With the idea being floated of Peter Reith replacing the charm machine, Michael Kroger, on the board of the ABC, it may be useful to examine what sort of programming we may expect from Aunty with one of the all time great Tools on the Board.
Reithy has never been backward about being backward, so we can expect a hands on approach - in every sense of the phrase.
No doubt Reithy would have to ring the changes at the National broadcaster, starting with Radio. Philip Adam's Late Night Live will now be known as Late Night Dead.
On television, Question Time, never a big favourite for the man who had a troubled relationship with the idea of accountable government, would no doubt get the axe. If the little people want to keep up with what goes in Parliament they can jolly well pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get themselves elected, like our Peter did.
In fact Reithy will no doubt look at outsourcing play school, which could include the live coverage from Parliament.
Also True Stories would have to go - it's never been a strong point for the ethically challenged Reith.
Also up for the chop would be Bob the Builder, who Reithy can expose as some CFMEU thug. In fact Reithy can expand on his industrial relations policies with a new series of Walking With Dinosaurs.
Then again, some shows would obviously remain in favour with the cadaverous one. Business Breakfast for example, as Reithy has never had any other kind. In fact, he's had a business or two for breakfast himself.
He mightn't be aware that Simon In The Land Of Chalk Drawings is a kids show, but nonetheless he will like the name.
Police Rescue would be another favourite, as it would remind him of old times; as would Inside Business - although someone may have to explain that it isn't a show about Inside Trading. Speaking of Insiders, maybe Reithy could ask them to put together a show with conservative columnists talking to conservative journalists about conservative politics? (Oops, they have that already!)
No doubt the Reithmeister could teach those dangerous Trotskyites at the ABC a lesson or three in responsible fiscal management, with the cutbacks lessening the smell from the oily rag that Aunty runs on. This means that there will be a current-affairs show on Monday nights called Three Corners; and a group of young people will compete in a documentary/travel show called Race Around The Room.
A few old favourites will be brought back to restore some "balance" to the scheduling. This will include Patrol Boat, as long as Reithy gets to sell the ABC the boat in question.
He'll also call for a re-run of The Dismissal, but an edited version with only with his favourite bits left in.
We can also look forward to Reithy casting off the blinkered approach that has hamstrung the National Broadcaster for so long, with an influx of commercial television shows that capture the essence of Reithy's world view, such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
And in a programming masterstroke, Peter Reith's involvement with the highest echelons of the ABC will be summed up by a nightly screening of World's Dumbest Criminals.
Workers from the company’s Berkeley Vale and Tuggerah manufacturing plants rallied last Friday against the dismissal of John Draper who was sacked after leading a successful campaign to reject a non-union enterprise bargaining agreement.
Seventh Day Adventist-controlled Sanitarium upped the stakes dramatically, last week, when a manager distributed leaflets penned by church founder, Ellen G.White, which described unions as "Satanic".
"The wicked are being bound up in bundles, bound up in trusts, in unions, in confederacies. Let us have nothing to do with these organisations," White implored.
"The trades unions will be agencies that will bring upon this earth a time of trouble such as has not been seen since the world began."
The message was distributed after several months of campaigning in which the food company, which manufacturers heavily-advertised brands Weet Bix and So Good, refused to deal with the AMWU, enter a union-negotiated EBA or, according to the union, even correctly apply minimum award rates.
AMWU Food and Confection Division federal secretary, Jenny Dowell, tried to defuse religious elements of the conflict and concentrate on industrial issues.
"We don't want this to be about religion because we don't think it is," she said. "We respect their rights to their beliefs but insist that they respect the rights of these people to be represented."
The AMWU has lodged an unfair dismissal case on behalf of Draper, who worked for Sanitarium for eight years, and has also launched freedom of association proceedings in the Federal Court.
Sanitatrium is a multi-national, multi-million dollar business that benefits from passing itself off as a non-profit, religious organisation. It gets tax breaks not available to competitors and has a history of resisting unionisation.
Draper was pivotal, several years ago, in organising a back pay claim that resulted in the company being forced to shell out $3.2 million to workers around Australia.
Since then more than half the manufacturing workforce at Tuggerah and Berkeley Vale have joined the union. Draper now convenes a committee of elected delegates from the two plants who have turned their recent attention to winning an EBA and having the existing award correctly implemented.
During EBA discussions Sanitarium conceded that staff could have outside representation "subject to the crieteria of it not being from a current union organisation". Instead, it suggested, workers use one of its consultants as an "independent representative".
After workers rejected Sanitarium's EBA, Draper was sacked. The company claimed he had harassed a supervisor.
"This company contends that normal delegate duties are harassment," Dowell says. "The central problem is that they simply don't recognise trade unions and everything else stems from that."
Dowell called on Employment Advocate Jonathan Hamberger to take action against Sanitarium under the same freedom of association provisions he lines up against trade unions.
