In a week that has seen the powerful US Farm Lobby vow to block the Howard Government's pipe dream of a free trade agreement that included agriculture, you would think that the Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss would be pushing the Howard Government to use its profound influence with the Bush Administration to get an outcome that benefited Australia for a change.
Instead, Truss led a chorus of ministers calling on Simon Crean to stop MUA members from helping out waterfront workers in the United States who have been locked out by their employers. "Australian farmers facing drought and poor crops can ill afford to have their farm exports held up by militant unions." Truss said "Australian workers would not want their own union leaders to be contributing to a heightening of tempers on American wharves that will hurt Australian farmers."
The only problem is that it is the American employers with the backing of George Dubya, not the unions, which is escalating this dispute. Port operators and shipping lines have closed 29 west coast ports, locking out thousands of workers. George Dubya has become the first US president in history to use the courts to end a management lockout after opinion polls showed that Americans wanted to devote more attention to the economy than to Iraq.
"No president has ever been on the side of management so overtly," says the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.
But back hope, Wazza couldn't help himself: "I call on Simon Crean, and all of the State Labor agriculture ministers and Premiers to use their influence with the unions to ensure that Australian unions do not help create further pain for Australian farmers. The very real concern is that if this dispute escalates, many millions of dollars worth of income to Australian farmers could be threatened."
Many other millions of dollars worth of income for Australian farmers is threatened by Mr Truss himself, after his government told drought-affected farmers that anything they received from Telstra's Farmhand stunt would count as income for Centrelink purposes. So any assistance farmers received from Telstra's Farmhand appeal would mean a loss of their drought relief from guess who? Warren Truss, the farmer's friend.
Not content with dumping on farmers and workers, Truss then turned his sights upon Australia's filthy rich, managing to rename Australian Agricultural Company CEO as Peter Homes-a-Court. It brings a whole new meaning to the term 'household name'.
And how's this sound grip on high school geography from the man who wasn't afraid to dip into the protection afforded to Australian Sugar farmers on his way up the National Party food chain: "Australian farmers know drought is a part of this arid continent." Our Shorter Oxford describes Arid as "Dry, parched or withered". Most droughts would seem to share these qualities.
All of this should all come as no surprise from the man that, after the closure of a Rockhampton meatworks, blamed workers in his own electorate for being paid too much.
Now that it's been established that Agriculture Minister Warren Truss doesn't support drought affected farmers, voters in his own electorate or Australian working people, will he go down in history as the first Truss to offer no support at all? Maybe the Master Builders Association should see if this Truss is up to standard, as it doesn't appear to support anything in this country.
NB. If you want to see a Warren Truss that actually does offer support then click here link:http://www.bryceworks.com/wtrussbridge/wtrussbridge.html
The Labor Council of NSW has called on the Carr Government to review the legislation in the wake of the case of a Muslim IT worker who has been threatened with sack for praying at work.
Kamal El-Masri, a member of the Australian Services Union, has been threatened with dismissal from telecommunications company TPG over his commitment to praying, in his own time, at work.
Company management issued the edict, even though Kamal had negotiated the afternoon prayer time in return for a shorter lunch break for the last two years.
He's taken an action to have the dismissal threat withdrawn to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which will hold further hearings over the coming week.
ASU assistant secretary Sally McManus says that Kamal has been forced to choose between his religion and his job
"The ASU has seen a rise in these instances over the last year and is concerned that it is indicative of a general rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the community," McManus says. "The stubbornness and inflexibility of this company demonstrates this."
Broader Review Required
El Masiri's plight has highlighted anomalies in NSW anti-discrimination law, which confine protection from religious discrimination to 'ethno-religious groups".
This means that religions - such as Islam and Christianity that span more than one culture - are not covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act.
"It is outrageous that workers should be forced to choose between their jobs and their religions," Labor Council secretary John Mr Robertson says.
"In Kamal's case, there is no evidence that his beliefs were infringing on his work - indeed he was making up the ten minutes in his own time."
Robertson says it's also disappointing that the Australian Services Union, who acted on El Masri's behalf, had been the victim of hate calls today.
"Trade unions are a leading voice in celebrating cultural diversity, we will continue to do so and do not believe our staff should be subjected to such bigoted behaviour."
The Labor Council has convened a meeting of all affiliates to discuss the rise in religion-based discrimination.
Australian Workers Union’s delegate Ishmail Akdimir, says workmates at Boral Concrete have routinely thrown terms like ‘bomb thrower’, ‘towel wearer’ and ‘Osama’s brother’ over the past 12 months.
Addressing the NSW Labor Council, Ishmail says Boral management had turned a blind eye to the harassment and the abuse over his Muslim heritage, which only began after September 11.
"Copping the abuse at work is bad; but seeing management brushing it aside should not be accepted," Ishmail says.
AWU state secretary Russ Collison says when the union approached management about the incidents they responded that it wasn't too serious.
"What a disgrace, unions stand for unity between workers, we are concerned that employers will use the September 11 attacks and the increased hostilities between the US and Iraq as an opportunity to divide and put workers against each other," Collison says.
"We must educate our membership on the dangers of racism in the workplace, so that Australian workers of middle eastern backgrounds feel safe and secure in the workplace despite the backdrop of war in the Middle East."
The AWU is investigating taking action in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to force Boral to stop the racist taunts on Ishmail.
Staff in Abbott’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will walk off the job Monday over a stalled EBA and the threats to CPSU delegate Kartika Franks.
The walkout brings to a head bad blood in the Department charged with implementing Abbott's hardline IR agenda that has included:
- a ninety per cent vote against the department's proposed EBA (the second highest 'no' vote in public sector history).
