The Australian Workers Union fears that hundreds of Australian jobs will be lost after the Defence Department announced plans to tender out maintenance work to private operators.
And Workers Online understand that Air New Zealand is currently front-runner for the job, helped by their lower wages in their deregulated labour market.
The AWU says a significant part of the maintenance work will effect the current fleet of C130 Hercules which have previously been maintained by RAAF personnel at the Richmond airbase.
"It now seems a distinct possibility that a company like Air New Zealand could undercut Australian companies and take the work offshore, thus creating significant further unemployment in the aircraft industry," AWU national vice president Nick Allen says.
"The Federal Government has to be told in the strongest possible terms that cost cutting
and economic rationalism has to be balanced against the dramatic effect it has on Australian jobs," he says.
"Australian aircraft should be maintained by Australians on Australian soil. We've got no problem with the work going out to tender, but the government has to look at the impact on Australian jobs as well as their budget bottom line."
The contracting-out scare follows an announcement by Qantas last month that it would begin recruiting cabin crew from low-wage bases like Thailand and New Zealand. The Flight Attendants Association are currently negotiating with the airline over that decision.
The Labor Council will seek a meeting with Defence Minister John Moore over the private tendering policy.
With expectations of a horror budget including job cuts across a range of departments, trade unions have asked for the audit to ensure any budget pain is shared equally, particularly in regional NSW and western Sydney.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says he's disappointed the Premier has ruled out the audit, which he argues would give the government a medium term plan for allocating resources.
"I don't think anyone here worked to elect a Labor Government to see the political opportunism of budget cuts to suit the electoral cycle," Costa told last night's Labor Council meeting.
"If the government wants us to take some hits in terms of job losses, it can't just do so in the narrow budget cycle."
Russ Puts AWU on Collision Course
The battle over the social audit could be played on the ALP Country Conference stage, with the Australian Workers Union signalling it move to debate the issue there.
Speaking to the Labor Council meeting, AWU state secretary Russ Collison sprayed the Carr government for its "arrogance" in preparing a budget that will "attack jobs".
"We elected a Labor Government and they are going to act like a Labor Government," Collison said.
"We will place this issue on the agenda for Country Conference and place as much pressure as is necessary to bring about a meaningful social audit.
"We are not going to back off, even if it means making people from this government feel a bit uncomfortable."
The Finance Sector Union is promoting a "no" vote within AGC, the finance company wholly owned by Westpac, in a deal which it believes will have implications for the whole industry.
All banks have a finance company offshoot -- but Westpac is the only one which doesn't offer finance company employees the same pay and conditions as their own workers.
When the FSU approached the bank to bring conditions into line for AGC staff --some of whom wear Westpac uniforms and deal with the public as Westpac employees -- the bank came back with its own non-union deal.
It locks in lower conditions for three years and would create a new bottom line for all wage negotiations within the bank.
The FSU is campaigning during the ballot -- which runs from June 9 to June 28 -- with pamphlets and polling, and is quietly confident of success, with a recent poll showing majority opposition to the deal.
More importantly, membership within AGC is growing from the mere handful who were employees at the start of the negotiations.
The research designed to support the Howard Government's assault on building unions, contains great news for trade unions, with approval membership ratings of up to 78 per cent
More than 1000 trade union members and 980 employers were surveyed by Wallis Consulting.
While the survey has been painted in some sections of the media as evidence that closed shops still exist, the actual findings make much more interesting reading.
- two thirds of members were satisfied with the services of the union, with approval ranging from 78 per cent in the retail industry to 64 per cent in construction.
- more than three-quarters of members said they would not be tempted to leave their union even if the law was changed to make it easier.
- workers believe 73 per cent of bosses have either a positive or neutral attitude to unions.
- seven per cent of employers admitted they "may' not hire union members, and a similar number said employees were not fully free to exercise their right to choose whether or not to join a union.
- in 10 per cent of cases unions were not allowed access to the workforce for the purpose of recruitment.
These finding back a recent Newspoll commissioned by Labor Council showing more than 42 per cent of workers would join a trade union if they were free to do so.
"Rather than looking at the non-existent problem of compulsory 'unionism', the Employment Advocate should be putting the same resources into stopping bosses that intimidate their workforce from joining unions," Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says.
"In its two years of operations, the Employment Advocate is yet to launch a single case on behalf of a worker who has been discriminated against for joining a union.
"The $100,000 spent on the survey was a complete waste of money and working people would ask why it was spent on political propaganda rather than something constructive, like supporting the efforts of the sacked Oakdale miners to recover the $6.3 million owed to them by their employer."
The clerks branch of the Australian Services Union has raised concerns after one member was sacked and another disciplined over messages they left on a client's message machine. The dismissal has now been referred to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
In both cases, copies of messages were sent to the employer by a third party, claiming the employee had been impolite and discourteous on the phone.
ASU organiser Ted Tamplin says this form of monitoring is fraught with dangers -- often there's not even proof of who the person on the tape actually is.
The union wants to see some guidelines set down so that workers know when their messages will be scrutinised and protected from any subsequent use of the recording.
Tamplin says the loophole appears to exist because the message banks have developed since the Listening Devices Act was designed.
"This is just a case of the law failing to catch up with technology," he says. "The last guidelines were developed between the Labor Council and the Privacy Committee in 1983.,
"You can't monitor an employees' phone calls without letting them know, there is no reason why messages should be in a different category."
While employers are arguing that workers are impliedly consenting to surveillance by leaving a recorded message, they have no control to the use of that material.
The issue arises in the context of the development of call centres, with the government planning to create an extra 60,000 jobs in the industry in the next five years.
ACTU President Jennie George told Workers Online that it's vital to win broader opposition to the laws if the Australian Democrats are to be persuaded to block the legislation in the Senate.
"We need to break the stereotype that this will only harm trade unions," George says. "We need to show how upholding industrial rights translates into protecting those in the community in the weakest positions."
George has spent the past two months briefing welfare bodies, church groups, women's' groups and other community organisations on the impact of the Second Wave.
She says she's been heartened by the response: "When the implications of Reith's plans are explained people realise they'll have an impact on basic issues like job security and the protection of individual workers."
"We are arguing that the impact of further labour market deregulation will effect everyone in the community and, if these reforms go ahead increased social dislocation is inevitable."
The campaign is due to kick off in Perth on August 10, with an event planned in Sydney on August 24. Stay tuned to Workers Online for further details.
Meanwhile, Workers Online's European spy tells us that Peter Reith's first port of call in Geneva was a -- port.
In Switzerland to observe the International Labour Organization -- the body that recently handed down a damning report into his Workplace Relations Act -- Reith jumped from the plane onto a yacht, where he cruised Lake Geneva in style.
Now that's really putting his stated disdain for the ILO into practise!
In a discussion paper prepared for the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters (FARB), the Alliance argues that commercial radio stations have not delivered on local content levels since formal regulation was lifted in 1992.
"Since 1992 there have been only marginal increases in Australian music content within some commercial broadcasting formats and real declines in others since self-regulation has been introduced," the submission says.
"Self regulation has not achieved the flexibility and fairness promised," the submission says.
The review follows the federal government's recent decision to allow parallel importations, a move that has flooded the market with cheap imports and pirated recordings.
MEAA argues that in this environment support from the local radio broadcasters is more important than ever in an industry that employs an estimated 10,000 people.
"Creative and commercial success on both a national and international basis is impossible without the assistance of commercial broadcasters. Indeed without widespread airplay it is unlikely that an Australian artist will chart let alone have a national hit.
"And unless there is guaranteed airplay there is little, if any, incentive for major record companies to record and promote Australian artists"
For more details content Megan Elliott at [email protected]
The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation have adopted a National Code of Practice on hours fo work for doctors.
The Code is aimed at addressing hours of work, shift-work and rostering for doctors in hospitals.
Research for the code involved looking at the approaches to working hours that have been taken in other industries such as airlines, truck driving and general road safety, as well as extensive research around the effects of shift work, disrupted sleep and fatigue.
The code recommends that employers undertake risk assessment of hazards relating from long hours of work.
The code sets out minimum standards for unions and employers to take action in order to avoid exposure to risk and explains the relationship between excessive hours, rostering, shift work and sleep requirements.
For more details on Work/Time/Life issues, see This Working Life, the ACTU's monthly campaign bulletin http://www.actu.asn.au
ACTU President Jennie George says the 'in principle' agreement on tax reform announced on 28 May between the Democrats and the Government, would hurt ordinary Australian workers.
"The new 10% GST will not boost economic growth, nor create jobs, but will definitely raise prices," she says.
George says the ACTU research shows that the proposed GST income tax scales fail even to compensate for bracket creep for full-time workers earning between $450 and $550 per week.
For example, a tradesperson on award rates requires $15.25pw, just to correct for bracket creep. The proposed GST tax cut for such a worker is $12.23. Under the compromise package, a tradesperson on award rates has nothing at all to compensate for any GST price rises - he or she is $3.02 a week short on income tax cuts before any GST price rises are considered. For a shop assistant, the real tax cut offered is 16 cents a week."
"An adjustment for bracket creep is essential to assessing whether ordinary workers are better off with or without this package," George.says. "That is, to test how much of the proposed GST income tax cut is really left over to compensate for GST inflation after adjusting the income tax scales for wage increases since 1993."
"The compromise package fails that test as clearly as the original Howard/Costello proposal. Virtually all full-time adult workers on less than average weekly earnings will be worse off under the compromise package, even on the Democrats claimed GST price effects. So too will most young and part-time workers."
"All the hue and cry over compensation for 'losers' under the package distracts attention from the main game - which is jobs and living standards after all - and the compromise package will not deliver better results on either score. For the vast majority of Australians, there is no upside from the proposed package."
"High income groups will gain and ordinary workers will lose under this package."
Based in Melbourne, the position involves:
- Analysis of economic issues, particularly in relation to wages policy and the labour market;
- Preparation of submissions dealing with economic and labour market issues for use in national wage case proceedings;
- Advocacy before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission [AIRC];
- Preparation of policy discussion papers, briefings and materials for use by ACTU Officers and unions.
The successful applicant will have a good general knowledge of current economic conditions and prospects, and available information and data sources.
Essential: demonstrated competence in the preparation and presentation of applied economic analysis.