"We know how much money and resources Hamberger devotes to people who don't want to join trade unions," she said. "It would be nice to think he might be prepared to do something to defend the rights of people who want representation."
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock gave Doyle Canning, 22, his personal seal of disapproval in signing off on a DIMIA report that stated refusal of her holiday visa should “discourage” other activists from visiting Australia.
Her likely crime? Associating with anti-globalisation activists during a six-month "field semester" in Tasmania and Victoria undertaken as part of her education degree.
The Vermont-based genetic engineering campaigner told Workers OnLine she was "shocked" to find herself on a Government blacklist.
"It's a bit of a worry to be barred from a country like Australia, especially when they refuse to give you the reasons," the US citizen said. "I have never engaged in violent activities of any kind but, I can only presume, they class me as a terrorist.
"I met some great people when I was in Australia two years ago. I wanted to visit some of my friends and comrades, it was going to be a holiday, I wasn't going to do any work at all."
Canning addressed workshops in the lead-up to S11 during her six-month study tour here and assumes that is behind Government's holiday ban.
Her record sports one trespass conviction, arising out of the "peaceful occupation" of a US Congressman's office in Vermont, for which she was subseqently fined $50. That conviction was recorded before her last visit to Australia.
Canning works in Vermont as a biotech researcher-activist, supporting local communities opposed to the arrival of GE operations in their regions.
She explained that, unaware of her undesirable status, she made a standard internet application for an Australian holiday visa on September 1, 2001. She was turned down, on line, and told to contact the Australian Embassy.
After being refused entry under Section 501 of the Immigration Act she wrote to the Minister. Ruddock responded in July of this year, endorsing an 11-page DIMIA report, including "attachments A, B and C" which she was not allowed to see.
"He said he had considered the evidence and decided I was not of good character," Canning said. "It's indicative of the global political climate in which organising so people can live in peace and dignity is now regarded as a criminal activity."
She filed a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman who sough access to the contents of the mysterious "attachments A, B and C" on her behalf. Ruddock's office refused to make them available to the Ombudsman.
Workers OnLine understands the Ombudsman has sought a ruling from the Attorney General on the hush-hush element of the Immigration Department decision.
Members that take part in the trial, which is running through November and December, also go into the draw for a giant Christmas hamper.
HREA General Secretary Michael Williamson says that while membership of the union is continuing to increase, there were always new ways of encouraging members to unionise their workmates.
Research shows that a large number of non-unionists say they have never been asked to join, so the HREA program creates an added incentive for workplace activists to spread unionism.
"There are a lot of non-members out there and we are trying all sorts of new strategies to get them to join the team," Williamson says.
"We're going to trial this incentive as a way of giving something back to those delegates who routinely approach and sign up new staff and also to encourage other members to become involved in recruiting their colleagues to the Union."
Williamson says if the scheme proves successful a similar incentive scheme would be placed on the 2003 agenda.
After casual numbers reached a staggering 70 per cent in prisons, the NSW Teachers Federation and the Department of Corrective Services agreed all teachers would be employed on a permanent basis.
Teachers Federation's Phil Bradley says the agreement is a significant step in turning back the tide on casualisation of the profession.
He says it's also an important step forward in fighting recidivism, with many inmates lacking the basic numeracy and literacy skills.
Despite the breakthrough, the Teachers Federation is continuing to lobby for increased teaching numbers in the state's prisons, where the prison population has grown considerably under the Carr Government.
"It costs $100,000 to keep an inmate in jail for a year," Bradley says. "This is twice what is spent on a teacher working within the prison sector."
"Every dollar in the education system leads to a savings of $7 in tems of the total social cost to the system."
The award victory is part of a broad push to arrest increasing casual and part-time levels in the TAFE system.
At present 55 per cent of all teaching hours in TAFE are taught by part-time teachers. The Federation is aiming to reduce this so that 70 per cent of teaching hours are provided by permanent teachers and only 30 per cent by part-time teachers.
Watkins Commits to No HECS on TAFE
Meanwhile, NSW Education Minister John Watkins has addressed the Labor Council of NSW vowing to oppose the introduction of HECS fees on students in the TAFE system.
Warning that a Brogden Government would see a return to the policies of the Metherell Era, Watkins restated his open-door policy to the trade union movement and commitment to work cooperatively.
He also outlined a new high level tripartite forum on training to fill the gap left by the federal government's decision to cut funding to the ITAB system and promised to address concerns about the status of support staff in the school system.
Xstrata is a Swiss-based multinational with extensive mining interests in South Africa and South America currently attempting to take over MIM - a move that would make it our third largest miner behind BHP-Billition and Rio Tinto.
Winners are grinners: Trevor Hyde (left) and John O'Dwyer (right) with Broken Hill CFMEU leader, Eddie Butcher days after the victory. Picture by Gavin Schmidt courtesy of the Barrier Industrial Truth.