- a new edict that pay increases are not backdated to the date the previous agreement expired
- provisions in the Department's EBA proposal that includes access to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for individual staff members, cuts to remote localities assistance for staff in Darwin, Townsville and
Cairns, and a pay offer that is below the Australian Public Service standards.
- and the treatment of Kartika in breach Abbott's own Workplace Relations Act.
Kartika, who has been with DEWR's 'Wageline' service in Melbourne for five months, has been given no formal explanation as to why her contract was not renewed. Most of her workmates' contracts were renewed.
Popular and well regarded by colleagues, Kartika is deeply shocked by the decision, particularly as her work performance or commitment to the job has never been questioned by management.
"Basically they terminated me on the spot. It took my breath away," says Kartika Franks. "My husband and I had been pre-approved for a home loan and now it's turned our world upside down."
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell says says DEWR staff are concerned that their department appears to "acting against the spirit" of the Workplace Relation Act, "the very legislation it is supposed to administer."
"In the absence of any other explanation from the department, it looks like Kartika's was terminated because she supported legitimate union activities. Is that really the signal DEWR wants to send?
"Helping employees and employers deal with workplace problems is what DEWR is supposed to be about, which makes Kartika's treatment hard to understand. DEWR should be setting the highest possible standard in workplace relations, not the lowest."
The CPSU is seeking legal advice in relation to Kartika's employment.
Qantas unions are encouraging workers with Qantas shares to give them proxies to add weight to their push to block the increases, sought against the backdrop of last year’s wage freeze.
The resolutions will be put to the Qantas AGM next Thursday seeking to lift non-executive director's fees from $1.1 million to $1.6 million.
The Labor Council of NSW has called on union members with Qantas shares to forward their proxies to the Australian Services Union (ASU) or the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) who will be opposing the increase at the AGM.
The rise comes at a time when Qantas shares have dropped significantly, despite their dominance of the Australian airline market.
"The Federal Government is saying that self-discipline is required. This government is unable or unwilling to legislate," says NSW Labor Council Secretary John Robertson.
"The Government needs to legislate as boards are unable to control their greed and are out of touch with community expectations."
Cole's King Hit
Meanwhile, the Australian Workers Union's Bill Shorten has raised Qantas and other executive payments while in the witness box at the Cole Royal Commission into the Building Industry.
Shorten outlined some of the more outrageous bonus schemes, options and severance packages recently collected by executives. These include:
· Suncorp Metway chief executive Steve Jones collecting almost $30 million in salary and severance pay.
· BHP Billiton's former chief executive Paul Anderson leaving with an $18.3 million package.
· Westfield Holdings chief executive Frank Lowy collecting $11.9 million,
· Wesfarmers chief executive Michael Chaney getting $8 million in incentives and salary last year
· Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray receiving almost $7 million.
· $3.5 million payout to former Ansett chief Gary Toomey
"It is little wonder [Qantas director] Margaret Jackson and John Ralph prefer cosy self regulation of corporate salaries." says Shorten.
Shareholder activist Neal Woolrich pointed out the hypocricy of the Qantas move, coming as it does on the back of management's attempts to impose a wage freeze.
"Shareholders should ask the sort of questions that management might ask the rank and file employees who put in a pay claim," says Woolrich.
"Have the directors become a 36% more efficient group during the year? Has the job of directing the company become 36% more difficult during the year? Has the company expanded its activities to such an extent that the job of directing the company has become 36% more time-consuming? Is there a pressing need for 36% more talent in the pool of directors?"
"It just shows the contempt that they have for the process - it seems that all they consider it to be is a rubber-stamping job and therefore they don't have to put any effort into justifying their case."
Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra this week, CFMEU national secretary John Sutton predicted that the Howard Government would use the Royal Commission to directly attack the union.
"I'm no futurist, but I will make the following predictions," Sutton says.
- Commissioner Cole will hand down a report scathing of my union;
- Tony Abbott will seize on it as proof of crisis in the construction industry; and
- the Howard Government will seek to introduce legislative changes, including a national taskforce, laws to ban pattern bargaining, laws to restrict union rights on safety in the workplace, a special building industry tribunal, and lastly the possible deregistration of some or all of the CFMEU."
But Sutton warned his 120,000 construction members will not meekly accept this round of fresh attacks on their union.
And he says even if Abbott could follow through on a deregistration agenda this wouldn't necessarily achieve the suggested objective.
"After all, the key building unions making up today's CFMEU, namely BWIU, BLF and FEDFA, have all been subject to periods of deregistration and it hardly killed off the spirit of strong unionism that thrives among our rank and file."
In his speech, Sutton outlined the CFMEU's legal challenge against the Royal Commission's bias and vowed to take the matter all the way to High Court.
He also foreshadowed the CFMEU would also establish its own Code of Conduct covering its more than 200 organisers nationally.
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin brokered the deal as the Howard Government attempted to gain political capital from a solidarity visit by six MUA members in support of their US colleages.
US waterfront employers locked out over 10 000 workers in ports along the US West Coast this week bringing to a head a long-running contract dispute.
Prime Minister John Howard attempted to make political capital out of the dispute, misunderstanding the difference between a strike and a lockout and wrongly accusing the MUA of helping damage Australian exports.
"The Australian Meat Council said they've got 10,000 tonnes of meat at stake due to the current lockout," says MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. "Well I've rung the union over there and they've said they'll work with the MUA to ensure Australian perishable cargoes can be unloaded during any future dispute. That's more of a contribution than John Howard has made to Australian trade."
In September US waterfront employers, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, shut the gates on workers after job contract negotiations with the union broke down.