- Ability to work constructively as part of a small team under pressure and to tight deadlines;
- Excellent analytical skills (text and data);
- Highly effective written and oral communication skills;
- Economics degree or higher level tertiary qualification in the field;
- Knowledge of current industrial and social policy issues.
Salary and Conditions
Salary is negotiable within a range for research staff, having regard to qualifications and experience. Conditions of employment with the ACTU are set out in the Staff Manual and will be provided on request.
Applications and further information
Please call Grant Belchamber on (03) 9664-7320 or visit our website: http://www.actu.asn.au. The closing date for applications is Friday 2 July 1999. Applications should be addressed to:
The Secretary, ACTU,54 Victoria Street, Carlton South VIC 3053
The ACTU is an Equal Opportunity Employer with a smoke-free workplace.
I just today read in Labour History about your effort.
Very impressive and glad to see that you've got news from US via Margaret Hallock and the Pocock/Wishart study -- which I hope many more Australian trade unionists read.
I enjoyed the fact that you have gone under the skin of your media.
My recent 5 months visit there reinforced for me what an awful rag the SMH is and THE AGE isn't much better. Keep up the good work.
Ross Rieder, Union Trainer
Ed: you mustn't have read the Telegraph!
Chippo Politics on June 20, Thurless Castle Hotel, Cleveland Street -
the Future of Community Radio in Sydney featuring:
Cass Wilkinson (FBi)
Mike Thompson (Community Broadcasting Association)
Cathy Craigie (Gadigal)
and hopefully somebody from the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
A rally has been called for June 21, 12.30pm at town hall Square to oppose the latest SGST deal.
The rally is being jointly sponsored by the Labor Council and the National Union of Students.
Details: Nick Harrigan on 0414 262 170
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA 23-24 SEPTEMBER 1999
CALL FOR PAPERS
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS - 18 JUNE 1999
The Employment Studies Centre, University of Newcastle is the conference organiser for the Sixth National Conference on Unemployment to be held in Newcastle from Thursday, 23 September to Friday, 24 September 1999.
The Conference will provide a valuable forum for all those interested in the issues of unemployment and job creation, skills development, social policy, industry and regional policy and the changing nature of work in Australia.
Keynote speakers will include:John Eatwell of Cambridge University, former shadow Treasury spokesperson in the British House of Lords and a leading international authority on unemployment and economic policy, and Dan Finn of Portsmouth University who has studied and advised on both Australian and European approaches to labour market policy. Other invited local and overseas speakers will be announced in due course.
The conference will focus on:
- Policies to deal with unemployment
- The new employment services market
- Social policy and tax reform
- Future of work and the workplace
Papers are invited in any of the areas outlined above, or on any other
aspect of employment and unemployment. If you would like to present a
paper, please follow the "Call for Papers" guidelines on the ESC Website:
The ESC Website will be updated regularly as conference information becomes
REGIONAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION
The 6th National Conference on Unemployment will follow the annual conference of the Regional Science Association, which is also meeting in Newcastle from September 19-22. The theme of this conference is regional renewal. Further information is available from Moira Gordon.
On the afternoon of Wednesday September 22, a tour will be offered for participants in both conferences of BHP's Newcastle Steelworks, which is closing at the end of September. This is a unique opportunity to get a last glimpse of an icon of Australia's industrial architecture and history.
Conference inquiries should be directed to Linda Cooper, Conference Co-ordinator. mailto:[email protected]
Employment Studies Centre
University of Newcastle
CALLAGHAN NSW 2308
by Peter Lewis
You argue that Labor lost the plot in the Whitlam era by embracing the middle class. How would the party look today if this hadn't occurred?
I just think there would be more concern given to what the working class are about and their aspirations. I'm not arguing that Gough Whitlam shouldn't have broadened the Party, without that we wouldn't have had a subsequent Labor Government. But I just think that in doing that we lost sight of the concerns and aspirations of working people and the Party would be different if there was more a blending of the middle class concerns and the working class aspirations.
How do you in the 1990s define "working class aspirations"?
Their aspirations are basically a job and a future for their kids, their values are around the traditional family, independence and hard work. I don't really see those have changed too much over that period.
You're particularly tough on the middle class intellectuals. How are their aspirations different?
I think they have different values; their concerns are not the bread and butter concerns of the working class. They are quite secure financially, they don't have to worry about that so they can look at other issues. Now, I'm not saying those other issues shouldn't be looked at, but there's an ideology behind those issues, call it post-modernism if you like, that doesn't fit with working class people.
What about the social justice issues that have been promoted by the ALP in the last 15 years?
If you mean feminism, environmentalism, land right, I think they're compatible with the working class's idea of a fair go ...
So what are the ideas that aren't compatible?
I don't think it's the ideas so much. I mean, equality for women, tolerance for people from non-English speaking backgrounds are totally compatible with working class values. But the way it's been put into place, with anti-discrimination legislation and tribunals, I don't necessarily think that fits in.
Because I think they are coercive. You can have that tolerance without coercion. You have to persuade people and I don't think these people are interested in persuading. All the time you hear about the need to 'educate' people. you educate intellectual and moral inferiors, you don't educate equals, you persuade equals by putting arguments, about how a policy is good for the country and getting out their and arguing it. I mean, Bob Hawke was happy when the political elites of both sides agreed on what multiculturalism should be, against the will of most of the people. For so long you couldn't debate multiculturalism without being considered a racist.
One of the realities of the information age is that the decline of blue collar working class and the rise of service workers and those processing information. Given that that change is occurring, wouldn't a working class part become a party that will only be a rump as then economy changes?
I think if you define working class as blue collar or manual it would become a rump. But the contemporary working class in Australia includes more than that, it includes many of the low-paid white collar, particularly women. If you like at the statistics, that makes up about 70 per cent of the working population of Australia. That's what I see as the working class today, it's those who have jobs, rather than careers.
Do you argue that the economic change of the last 15 years should have been handled differently?
I think we had to have the economic reforms initiated by the Hawke Government. You can say we didn't look after the losers well enough, there should be more thought to the transition, but we had to have those reforms. You really have to look at what the alternative would have been; and it wouldn't have been standing still; I think the alternative would have been a loss of more jobs.
How do your ideas converge with the notion that the ALP is moving away from its trade union roots?
I don't know how much it's moving away from the trade union base; but I think what is happening in the ALP is also happening in the trade unions. You get less people off the shop floor now and more people bouncing out on university, bouncing into a trade union then bouncing into a political career. You've got unions now that are just major bureaucracies by any criteria and that is losing the working class support in the unions and that just compounds the Party's loss.
But didn't free education mean that the talented working class kids got an education, whereas in an earlier age they would have been the talent you bring into unions from the shop floor?
The class backgrounds of universities has changed bugger-all since Whitlam. Free tertiary education hasn't changed it by and large. The people coming in to unions now tend to be from middle class background coming in and taking the industrial officers' jobs.
Why's that bad?
I don't think its bad, we do need educated people in the unions,. But when they come in, take over those unions or have a strong influence in it and the views of workers are not considered as much, and the workers can see it's just a career path into politics, then they become very cynical and leave the union. I mean, unions don't have the people at the top anymore who would know what the workers' concerns are. I honestly don't know how unions are going to resolve that.
You're someone who now has a successful career in the law. Why chose now to stick your neck out like this and write a book?
My background was as a builders labourer, I worked there for 15 years. Now I left school at 14 and went to university under then geriatrics scheme at 30 years of age and picked up degrees in law and economics, so I'm not opposed to the union officials having an education, but I think when it gets to the stage where you have this bouncing from university to unions to a political career, I don't think they know what the workers are really about and I don't think they want to know what the workers are really about. I did work for Peter cook and Peter Baldwin, so I have worked within the Labor party and I would work for a future Labor government full-time, but there are some things that need to change.
I just got fed up with the working class being stereotyped as rednecks. I mean,. we're the racists, the sexists, the homophobes, that's the code for the working class now -- and that's my mother and father sand their parents. And those people are not racists and sexist and homophobic, they're decent people that have worked and raised their kids under incredibly difficult circumstances; my father fought in the Warm, by grandfather did too; they came home and had to start their lives again -- and I don't think they deserve that. they don't have the education to fight back. I do, and I've just had a gutful.
Are books like those by Latham and Tanner part of the equation?
Well Tanner, not so much Latham, I've got no idea what Latham's on about there's so much jargon in it. Tanner is a part of that, in the whole book I don't think I read the words "working class" anywhere. It could be there, but I can't remember seeing it. He was talking about splits in the party between the old constituents and the new constituency. He was explaining who the new constituency was, but there was no mention of the old, he was just covering it up. However, you define the working class, nobody in the Labor Party wants to lose their vote and I'd accept you can't win government on that vote alone. But you don't want to just pretend they no longer exist.
But the economic realists would say the working class will whither and die?
You get that vibe from Tanner, but my response is you are only looking at a very narrow definition of working class. For the past 20 years the working class as I describe that has been 70 per cent of the working people. It is only be defining working class in a certain way that you can mount that argument.
What would be some signs from a Labor Opposition that they hear what you are saying?.
A major start would be education. Free education hasn't improved the prospects for working class kids since the Whitlam era. You talk about the changes of the Information Age, your access is predicated on your education. I would think the first thing that Labor must do is set as one of its priority goals getting working class access to higher education. Because without that access, where's the future for their kids?
So how do you want to see the working classes regarded?
Its about the attitude. You can call the working class whatever you like, but the attitude has become a derogatory one. The word Noel Pearson uses is "dog whistling". It's a code, but everyone knows that when you say rednecks, you mean working class and when you say redneck you mean racist and homophobic.
It's about the moral superiority of these people I refer to. And part of that is them not worrying about material issues and being more concerned about the environment, or whatever. The working class has got to worry about material issues, they have no choice, they're ooking over their shoulder to see where there next dollars coming from That moral superiority seems to me to be predicated on one or two things; one, they don't care about the financial because they are financially secure. Secondly they see the working class as separate from them.
Does that invalidate the notion that we should be creating a society that isn't racist or sexist?
Not at all. As I said, working class values of a fair go are fundamentally compatible with equality for women, tolerance for other cultures,. For Christ's sakes, I grew up in Balmain in then late 40s and 50s, that's where the migrants came to. We shared our jobs and our suburbs with those people: not Louise Road, Balmain today. None of these middle class people shared that, the working class people shared that. To the extent that the fact of multiculturalism - as opposed to the agenda - is a success, it's down to those working class people.
by Jim Nolan
In a little noticed decision of the Federal Court of Australia in March this year Justice Marshall dealt a significant blow to Peter Reith¹s draconian Australian Workplace Agreements. One of the more odious features of AWA's is that - contrary to what has been said by the Government - there is no choice at all at the point of engagement. Prospective employees can be, and are often, told to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement or be refused employment.
