forgiven for thinking the industry is a basket-case. No matter how small a dispute may be, it's become fashionable for newspaper editors to characterise it as a national crisis. No matter that most disputes are resolved quickly and without any widespread disruption, they tell us the sky will definitely fall next time.
Everyone in this room knows that the media and political hyperbole about the industry is far from the truth.
Sure there are some problems to address, and I'll speak about them, but the fact is that the vehicle industry has transformed itself over the last 2 decades into a major exporter and innovator.
Productivity is at record levels. It grew by 50 per cent in vehicle assembly and 90 per cent in components manufacturing, where many of you work, over the last ten years. The industry employs 55,000 people and exported about $5 billion worth of product last year.
In terms of industrial disputes, the facts show that during the 1990s less than 1/10th of 1% of annual working time was lost due to strikes or lock-outs - that's less than 0.1% of working time lost.
These achievements should rightly be regarded as Australia's biggest manufacturing success story.
And it's fundamentally due to the commitment and cooperation of workers, their unions and their employers, as well as previous commitments of Government. The cooperation between us all stretches back to the Button Car Plan in the early 80s.
What we need now is another ten years of cooperative effort to consolidate investment, production and employment opportunities.
The real discussion at the moment should be about the next important strategic steps - and in particular how we can reconcile the legitimate aspirations of employees for better living standards and job security with the legitimate commercial interests of employers, in an open trading environment.
That is the real debate. It is a debate about the medium and long-term future of the industry. Because decisions we make now will have long-term implications.
But this debate has been obscured by hyperbole about industrial relations, generated chiefly by John Howard and Tony Abbott.
Given how hard we've all worked to get this far, it's enormously disappointing to see the industry turned into a cheap political plaything.
In the recent Pilkington's dispute, John Howard took time out from sightseeing half a world away in Paris to criticise workers in Dandenong. He accused them of targeting the sector in some wild plot to destroy their own jobs and bring down the industry.
Not letting the facts get in the way of a good political beat-up, he blamed all this on the AMWU and its' leader Doug Cameron - a union not even remotely involved in the dispute.
In reality it was a short-lived enterprise bargaining dispute. Despite that, John Howard got away with hyping it up into a newsworthy crisis.
Tony Abbott's contribution is to constantly talk the industry down, creating the impression overseas that the industry is unstable, that there is a class war being waged, that the Government wants the workforce to be sued by their employers rather than a cooperative culture be developed.
Just consider this contribution: "My hope is that chief executives will make industrial relations their principal interest rather than leaving it in the hands of so-called specialists. I mean it's great that we've got specialists, but war is too important to be left to the colonels - the generals need to be involved as well." (22 March 2002. Speech to HR Nicholls Society)
Tony Abbott's out-dated, class war hysteria is a threat to investment and jobs, and is damaging our export potential. If he doesn't change tack he will remain on the extreme fringe of the debate, like those who see themselves as waging the other side of the class war.
Why is the Government talking down the industry and talking up trouble?
Federal Government's Position
What's happening is very dangerous for all of us. Those of us with a commitment and a stake in the industry need to consider very carefully the Government's objectives. I think that the Government is manufacturing a climate of conflict to achieve 2 outcomes.
The first is to convince the Senate to push through industrial legislation cutting back the right of workers to collectively bargain for wages and conditions.
The second agenda is to implement a flat-earth industry policy following the Productivity Commission review - cutting tariffs, reducing the ACIS commitment and forcing down costs.
It's no secret that the Government has threatened the business leadership in the car industry that if they don't support the Government's industrial legislation, they won't get much help with tariffs.
This is crude political blackmail. And if employers think this is the solution to the industry's problems, I'd recommend thinking again. Because it's bad policy that won't work, and you cannot expect unions and their members to passively go along for the ride on the Government's political bandwagon.
The starting point for analysing this issue must be a fair-dinkum assessment of the state of industrial relations in the industry.
I know that employers are frustrated about industrial disputes and their potential impact upon production and export markets.
But when enterprise bargaining disputes interrupt the supply of parts to Toyota, Ford, Holden or Mitsubishi, it's not because workers and their unions are setting out to sabotage the industry.
It's because they are bargaining over their pay and employment conditions. And it's because they are enterprise bargaining in an industry which operates on a just-in-time delivery system - a system which means that small breaks in the production chain can lead to widespread disruption.