The workers, members of the ILWU, did not go on strike. They turned up for work anyway, announcing they would ensure all passenger ships, perishable and military cargoes were moved whether they were paid or not. In LA on the first day of the lockout 200 workers turned up at the gates, but where only allowed on the job after the local mayor intervened.
"So the PM is yet again right off the mark," says Crumlin. "He's got his facts back to front to score cheap political points. It's not the MUA or the ILWU who are damaging Australian exports; it's the employers' Pacific Maritime Association. Perhaps if the PM let us know what Australian cargo was affected, we could ask the ILWU to help us too."
The MUA has sent a delegation of rank and file workers to the US as part of an International Transport Workers' Federation initiative to encourage PMA ship-owners back to the bargaining table and to report first hand on the lockout. The MUA has not taken any industrial action, nor has the ILWU.
"It's employer intransigence which is to blame," says Crumlin. "The employers closed the gates and locked the workers out. The ILWU announced at the outset it would still work passenger, perishable and military cargo whether they were paid or not and that's what they did."
"Despite the Australian Prime Minister's attempts to do a 'children overboard' on the MUA by misrepresenting the facts, the union is still active in the US, abroad and at home working with the International Transport Workers' Federation and the Japanese unions to get a long term resolution to the dispute."
Meanwhile the ITF has called an emergency meeting of its Dockers section for October 15 to discuss the dispute. MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin will be attending the meeting, which is being held in ITF headquarters in London.
The Federal Awards (Uniform System) Bill would extend the protection of the Federal award safety net to Victoria's most underprivileged workers, who have been denied award protections by decisions of the former Kennett Government.
The Victorian Liberals have announced that they will use their numbers in the State's Upper House to block the Bill. Workers could miss out on pay rises and better conditions such as redundancy pay and carers leave because of the Liberals decision.
"The Liberal Party is punishing some of Australia's most vulnerable and low-paid employees. It is unjust and discriminatory that these workers should be denied the same basic rights as all other employees," says ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.
"The Liberal Party is denying many Victorian employees the minimum protections of John Howard's own federal legislation. The Prime Minister should tell Victorian Liberal Leader Robert Doyle to help bring the State into line with the rest of the country."
The so-called Schedule 1A workers in Victoria are not entitled to basic conditions including penalty and overtime payments, leave loadings, personal, carers and bereavement leave, allowances and redundancy pay.
The Liberals last year blocked the Bracks Government's Fair Employment Bill, which also would have restored award protections to all employees in the State.
"Federal Labor condemns the Victorian Liberals' cruel decision - backed by Tony Abbott - to block fair industrial reforms by the Bracks Government for Victorian workers and businesses," says Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations Robert McClelland.
"Sadly the Victorian Liberals are still dancing to Tony Abbott's tune - unlike the NSW Liberals who declined last week to back Mr Abbott's divisive approach to industrial relations.
"Accordingly, Labor will now move amendments to the Howard Government's miserly Victorian Workers Bill to ensure fairness in Victoria.
"Labor's amendments would empower the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to extend the operation of federal awards across Victoria.
"Victorian businesses who are covered by a federal award are sick of being undercut by operators who can get away with paying the Liberals' miserly minimum wages and conditions.
"If this is how the Liberals treat Victoria, how can they be trusted to run the place?
"Instead of trying to play the part of Mini-Reith, Tony Abbott should do the right thing by Victoria's workers and businesses and support Labor's approach," says McClelland.
The move comes as staff at car giant Holden have more than doubled their maternity leave entitlements.
The workers at the North Laverton Straightening Company celebrated winning two weeks paid paternity leave after walking off the job for two days.
"I think that it is a sign of things to come, there's a lot of dads and young men in the workforce who are keen to get paid paternity leave," says Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten.
Maternity leave entitlements for staff at Holden have increased from six to 14 weeks effective from September 23. Any female employee at Holden who has worked for the company for at least two years is now entitled to receive the 14 weeks' paid leave. Women already on paid maternity leave will also be able to take the full 14 weeks.
Garry Hingle from the Australian Manufacturers Workers' Union said 14 weeks' leave "is indeed a benchmark but there are still more steps to go".
Other car manufacturing companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi and Ford only offer six weeks' paid maternity leave.
In a previously non-traditional area of work, Holden employs 725 female employees, who make up nine per cent of its workforce Australia-wide.
Australian Workers Union Victorian Safety Officer Gavin Merriman found the shoes, part of the White Lady Funerals uniform, to be a health and safety risk.
Merriman says the employees had been expected to wear the shoes while performing burial duties that often involved lifting.
He says the employees were vulnerable to slips, trips and falls and hurting their ankle if it rolled.
After being issued with a warning early this week, management are now in talks with the AWU to supply their female staff with orthopaedically-approved shoes.
The AWU has concerns about other aspects of the White Lady's uniform policy and will be in talks with management to get skirts replaced with pants.
The multinational's claim to being "the best employer in each community around the world" will be compared with its actual performance in undermining workers' rights through its union bashing tactics.
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions multinational specialist Dwight Justice says the main message to be brought to the table will be that "just because corporations claim to be socially responsible doesn't mean that they actually are".
"The demonstrated hypocrisy of McDonald's in this respect makes it clear that companies shouldn't be allowed to dictate the rules on corporate social responsibility," he says.
The activists will also alert parliament to the necessity of scrutinising the many ways in which large franchise operations can undermine workers' rights.
McDonalds can often avoid dealing with unions because 80% of its restaurants are franchises and are considered to be independently owned, they say. But the activists claim the strict terms under which McDonald's franchises must operate effectively produce situations where McDonald's, and not the franchisees, seems to be dictating policy on working conditions and wages.