In Australian Services Union v Electrix Pty. Limited Justice Marshall of the Federal Court of Australia decided that the offering of Australian Workplace Agreements in such circumstances arguably amounts to duress and is a contravention of s.170WG(1) of the Workplace Relations Act .
The case arose when meter readers who had previously been employed by one of the contractors to the former SECV, VMM, relinquished its contract when it was placed in receivership and the new contractor insisted on AWAs. In February 1998 the Australian Industrial Relations Commission had certified an agreement between Victoria Meter Management Pty Limited, and the ASU.
From October 1998 VMM was placed in receivership. A replacement contractor was sought by Powercor and January 1999 Powercor announced that Electrix was the new preferred contractor.
In February 1999 Electrix invited the meter readers who had been employed by VMM to register an expression of interest for the employment with Electrix. One of the conditions placed on prospective employees was that they were to sign a document entitled "The Electrix Meter Reading Australian Workplace Agreement". A number of meter readers appointed the ASU as their bargaining agent under the Workplace Relations Act . The ASU had discussions with Electrix regarding the terms and conditions of employment which would apply to meter readers employed by Electrix and was told that if members did not sign an AWA they would not get a job.
Electrix position was that it did not wish to employ meter readers on the same terms and conditions as those provided in the certified agreement. It saw the AWA's as a vehicle to cut labour costs. This is not surprising since the AWA stream has been typically used to under-cut previously established wages and conditions where employment had been outsourced or contracted out.
The ASU applied to the Federal Court for an interlocutory injunction, arguing that deprivation of choice amounted to duress and was a breach of the duress provisions of the Workplace Relations Act . To establish a sufficient case for an interlocutory injunction the Union had only to demonstrate that there was a serious question to be tried on the issue of whether or not the meter readers had been subjected to duress, as it is defined in the Act.
The ASU had to demonstrate that the balance of convenience favoured the granting of an injunction. The specific issue was whether or not a serious issue to be tried had been raised by reason of the fact that compulsion or absence of choice had been thrust upon the meter readers and upon the ASU as their bargaining.
His Honour observed that it was also his view that the conduct of Electrix in saying to the meter readers it's the AWA or your job was unconscionable conduct which Œno employee in a humane tolerant and egalitarian society should have to suffer¹. The Judge held that there was a serious issue to be tried, notwithstanding the fact that the explanatory memorandum which had accompanied the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 1996 had stated that "an employer would not be prevented from offering employment on the basis that the employee enter into an AWA".
The ASU argued that the explanatory memorandum flew in the face of the clear intention of the statutory provision which dealt with duress in a general sense and did not exempt offers of new employment. The Union argued that there was a critical distinction between a situation where the entering upon an AWA was subject of negotiation between parties and one where the entry of an AWA was made a condition of employment. The Judge said that the mere reference to the situation in the explanatory memorandum could not govern or contradict what was a plain and unambiguous intention of the Act. He agreed with counsel for the Union that it would be an absurd result if an employer was free to apply duress to a perspective employee in connection with an AWA but not free to do so once the employee was actually employed by the employer and some replacement AWA or ancillary document was being offered to the employee.
Turning to the question of the balance of convenience, his Honour observed that a large number of the meter readers were resident in country Victoria. Their employment prospects would be bleak if the were not able to continue in their current occupation and for that reason they were particularly susceptible to pressure which could be applied to them by any perspective employer. He found in the absence of the injunctive relief which they sought the meter readers would be confronted with the choice by Electrix forcing them to vary their entitlements on a take it or leave it basis. He said "without injunctive relief meter readers would essentially be left with the choice of reduced entitlements or the economic scrap heap of unemployment".
He found that he was unable therefore to accept the submission of the Company that the evidence disclosed that the meter readers had not been hurt. He observed that as a practical matter it would be difficult for any other contractor, in the short term, to train a wholly new workforce, like the meter readers. It is more likely, he observed, that as a matter of commercial reality those currently experienced meter readers would be favoured by an employer whoever Powercor chooses to perform work previously carried out by VMM.
In another important finding the Judge rejected the employer's submission that no injunction should be granted because damages would be an adequate remedy for employees if they were to make out their case on a final basis. He observed that even accepting that compensation would be payable to meter readers if the application succeeded "I am of the view that such compensation cannot wholly compensate for the stigma of unemployment especially for that large number of meter readers who reside in depressed areas in country Victoria." He observed "that mere dollars and cents could not compensate for the loss of one's livelihood".
This decision is extremely important although it has been decided on an essentially limited basis and it is understood that the case has now settled and will not proceed to trial. The lesson in the decision is that there is a respectable argument to the effect that AWA's offered on a Œtake it or leave it¹ may involve, duress and may fall foul of the prohibitions as limited as they are in the Workplace Relations Act. This is especially significant since it is understood that the Employment Advocate has advised employers that they can offer AWA's on a take it or leave it basis.
The lesson here for unions is to be off quick of the mark. To gain an advantage one needs to approach the court very quickly and in circumstances such as those which confronted the meter readers. The circumstances which confronted the meter readers are especially suited to a timely application to the Court because the workforce is known and organised and the circumstances in which the transfer from one contractor to another are well known and understood. The commercial reality will be that a new employer will almost certainly have to recruit from the outgoing workforce of the previous contractor.
This decision has very important ramifications for all those involved in the contracting industry as well as those involved in government or permanent work which is to be privatised or contracted out.
The rights of the existing workforce need to be protected and their terms and conditions need to be protected as far as practicable. This decision shows that a timely application to the Court may well have the effect of protecting those rights at least in the short to medium term during which time steps can be taken to see to it that the gains are consolidated.
The decision does not amount to a binding precedent in the sense that decisions in interlocutory injunction applications are very much viewed by the Courts as decisions made on the run endeavouring to make the best arrangements that can be made feasibly pending the final hearing of the issue in question.
Notwithstanding this, the analysis of Marshall J regarding the significance of the explanatory memorandum and the circumstances in which it can be said that employees can be subject to duress is extremely valuable and must be built on by unions and their advisers to maximise the protection for union members represented in the decision.
by Dermott Browne
The Australian newspaper recently published a controversial article nominating its choice of Australia's best union. The story was based on a survey of unions conducted by the newspaper, and created a great deal of discussion both before and after its publication. One critic of the survey was Wendy Caird, National Secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
Many of Australia major unions expressed concerns about the survey and the way it was conducted.
From our point of view there were several major problems with the concept and the way it was carried out. Firstly we didn't like the idea of creating an artificial contest between unions. Generally we work co-operatively and a contest sets up winners and losers. And it doesn't make sense to compare organisations which have quite different jobs to do. Some are working in a sector that is relatively easy to organise and service and others are battling just to get in the door.
We also felt that The Australian's methodology was not very professional. The report was based on a single interview with an official of each union. You can't begin to understand a big and complex organisation with just a 30 minute discussion.
And the questions asked were very much based on The Australian's values, not those of the union movement. So we felt judgements would be made by corporate Australia's standards, while our objectives are really very different. Just one example was a question about whether the union is a "good corporate citizen". Many unions are very active internationally with their counterparts in our region, yet we felt The Australian was looking for union support for the Olympics or the local footie team.
Perhaps most importantly, we were very concerned that The Australian asked employers what they thought of unions, but didn't ask any workers.
As Doug Cameron from the AMWU so poetically put it, the survey was "beauty contest unionism, where the bosses are the judges and the workers go naked."
But surely there is some value in this sort of focus on unions?
Well, we were happy to see some positive comments about unions in the article. But we did feel that the Australian had missed an opportunity to write a thoughtful and well researched story..
In your opinion, what questions would have led to a more effective story?
What was lacking was any critical investigation into the real circumstances of unions today. There's plenty of publicity about our membership decline, but little analysis of its cause, so it's assumed to be about "relevance" or "performance". While this is in part true, there are some other very real issues. For example, the structural changes in the workforce which have led to massive job losses in the traditionaly unioinised industries. In the Federal public sector, we've lost 100,000 jobs in 3 years, and that accounts proportionately for most of our membership loss.
The new industrial laws and the ensuing climate make it harder for workers to be in unions. In our sector, it's even harder to pay your fees! And the legislation puts lots of hurdles in the path of unions trying to do their job. The government is not interested in a level playing field, it wants to provide the advantage to employers, and it's doing that shamelessly through legislation.
You mentioned declining membership, sorts of things can be done to reverse that?
Like all other unions in Australia, we have a number of strategies in place, which we're monitoring and updating. We're also looking at other unions, other organisations and overseas for best practices.
We have changed our structure and our financial management, so members are in control of their part of the union and our funds are directed to our priorities. We have a strategic plan and of course, recruitment is our top priority. We are regularly polling and market testing issues and approaches with our members. The issues are different from the past; work overload, and job security are the big ones and we are bargaining about the things that matter to our members, not just about wages.
Unions are now well and truly plugged into new technology and are communicating through the internet. We are constantly looking for better ways to communicate and run campaigns. And we know that community support is hard to organise but an important part of winning some campaigns.
The way unions do things is changing too. We are outside buildings handing out pamphlets more often than we might have been in the past. We are lobbying politicians and setting up media opportunities. We are using paid advertising to potential members in new areas like Call Centres.
We will do whatever it takes, because if we all want a fair caring society - unionism is a job that needs to be done.
For a defence of the survey, see Michael Bachelard's Guest Report
by Sean Scalmer
Almost fifty years ago to the day, on June 12th 1949, Joseph Benedict Chifley rose to address the Annual Conference of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party.
Prime Minister Chifley was not renowned for his oratory. His voice was harsh and husky, damaged from a history of political campaigning; his manner was famously blunt and concrete rather than classical and allusive; his metaphors few; words typically brief. The occasion, too, did not suggest long speechifying to an expansive public. Chifley did not address all of his fellow citizens, he addressed his fellow unionists and labour movement members. He was not concerned to communicate Labor's vision to uncommitted Australians, but to share with his fellow comrades his views about Labor's challenges and tasks ahead.