Delegates from all Xstrata's operations throughout NSW and Queensland met in Cessnock this week and unanimously endorsed a comprehensive campaign, including industrial action, if the company continues to renege on existing agreements at its operations and pursues the victimisation of union activists.
Miners Union General President Tony Maher warned that Xstrata faces the full force of the union movement "here in Australia and overseas unless it changes course".
" Xstrata is no longer a private company. It is a publicly listed global mining player. We will be letting its shareholders know what is going on and the stakes involved. Indeed, unless the company reverts to its previous course of respecting workers rights and agreements it will face a concerted industrial, corporate, legal and international campaign", warned Tony Maher.
Mr Maher said he hoped it did not come to this. "Following today's delegates meeting, we are seeking an urgent meeting with Xstrata's most senior management. The ball's in their court and we hope they don't take the same failed path of confrontation that others in the coal industry pursued for the past few years", said Tony Maher.
Broken Hill Workers Beat 'Callous' Boss
Meanwhile, two Broken Hill miners have received $110,000 from mining giant Pasminco after being denied retrenchment rights because they were on sick leave when it solds its mine.
Broken Hill-based CFMEU NSW South/West District Vice-President Eddie Butcher condemned the move to sack the two miners who were recovering on compensation as "incredibly callous" and "blatant discrimination
On 21 November, the Industrial Commission ordered that John O'Dwyer and Trevor Hyde be reinstated making them eligible for the $110,000 redundancy payments they were entitled to.
For John and Trevor it was a wonderful early Christmas present and they told the Miner's Union journal Common Cause "it is another 110,000 reasons why it pays to belong to the Union".
"We could not have done this without the CFMEU. Our case is absolute proof of the value of unions to the whole of Australia", they said.
John and Trevor said that while they have been strong Union members all their working lives, they had never realised just how much work and dedication goes on behind the scenes to look after the interests of union members.
The company rolled out the big legal guns and was represented by big city law firm Blake Dawson Waldron. They had three solicitors on the case including a partner of the firm. It's been estimated that it would have cost the company between $40,000-$50,000 in legal fees in its failed attempt to deny the injured mineworkers their $110,000 in entitlements.
"There were five hearing days involved in the case and there it no way we could have afforded to fight it on our own", John and Trevor told Common Cause. "Without the Union, we were gone".
In his determination of the case, Commission Deputy-President Sams described Pasminco's sacking of the injured mineworkers as "cruel and heartless".
John O'Dwyer and Trevor Hyde are both family men who had 30 years of experience between them in the mine. Both have dependent children and are still physically incapacitated as a result of the injuries they suffered in separate accidents in the mine.
The worker suffered a ‘hypo’ while delivering spare parts, causing his vehicle to veer through a red light and collide with a bus.
NRMA Workers Compensation refused to foot the man's medical bill or pay his half-day in lost wages on the grounds his pre-existing medical condition caused the accident.
WorkCover NSW has supported the insurer's stance, saying workers compensation only applies if an accident is caused by an employer's negligence or a breach of occupational health and safety standards.
It was the first time the worker's condition had affected his ability to do his job.
While employers are encouraged to provide equal opportunities to people with disabilities, Diabetes Australia says the insurance issue now raises the question of whether some companies will still be willing to employ workers with diabetes and risk being sued further down the track.
This week's ACTU Executive gave the go ahead to look at a number of ideas to rein in the hours explosion.
The draft policy being discussed recognises as part of the process wider considerations than just hours need to be looked at such as ensuring staffing levels are sufficient in each workplace and that there is access to training, to give rise to enough skilled employees to maintain sufficient staffing levels.
It is also recognised base wage rates must be at a level which provide a fair standard of living without a reliance on overtime. And the number of hours each employee works must be consistent with the right to enjoy healthy and safe conditions at work and not subordinated to purely economic considerations.
The draft policy recognises a major policy gap in the existing regulatory framework which lacks any maximum enforceable limits of working hours.
Initiatives to be looked at include similar options to the European directive on Working Time which limits a combination of ordinary and overtime hours to 48 hours per week.
In the ACTU draft this weekly limit may be averaged over a period of up to 12 weeks by negotiation and an employee shall not work in excess of 60 hours per week in consecutive weeks or an average of 54 hours per week over an eight week period.
The ACTU recognises that a policy will only fully be achieved when there has been a significant cultural change away from the long hours culture which exists among some employers and employees in the Australian workplace today. Accordingly activities which help raise the debate about long hours of work and effect cultural change should be continued.
These activities may include:
§ public, industrial and health and safety campaigns
§ employee education;
§ public inquiries into long hours of work; and
§ public events.
Secretary John Robertson says there is growing evidence that "white apartheid refugees" are exploiting visa system loopholes to import cheap labour into Australia.