The European Parliament will also hear how McDonald's:
* destroyed a union in Moscow, even after the authorities had forced the company to sign a collective agreement with it.
* closed a restaurant in Germany in order to avoid dealing with a works council
* misuses the law to prevent unions from being established in the Philippines
For more information, visit: http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991216551&Language=EN
Late and One day registrations are still being accepted.
Unionists everywhere - from Belgium to Bangladesh - are descending upon Sydney with the aid of a generous scholarship program for global strategising and action planning from 31 October to 2 November.
Nine out of ten international trade union federations for particular industry groups, in addition to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU and the ACTU) have now endorsed Workers Out.
Coordinating the sharing of stories and campaigns amongst unionists who speak a dozen different languages has been a difficult task for the Workers Out Organising Committee, but the program reflects the task has been achieved.
Topics to be covered range from coming out to colleagues to disabilities and sexuality. If that doesn't interest you, you can try your hand at transgender organising in Canada and US or debate the role of parliamentary representatives working towards workplace rights reform.
Workers Out will feature a 3-course dinner on Friday 1 November at Sydney University's 'Darlington Centre' (alcohol included, tickets still available). Following the conference a free mini festival of queer-themed documentaries will be screened.
To top the agenda off there are industry and interest group caucuses taking place across the four days and nights of Workers Out. These range from Education and Public Sector caucus' to the first ever Australian Rainbow Labor conference.
In the tradition of the Olympics (the conference is timed to coincide with the Gay Games) speakers from Quebec, who will host the 2006 Gay Games in Montreal, will close the conference.
To register for one day ($120 full, $60 concession) or the whole conference ($360, $180) act now by visiting www.workersout.com
Reserve conference dinner tickets $75 full, $50 concession by emailing [email protected]
VTHC Secretary Leigh Hubbard has condemned the government's decision to deny Mr Morales refugee status and fears that the lives of 10 Colombian refugees currently in El Salvador may also be at risk.
"The killing of Mr Morales sends a wake up call to the Australian Government. Over 250 unionists have been either murdered or disappeared in Colombia over the past 2 years, Mr Hubbard said.
Attorney-General Daryl Williams has denied that Australia bears any responsibility for the death of Mr Morales as he did not qualify for refugee states under the United Nations Convention on Refugees.
Mr Morales who had been living in Australia for several years was also denied refugee status in Argentina before returning to Colombia. The VTHC asks how many people must die before a civilised and compassionate approach is taken to refugees in this country.
Mr Hubbard said the plight of the 10 people currently seeking Australian visas from El Salvador must be reconsidered in light of the recent tragedy surrounding Mr Morales.
"This group of 10 people, which includes 5 children, have applied to come to Australia as refugees, but have been denied visas despite being granted refugee status by the UNHCR. Their situation in El Salvador is precarious as they find themselves under threat of being sent back to Colombia where their lives will be in danger," Mr Hubbard said.
Opposition immigration spokeswoman Julia Gillard has raised the plight of the Colombian refugees with Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock's office at the request of the VTHC and ACTU. Ms Gillard has not received a positive response.
by Vice president, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Getting paid parental leave into the statute books represents a victory for the union movement, particularly the union women who had spearheaded a campaign for at least 12 years.
Before paid parental leave was introduced, NZ workers had the legal right to take various forms of maternity and parental leave.
Our law provided for 14 weeks unpaid maternity leave, two weeks unpaid paternity leave, 10 days unpaid leave during pregnancy and up to 52 weeks unpaid extended leave on the birth or adoption of a child.
The reality was many parents did not take the unpaid leave because they could not afford to.
NZ workers are now legally entitled to 12 weeks off if they have worked for the same employer for at least a year for 10 hours a week or more.
While on leave the worker receives full pay up to a cap of $325, which is around the level of the New Zealand minimum weekly wage. That payment comes out of general taxation.
Although unions welcomed the law, we're still campaigning for improved paid parental leave, as 12 weeks paid leave falls short of the ILO minimum of 14 weeks.
The NZCTU is also calling for wider eligibility and an improved level of payment.
While it is good that the lowest paid receive 100% of earnings, some workers will simply not be able to afford to take time off on a reduced income. Around nine out of ten women working full time still face a drop in income to go on paid parental leave.
But, it's a great step forward for women workers - a victory for all those women in unions and community groups who have fought long and hard for it.
The new law clearly establishes paid parental leave as an employment right, just like holiday pay and sick leave.
In my union, a union of predominantly low paid workers, paid parental leave has been warmly welcomed.
For many of our workers it means 12 weeks on full pay after their child is born.
It also puts us in a stronger position to bargain for more in collective agreement negotiations (our version of enterprise bargaining).
Service and food workers union members in Auckland's Sky City Casino achieved two weeks' paid parental leave in negotiations a year ago.
In recently concluded negotiations, they have improved that condition to two weeks on full pay, paid by the employer, in addition to the 12 weeks they are entitled to under the law.
Why did our trade union movement campaign so hard for paid parental leave? Why was a law which ensures a parent will be paid in the initial weeks after a baby is born necessary to ensure we have fairness at work?
Because, as is acknowledged in around 60 countries, paid paternal leave is good for workers, employers, families and the country generally.
Women's employment in New Zealand has hugely changed in the last 20 years.
Some years ago it was expected that women would take a few years out to care for children. Now most families are dependent on two incomes. In other families, single parents, most often women, are the sole breadwinners.
Fairer workplaces is reason enough to legislate for paid parental leave. But we campaigned on the basis of the raft of good reasons to introduce paid parental leave legislation.
Paid parental leave is good for workers. It establishes the right to take time off work to care for a newborn baby and for mothers to recover without losing their job.