This is the humble origin of Chifley's famous symbol of Labor's quest: 'the light on the hill'. This most well-known description of Labor's objective in politics was not grandly enunciated to a large population, but carefully expressed to a State Labor Conference. The phrase itself was not uttered until the last 150 words of Chifley's address, and then only once. For the most part, Chifley's speech was concerned with reviewing events in contemporary politics - the economic problems of Asia and Europe, the danger of depression in America, the achievements of Federal Labor in office, the threat of industrial action. The question of Labor's objective seemed swamped, as it so often is, in the battles of the moment, and Chifley only turned to it in the final minute of his address. It was then that he uttered his famous words:
I try to think of the Labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody's pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people. We have a great objective - the light on the hill - which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand. If it were not for that, the Labour movement would not be worth fighting for.
The words are striking to a contemporary audience, but 'the light on the hill' did not immediately strike a chord with members of the Australian labour movement. Indeed, when Chifley's speeches were collected and published in 1954, the editor did not entitle the June 1949 address as 'the light on the hill', but opted instead for the title: 'For the Betterment of Mankind - Anywhere'. Certainly, L.F. Crisp's biography of Chifley contained a chapter entitled 'the light on the hill', but this did not refer to Chifley's 1949 speech either, but to Chifley's final major speech of June 1951 (which did not contain the phrase), and death soon after. It was only in the 1980s, when both fans and critics of contemporary Labor attempted to place the Hawke Government in the context of the 'labour tradition', that the phrase rose to dominance. 'The Light on the Hill' is the title of Ross McMullin's history of the first hundred years of the Australian Labor Party; it is emphasised in the television series that canonizes the Chifley government, 'True Believers'; it is discussed in critical analyses of contemporary Labor, such as those by Peter Beilharz, Graham Maddox and McKenzie Wark.
However, if the power of 'the light on the hill' was not immediately recognised, it undeniably speaks to the labour movement today. What is it that makes the symbol so powerful and evocative?
Firstly, it offers an objective. It suggests that Labor in politics is not simply concerned with bread-and-butter aims, but with something else - a greater, more idealistic quest. Labor, for Chifley, is more than "putting an extra sixpence into somebody's pocket".
Secondly, 'the light on the hill' evokes a common quest. Not only are members of the labour movement understood as champions of a new order, but the commitment and participation of labour supporters is explicitly valued. Indeed, Chifley's speech goes on to refer to the "generosity, kindliness and friendliness shown to me by thousands of my colleagues". He refers to Labor supporters as the "roots" of the movement, and he downplays the importance of leaders: "the strength of the movement cannot come from us".
Thirdly, the speech and the image of 'the light on the hill' is opposed to careerism. Chifley suggests that the aims of the labour movement are more than simply offering a path of advancement for the ambitious few, or attaining power for its own sake. In the contemporary moment, the appeal of this simple, spiritual image is especially strong.
Fourthly, 'the light on the hill' speech is so powerful because it is not only abstract, but also, at the same time, intensely practical. Chifley does not merely suggest that Labor aims for the light on the hill. He goes on to say what this aim can mean in practice to labour's supporters:
If the movement can make someone more comfortable, give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children, a feeling that if a depression comes there will be work, that the government is striving its hardest to do its best, then the Labour movement will be completely justified.
By moving from the image of 'the light on the hill' to the lives and struggles of individual Australians - the fears of depression and unemployment, the worries about children, Chifley suggests that 'the light on the hill' is both idealistic and concrete, aspirational and attainable, over there and right in front of us. Unlike other images of a 'new Jerusalem', it seems to be moored in the experiences and hopes of the everyday lives of Australians. This is what makes it so appealing.
Fifthly, the image of 'the light on the hill' is an image of unity. It unites both industrial and political labour. One of the primary aims of Chifley's speech was to foster unity behind the Labor Government, and to undercut support for the industrial action of miners during 1949. Chifley, rightly or wrongly, saw this action as sectional and damaging to the wider movement, and the image of 'the light on the hill' was designed to appeal to miners' wider sympathies. If Chifley's appeal was unsuccessful, and even misconceived, then the image itself survives to us today as a symbol of unity within the labour movement as a whole. Not only that, but Chifley also suggests that this unity should extend to non-Australians. He argues that the objective of Labor will only be reached by working for the "betterment of mankind" not only within our own country, "but anywhere we may give a helping hand."
Finally, the symbol of 'the light on the hill' is so powerful to the contemporary labour movement because it is not the subject of dispute, but of celebration. The odd thing about Chifley's description of Labor's "great objective" in 1949 was that it supplanted the ALP's stated objective at the time (at least according to its Platform): Socialization. The debate around socialism has divided Labor's supporters throughout the twentieth century. For some, Labor has been a socialist party; for others, non-socialist. Some have celebrated their claims about Labor's commitment to socialism, others have mourned them. Noone could claim that the objective of socialism has united supporters of the labour movement. Clearly, 'the light on the hill' is an entirely different sort of objective. For the socialist, 'the light on the hill' may be understood as a society without exploitation; for the non-socialist, a society which safeguards equality of opportunity; for the trade unionist, a society in which unions will be recognised and promoted. The very meaning of the image lies in the eye of the beholder, and this is undoubtedly a key element of its appeal.
Fifty years on, it is worth celebrating the anniversary of Chifley's 'light on the hill' speech. It is ironic that a Prime Minister noted for his administrative efficiency and legislative ambition is so often remembered for his ability to create a compelling new description of Labor's objective. It is worth recalling that, for Chifley at least, the objective was more than mere words.
Sean Scalmer is a Research Fellow in the Department of Politics, Macquarie University.
by Samuel Grumiau
Child labour is almost non-existent there and the literacy rate is 91%. Historical and political factors explain this success.
Nobody can prove it, but everyone in Kerala is proud of the fact that the apostle Thomas is said to have stayed there almost two thousand years ago. True or not, this anecdote frequently serves to illustrate the long tradition of Christianity in this state. Contacts with the outside world started when Vasco Da Gama, seeking a route to the Indies via the Cape of Good Hope, landed in Kerala in 1498. From then on, missionaries flocked in. Next to each church they built a school which took in children regardless of caste, religion or their parents' income.
They were to maintain this egalitarian attitude throughout the long years of colonisation. And the number of schools kept rising, even if they did not cover the needs of the whole population. The missionaries' action was soon copied. The other religious communities (Hindu and Muslim) also began to open schools. However, the children from the "lower" Hindu castes continued to visit the Christian schools. There they became aware of their rights and demanded reforms, in particular the abolition of the caste system, which maintains a substantial portion of the population in a state of slavery vis-à-vis the "higher" classes. These social reformers won their first victories at the beginning of this century, thanks, in particular, to the influence of Mahatma Gandhi.
Whilst the other Indian states entered the 20th century with little progress having been made, Kerala was ahead in terms of social equality and access to education. Not all children had as yet the opportunity to go to school, but the four hundred years of Christian influence had created an awareness amongst the population of the importance of education. On average, Kerala's inhabitants were better trained than other Indians when the country gained its independence in 1947.
In 1957, when the Communist party came into power, the government immediately undertook a redistribution of land, with the large landowners losing part of their croplands to the landless inhabitants. New schools were opened, trade unions encouraged and a minimum wage genuinely applied. These social reforms have never been called into question by the Congress Party which, since 1957 has held power alternately in Kerala (with the Communist party).
Kerala's government-financed schools have proved increasingly successful since independence. Enrolment is free and free school meals encourage poor families to send their children. The minimum wage, which is higher than elsewhere in India, allows parents to survive without their children having to go out to work. Anyone who has not enrolled his son or daughter in school comes under pressure from the other inhabitants of the village. Enthusiasm for literacy is such that non-governmental organisations are being set up in Kerala to educate elderly people who were unable to attend school when they were young. Teachers give courses free of charge in every village so that they can at least read and write their names. In this way every inhabitant in Kerala gets used to reading newspapers and takes an active interest in what is going on in the world....
However, Kerala's young people are confronted, at the end of their studies, with a lack of work to match their qualifications. The economy of this southern state remains largely agricultural. The lack of natural resources, the higher salaries and constant trade union demands have dissuaded industrialists from setting up shop in Kerala. The lack of jobs has provoked a large exodus of labour towards the countries of the Persian Gulf, the west, or the other regions of India. Of the three million Indians who work in the Gulf, a third come from Kerala (whereas this state counts for just 3% of India's population).
Every year they remit a large portion of their salaries to their families, who use the money to improve their living standards and... to enrol their children in prestigious private schools. These too will in turn leave to seek their fortune abroad.
As we can see, it is a whole range of factors that allow Kerala to boast a literacy rate of 91% (compared with an India-wide average of just 52%) and to have almost eradicated child labour. "Almost", because the exodus of workers has, in turn, produced a shortage of unskilled labour.
This demand is filled in part by the arrival of inhabitants from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. These do not have the same history and, like most Indians, use their children to make ends meet. This phenomenon nonetheless remains marginal and does not harm the good reputation which Kerala has won for the education of its children. University graduates from the whole of India and the world at large visit the state regularly in order to study how so poor a state obtains such good educational results.
The ILO is discussing Child Labour this week -- see next week's Workers Online for more details
by Tony Moore
Watching Barry McKenzie Holds His Own today it's difficult to believe that as a kid I was allowed to show this movie at my high school.
The 1974 sequel to The Adventures of Barry McKenzie is packed with lines like "Our dear little stunted, slant-eyed, yellow friends" and "Have a crack at putting the ferret through the furry hoop", which might have been expected to ring alarm bells with the powers that be. But it was the 70s and few of us knew about sexism and racism, least of all the Education Department. What we did know was that this film - with its ribald and absurd humour, inventive Aussie slang, great songs, sex, slapstick, beer, violence, vomiting, prostitutes and kung-fu fights - not to mention a ridiculous vampire subplot - was a hoot.
A generation reared on Mavis Bramston and Alf Garnett knew the difference between a prejudiced diatribe and sharp satire. And who could doubt that Barry McKenzie Holds His Own was a "real good cultural show" when the Prime Minister himself, Gough Whitlam, made a cameo appearance?
As the years have passed Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, like a fine brew, has only got better, and in my opinion it is one of the rare instances where the sequel surpasses the original. You know you're in for a treat when the opening title tells you you're about to watch a Reg Grundy Production - no South Australian Film Corporation guidelines here.