"We will take the message to people who might feel like eating at Ribs and Rumps that they could be supporting a system of exploitation that is foreign to the Australian way of life," Robertson said.
Labor Council voted to move on the issue after the Chief Industrial Magistrate stood over six-figure back pay claims against the restaurant on behalf of three chefs imported from Johannesburg on Section 457 immigration visas.
The chefs claim they were paid amounts in Australia, ranging from $50 to $150 a week, and had to return to South Africa to collect money paid into their accounts in rand. Their legal representatives say that, all-up, they received less than $20,000 a year for work that should have attracted at least double that remuneration.
Labor Council will not tip the restaurant off to its specific action but Robertson says successful activity by affiliates should "short circuit" the three-month hold-up in legal procedings.
Representatives of the chefs are concerned about the court stand over because, they say, restaurant owner David Diamond is applying "serious pressure" to their clients.
The trio can only remain in Australia legally while they sponsored by an employer.
The Australian Services Union claims that the directors of Falcon Street Medical Centre lied about their financial affairs when attempting to wind up their business.
At the time they had an order from the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to pay $5000 to two members of the ASU.
Despite attempts to enforce the orders, ASIC has approved the winding up of the company and written to the ASU refusing to investigate their challenge.
ASU clerical division secretary Michael Want says the decision means that after two years, the directors of the company walk away scot free and their former employees are unlikely to ever see the money they are owed.
Want says the scenario highlights the need for the Commission to be able to enforce its own orders, rather than unions being forced to seek payment through the judicial system.
"The current system allows unscrupulous employers the extra time they need yo reorganise their business and avoid paying moneys that have been determined to be owed," Wants says.
The Labor Council of NSW has renewed its call for a review of the enforcement powers of the NSW IRC.
The case would change industrial awards to:
· give full-time employees returning from parental leave a right to part-time work;
· give employees the right to request more flexible hours;
· give employees the right to emergency family leave;
· allow employees to "buy" up to 6 weeks extra leave through salary adjustment;
· extend the current unpaid parental leave period from 12 months to 24 months.
Bureau of Statistics figures show that the proportion of couples with children where both parents work has increased from 44% in 1981 to 62% in 2000 while the proportion of single mothers in paid work has increased to one-half, up from one-third in 1985.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the Test Case would provide new choices to help people balance their work and family responsibilities with more flexible hours, extended leave opportunities and greater job security.
"Australia has an increasing proportion of families where both parents are working," Burrow says. "The proportion of sole parents in the workforce is also growing.
"Two million Australians are working more than 50 hours per week, with one million of them averaging more than 60 hours per week."
"Many parents would prefer to spend more time at home with their children especially in the early years of life, without losing contact with the workforce. It is often difficult for employees to fit their childcare and school commitments in with working arrangements.
"The ACTU's Work and Family Test Case will help end the career disadvantage experienced by many women and will make it easier for people to be both good employees and good parents," Burrow says.
A yet to be identified vessel dumped an estimated 800 litres of oil fouling Australia's world heritage marine park on the Great Barrier Reef off Townsville this week.
Local residents have been battling to clear up the mess that left Shelly Beach covered with foul, thick oil globules at high tide on Monday night November 25 polluting 2.5 kilometres of coastline. Local press report that more than 60 people armed with shovels, buckets and sand bags were on the beach hard at work from 11am.
Experts are testing samples of the slick to determine its exact composition so it can be "fingerprinted" against material held in the bilges of vessels. Townsville Port Authority spokesperson Martin Norman said the oil was "heavy" narrowing the search down to just a few vessels believed to still be in Australian waters.
State Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer has vowed to track the vessel down and bring the culprits to justice. Fines of up to $1 million can be imposed on anyone found guilty of discharging oil into marine park areas.
"The boat that dumped the oil must be located and if the spill is found to have been deliberate, the Government must throw the book at those responsible"" editorialised the Townsville Bulletin. The paper described the spill as a 'wake up call'.
"The incident serves as a warning on how fragile the marine environment is... planning and care would be for nothing in the event of a major shipping disaster involving a tanker," it reported.
Meanwhile booms were placed across a creek mouth at the beach to prevent oil seeping into the estuarine mangroves with the night tide.
Last week the Bahama Flag of Convenience tanker Prestige broke up and sank off the Spanish coast after spilling several thousand tonnes of fuel oil.
An estimated 750 ageing rustbuckets with single hulls still ply the world's major ocean routes.
The 24 hour strike, beginning on Monday, will affect workers at all government gaols, courts, transport and other specialist units.
Some two months ago, a prisoner who was on remand following eight charges of serious assault and riot in Goulburn Gaol, was given bail with minimum conditions attached.
That prisoner and a number of his colleagues had faced serious assault and riot charges following a severe physical bashing, brutalisation and knifing of a number of prison officers.