Commonsense tells us that when the supply chain breaks down because of a legitimate dispute, restricting the collective bargaining rights of the workforce won't solve the problem. It would just about guarantee more industrial uncertainty and increase the potential for disruption.
Australia's existing restrictions on bargaining are already in breach of a number of international conventions. The new laws proposed by Tony Abbott would add to an embarrassing list of ILO violations.
In violating our obligations, we already find ourselves in the company of nations like Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Chile - a country where industrial laws date back to the Pinochet dictatorship. None of these countries is noted for automotive excellence.
In my opinion, rather than winding back employee bargaining rights, what we need to do is understand the sources of the industrial disputes, put in place mechanisms to resolve them earlier, and think constructively about the interface between enterprise bargaining and the just-in-time system.
Let me start with the source of the disputes. It essentially derives from the deep, structural shift in the economy over the past ten years.
These tensions are not peculiar to the vehicle industry. They exist across all industries.
Over the last 10 years there can be no argument that Australia has experienced a historic combination of economic expansion, low inflation and high productivity.
Our growth has far outstripped the G7, OECD and European averages.
But the positive macro-economic statistics conceal the character of some of the change that's taking place.
The fact is many people and regions aren't sharing in the prosperity, and inequality is widening.
Although 1.6 million jobs were added to the workforce the reality is that for all occupations other than managers and professionals, the net increase in jobs consisted entirely of part-time and casual jobs.
87% of these paid less than $26,000 per year. An incredible 48% paid less than $15,600 per year. Middle income jobs actually declined.
We now have a workforce that is 30% casual and as such has no right to paid sick leave or annual leave, and no job security past the next shift.
Impact Of Change In The Workplace
No wonder workers are nervous and edgy about their prospects.
They've looked on as once-strong companies like Ansett and HIH collapsed overnight - taking the livelihoods and entitlements of thousands of employees with them.
They've seen jobs move off shore.
They've been downsized, contracted out and casualised. Far too many people have lost their entitlements.
It is also evident that in many workplaces, economic prosperity has not produced job satisfaction.
ACTU research consistently shows that the intensification of work has become the hot-button issue in many Australian workplaces.
Reduced staffing, higher workloads, longer working hours, less security, more stress, casual jobs, low pay and intense pressure on the family lives of many workers are touchstone issues.
This is why there are so many disputes over contracting out and labour hire, staffing levels and workloads, employee entitlements, and simply protecting jobs.
This is the backdrop for enterprise bargaining in many industries.
Many of these pressures are washing through the lives of the 55,000 people employed in the vehicle industry. AMWU employee surveys confirm this high stress, low security apprehension.
To address these pressures I support a constructive, well-informed industrial relations debate which seeks to find common ground in resolving the challenges confronting the industry.
That is the only way we are going to create a stable system that supports economic growth, recognises the competitive pressures on business in an open economy, and which meets the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the workforce.
The ACTU Agenda
What does this mean in practice?
Firstly, it's got to mean a dialogue about the issues. We simply have to rise above the political pressures and discuss the future of the industry. The ACTU and the AiG have made a start, and your decision to invite me here this evening is an obvious step in this direction.
Secondly, we have to identify the key issues and provide leadership about them. Employee entitlements, for example, cannot effectively be protected on an enterprise by enterprise basis.
Practical solutions have to continue to be developed at an industry or national level if enterprise level disputes, like Tristar and Walkers, are to be avoided.
Thirdly, it's important to look for commonsense ways of resolving disputes at an early stage, of getting the key people to the table sooner, of using the Industrial Relations Commission creatively.
I can't stress enough that curtailing the bargaining rights of workers with secret ballots and cooling off periods will not work. It will not bring stability, it will entrench resistance to change at a time when we need a creative approach to managing the pressures of the global economy.
Vehicle Industry Consultative Council
The alternative that the ACTU proposes is the establishment of a Vehicle Industry Consultative Council involving the key employer and union representatives. It would be a formal body established under s.133 of the Workplace Relations Act, chaired by a senior Commission member.
The Council should not be a talk-fest. I for one wouldn't bother attending if it was.
It should be a practical forum designed to build trust and stability - to discuss the future and deal with industry issues such as entitlements, training, skills and education. It could also help anticipate industrial problems, identify the underlying issues, and draw on the experience of senior industry people and the Commission to resolve disputes as quickly as possible.