Then a grandiose operatic swoop through the clouds cuts to a plate of live frogs being served on a French airplane spiralling out of control because the pilot is shagging the air hostess. The whole tone is sillier than the first movie. Humphries has thrown the switch to the absurd and infantile and (perversely) honed a great political satire. And it's really funny! Where The Adventures of Barry McKenzie was faithful to the comic strip and had its feet planted in realism, Holds His Own exists in a parallel universe where anything can happen as it mocks the media landscapes of the time, from Hammer Horror and Kung Fu movies, to Cold War Spy thrillers, to boosterish government tourism documentaries.
Tinnies are hurled The plot? Well Edna Everage, on tour in Paris with her nephew Barry, is mistaken for the Queen by two vampires who kidnap her to help lift the ailing Transylvanian Tourist Industry, located in a corrupt Eastern Bloc republic. Barry, his mates, their women and the governments of Australia and Britain must rescue Edna from the clutches of "the illustrious socialist leader" Count von Plasma before he discovers Edna's true identity as an Australian housewife. On the way we encounter a clerical seminar on 'Christ and the Orgasm', Barry masquerading as an Arab to get into England as an illegal, a spectral encounter with Barry's convict ancestor in a gaol, an immigration game show, a reprise of Humphries' much spewed upon Jewish psychiatrist from the first film, and Barry's clumsy attempts to lose his virginity. Foster's lager has transubstantiated from the obsessive beverage of the first film into a magical potion rivalling Popeye's spinach, and Plasma is eventually seen off with a cunningly improvised cross of tinnies - the mighty Fosterix! Rarely has an Australian film enjoyed itself with such sublime nonsense.
It's fun to see well-known personalities as they were then, doing the 70s rather than remembering it. Edna Everage, while still a housewife on a package tour, has assumed greater plot significance and hints at the purple-headed monster waiting to conquer Britain. Barry Crocker (who gets camper by the year) reprises his portrayal of the beer-swilling innocent abroad, but also gets to play Barry's twin brother, with-it wowser clergyman, the Very-Reverend Kevin McKenzie. The director is a pre-Hollywood Bruce Beresford, slumming it in his Grundy period. There's a young, hirsute Clive James playing Paddy, a perpetually drunk London-based Australian film critic, apparently based on
Paddy McGuinness but doing a fair approximation of the younger Clive James. There's Skippy's and Ed Devereaux, resplendent in shorts and long socks as the Australian ambassador, Sir Alec.My favourite is Col 'the Frog' Lucas, a lefty/arty type living in self-imposed exile in Paris who hasgone native (he carries a French loaf, wears spats and has the lingo down pat - "Too flambe right!") and who moonlights as a pimp and communist spy. Some say he's a parody of Alistair Kershaw but I reckon he's Frank Hardy, who forsook Australia for gay Paris and the Soviet Bloc after the Power Without Glory defamation trial.
With the spirit of the Whitlam era being knackered by the reverential nostalgia of aging boomers, it's great that this cheeky piss-take of the 'Australian Renaissance' survives, preserved for eternity in amber fluid. In a perverse way the movie shows Australians at their best. This is partly because of the film's mix of larrikinism, humour and pommy bashing, but mainly because Bazza and his entourage have a healthy libertine disdain for authority, pomposity and cant. Tinnies are hurled with democratic gusto at petty bureaucrats, snobs, frauds and especially smug trendies.
Hot cocky shit Make no mistake, Bazza Holds His Own is gross, rude and offensive - a passing parade of bodily fluids, excreta and base human drives. But in a fine tradition that goes back to the mediaeval carnival, the film's ribald, vulgar antics are subversive, turning upside down the stitched-up hierarchies of a string of condescending authority figures: clergymen, a psychiatrist, British police, an Eastern Block potentate, immigration officials, even a liberated feminist. Vulgarity is a powerful, levelling weapon, as Aristophanes, Shakespeare and The Bulletin bards well knew.
On the lookout for some colonials to send on a mission over the Iron Curtain to rescue Edna Everage, Sir Nigel of the "pommy foreign orifice" asks for "some young, intelligent, sober Australians" before modifying his request to "some young Australians". "I think you'll find plenty of the old ANZAC spirit," replies Ed Devereaux. Sir Nigel gets it by the skin full, as Bazza and the Boys drunkenly rampage through an upper class English party singing: "I hope every la-de-da pom like you gets the trots when he swallows a plumb / Go dip your left eye in hot cocky shit and stick your head up a dead bear's bum!" McKenzies' Marauders are C.W. Bean's levelling larrikin ANZACs, updated with a government grant and an Airways bag.
No longer amused?
Here then is perhaps the greatest Australian movie ever made ... and one you're unlikely to ever see.While the Adventures of Barry McKenzie has had a few rare appearances, its sequel has never been shown on TV, is not available on video and never gets a guernsey on the pretentious art/retro cinema circuit. We found our copy in London.
Why has the film disappeared? I think it's less that the Australian sense of humour has changed (it's always a crowd pleaser when we show it) than that some of the people who made it are no longer amused. Having grown old and respectable, a young iconoclast like director Bruce Beresford is probably rather embarrassed by the whole thing, preferring to drive Miss Daisy into the American heartland than be remembered for a Reg Grundy Production about ocker piss-heads pub crawling around Europe. In fact, Beresford recently confessed he was unable to get work after making the film, and feared his directing career had come to an end.
Maybe the worthies that suck limpet-like on the Australian film industry had "gone all sophisticated" (like McKenzie in Europe) and decided Australians needed a correcting diet of costume dramas like My Brilliant Career and Picnic at Hanging Rock. Lift that low brow, but stay around the middle! I reckon that Beresford's film had gone too far - biting the hand that fed it, announcing Australia's cultural revolution to be a sham. The emperor was not only naked, but was holding his own with too obvious satisfaction.
The middle-aged Max Harris, who took his cosmopolitanism very seriously, attacked the Bazza films for revering the ockerism that his mates had fought a war to destroy. The producer of Adventures, a cocky young Phillip Adams, retorted that Harris may have once been an Angry Penguin but had turned into a muddle-headed wombat. The whole ocker thing was a joke, Joyce, but the cultural commissars had stopped laughing.
Where the first Barry McKenzie movie aims its satire at the boorish postwar suburban males, Bazza Holds His Own goes after the smug new educated middle class that was taking on airs and graces in the wake of the "Australian Cultural Renaissance" ignited by the patronage of Gorton and Whitlam. Everyone is on the 'cultural' bandwagon, getting their share of the take. "The government's handing out piles of moolah for any bastard who reckons he can paint pictures, write pomes or make filums," Bazza tells drunken film critic Paddy.
In the 1970s trendies bearing bottles of Chianti and a fondue set made shrill claims about Australia's new-found sophistication. For Humphries the gentlemen doth protest too much. In Holds His Own, cosmopolitanism happens in "the contemporary Australian-Spanish style" and European culture is to be found at the Munich beer festival. Humphries had seen the 1950s and was smart enough to realise that you can't change the country of Robert Askin and Rex Connor overnight, just because a blow-in in a safari suit whacks 'Blue Poles' over the fibro. The film is introduced by the Minister for Culture, Senator Doug Manton (a proto Sir Les Paterson), with a model of the Opera House in front of him, a huge Foster's ad behind him and the buzz of blowflies just audible in the background.
Doug boasts about the wave of 'artistic endeavour' sweeping out of Australia to conquer the world while leafing through his copy of Venomous Toads of Australia. "The filum you're about to see," he puffs, "makes me proud to be an Australian."
The much-vaunted cultural renaissance is a con being spruiked by the same old Aussie blokes in shorts and long socks who always run this place, personified in the film by Ed Devereaux's knockabout Australian Ambassador who confesses: "I won't say we don't pull a few swifties to pull the tourists with all that garbage about that flamin' joke of an Opera House". It's still business as usual for the boys from the Rum Corps who've simply rote-learned the latest government guidelines and buzz words, mispronouncing terms like "pitcher", "culchar" and that old favourite "the yartz" - sounding much like the boofy blokes on the SOCOG team today when they go on about "multiculturalism" and "environmental impact statements".
But it's not just unsophisticated politicians and cynical bureaucrats who are in Humphries' sights. Every crank idea and unthinking trendy cause of the 70s cops a spray of the always-foaming Foster's. As Bazza puts it in 'The Ratbag Song': "A ratbag is a sheila or a bloke / Who's kind of funny, but who never sees the joke." We know we're taking no prisoners when Bazza bumps into Rhonda Cuthbert-Jones, the black, well-spoken, feminist editor of Jet Set, 'the first magazine with balls'. Rhonda asks Edna Everage if she's ever balled a chick, and Edna replies with a crooked smile that "I may be old fashioned, young lady, but lesbianism has always left a nasty taste in my mouth".
Humphries thinks little has changed in the suburban backblocks. Despite the best efforts of liberal Christianity, cultural re-education, the Australian Film Commission or feminism, it seems most Aussie blokes are xenophobic homophobes who just want to get pissed and laid.
And what of the colourful racist invective thrown around with such redneck abandon? Watching today, the racist stereotypes stick out like dog's balls. At a time when Australia was busily apologising for seventy years of the just ended White Australia policy Barry McKenzie Holds His Own shows a bunch of white blokes terribly anxious about other races. Despite having come from a country in the throes of a massive immigration program and a government pledged to land rights and a racial discrimination act, Bazza and his mates don't care much for "abos", "heathen chinee", "yellerens", "ikey-mo type bastards", Pakistanis, "frogs", "wogs" and "dagoes". Given Australia's ritual outbreak of immigration hysteria and the rise of One Nation, was Humphries too far off the mark in suggesting that decades of racism could not be eliminated overnight by government fiat?
Given that this is a Humphries film the Left does not come off well. Bazza's 'Pommy Bastards'T-Shirt of the first film is now replaced with one emblazoned 'Commie Bastards'! The communist leaders of Eastern Europe are vampires sucking their countries dry (literally) and lording it over their people like decadent Persian Satraps. He was right there. Humphries thinks the Australian Left are blind to the realities of the Communist world. Sir Nigel grumbles about the ridiculous detente between the Australian government and the Soviet Bloc, and it's clear the Australian ambassador and Humphries share this view. To infiltrate Count Von Plasma's Mountain fastness and rescue imprisoned Edna Everage, Bazza's motley crew masquerade as the Bondi Organisation for Radical Education (BORE), as the only people to get into the Eastern Bloc from Australia are the ones who "think the sun shines out of Stalin's arsehole". After saving Barry from a communist vampire, a repentant Comrade Lucas declares: "If you see any of those long-haired students or commie trade union types you tell 'em from Col the Frog that Oz is the greatest little country on earth." The film's climax is a battle between a Chinese martial arts chef (a gift from Count Plasma's 'friends in Peking') and Bazza's band. As a tour guide boasts about the superlative fighting machine that is Socialist man,
Bazza prevails by blinding the Chinese chef with a well-aimed spray of Foster's.