A second prisoner who was charged with eight counts of serious assault and riot on prison officers at the same time as his co-prisoners, was granted bail by Mr Justice Hulme in the NSW Supreme Court.
Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O'Sullivan says all of the prison officers, male and female, are still receiving medical attention.
"One of the prison officers spent six weeks in Canberra Hospital in a coma and is now learning to speak again," O'Sullivan says.
"This unfortunate man will never be the same and it is pitiful today to watch his wife sit by his side at Liverpool Hospital, unable to communicate properly with the man who for so many years was a vital part of her life. He is 33 years of age."
O'Sullivan says Prison Officers do a job which the majority of people in the community pretend does not exist.
"There is not one happy hour in a prison officer's day and there is not one prison officer who can confidently predict to their families that he or she will arrive home safe on the completion of their shift," he says.
Six LHMU Cleaners Union members met with the NSW Minister for Public Works, Morris Iemma, in his office to explain their Keep It Clean campaign.
They handed Mr Iemma a petition, signed by more than 10,000 people, calling for an end to the cuts in hours allocated for the cleaning of schools, and other government workplaces - and improvements in equipment, supplies and other conditions in the coming round of new tender contracts.
"This is the largest ever petition we have collected - and it shows that community people are increasingly disquieted by the standard of cleaning in our schools," Sonia Minutillo, the LHMU Cleaners Union NSW Executive Vice-President, said.
"Our members are increasingly reporting that with each new contract tender they are finding that the numbers expected to do the cleaning job at schools is dropping, and the hours are disappearing.
"Add to that the old and faulty equipment - the task is not just impossible, it is becoming a health hazard for our school kids.
"That's why the theme of this year's cleaners campaign for better conditions is - Keep it Clean. Give us Time," Sonia Minutillo said.
The LHMU delegation meeting with the Minister handed him a 12 minute video explaining the union's campaign. It featured school cleaners from every part of the State and it clearly reminded the Minister that school cleaners will be voting in the March election.
"If we don't get a good deal our of our negotiations we will remember and we will tell school communities, parents and neighbours," Minutillo says
"We have put the challenge to the Minister, Morris Iemma, to deliver a better deal to the people who voted his government into power - let's see if he is ready for the challenge."
Let the Minister know you want him to act on the cleaning contract
ABC management has so far offered pay rises of 11 percent over four years - which would leave wages lagging in real terms.
It has also refused to increase annual leave for journalists to compensate for loss of public holidays and penalties; and made no move towards removing the inequities of the performance management system.
MEAA federal secretary Chris Warren says the ABC can't continue to fund its operations by cutting real wages.
"Our members voted to strike in support of our claim for a fair wages outcome that would make up for the recent fall in real wages, and rewards increased productivity," Warren says.
According to the CPSU's Graeme Thomson the decision to take this action was not taken lightly. "We have been in negotiations for the past five weeks, yet management has failed to put a workable offer on the table."
"Years of budget cuts have depressed real wages at the ABC and we fear that even more talented ABC staff will be forced to leave the broadcaster for better paid positions outside unless the slide is stopped."
The industrial action follows four years of federal government budgetary constraints; compounded by a system where many salaries are "capped" indefinitely, regardless of performance or productivity, in order to hold down costs.
Jobs Overboard At Aunty
Meanwhile, rumours of political appointments to the ABC Board continue, with speculation this week that former defence minister Peter Reith is a frontrunner to replace Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger.
The Friends of the ABC said appointing Reith would continue a vicious circle of political appointments at the national broadcaster.
Newspaper reports said Reith was heading a shortlist of candidates to replace Kroger, whose five-year term expires in February.
Labor, the Australian Democrats and the Friends of the ABC said the government was determined to saddle the ABC with another Liberal stooge and called for a more transparent process of Board appointments.
For more on the Reith putsch go to the Tool Shed
Kirsten Rigby defied RSPCA procedure that demands that young strays be killed. Instead, she sought the assistance of a veterinary nurse with a reputation for helping find foster homes for cats.
The actions of the worker came to the attention of RSPCA management when the kitten was later claimed by it's owner. If not for the actions of the RSPCA staff the kitten would have been dead before the distraught owner appeared to claim it back.
While this story had a happy ending for the kitten and it's owner, Kirsten was threatened with the sack for her actions.
Following the intervention of the Australian Services Union this threat was revoked, but Kirsten has been moved out of the animal welfare section into the Association's administration office.
The move has resulted in a $300 a fortnight reduction in salary and considerable distress for this committed animal welfare professional.
The incident is far from the only recent example of inflexible bureaucracy taking precedence over lives at the RSPCA. A long time RSPCA volunteer, who had been named "volunteer of the year", was recently stood down for 12 months for saving the life of a dog against the Association's procedures.
ASU President, Martin Foley said, "The RSPCA has lost the plot. It is meant to save animals. Our member did what the RSPCA says it is there to do...and gets the doghouse treatment".