And there'd be no need to change a single word of the law to put this proposal immediately into practice.
We only need to look back at the Pilkington glass dispute to see how this could operate. When negotiations broke down, I appointed a senior ACTU representative to convene discussions between the company and the Australian Workers Union.
Within 48 hours this dispute was resolved on an agreed basis. Wider stand-downs and lost production were avoided. An Industry Consultative Council could easily play this role in future disputes and, in the process, develop an early warning system.
The AMWU in its' submission to the Productivity Commission also canvassed the potential for an industry disputes procedure to be negotiated. The Consultative Council could develop this idea, with the objective of creating a more stable and predictable industrial relations environment.
This approach mightn't fix all disputes, because sometimes the issues are especially tough and fundamental. But it could play a very positive role in building trust and stability.
I also believe we should be working together to present a common view to the Productivity Commission about tariffs and the industry assistance package.
It's obvious that tinkering around with tariffs has more to do with economic theory than common sense. Exchange rate movements can easily swamp the impact on costs and prices of further tariff cuts.
The ACTU has made a submission to the Productivity Commission. We have argued that tariffs should be paused at current levels until 2010 and reviewed in 5 years time. Similarly, ACIS should be maintained in its present form until 2010 and reviewed in 5 years time.
We ought to be lobbying the government hard on this - and telling the Government that linking tariffs or ACIS to an anti-union political agenda is unacceptable public policy making.
We all know what we want: a decade of policy certainty. I have had almost 9 years association with the industry through my involvement at the ACTU.
I can tell you that unions and their members have no interest in unnecessary disruption, lost production and stand-downs. We want the industry to prosper, provide more jobs, and be capable of providing better security and living standards.
To achieve this and to meet the challenges ahead we need dialogue, not division. We need practical solutions, not politics.
We need to work together, not to sue each other.
The Government's approach has put employers in the industry in a difficult position. But don't be seduced by politics. The industry and the livelihoods of the people that depend on it are too important.
Unions will be around a lot longer than this Government. Work with us to deal with the issues.
What my experience has taught me is that when people are willing to sit down and listen to each other, and understand the pressures that both employees and businesses are under, then cooperative, common sense and commercially workable solutions can always be found.
Speech to the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers, 7 August, 2002
Team sport at it's very best becomes a classic example of co-operative endeavour, despite the best efforts to turn it into yet another corporate commodity.
In the early eighties we saw the demise of the South Melbourne Football Club and the Newtown Rugby League Club, followed by the abandonment of the Fitzroy Football Club. Some of these defunct clubs were reinvented as merged or interstate entities. This masked the poverty of tradition that exists with club sides that are imposed upon communities from above.
Souths fought back and won, but now we see the appropriately named News Limited appealing that decision in the higher courts. Those clubs that have fallen by the wayside in this brave new corporate football world were, by and large, struggling clubs at the time they were axed. But even in this role they played an important function, that of the underdog.
The role of the underdog becomes a very powerful symbol, which is why so many sections of this society are prepared to accord it respect and admiration.
The underdog shows us people working together to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It shows us the importance keeping a sense of hope. It shows us the value of loyalty and solidarity in a crisis. And it also illustrates the nature of life - which is as full of disappointment as it is of reward.
It's a more mature and realistic worldview than the impossible rhetoric of unlimited and constant success that is foisted upon modern society.
These underdog clubs acted as powerful metaphors for the modern world for tens of thousands of Australians. Clubs like the Broncos or Carlton could win any number of flags, but Fitzroy or Newtown supporters could celebrate a win in the home and away rounds with as much relish.
Organised sport stemmed from communities developing institutions that used sporting endeavour to represent them. These communities were geographically based in Rugby League, Rugby Union and Australian Rules, and traditionally ethnically based in soccer. The passionate tribalism that characterises club support in this country developed from this base in the community.
Corporate sport revolves around the idea that the game is owned. It ends up being owned, at the competition level, at the team level and at the media level. In the last twenty years major sports in this country have borrowed from the United States and English Soccer in terms of merchandising, club organisation, marketing and promotion.
Recently we have seen individual teams in various codes being owned, not by the communities they 'represent', but by individuals. And increasingly they are run as companies - with the idea of making a profit.