But Gough is OK, Barry telling his auntie: "I reckon the PM is that smart he could sell soap to the pommies." Just to show what a good sport he is, Whitlam, the Pericles at the centre of all this democratic patronage, appears at the film's end to welcome back the Australian heroes and regally dame Edna Everage, now set on her trajectory to housewife superstar. I reckon Whitlam knew that a renaissance that didn't laugh at the Medicis wasn't worth having. Quizzed by Mike Willessee as to why the PM deigned to appear in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Gough deadpanned: "Hasn't everybody held his own? I certainly have."
This article was republished from Stewth Magazine. The movie was screened this week to a full house and future showings are planned for Sydney, Melbourne and Wollongong. Watch this space!
by Brenda Finlayson
The fight for pay justice has continued in the decades since. Many of the valiant women who lead the struggle have died, handing the baton to younger sisters who will continue the campaign, ensuring that advances are made despite a constricting conservative economic and social climate as the end of the century nears.
The narrowing of the gender pay gap has been slow. The 1969 case established an important first principle that affected 18% of women workers, mostly teachers and nurses. The second Federal case in 1972 established the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. This was extended through all awards from 1972 and eventually put an end to separate male and female rates in awards. The gender gap was reduced by 19% between 1972 and 1977.
Women now have the best chance of earning higher wages if they come under the umbrella of an award. In May 1996, women working under awards earned 91.6% of men's rates (full-time non-managerial adults); unionised part-time women workers earn 27% more than non-union members.
Women's skills are undervalued. The NSW Pay Equity Report found recently that the worth of women's work varied depending on the industry - many sectors are undervalued simply because they are female dominated. Those same sectors are often disadvantaged in bargaining situations.
Men take home more discretionary pay than women - including over-award, bonus payments, profit-sharing, service increments and commissions - mostly because of the concentration of women in jobs that do not attract such payments. Much of this can be sheeted home to society's expectation of a woman's working role.
Women still carry an inordinate amount of family responsibility, which impacts on earnings because they may not be able to work full-time, or may miss training courses and other career development opportunities. Occupational advancement for many women is stymied because they have taken maternity leave or time off to care for children - and many are disadvantaged because of plain old prejudice from male employers who believe women are less reliable and loyal than their male peers. The latter comes down to institutionalised prejudice and will be a generational change.
ACTU President Jennie George said this week that the equal pay decision handed down on June 19, 1969, was often overshadowed by the 1972 equal pay for work of equal value case. But she believes the original decision was important for two reasons.
"First, it really raised public consciousness about equal pay as a basic human right. The publicity given to the case and the demonstrations by women in support of it was very valuable," she said.
"Secondly, winning the principle was terribly important. We take it for granted that we had to win it but that is not the case - it was strenuously resisted by employers."
Ms George said the case showed the importance of the Industrial Relations Commission and maintaining relevant award rates in helping women gain more equitable pay rates.
"That is why the current threat to the Commission by the present Government is of such concern. Its powers have already been curtailed in the Workplace Relations Act and now Peter Reith wants to cut them back even further. Clearly the spread of individual contracts will also probably mean our gender wage gap will increase - that is certainly the New Zealand experience."
The ACTU is working to prevent further erosion of the Commission and awards. The biggest wage gap between men and women is in over-awards payments - those that are outside the control of the Commission.
"When employers are left to their own devices they continue to undervalue women's work," said Jennie George. "They are prepared to pay more to men who demand it, who do heavy or dirty work or who threaten industrial action.
"Women are just not as assertive in bargaining and they are not employed in industries where industrial action is a viable option - in childcare centres, in shops and so on. Individual bargaining is likely to be a disaster for equal pay."
The ACTU is pursuing equal remuneration claims in the Industrial Relations Commission - one current case is against Melbourne's Age newspaper on behalf of clerical workers such as classified advertisement takers, whose work is undervalued compared to male printers.
Progress is slow in the fight for justice and equality, but Australian women are forming new alliances in order to force change. Two women's groups will gather in Melbourne this Friday (June 18) to mark the 1969 equal pay case. Union Women and EMILY's List will celebrate the past, toast the future and plan for more action.
Jennie George believes women's groups will make the difference in the fight for gender justice. EMILY's List was formed nearly three years and has helped 23 progressive Labor women into federal, state and territory parliaments.
"These groups are very important, especially as we are fighting Peter Reith's industrial relations changes," said Ms George. "We see how important it is to have women in parliament - I mean women who understand the realities about the needs of working women, the role of the Commission and awards, and the really unequal bargaining power between women workers and their employers.
"I am afraid we haven't had much of a response from the Liberal women MPs on these issues. So I say all power to EMILY's List to get some good women Labor parliamentarians."
Anyone wishing to join the celebration is welcome to join Jennie George and Joan Kirner this Friday, June 18, 5.30pm-7.30pm, at the EMILY's List national office, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne ($15, RSVP on 03/9254.1970).
Women earn 87.5% of men's pay taken from average weekly ordinary-time earnings (full-time non-managerial adults, ABS 1996)
Women make up 43% of the workforce
57% of working women are full-time
63% of working-age women (15-64 years) are in the labour force
52% of women with children aged 0-4 are in the labour force
58% of women with children aged 0-15 are in the labour force
Source: ACTU, Office for the Status of Women
by Brenda Finlayson
Zelda, now 71, lives on the mid-north NSW coast and is writing a book about the fight for equal pay. She has also written an autobiography, Zelda, (Spinifex Press).
Why have women not yet achieved equal pay?
One of the big changes that took place after the 1969 decision to avoid paying was the reclassification of tasks and jobs done by women. The nature of women's work was changed to ensure that they weren't doing exactly the same work as men. Only 18% of women achieved equal pay following the decision in 1969.
The 1972 decision was supposed to create equal pay for equal value but that was a fiasco. The decision was crazy - it meant every section of the workforce had to prove, by the unions running a case, that a woman's work was at the same skill level as a male equivalent. The unions had to show that skills, training and profitability factors were equal by, for example, comparing a female hairdresser to a male apprentice in another industry.
How many unions ran cases and how successful were they?
Some unions tackled it. They were tremendous cases. All the cases were meant to be heard by a certain date in the 1970s but the cases were still being heard in the 1980s. By 1975, only 54 claims had been registered in the Industrial Relations Commission and many never came up because they were costly and difficult to assess. How do you gauge levels of responsibility and profitability? Justice Madden decided in 1986 there would be no more cases for equal pay for work of equal value but some have been run since then.
How has this has affected the march of women's equity?
Society deems that when a woman is born, her work is never as valuable as men's. These cases were convoluted and a drain on union funds, which suited the employers.
How do you recall the 1969 equal pay case and how did you come to be involved?
I was working as a clerk for the Meat Workers' Union. The meat industry had put up the case for equal pay in 1969 and they were optimistic. Bob Hawke was the advocate for the ACTU. The office staff were asked to distribute thousands of leaflets to highlight the case - we had to watch out for the police because it was illegal then to hand out leaflets on the streets in Victoria. I was then asked by the union secretary to go and be with the women from the meat works, for support, when the case was heard. I demonstrated with about 30 women on the street holding banners. We then went into the tribunal and I couldn't believe what I saw - the ACTU people, the employers' representatives and all the commissioners were men. All these men were arguing about what women were worth and the women were sitting there silent. It was humiliating and I was very angry.
How did the case go?
Bob Hawke did a very good job. He didn't present the case for equal pay for equal work; he argued for doing away with the pay differential between males and females and the difference is very important. If that had got up, women would have had 100% of men's wages in all industries.
How did you feel about the decision?
I was very disappointed really because only 12% of women in the meat industry got equal pay because they weren't doing the same work as the men.
How did you come to take such radical action?
Nothing happened after the decision. Two months later, I decided to chain myself up. I felt that unless some drastic action was taken, no-one would take any notice of women. There was an election coming and the ALP began flogging equal pay to get the women's vote.
How did you organise the protest?
A candidate was speaking at City Square. I went and decided to chain myself up that day. We told the media about it but didn't say what was happening. They didn't go to the candidate's meeting, they went straight to where I was. I chained myself to the Commonwealth Building, and there were three other women there with banners. I took a JP in case I was arrested. The police cut the chain 45 minutes later.
Was that the end of the protest?
No. A woman teacher rang and congratulated me and offered to join me with another friend of hers if I wanted to do it again. So three weeks later we chained ourselves to the Arbitration Commission building and the police cut us off. They warned us of the serious repercussions of what we were doing.
What was the next step in the fight?
Well, we realised we had to form a militant organisation that was prepared to fight. This meant taking radical action and not worrying about being a lady. Fourteen of us formed the Women's Action Committee - we demanded to be served in public bars (which were men-only in those days), and only paid 75% of tram fares because we were only earning 75% of men's wages. We were scoffed at, and sneered at in the press.
What did you achieve?
About 12 months later information started seeping in through from overseas, the US in particularly, about the women's liberation movement. We realised we were all on about the same thing - and this was really the start of the women's liberation movement in Australia.
How far have women come in 30 years?
A long way. Women are not prepared to be pushed around any more. This is very noticeable in the amount of marriages women walk out of now. There is no freedom for women without financial freedom and even though women still don't always get equal pay, and they do more part-time jobs than men, they are more independent than 30 years ago. Although women now receive 87% of men's wages, we cannot accept that women deserve anything less than full equal pay for any task performed.
How do you feel about the future?
I'm always optimistic. I think society has to change. We have to find a different way to survive. It is said in the future that only 20% of the population will be needed in the workforce. Where will women be if this occurs?
Do women need to be more radical?
They will be forced to be so because people are finding it harder and harder to survive. Unemployment will increase and people will be forced to be radical again.
What would you say to young women now?