Being able to take paid leave means uninterrupted career paths for women. It means years of skills and experience is not down the drain because of the birth of a child. It prevents the financial loss due to the birth of the child.
Without paid parental leave parents on high incomes were the only ones in a position to save properly for the birth of a child. Families on low and middle incomes are often those most dependent on a second income and are least able to afford unpaid leave.
Much has been made of the disadvantages for employers. In fact paid parental leave benefits employers.
Without paid parental leave, employers loose countless workers who have developed skills and experience which companies need.
How many valued members of staff leave to have babies? The cost to employers in terms of recruitment, advertising, interviewing, retraining and orientation is huge.
Without a minimum requirement only the largest and most profitable companies could afford paid parental leave. Small businesses could not afford to be market leaders.
Just as the Employment Contracts Act (NZ's anti-union labour law, in place from 1991-2000), did not enable the market to deliver consistently fair conditions for employees, the market did not deliver paid parental leave. That was why legislation was essential.
Paid parental leave is good for the economy and society. Working women are essential to our economy. If women are not retained in the work force and do not have the opportunity to maximise on their training and employer investment in them. The country is worse off economically.
Although children are the immediate responsibility of their parents, the value of good child rearing has benefits for society as a whole. Paid parental leave ensures that families can choose to take adequate leave and minimise the stresses on the family in this important time.
There are a number of international conventions binding states to provide paid leave. The ILO recommendation is for a minimum of 14 weeks maternity leave.
The United Nations Convention On the Elimination Of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) binds participant states to take appropriate steps to introduce maternity leave on pay or with comparable social benefits.
When a Labour Government was elected in 1999, the union movement set out a list of goals to get fairer workplaces. Paid parental leave was a priority. NZ's trade union movement saw this as a basic workplace right, well overdue.
The cuts come at a time when there is already a critical shortage of WorkCover Inspectors, and the Royal Commission inquiring into the Building Industry continues to ignore the issue of safety in the workplace.
It is understood that nine teams are required to supply two inspectors each to the WorkCover Information Centre for a period of time dure to short staffing.
"The labour movement and construction unions in particular are very motivated to try and encourage WorkCover to re-institute a specialist demolition squad within its inspectorate," says CFMEU state secretary Andrew Ferguson.
"For five years while the team existed there was only one death of a demolition worker in this state. In the 12 months since the specialist team was scrapped there has been four deaths. These numbers speak for themselves."
"At the same time we have this outrageous situation where the Royal Commission charged with recommending improvements to our industry refuses to investigate these appalling numbers, refuses to take seriously the appalling safety standards in the demolition sector and effectively says to working Australians 'your needless deaths are of no consequence to this inquiry.'"
The NSW Labour Council is seeking an urgent meeting with WorkCover regarding their decision to take the inspectors off the road.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions says that thousands of miners were on strike on October 7th when ERPM security guards opened fire, killing two miners and seriously injuring 14 others.
The company had earlier unilaterally terminated its contract with the sub-contractor that supplied the labour, thus jeopardising the livelihood of thousands of families.
In a letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki the ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder indicated that "those practices are criminal, barbaric and unacceptable, especially in a country which has ratified core ILO union rights conventions 87 and 98," says Ryder.
Ryder urged President Mbeki to heed the trade union call and order an investigation into the incident in order to identify the persons responsible for the acts and bring them to justice.
The mine is managed by mining firm Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD).
The miners, some of whom said they received as little as 35 rand (US$3.35) a day for dangerous work deep underground, are striking over pay.
The new service, called worker2worker, is providing free advice on issues including correct rates of pay, legal rights in casual or temporary employment and how to negotiate roster changes.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said union research had identified a demand among young people for better advice on their rights and responsibilities as employees.
The launch of the worker2worker helpline comes as part of the ACTU's Youth Forum being held in Melbourne today.
Ms Burrow said some problems frequently identified by young people were lack of information about terms of employment, workplace bullying, sexual harassment, inadequate training and exploitation of casual conditions.
People can phone the worker2worker helpline for the cost of a local call from anywhere in Australia on 1300 362 223.
More information is available from the new young workers' website at:
NSW Fabian Society forum
Who is the Third Force in Australian politics?
Hear from three activists, working outside the major party on:
- the effectiveness of third political forces
- the attraction of the major parties
- and achieving tangible changes
* Australian Democrats senator John Cherry
* Greens political strategist Ben Oquist
* Cunningham independent candidate Peter Wilson (tbc)
WHERE: Bercoleuw Books,
WHEN: 6.00pm, Wednesday November 30
ENTRY: $5 members/$10 non-members
For more details: call Peter Lewis on 0413 873285
Sea of Hands celebrates 6 years
Saturday November 2 is the 6th Anniversary of the Sea of hands. The NSW organiser of these events, ANTAR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) are having a short celebration at Redfern Park from
12.30 to 2.30 pm. Everyone is invited. Go to
http://www.antar.org.au/contact.html and phone the nearest office for information about what is happening in your state.
Is Farmhand nothing but a cynical exercise to try and blackmail the bush into approving the full sale of Telstra?
Ray Martin: 'The Farmhand Foundation will give all the money raised this month, hopefully more than $20 million, to bush families who are hurting right now. As well, these powerful Australians hope to radically shift government policy on water resources: make a move at last towards drought proofing this wide brown land.'
Kerry Packer: 'I don't think it's possible to drought proof it. But I think we can have a say in it, and I think it's possible for this country to be a lot better drought proofed than it is at the moment.'