The LHMU says the recent tragedy at Monash University has only underlined the need for the university to be more vigilant and upgrade security."
"Our 24 LHMU security union members have expressed concerns about security on campus, and we've called for improved training and resourcing of the security section in light of the current hostile climate," Annie Owens, NSW LHMU Security Union President said.
The LHMU Security Union has put this demand as part of a 10-point log of claims for a new enterprise agreement at the university.
The National Executive of the LHMU decided earlier this month to put a renewed focus on improving conditions and organising university security workers around Australia.
Union members are also calling on the University of NSW to ensure that all uniforms are supplied by companies who are accredited by FairWear to use the "No Sweatshop" label.
As part of the enterprise agreement claim the LHMU Security Union is calling for an 8% wages and allowances increase per annum, improved parental leave, no AWAs during the life of the agreement, a 35 hour week and a review of sick leave accruals.
'Less Than Reliable'
Meanwhile in Queensland the Industrial Relations Commissioner has made some sharp and acerbic observations about security industry employers as he handed down pay increases for more than 10,000 Queensland Security officers sought by the LHMU Security Union.
Commissioner Bloomfield from the bench commented about the "less than reputable security companies who engage employees as subcontractors, directors, in unit trusts ".
He handed down a decision which questioned the use of casual workers in this industry and underlined the rights of the permanent workers for better pay and better working hours.
The LHMU Security Union has won a 12% pay increase for security workers over the next three years.
After 170 union and non-union staff had rejected the review and called upon community leaders in Bendigo for support, last Saturday's Bendigo Advertiser carried articles from Ken Marchingo, chief executive of the Lodden Mallee Housing Service and Penny Davies, chair of the Bendigo campus alumni association on the need to retain quality university education in central and northern Victoria.
"The uni is now a real part of the community," said Mr Marchingo.
"No matter how the accountants dress it up, regional universities are a cash cow for the sandstone metro unis and after the pending Nelson Report is announced soon, [are] likely to be even more the case."
Ms Davies claimed that 60 per cent of students from the region would have little chance of a university education without the Bendigo faculty and that the salaries of local administration staff contributed $5.5 million to the Bendigo economy.
"Any loss of income from the present 168 positions would have a detrimental flow-on effect to the community," she said.
In the face of this reaction, La Trobe vice-chancellor Professor Michael Osborne told staff on Monday that, after considering the whole issue, he had concluded the review would not be productive and did not follow previous agreements on management processes.
"I should like to emphasize that there has never been any suggestion that the Bendigo campus and faculty should lose any of their current funding - only that the distribution of the funding between the faculty budget and the campus operating costs might be reviewed. This remains the case," said Professor Osborne.
National Tertiary Education Union branch vice-president Mary Martin described the back down as welcome but just a good first step.
Staff had also called for the level of autonomy promised at integration in 1994 to be restored, said Ms Martin.
"Therefore the NTEU sub-branch executive is now calling for clarification of current arrangements and where necessary further procedures to be developed so that such disputes will never arise again."
"Responsibility for the design and conduct of any review of Bendigo operations must reside in Bendigo. We need the University's confirmed commitment to this region and the regional mission of the Bendigo faculty and campus, or we must review our relationship with La Trobe University," she said.
After meeting senior management and administration staff and Professor Osborne, the chairman of La Trobe's local advisory board, Gordon McKern, said the difficulties between the Bendigo campus and La Trobe's main campus at Bundoora needed to be settled quickly.
Mr McKern expressed confidence about a satisfactory outcome and said the Bendigo university council would explore three options: total integration, stand-alone, or some combination of both, for university education in Bendigo.
Disclaimer: A relative of the reporter is an employee at La Trobe University, Bendigo.
It's all over. The dispute on the west coast of the US which led to a 10 day lock out of 10,500 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and government intervention has been settled.
The new deal, which will go to a vote of members in January is hailed as leading to greater productivity, stability and better conditions for workers.
Federal mediator Peter Hurtgen who brokered the settlement said the agreement "is good for workers, good for employers and it's good for America's economy".
Pensions, benefits and technology issues are settled. The ILWU has won coverage over all new technology jobs and a hike in pension benefits.
"This landmark agreement is a victory for longshore workers and their families, and a win-win for business, labor and our national economy," said James Spinosa, ILWU International President.
"We worked in good faith with PMA and succeeded in bringing new technology to our ports while achieving vital pension and economic security, strong health care benefits and safety protections for our workers and their families.
Conference: Education and Social Action 2002
You are all invited to attend a special seminar in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies' Seminar Series. Presented by:
Sarah Oxenbridge, Cambridge University
Emerging trade union - employer relationships in Britain.