They feel they are as good as the fellows, which is great because when the screws get tighter they will be forced to be more militant and strong. Some are deluded into thinking that everything that needs to be done has been done, and that's not the case. Women have the strength and the will and we must continue to champion our ideals.
LABOUR REVIEW, NO. 19
14 June 1999
Income Distribution Report
NATSEM (National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling) reports on the changes in the living standards of children in Australia since 1982. There has been a significant levelling of the living standards of children in that period, despite the increase in two income families, which would have been expected to increase inequalities. The social security system has been significant factor, with it being the cause of a rise in the income of sole parents. The proportion of sole parent mothers entering the workforce was a significant factor in this trend.
Probably the biggest losers were single income two parent families whose average income fell in this period. Also the figures don't account for the cost of housing which other research by NATSEM indicates would have a harsher effect on single income and sole parent families. (NATSEM; Income Distribution Report, issue 10, May 1999)
Worker Retrenchment: Preventive Measures and Remedial Measures.
A review by Christine Evans-Klock, Peggy Kelly, Peter Richards and Corinne Vargha of the range of responses in selected industrialised countries to retrenchments. These responses either seek to reduce layoffs and dismissals or to facilitate worker adjustment to new employment opportunities. European measures place more responsibility on employers to absorb more of the social costs of retrenchment, through legislative, regulative or collective bargaining procedures. Also, because of social partnerships, various approaches such as working time reduction, work flexibility, increased part time work, partial and early retirement , have been implemented.
Re-employment ideas are another side of the coin. Supply side measures here include retraining, often through public sector initiatives, job search assistance schemes, and targeted approaches for specific groups of workers. Job creation schemes such as community businesses and local and regional development schemes are a potentially crucial factor on the demand side.
Relevant ILO standards are included with this article. (International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 1, 1999)
The Transformation of Work and the Future of Labour Law in Europe: a Multidisciplinary Perspective.
Alain Supiot discusses the future of current labour law models as we reach the end of the so-called Fordist era. "Labor law, whether national or international, is rooted in an industrial model that is currently being undermined by technological and economic changes. This article is part of a European Union discussion on the future of labour law in Europe. Supiot looks for a new concept of occupational status which in reality has been a fact of life for many workers but which hasn't been recognised by labour law or trade unions. Also the working time debate is involved, with worker time and working time the opposing concepts. Social citizenship for the twenty first century is the broad term he uses. (International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 1, 1999)
AIRC Re-affirms Intervention Power
The quashing by the Australian Industrial relations Commission of an Appeal by Rio Tinto has re-affimed the Commission's right to intervene in long running industrial disputes. This came from the Huinter Valley No. 1 dispute where the CFMEU has been involved ina long battle for its members. Denial of such access to arbitration is part of the Reith plann for second wave industrial legislation. (Employee Relations Update; vol. 6, no. 123, May 31 1999)
Mobile Phone Irradiation
A new research project on mobile phone irradiation has been undertaken by Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science. This follows pilot studies conducted between 1992 and 1995 which sparked some controversy. Don't hold your breath for results as completion date is November 2001. (Work Alert; no. 8, 21 May 1999)
The Great Labour Movement Split in NSW
The 1954 split was not simply one or two climactic moments. Every element of the labour movement was part of the action before and after the actual event. In 1994, on the fortieth anniversary of the Split, unionists and politicians remembered and discussed its meaning. Some of those stories and insights are presented here. Some of those involved were Barbara Curthoys, Laurie Short, Jim Macken, Bob Gould, Clyde Cameron and Ed Campion.
(The great Labour Movement Split in NSW: Inside Stories/ edited by Bradon Ellem. Published by the Sydney branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, 1998)
Predictably the survey has been criticised for the finding that the best union in Australia was the white collar, managerial Association for Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers. It has been criticised for its methodology, for being based on interviews with union leaders (except where they refused to participate). And letters to the editor on the subject have uniformly argued that a union should be judged by its members, not by outsiders.
First it must be said that none of us involved in the survey would argue that it was perfect - as a number of our critics have pointed out it is very difficult to compare unions, as varied as they are in size, industries, coverage, politics, wealth and leadership. But just because it is difficult does not mean it should not be attempted.
Perhaps an academic study, spanning 12 months with thousands of research hours, would have come up with a different (though not necessarily perfect) result. But The Australian is a newspaper, not a university think-tank, and could not conduct such an exercise, nor glean the opinion of every single union member as some of our critics seem to suggest.
We did an immense amount of research. We consulted widely with IR experts before the first interview was even conducted to identify which were the 20 most interesting, most influential, and best unions. We formulated 10 criteria in consultation with these experts to try to measure the unions against each other. These were: membership and recruitment, services, finances, influence, social responsibility, democratic processes, communications to members, stability, how they cope with change, and strategic outlook. All but a handful of unions were comfortable - those most confident with their performance were enthusiastic - about participating in a process that they rightly saw as having significant potential benefits and few downsides for them.
After we had done the interviews and compiled a 35,000-word report, we gave that report to a panel of independent experts (Bob Hawke, George Polites and Gerard Noonan) who narrowed the field to seven outstanding unions. We then brought together four more experts, Garry Weaven, Anna Booth, Fred Chaney and Bert Evans, who between them ranked the seven in order. The whole process took more than four months.
All this dull detail demonstrates that it was no random whim by a journalist that put APESMA at the top, or ranked the others where they ended up. It was, for a newspaper, a long and labour-intensive exercise.
So why did we do it? It seemed to us that pitting unions against each other and ranking them on these criteria was immensely useful. We found out what unions actually do when they are not fighting it out on a picket line or in a court or tribunal. We described how they win pay rises for their members, what services they provide, how they go about recruiting new members, who they cover, how they are adapting to change. When was the last time that happened in the mainstream media? Being ignored is a much greater threat unions these days than receiving public attention. And as each one of our expert panel pointed out, they were much more optimistic about the future of unionism after reading our report than they had been before.
One of the stumbling blocks we encountered was the attitude of the ACTU, which warned some unions about participating in the survey, questioned the methodology, and argued that if we could not do it as an academic exercise, why do it at all? Well, journalists are charged with a responsibility to scrutinise public institutions - we do it all the time with governments, bureaucracies, the armed forces, sporting teams, and we devote pages and pages of business news every day to scrutinising corporations, their share deals, profit results and so on.
Why not unions? Why not a public institution to which a declining but still very substantial 28 per cent of the population pay their hard-earned money in return for certain services? Why the suspicion? Why has the ACTU even refused our offer to print a reply from them in a prominent position?
The union movement clearly feels beleaguered, with 500,000 fewer unionists in 1999 than there were in the mid-1970s. Hostile governments take constant rhetorical and legislative pot-shots at them, employers, buoyed by this hostility, are increasingly unsympathetic, and global forces have changed the economy to the extent that some traditional unions are struggling for relevance.
This is a depressing picture for unions, but it is also fruitful ground for innovation and success. The unions the expert panels identified as the best were uniformly excellent in their efforts in recruitment, service provision and outlook. Oddly enough, they also tended to be those confident enough in their performance to relish the scrutiny and cooperate with our survey.
Other unions could learn from them. What they should not do is bury their heads in the sand hoping to avoid scrutiny, or the ugly realities of the real world.
Michael Batchelard is the Australian's workplace relations writer
by Peter Warrington
The media went ga-ga about Hick's in-out record, suggesting it displayed immaturity by the selectors. But how good is the Australian record in this area? Do we have similar love-hate stories, guys who are the first to be dropped and then grudgingly recalled?
No and yes. No, not recently, when the team has been built around a solid core of Taylor, the Waughs, Healy, Warne and McGrath. A few of the batsmen have been in and out 2 or 3 times, but nothing approaching Hick's Nellie Melba performance.
But it hasn't always been that simple. In the 80s there were a number of fringe dwellers, guys who came and went on the whim of the selectors. In some cases there were exceptional circumstances, but often the logic was hard to follow.
Take Graeme Yallop, for instance. An average of 41, 8 centuries and captain of your country is not a record to be sneezed at. But Yallop only played 39 of the 93 tests from his time of first selection until his banning from Tests in 1985. He was unavailable due to injury for about 10 of those, but that leaves a phenomenal 44 times Yallop was overlooked on form.
In that period he was picked 8 times - the merry-go-round goes something like this...
1975-6 - Yallop is picked against the emerging West Indies team at the age of 23, but he has already played 3 seasons for Victoria and spent time in English league cricket. Walters was injured and McCosker out of form, so the selectors plumped for the youth of Gary Cosier and then Yallop. Played the last 3 tests for 179 runs at 46 with top score of 57, the series won 5-1 and a bright future seemingly assured.
1976-7 - Pakistan tours Australia, Australia tours New Zealand, the Poms come over for the Centenary Test. Dougie comes back from injury, but the retirement of Ian Chappell and the poor form of Allan Turner leaves a gap - or does it? The selectors recall golden boy Ian Davis in the middle order, then move him up to open when glamour golden boy David Hookes demands selection with 5 centuries in 6 innings.
1977 - worse is to come when Yallop is leapfrogged by West Australians Craig Serjeant and Kim Hughes for the Ashes tour that year. What must he have felt when Victoria's wicketkeeper Richie Robinson played 3 tests as a specialist batsman, for the great return of 100 runs at 16.7? The Packer defections become public knowledge late in the series, decimating the ranks and leaving players with test experience such as Yallop apparently indispensable.
Nov 1977 - the first test against India. The Australian batting line-up reads Hibbert, Cosier, Ogilvie, Serjeant, Simpson, Toohey - four who have never played tests and one who hasn't played for 10 years. Yallop sits on the sidelines with other former test men John Inverarity, Turner, Hughes and Ashley Woodcock. The selectors make a change to the winning team for the Perth game - unheralded NSW opener John Dyson gets a call-up. With the series poised at 2-2 and the Indian spinners ripping the Australians apart, Yallop finally gets the nod in Adelaide, 15 tests after his last appearance. He responds with a solid 121. The test is won, and Yallop's test average sits at a juicy 54.
1978 - Yallop has a successful tour of the Windies, unfortunately missing the 3rd test with a broken finger. The first two tests were against the Packer men, and the combination of Roberts, Garner, Holding, Croft, the wickets and the umpiring left the Australian batsmen scattered across the Lesser Antilles. Yallop fought hard, with scores of 2, 81, 47 and 14. He was not missed in the 3rd, as Serjeant and Graeme Wood added 251 to help the Aussies chase down the imposing target of 362. He recovered for the last two tests against the more inviting line-up of Vanburn Holder and Sylvester Clarke, continuing the good scoring with two more fifties. He scored 317 runs at 45 for the series.