A Current Affair 3 October 2002
The first aim of Farmhand is obvious. Raise some money and give it to farmers in the bush to help them financially. However the second aim of Farmhand "To radically shift government policy" and "drought proof the country" sounds highly suspicious. How can we drought proof the country? According to Alan Jones,
Alan Jones: 'It's not that we don't have water, but we don't have it where it's needed. And how many hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars have gone in futile drought relief, which does nothing to ensure we won't be back on that track again. For example, Lake Argyle in Western Australia releases 50 tonnes of water per second. Only 10% is used in the Ord irrigation system. 45 tonnes per second is pushed into the Timor Sea.
Today 4 October 2002
Alan Jones: 'The Clarence River: Grafton's on the Clarence. The Pioneer River: Mackay's on the Pioneer River. Bundaberg, the Burdekin River. All those rivers up there. The Daly, they can all be turned inland and used. And then you can flood your river system in drought time. Dam the water. Flood the river system. Irrigate off the rivers.'
2GB 22 July 2002
Changing the way a river flows is an expensive exercise. Where is all the money needed to do this scheme going to come from?
Alan Jones: 'Now if we're going to sell Telstra, shouldn't we be saying to the farmers listen: let's sell Telstra, it won't cost you a thing. We'll use the money from the sale of Telstra: $10 billion, whatever we need, to water Australia. Give us a call 131 873 is my open line number.'
2GB 22 July 2002
Alan Jones is the chief spokesman for Farmhand and even if this is his personal view, there are too many other people involved with Farmhand with Telstra connections for this to be a coincidence.
The Chairman of Farmhand is the Chairman of Telstra, Bob Mansfield.
It's principals are John Hartigan the CEO of News Ltd, Telstra's partner in Foxtel. Kerry Packer the owner of Nine, Telstra's other partner in Foxtel. Sam Chisholm, chairman of Foxtel itself and Telstra director. Then ad man John Singleton, whose agency represents Telstra and who owns a share of 2GB. And Alan Jones, who is chief spokesman for Farmhand and whose breakfast show is sponsored by Telstra.
Media Watch 7 October 2002
Farmhand wants the full sale of Telstra and the funds used to drought proof the bush. With the board of Farmhand stacked with people who have connections to Telstra, it starts to look like an even bigger conspiracy. If these people can convince the Bush and the politicians that if the rest of Telsta needs to be sold, then the Bush can be irrigated and drought proofed with the funds.
The Government has not hidden its ambition to sell the rest of Telstra, however services in the bush has always been their main stumbling block. Now the country is experiencing its worst drought for 100 years, and this might just give the Government the opportunity it needs to force through the sale of the rest of Telstra without it (Telstra) needing to fix their services in the bush.
There is just too many things wrong with this plan. Not all farmers use irrigation from the rivers to water their crops. In 1999-2000 only 2.4 million hectares are grown by irrigation compared with 456 million hectares in agricultural production (ABS 2001). This means that only 1/2 a percent of our farmers are currently drought proofed. Sixty three percent of farms using irrigation are located in New South Wales and Queensland and most of these farms are located in the Murray Darling catchment area. Eighty nine percent are located in NSW, Qld and Victoria. Most of these farms are located on the one river system, and you cannot increase the number of farms in this region who are irrigating without doing major damage to the river systems
Another problem with irrigation is salinity. One factor contributing to salinity is the raising of water tables as a result of accelerated recharge of underground water from irrigated land , which results in increased salt loads entering river systems. Reduced river flows, brought about by the construction of dams, weirs and water diversions, compound the problem as there is inadequate flow to dilute the saline ground water inflows.
The decline in the river system where the water is being diverted from is yet another problem. After 40 years of neglect, the NSW and Victorian governments have only recently increased water flow down the Snowy River.
Other problems associated with irrigation practices include the decline in soil structure in intensely irrigated areas and a decline in water quality as a result of the high levels of fertilisers used in conjunction with some irrigation methods.
Greater efficiency and technological advancements should help to improve land management practices and reduce the decline in the health of land and water assets, but even if we can double the water flow and the amount of land that is used for irrigated farming, this will only account for 1% of total Australian farmland.
This could hardly be called drought proofing the nation.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Agriculture, Australia, 1999-2000 cat. no. 7113.0, ABS, Canberra.
(Financial Review 4 Oct. 2002, p.48)
Media Watch (video recording) 7 October 2002, ABC television. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/071002_s2.htm
Thank you for the latest Workers On Line issue.
Your editorial says a lot about union/Party relationships, which I do not have a problem with.
But the main issue as far as branch members are concerned is the lack of true democracy within the ALP.
We can discuss and debate policies, union involvement, factionalism, branch stacking and so on until we are blue in the face.
But until the Party gives direct voting rights to all members to elect all party officials in the administrative wings, factionalism and rorting will continue, and the Party will not be democratic.
Remember this. It is the rank and file who go out at every election, without any rewards and stand at polling booths on election days handing out pamphlets.
We get no recognition for this, either from the trade union movement, or Head Office.
If you wish to find out what rank & file members really think come along to branch meetings!
You may wish to start with the Mt. Colah/Berowra Branch.
President Mt. Colah/Berowra Branch
Corporate malfeasance and take-over aren't going to be the topics of debate in this fall's election, in fact they probably won't even been brought up.
The war in Iraq on the other hand will be a top contender, and as usual the debate will be archaic and flat, with a dash of gun rights and abortion snaps. The general public will go on their daily lives and not notice that the war against Saddam is a war for the US economy, and the price will be paid with the blood of soldiers and innocents alike. This same blood could be compared to the sweat and tears millions of people throughout the world have shed as a result of our corporation's never-ending grasp for cash, and this war is no different.