11.00 - 12.30, Wednesday, 11 December, Room 330
New Economics and Business Building, Codrington Ave (opposite Noel Martin swimming pool) Darlington, Sydney University
Some of you would have read Sarah's work on New Zealand organising strategies, where she did an detailed analysis of the SWU's organising strategies and internal changes. Sarah is currently working on a major research project, part funded by the TUC, on employer union relationships. She is particularly interested in issues relating to 'partnership', which is pretty popular with UK unions at present.
You and anyone in your organisation is more than welcome to come along. Please pass to anyone you think would be interested and give me a call if you'd like directions or have any questions.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers Strand
Centre for Popular Education, University of Technology Sydney
Venue: Building 10, 235 Jones Street, Broadway
Dates: 11 to 13 December 2002
You are invited to attend the third Education and Social Action Conference being held at the UTS from
11th to 13th of December 2002 and take part in our sessions about Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
POPULAR EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY: REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
This strand features presentations by:
· Kathy Richards, Amnesty International;
· Howard Glenn, Australians for Just Refugee Programs;
· Pam Christie & Ravinder Sidhu, Faculty of Education, Queensland University;
· Paula Abood, Community activist and writer;
· Maqsood Alshams, Coalition For Justice For Refugees;
· Nicola Gates & Dianne Hiles, ChilOut(Children Out of Detention);
· James Thomson & John Ball, National Council Of Churches of Australia;
· Denis Voight, Coalition For Justice For Refugees;
· Jaquie Everitt, Lawyer, refugee advocate;
· Kara Beavis, Community cultural development worker, Brisbane;
· Kathryn Choules, School of Education, Murdoch University, Perth;
· Hermine Scheeres, Sallie Saunders, Nicky Solomon, Faculty of Education, UTS;
· Dr John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Society's National Council;
· Jeannie Blaker & Maria McDonald, ESOL Home Tutor Scheme, Auckland, New Zealand.
The conference is building on the tradition of previous conferences organised by the Centre for Popular
Education and will:
· bring people engaged in different fields of social action and education together
· be a forum where activists, workers, policy makers, artists and scholars are encouraged to participate
· encourage research & enquiry to promote practice that helps analyse & address social injustices
· have workshops that are sufficiently long to have decent discussions or engage in hands on activities
· have plenty of music, theatre and dance; and opportunities for collaborative art-practice.
OTHER CONFERENCE THEMES
· Democracy and Community
· School - Community Relationship Building
· Facilitating Change for Healthy Environments
· Celebrations for Change and Development
· Arts and Social Change
· Community Leadership.
The full Conference Program can be accessed from our website http://www.cpe.uts.edu.au
A copy of the conference Registration Form is also available on the conference page of our website at http://www.cpe.uts.edu.au
For further information about the conference, please contact Daniel Ng on 9514 3843
I am responding to the impassioned, frustrated plea from Martin Griffin in your letters from a few weeks ago (http://workers.labor.net.au/160/letters3_three.html).
Yes Martin, there is a better way than Us V Them. The best-known story in Australia is a book called Maverick! by Ricardo Semler, first published in 1992. Reading it changed my life. Since then, I have found hundreds of other companies doing their own versions of what Semler did. Most of them are in the U.S.; a small handful in Australia, and they are all private companies.
It is known as Open Book Management, or just OBM. Oh b*gger me! Is the truth really out there?
My attempts over the last three years to interest various powerful stakeholders in OBM have been almost fruitless so far. What I'm talking about here has a dramatic impact on power. Power depends on the unquestioning acceptance of rules, and too few leaders are comfortable with debate about their actions, let alone being held accountable for them.
This is why forums like Workers Online, Bosswatch and crikey.com.au have immense value. It is easy to dismiss Stephen Mayne as a rabid anti-unionist. The truth is far more frightening to those in power: he puts the spotlight on the actions of the powerful - anyone who has a job involving stakeholder trust - whether they be politicians, journalists, company directors, shareholders, ... or union leaders. I doubt whether he appreciates fully the enormous social value of what he is doing.
But I digress.
The world is full of Us V Them-isms, with each party seeking to further its own agendas and self-interests (read 'power'). When does the battle become really desperate? When survival (or the means to it) is at stake.
It's a rare person who doesn't put self-interest at the top of the personal agenda, especially with respect to power. To redistribute power, you have to change the rules - or people's perceptions about the rules or how they should be applied. And there's a really sad irony that even successful (read 'powerful') rule-changers discover eventually: in organisations small and large, rules create habits that are very hard to change. These habits are, collectively, corporate culture. I know quite a few CEOs, and most have told me they sometimes feel trapped by their own corporate cultures.
But back to Us V Them and OBM. Even my sallies aimed at interesting the union movement locally have been ignored. I vented my frustration to an astute observer/participant of the labour movement and she replied ... "well I'm not surprised, it's UnionsWa after all!! They have no grey matter whatsoever let alone managerial nouse. They are not really interested in making things better for workers, just themselves. Heaven forbid that you may have a way to empower the workers, then they wouldn't need unions would they ... think about it???"
