||Issue No. 152||13 September 2002|
The Legacy of 11/9
Interview: Still Flying
International: President Gas
Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
History: Levelling September
Unions: Welfare Max
Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Poetry: A Man From the East And A Man From The West
Review: The Sum Of All Fears
The Locker Room
Week in Review
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
Car Workers on Howard Hit List
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott has thrown down the gauntlet by linking ongoing tarrif protection to industrial relations ï¿½reformï¿½ in an industry setting records for productivity and export earnings.
The Abbott agenda is made clear by the direction of a Government-ordered Productivity Commission. In a position paper the Commission picks up the Minister's linkage of on-going industry support, due to fall to 10 percent in 2005, with severe restrictions on workers' rights.
Specifically, Abbott and the Commission, are backing Australian Industry Group (AIG) demands that would see ...
- bargaining periods terminated if protected action caused damage to any firm or industry
- protected action outlawed prior to the expiry dates of certified agreements
- the AIRC empowered to block industrial action by giving 24 hours notice with the right to suspend the registration of any union for non-compliance
- action in suport of "pattern or industry agreements" outlawed.
AMWU organiser, Steve Johnson, says the proposals mean the Productivy Commission has abrogated terms of reference requiring it to consider Australia's international obligations.
"It has considered our responsibilities to WTO and APEC but completely ignored binding ILO agreements Australia has signed-off on," he said.
"The most obvious are the rights to organise and bargain collectively."
Johnson says Abbott and the Productivity Commission make it clear that the AMWU has been added to to a target list headed by the Maritime Union and CFMEU.
He said there was no legitimate reason for the assault other than a philosophical opposition to effective trade unions.
"The linkage (between tarrifs and IR) is irresponsible and irrational," Johnson says. "The industry is achieving the highest level of productivity since records began and exports receipts are at record levels.
"Abbott is reacting to two high-profitle industrial disputes, including Tristar, where we fought for worker entitlements. We make no apology for that."
Statistics reveal that Australia is well down the list of days lost through industrial action in the auto industry.
In the decade to 2000, South Korea averaged 7250 working days lost per thousand employed through strikes and lockouts. Canada stood at 580, while Australia recorded 223.
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand were among seven countries censured for violation of trade union rights in the US-based International Confederation of Free Trade Union's 2000 report.
The others were Argentina, Chile, Swaziland, Turkey and Zimbabwe none of which, as the ACTU pointed out, was at the "cutting edge of competitiveness in the international automotive industry".
Countries like Sweden, Germany and Canada have successful car industries, and strong unions that bargain on an industry-wide, or pattern, basis.
Johnson called on Abbott to "drop the politics and join workers and manufacturers in a co-operative approach to ensuring the industry's future".
The AMWU wants Government to participate in an industry summit which would address issues that require an industry-wide approach.
Labor Council has pledged its support to the AMWU campaign.
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