The mainstream debate about Globalization has so many facets and layers that the critics (myself included) have a tough time keeping up with them. This debate has been so greatly muted that the connections between war and global governance have not be dissected accurately.
We have to realize that the outcome of the proposed " Iraq regime change" is not for humanitarian reasons, and not about terrorism; but about placing a friendly government in Iraq that will allow our corporations to start moving their oil tankers. In the last years of Clinton's presidency Dick Cheney was lobbying on behalf of Haliburton to get the administration to press the UN to drop sanctions against Iraq. I find it hard to believe that only 3 or 4 years later, Dick and company don't have any corporate interests in Iraq.
Has Karl Rove so brainwashed us that we are unable to see past the "weapons of mass destruction?" Are our foreign policies not weapons of mass destruction in their own right?
Global dominance fashions itself in many ways; from trade agreement to loans, to war and government control. The war against Iraq is just one more puzzle piece in a collage of corporate take over that has plagued the earth for decades. We must oppose this war with as much vigor and pride as we have opposed the IMF and WTO cabals. Lies and deceit have flooded the public discourse, so those that know the truth have a responsibility to speak up. For if we don't, we are as much to blame as the Democrats and Republicans, who are worried more about their re-elections, then the hundreds of thousands of lives that will be lost as a result this conflict.
We cannot afford to sit silent any longer.
Well, I must say that you should thank me, and you owe me one. I was one of those responsible for your election in 2000. I'm a Floridian who did not vote for you, but helped you win all the more. That's right Junior, I voted for Nader (and would again). If he were President now, I trust you know (deep inside you must) that we would not be in the mess we now face. Why? Well, first off, there would be no "Bush Doctrine" of putting our noses all over the world (and our troops and assorted military hardware). Now I would have thought you of all people, Junior, would have remembered that from "Nam". You remember "Nam", don't you?
That was during the late 60's when I withdrew behind my student deferment because like Muhamed Ali "I got nothin against those Viet Cong", while you publicly supported the war. Matter of fact, while Navy pilot (now Sen.) McCain was being held prisoner in Vietnam, you Junior were protecting Texas from any Viet Cong air attacks (guess you forgot they had no air force). Fast forward 35 years, and you now plan to send tens of thousands of our working class kids to risk death in Iraq, while our weaponry destroys an equal (if not greater) number of civilians there.
I guess you forgot about all the "evil regimes" this country has and does support all over the globe. Junior, did you ever think that by "taking out Iraq" (a sovereign nation by the way), what you officially declare our Republic to be? I wonder if you had boys and not girls, Junior, if they would be sent to the deserts to "defend America and the world from tyranny"? Or would they too be flying over Texas defending the skies?
Now, since you owe me Junior as much as all those "Kenny Boys" out there who financed your runs for office, let's talk turkey (and Iraq). Old Kenny boy and the others got access to the White House ear and who knows what other favors. Here's what I need to have done:
A) call off this obvious unconstitutional plan involving Iraq. While you're doing that, begin dismantling some of our myriad's of military bases worldwide.
B) cut the defense budget and funnel the monies saved into strong, as you call it (I hate the word) "Homeland" defense. Really protect our ports, our airports, rail systems etc. from terrorism. Tell your friends at the "war industries" to begin converting their equipment that builds "weapons of mass destruction" into other more peaceful and useful products.
C) Push Congress to pass "Clean Election Laws" so as to take all private money out of political campaigns. Urge states to do the same. Pressure Congress to pass tough laws restricting the use of lobbyists, who only prostitute our Legislative system.
D) Pressure Congress to give all Americans the same health coverage you all now enjoy. Junior, it's called "Universal Medicare", and everyone (including you in gov't who get the free ride) contributes according to income.
E) Take some of the savings from the defense cuts and lesser military presence, and use it to fix and build more and better schools, and pay teachers, fire and police personnel fairer wages. Make our U.S. rail system on par with Europe and Japan, thus saving Americans billions of dollars in gasoline use, plus lowering pollution levels.( sorry, I must have struck a nerve there Junior- forgot about the oil industry and your family).
I could go on, but you get my drift Well, hope you consider my needs as much as you did the "fat cats" who financed you. Remember Junior, if it wasn't for me, I'd be writing "President Gore" now.
I write to highlight the implications of the upcoming World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Sydney, November 14, for our local community schooling.
Over the last year inner city communities have rallied to prevent the sale of their valued local primary and state schools. Under the "free trade" rules the WTO is enacting, these local schools could be deemed by international courts as "anti-competitive". This is due to provisions that if a market sector has any private provider, in this case the existing private school system, new international schools can claim that government funding of either state or existing private schools is "anti-competitive". Under WTO rules the government funding would have to stop.
So local communities would be back on the streets to save Dulwich High, Marrickville High and others all over again!
This and similar rules to prise open markets in power, water and other services helps to explain why thousands of concerned citizens, including many who have been at the inner city school meetings and rallies, will demonstrate outside the WTO meeting in Sydney.
more info URL www.nowto.cap.org
Teacher, Revesby High, NSWTF Councillor,Canterbury-Bankstown
Letters to the Editor
Thursday, 10 October 2002
While certainly not collaborating with the attempt at personal martyrdom by 'Jane Graham', in her letter 'Casual Days' (Workers Online issue 155, October 2002), I as consumer of TAFE products am supportive of the many fulltime or part time educators now employed within this important component in attaining a the goal of a "knowledge nation..".
My support is generated not from compassion, for the bitterness of Jane, who is fortunate enough to be in paid employment, but for those who attempt to stay in the "learning for life race", or those, who have been discarded as redundant, expendable or excess to requirements, after a 40 -50 years in the workforce, pick themselves up from the canvas of life and attempt to re-skill themselves in an effort to continue their contribution to society.