The corporate world relates closely to sport through the powerful metaphor of competition. The problematic nature of unfettered competition is that it produces only one winner and a multitude of losers - hardly conducive to either a democratic outcome, nor is it consistent with the greatest good for the greatest number.
While losing on a sporting field is one thing, losing economically does horrible things to people - physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a form of violence as sure as if someone had come along with a baseball bat and beat the living bejesus out of a person.
Corporate Australia and its economic evangelists mine heavily the metaphor of sport. Using such language as the level playing field, playing by the rules, obeying the Umpire, etc.
Sport, and contact sport in particular, is organised conflict. Conflict can be dramatic and entertaining, especially when it involves specific mental and physical skills.
Sport has played out dramatic conflicts of society and class (How great it was to see Manly beaten by Western Suburbs in the eighties, or Melbourne beaten anytime!) This is when sport has acted as a great symbol of community solidarity.
Now corporate Australia seeks to tap into that solidarity when it is successful, and turn it into a commodity. It's done it with environmentalism, with feminism, and now it is doing it with one of the last great bastions of community and public solidarity, popular sport.
This also destroys the co-operative role of sport, as the goal becomes less the fate of the team and its players and more related to the financial performance of the club and it's financial backers.
The disgusting thing about this is that corporate Australia has done jack shit to support the passionate sense of community that underlies sport, and in other areas it has actively opposed it. And now, because sport has grown and thrived through the sacrifice of thousands of passionate individuals, it seeks to step in and take the public for a ride by flogging fourteen or sixteen different flavours of the same product.
Phil Doyle - going into the final round six under the card
by Jim Marr
Paul Keating's biographer calls it the end of liberalism but, really, we're in the era of applied bastardry as Lachlan Murdoch and Ray Williams testify in separate but simultaneous court appearances.
These are the men who set the tone, the standards, which Government and the media try to impose on the rest of us.
Scion of a scion, Murdoch, is mightily pissed about One.Tel going to the commercial grave along with hundreds of millions of News Ltd dollars but, on a principle, he stoutly defends the avarice of those who lost his loot.
Just weeks after News Ltd insisted that vulnerable clerical workers leave the protection of a collective agreement for miserable AWAs, its chief executive says his company was happy to see Jodee Rich and Brad Keeling paid $15 million bonuses.
Murdoch, a member of the One.Tel board, said he hadn't asked whether the payments had been approved by shareholders, nor had he wanted to know how they were treated for accounting purposes. It has since transpired they were hidden in the company accounts.
Murdoch was asked whther he considered it "greedy" or "unreasonable" for Rich and Keeling to receive the $15 million bonuses, on top of six figure salares.
He said he did not, and that really is the nub of the issue.
Raised in the US, with a silver spoon in his mouth and wealth and power at his fingertips, he clearly has a different understanding of the word "greedy" than the vast majority of Australians.
Unfortunately, in the space of a few short years, it is the Murdoch/Williams view of public morality which has gained ascendancy. Not least because outfits like the Labor Party and Democrats are terrified of falling foul of the rich and increasingly powerful. It's the sort of policy/principle/gumption vacuum that gives oxygen to the likes of One Nation.
While Little Lachie was defending his big business brothers in the Federal Court, Williams was telling the HIH Royal Commission how the other one hundredth live. And, in truth, they have a great deal in common.
In the final year before HIH sunk in a lake of red ink, leaving insurers and investors marooned, Williams spent $2.4 million on corporate entertainment and $4.6 million on executive bonuses.
The Royal Commission - no, not the one bagging building workers for negotiating $2 an hour site allowances, stupid - heard that in 2000, alone, the insurer's four most senior executives spent $30 million on "discretionary" matters.
Discretionary spending was undoubtedly one of Williams' strong points. In one three-week period he managed to chomp his way through $9000 on dinners at three up-market nosheries.
He had a lavish marble bathroom, with spa and gold taps, installed in his Melbourne office, way back in 1981.
When one of Ray's favourites, accountant Stuart Korchinski, left the company Williams tossed an additional $75,000 into his payout to bring it up to $910,000. Korchinski had previously benefited from a $158,000 bonus and the company writing off a quarter million housing loan. Oh, and when he shot through, HIH sold him the SAAB convertible he had become attached to for $1000.
But, as the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out, in the end, the man Williams was kindest to was Ray Williams.