Is she exaggerating a trifle? My experience has been that very very few bosses are willing to share power in a substantial way - and that goes for union bosses too. Us V Them. Both sides locked in mortal combat. But don't acquire a taste for anti-depressants: we're not on this planet to do that.
Martin, if you're really interested in having a major impact on the world of work, get mad, get really really really mad about Us V Them - and find out more about OBM. Read Maverick! Do a web search on "open book management". You'll be amazed, inspired, exhilarated, breathless.
Then channel your emotion into spreading the word. I've been working in the area of organisational change for over 20 years now and I've concluded that our future depends on the values and systems embodied in OBM. We have to eliminate Us V Them. But don't take my word for it about OBM. Find out for yourself. Come to your own conclusions.
Go for it! Then think about the implications for Us V Them of sharing 'in the responsibility and rewards of the bosses'. Contact me, by all means - [email protected] - but only after you've done some of the homework I've suggested above.
What Einstein did to physics, OBM is doing to management.
(The author is a psychologist and independent consultant now specialising in OBM. He is a very wealthy man, as readers can see from his company's expensive and elaborate web site - http://www.obmbo.com.au).
While agreeing with most of the contents of your excellent publication. I read it most weeks.
Nevertheless I would like to draw your attention to the most recent editorial where you congratulate the ACTU on its 75th birthday and you discuss the ACTU's Organising Centre.
I would like to mention that the ACTU Organising Centre have established offices in WA and SA and work closely with local state branchs' on their respective education programmes.
Rowan Cahill's opinion piece on the Cunningham by-election result just shows how bankrupt union politics has become in the Illawarra.
Even the editorial of Workers Online declared that voting Green provides a warm fuzzy feeling to unionists, but will deliver nothing more substantial for workers, their families and the community. That Labor icon, Gough Whitlam, even said that political activists should get real and join either the two major parties to make policy changes. He even suggested that the pure are impotent. This is a well timed message to unionists who wish to only remain warm and fuzzy!
Rowan Cahill makes much of the South Coast Labour Council's role in Labor's Cunningham loss. For a so-called strong union city as Wollongong is sometimes perceived, the SCLC backed candidate could only muster 10 percent of the popular vote. A pathetic result! Even the Greens, in the lowest primary vote recorded in an election for a lower house seat, polled better than the SCLC backed candidate. If this is the 'trusted first line of defence', one could have expected a far better result. Indeed, for all the bashing of Labor by Rowan Cahill in his article, even Labor scored nearly 40 percent of the popular vote.
I note with particular interest the reference to Colin Markham and his speculated 'dumping'. The fact is that Colin Markham is now safe and would be re-endorsed as Labor's candidate for Wollongong. However, he faces a preselection challenge from two left-wing union candidates- one a former LHMU official; the other a current NSW Labor Council official, Chris Christodoulou.
The SCLC and other unions in Wollongong made much of securing Colin Markham's preselection in the last six months - even running a public campaign during a nationally significant by-election.
Now that Colin Markham's preselection is 'safe', he is under renewed threat - not from the Sussex Street Machine - but from within the ranks of the very local unions that mounted the campaign to secure his position.
Gough was spot on: the pure are impotent!
As some of the articles summarised in this month's issue illustrate, the idea of grassroots organising is nothing new, indeed it is the bedrock on which union density was built.
The stories of small groups of workers banding together and forming their own networks of activism flies in the face of the accepted 'dependency theory' that it was the institutional structures of the centralised industrial relations system that delivered unions their base.
Despite the zealotry of some, this is not some US import, but a social phenomenon as dinky-di as the barbeque. As Rae Cooper notes, this realisation makes the task of organising in the modern context more attainable, less a new science imported from abroad, more a return to our roots.
Likewise, with the movement's industrial agenda. Fighting for reduced working hours is nothing new; the eight-hour day was the campaign that unified workers in the early parts of the 20th century.
That we are waging the same battles today, says more about the complacency of the beneficiaries of these battles, than the folly of the original combatants.
But the trade unions have always been more than just bread and butter on the table; it has been a movement to a better life for all.
As Bob Hawke told those attending this week's 75th Anniversary forum for the ACTU unions have always looked beyond the workplace to take a leadership role in the broader society.
Hawke focused on the visionary role the union movement played in promoting the post-war immigration program, despite the concerns of sections of its own base; the union leadership had the vision to see the national interest and the courage to pursue it.
All of which makes the criticism of some in the movement who have embraced 'Labor for Refugees' for straying outside a traditional labour agenda look just a little revisionist.
If the man who bridged the two wings of the labour movement like no one before him sees it, why do his successors in Canberra and the the various State Parliaments appear to have such a blind spot?
The rich history of the union movement will never be a millstone; it is that which gives extra meaning to every little struggle for fairness at work and in the broader society. It is our guiding light.