Jane, I can also relate to your predicament, as I made redundant from my last employment, with the job I was doing being taken by a Casual Employee who is still a casual, from an Employment Agency, I received a letter from the general manager Mr. Terry Barnes, an person who I had never met and had never written to me before, in which I perceived him to state that I was as useless as the popes balls. (My interpretation, not his actual words)
As an employee who had given my all , and adhered to policies and procedures following all the complaints procedures prior to seeking external assistance , this completely destroyed my self esteem, creating a sea of tears and critical examination , and it has only been through my re-education at TAFE, that I have regained any of this.
Jane, does this not fill you with altruistic joy?
These mature aged people learn differently than young persons and are increasing consumer base for education providers, with the possibility of 'TAFE' survival depending on their needs, as this inexpensive avenue for University entrance or, Vocational Training is further privatised, because of fiscal necessity.
Adults have more than enough personal distractions and obstacles to learning this requires different and specialised training skills.
While, I have through my recent interactions with TAFE educators, gained a new respect for not only the abilities of such educators, but their desire to impart knowledge and their commitment in attaining this goal, I believe Jane and her comrades should reconsider their goals, and perhaps rather than continue a 'Welfare State' mentality, assess what they have to offer and calculate the price at which it will be sold.
The problem Jane is currently experiencing , is one that all of us experience and will continue to experience; it is that of a free market , a massive fraud of which the transference of loyalties ,from a Trade Union Solidarity born in the depression and nurtured by unemployed , dispossessed and betrayed Warriors from the Great War , in the slums London , Bradford, Birmingham , Glasgow , Dublin ,Belfast , Berlin , and Munich and once again revived world wide by Warriors from the second great conflict , who although discarded , had learned of the power in a disciplined structure.
I know as a child I listened to these old men reminisce and relive their battles, both, martial and industrial encouraging the youth to follow their footsteps by joining their local militia.
The great losses to those that must labour for sustenance, were not lost on an industrial battlefield, they were given away by those that have never had to fight for survival, those that have suckled on the great deeds of their ancestors, those who think they are just the bees knees, because their mum told them so, those that have walked in the light of heroes.
Those of fragile spirit, could with large corporations who produce products, apply a covert operation, such as the "Death of a Thousand Cuts", this works well on organisations or "Bullies" , who can be speedily replaced , particularly when this involves the exposure of the organisation or individual as hypocritical or an antitheses of community standards , petty bureaucrats and or politicians can be categorised in with these filth, and surprise is a key element.
But with an educational institution, it is the reputation that it trades upon, and to destroy this is akin to self destruction.
Jane, if I may suggest, you and your colleagues market your abilities, and what better way than to display your products, these being Citizens who have advanced through your tuition.
I have had over the past 11 years, had reason to thank the educators at, Kingswood Primary, and Cambridge Park High School, for the extra time and effort they have provided to my own siblings, and while this does not put bread on the table , they have made a positive difference to society , if only by moderating my radial influence on a future generation. Would this not be a priceless reward?
I have also had reason to thank almost all the educators I have come in contact with over the past 12months at the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE , for not only their education , but the patience shown , to my ignorance in structured learning skills .
So in return,
If you feel that such influence is not ample reward, then contact me, and I can advise you with accuracy on how to confidently stride the path to fruitless martyrdom, with or without the mandatory cross, to the pauper's grave, figuratively speaking of course!
It was Thomas Jefferson an alleged radical and racist, of whom I hope, unproven, spurious and withdrawn allegations which I also had been accused of displaying in a disciplinary hearing in a concentrated effort to excise me from my employment at Sydney City Council, in 1998, are not our only similarities, wrote in his letter The "Tree of Liberty" to William Smith in 1787.
What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.
While the images of a young Muslim man in traditional dress taking a stand for his right to observe his religion makes great media, the issue of how much of one's life should be sacrificed for a job is much broader.
The manager at TPG, whose intransigence created this week's storm is just the worst case of management, freed of the constraints of the central wage system, acting as if they have some sort of divine right to rule their workforce.
We've heard the arguments on how enlightened companies are providing family friendly policies like workplace-based child care, extended parental leave and home work.
Conservative politicians may be happy to shine a light on the companies - typically in the profit-bloated finance sector - that embark on these programs, but talk of compulsion gets short shrift.
That's why the Prime Minister will not even countenance a right to paid maternity leave. One could only imagine his attitude to enshrining a Muslim's rights to pray.
At the heart of this debate is the question of the very nature of work and whether it exists separate to or integrated with the rest of one's life.
The traditional position has been that the eight hours of work was a separate chunk of life - it was governed by individual rules that treated all workers the same.
That position was trashed by labour market deregulation, with its assertion that businesses should be judged on their own special circumstances and not be bound by universal rules.
Unions and their members have played their part, accepting enterprise bargaining and embracing new rules of employment in the interest of creating stable and secure jobs.
But employers are now being asked to come to the party and make good their flexibility rhetoric - taking the same principles that justified special deals for enterprises, to their employees.
In Kamal's case the issue seems a no-brainer. He was prepared tot take ten minutes off his lunch break to pray in the afternoon. No loss of productivity and less time away from his desk than the average smoker.
The rejection of this deal is a breaking of this supposed consensus where employer and employee are equal agents, who can sit down and negotiate fair outcomes between themselves.
Of course, that's always been crap and without a union - that much-denigrated 'third party' - beside him, Kamal would by now be looking for a new job.
This is not an issue about race or religion; it is a story of management prerogative and a worker prepared to stand up for his basic rights to be the person he is while at work.
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