In March, 1998, he was granted a 17 percent wage hike to take his annual "earnings" beyond the million dollar mark.. In that year, staff received no wage increase at all.
In 2000, when Williams' base earn hit $1.12 million, there were no staff bonuses, but that didn't stop him and his fellow executives showering themselves with extras.
The Murdochs, Keelings, Richs and Williams give the term bonus a whole new meaning.. In the eight months before HIH collapsed, owing $5.3 billion, management bonuses controlled by Williams amounted to $7.3 million.
Prime Minister John Howard tells a Sydney business lunch that Australian corporate behaviour is essentially healthy and ethical. For that reason, he says, the Government will not intervene to ensure more acceptable standards are adhered to.
Howard concedes that corporate governance is on the minds of country men and women but argues it is "not as important as the monthly mortgage bill or the Commonwealth Games".
Meanwhile, his Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, tells Australian seamen they are overpaid and under-worked. Abbott applauds ANL's decision to seek damages against maritime workers opposed to having their jobs sold to cheap foreign crews.
Abbott also suggests he knows the outcome of the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, hinting at legislative moves to try and weaken the bargaining power of the CFMEU.
Howard Dodges Reform
Prime Minister John Howard has backed away from demands for greater corporate legislation, distancing himself from the tough stance taken by President George W Bush and the US Senate last week. Speaking at a business lunch this week, Howard said that while some government intervention was appropriate, the situation on corporate regulation in Australia was very different from the crisis of confidence now raging across corporate America. He says Australia needs self regulation coupled with appropriate "but not excessive" levels of government involvement was what Australia needed. He says a tougher approach would only push companies to find loopholes in the law. (Source: SMH)
But Even the Markets Want Action
Investment analysts are calling for greater transparency in the way companies report their earnings, with employee option packages a main area of concern.
As the reporting season steps up a gear, the latest survey from the Securities Institute showed 63 per cent of analysts were in favour of adding a line to a company's balance sheeting showing the cost of offering stock options to staff and to senior management in particular. With Australia committed to adopting international accounting standards in 2005, the chief executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, Tony Harrington, said companies would have to take note that the standards might eventually include the pricing of options into accounts, with the discussion over the issue gaining momentum overseas. He also warned against tightening regulations on auditors, saying the focus should remain on instilling better ethics and business practices, not tougher laws. (Source: SMH)
Williams Faces HIH Music
The head of the collapsed insurance giant HIH, finally faced questioning this week over the spectacular crask of his company. Former chief executive Ray Williams has told the royal commission he may have been naive but was never dishonest in his dealings. He also admitted approving a $1 million after tax "golden hello" to the company's new finance director, while he took $4.7 million to compensate for loss of future salary when the company floated, the royal commission heard today. Williams said he was paid $1 million or more a year before HIH listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, and that the pay-out was calculated because his salary dropped after the 1992 float. (Various Sources)
Murdoch Defends One.Tel Involvement
Meanwhile across town, News Ltd chairman Lachlan Murdoch was forced to defend his involvement in another stunning corporate fall, One.Tel. Murdoch was questioned over the massive bonuses paid to One.Tel founders Jodee Rich and Bradley Keeling were legally binding. Murdoch says that he examined whether the bonus payment agreements were legally binding around the time of the March 2000 board meeting. Murdoch says he forced the pair to review the levels at which bonus were to repaid, but then the conversation as they extracted millions under the initial arrangement. (Source: NineMSN)
Vodafone Backs Streakers, Not Staff
Vodafone could face significant penalties if it was found to have incited a streaker at the weekend Bledisloe Cup match, police said. Police are investigating reports Vodafone managing director Grahame Maher agreed to pay the fines of two streakers who pulled a publicity stunt at Saturday night's game. The scandal emerged as Vodafone announced plans to retrench up to 300 of its technical staff. Unions say the
sacked staff had not been given any information on the review or an explanation of why they were selected. Vodafone had already reduced its headcount by 30 per cent to 2100 in the 2001-02 financial year. (Various Sources)
Bond Corp Director Faces Polish Music
A Polish court is hearing an appeal by former Bond Corporation director, Tony Oates, against a ruling he be extradited to Australia. Mr Oates is wanted in Australia to face fraud charges relating to the collapse of the Bond-controlled Bell Resources. He has also appealed to the High Court to overturn a ruling in which he challenged the validity of the 17 charges against him. (Source: ABC)
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