1978-9 - the Poms are coming and Simmo wants a guarantee of his spot for the whole series. The Windies quicks had given him a working over (not surprising given his 42 years), and the selectors, eyeing the likes of Willis, Hendrick, Botham and Old in the England team, decide it's time to take the plunge. Graeme Neil Yallop, you are Australian captain at 26. It's history that the series was lost 5-1, but it was a lot closer than that. A couple of collapses when chasing modest totals consigned the young Australians to a series thrashing. Yallop scored two centuries and made a solid 391 runs at almost 33 in a series completely dominated by the ball. His captaincy leaves much to be desired, at least that's the opinion of new gun quick Rodney Hogg who invites Yallop to inspect the plantings at the back of the Adelaide Oval. Packer-stan's team play two tests at the end of the season, and the first is lost when Sarfraz goes ballistic, taking 7-1 in a spell. Yallop is run out as the Aussies crash from 3-305 to 310 all out, a symbol of their fragile spirit. Yallop gets injured and Kim Hughes inherits the captaincy for the 2nd test, which he is lucky enough to win, due mainly to the form of new boy Allan Border and Hogg's brilliance. Yallop never captains his country again.
1979 - Yallop goes to India under Hughes. We lose 2-0 but Yallop performs reasonably well with the bat, scoring 423 at 38 including 167 opening at Calcutta. Hughes stars on this tour, and he, Yallop and Border appear the only batsman with the class to combat the reasonable bowling line-up of Kapil Dev, Ghavri, Doshi, Yadav and Venkat. Peace is made with the Packer camp and all players are available for the coming summer. With an average of 39 and four test centuries to his name, Yallop must feel some hope of retaining his place....
1979-80 ....but he is not picked for any test. Hookes, Toohey (who has had a shocker in India) and the reborn Ian Chappell rotate the middle order spots, alongside captain Greg Chappell, Hughes and Border. Hookes must feel hard done by when dropped after scoring 43 and 37 against the Windies in Brisbane. The selectors are clearly trying as many men from both camps as possible. Everyone but Yallop.
1980: Ian Chappell retires again and Yallop is picked for the Pakistan tour. He opens in the first test, drops down to displace Hookes for the last two and scores 172 in the Faisalabad run-fest. He keeps his place for the Centenary Test at Lords, scoring a measly 2 as the rain dampens everything except the brilliance of Kim Hughes. By now, Hughes with his solid performances at home and brutal display at Lords, and Border, with his domination of the Pakistani bowlers, are entrenched in the team alongside captain Chappell. With the return to favour of Graeme Wood at the top of the order, Yallop is now fighting Hookes for one place in the top 6.
1980-1 - or so it seems, until evergreen Doug Walters flays the South Australian attack in Sydney and earns a recall to the team for the series against New Zealand and India, 34 tests since he last played. 35-year old Dougie tops the averages, scoring a century in Melbourne, but that can't save him from the axe when the touring team is picked for England.
1981 - for once Yallop benefits from selectorial whims. With Walters at home, and Greg Chappell taking a well-earned break after his 18 months back at the helm, Hughes is made captain and Yallop is again one of the senior hands. He plays all 6 tests in Botham's Ashes, scoring a slashing 114 in the lost cause at Old Trafford, punctuated with devastating drives and cuts. Martin Kent and Trevor Chappell make their test debuts, but it is Dirk Wellham's stodgy century on debut at the Oval which captures the selectors' imagination.
1981-82: official "doubts" begin to surface about his ability against pace - this is the man who has scored runs against the likes of Roberts and Holding, Garner and Croft, Willis and Botham, Imran and Kapil. Chappell returns to the team and Yallop plays the first test against Pakistan, scoring 20 and 38. Australia wins easily, but Yallop is dropped for Wellham. His test average had fallen to 36, but he had scored 6 centuries in his 31 tests, the latest of them only 2 tests before. Wellham fails miserably against the Pakistanis and the Windies, but Yallop gets no reprieve - John Dyson is picked at number 3, behind Wood and Bruce Laird. Yardley takes his 41 wickets and Dyson takes his catch. This line-up plays 3 tests in New Zealand as well.
1982 - Greg Chappell's replacement passport does not show up in time for him to tour Pakistan. Hughes does the dirty work again. This time he has young Queenslander Greg Ritchie for comic relief. Ian Callen, who played one test in 1978, also tours, along with alleged spinner Peter Sleep and back-up keeper Wayne Phillips. This is a horror series, spinners Qadir and Iqbal Qasim ripping through a dispirited team. Yallop's solid technique against spin would surely have been welcome. Ritchie scores a brave century and Geoff Lawson comes of age as a bowler, but the 3-0 drubbing convinces Chappell he made the right decision. No surprises there.
1982-83 - This is the year Hookes goes berserk, with five centuries all scored in a session, including the century from 34 balls at Adelaide. He makes useful scores in the 5 Ashes tests as well, many in partnership with a maturing Hughes (467 runs at 67) and the series is won 2-1. Yallop scores heavily in the Shield, and appears close to displacing Border from the test team. Border is having a horror series until Willis allows him to bat himself into form at the MCG, and he capitalises with two fifties in the last test at the SCG. Kepler Wessels qualifies for Australia and displaces Wood at the top of the order.
1983 - Chappell finally resigns as captain but fills in for Hughes in the one-off test in Sri Lanka. Yallop is the lucky man chosen in the middle order, back again after a mammoth 16 tests on the outer. Roger Woolley and Tom Hogan make debuts. Wessels scores a big ton, and Yallop gets 98 - these runs need to be discounted, as Hookes scored 143 not out, his only century in 23 tests.
1983-4 - the season in the sun. The Australians, mindful of Qadir's spin, stack the team with lefties - Wayne Phillips, Wessels, Yallop and Border, as well as Marsh, and Greg Matthews late in the series. Hughes and Chappell are the odd men out. Yallop bludgeons a century on the first day at Perth, and goes on to dominate the series, scoring 554 runs at 92. The highlight is a marathon 268 at the MCG. Border, Hughes and Chappell also have big series with the bat, yet Geoff Lawson is made Man of the Series. Yallop is now being talked about as a late bloomer (he is 31) and one of the best batsmen in the world.
1984 - disaster strikes again as he injures his knee in a meaningless one-dayer. He misses the whole tour of the West Indies. Greg Chappell has retired, along with Lillee and Marsh. Hookes plays every test, Steve Smith and Dean Jones make their debuts. Border saves Australia from total disaster, but the 3-0 loss flatters the Aussies. In a worrying sign, Hughes' form deteriorates as the captaincy takes its toll. He has many scores in the 20s and 30s, but cannot convert.
1984-85 - one more year Hoggy, one more year Yallop. So exhorted the ACB ads at the start of the season. A season too far. Yallop returns from injury in the first test at Perth, his 8th time back in the team. Australia are rissoled for 76 by Holding, Yallop scores 1 and 2, and is unceremoniously dumped. Boon, Ritchie and Hilditch (back after 5 years) grab the selectors' eye. 3-1 to the Windies, the body count including Hughes, Yallop, Dyson and Hogg.
1985 - Yallop announces his intention to tour South Africa with Hughes' rebels. He is lost to tests at 32, and never plays first class cricket again. His record stands at 39 tests, 2756 runs, average 41.13, 8 centuries, highest score 268. He and Hughes sue the ACB for banning them from playing grade cricket. The players who were, with Border, the symbols of loyalty to the ACB, become the pariahs of Australian cricket, never to be spoken about, never to have their innings replayed on Channel 9 during rain delays.
In reviewing Yallop's career, some points need to be made. There is no doubt the selectors were afforded the luxury of flirting with Yallop, Hookes, Walters, Wellham and Ritchie due to the stability provided in the middle order by Greg Chappell, Hughes and Border - who each played every home test from 1979-80 until 1983-4.
Yallop's longest period between centuries was 6 tests - a record unmatched by his direct competitors, and one that many of the current team would covet. And when noting the tests he missed, it is worth remembering the smaller program back then - he was twice out for effectively two years - 1976-78 and then 1981-83. In modern terms, that would entail missing about 30 tests each time.
Interestingly, Yallop only hit 9 fifties. He was not the quintessential "duck or hundred" man like Graeme Wood, instead scoring enough 20s and 30s to retain a solid average. But his propensity to punctuate high scores with many low ones kept him in the selectors' gaze every time a young gun appeared on the scene. Last in, first out.
There is no doubt Yallop was harshly treated by the selectors. Maybe they thought they owed him no favours, having thrust him in to the team in 75-6 at the expense of established players like Rick McCosker. Maybe they thought he owed them for being made captain of one of the weakest teams in Australian history. Maybe he suffered for not being a WSC player. Maybe it was because he was Victorian. Or a left hander. Or had a big bum.
But the next time a Ponting, Blewett, Langer, Slater, Elliott or Bevan, not to mention a Martyn or a Law, has a whinge about the selectors, get them to give Graeme Yallop a call.
When I was first asked to consider spending some time working for Labor Council, my immediate reaction was one of curiosity.
Was I to become the Damien O'Connor of the NSW Labor Council, or more specifically, simply a mouthpiece for the "Left"? Was I to take my seat alongside other Left comrades at Labor Council Executive and look for issues to challenge the Right leadership on? Was I there to expand the Left's influence on Council by simply demanding proportional representation on every Labor Council Committee or activity? Was I to play the typically factional role that I had become accustomed to in the ALP?
The answer of course to all these questions was no! Working for the Labor Council has reinforced the position I've generally adopted within the Left (much to the disgust of some of my Left comrades), that is, the Party and the trade union movement's general interests always need to come first before the interests of any faction or individual.
For me, those interests are about keeping Labor in government and revitalising the trade union movement.
In my view both are important objects but often lost in the factional shenanigans that goes on over the "control" and spoils of public office.
Without being in government and/or having a strong and effective trade union movement our chances of protecting and improving the lot of working people from the excesses of a free market economy are next to nil. Strong unionism and Labor governments won't resolve all the contradictions, problems, and uncertainties that come with an advanced capitalist society but these two arms of the Labor movement are our best chance in the foreseeable future to continue our work towards creating a more humane, just, and fair society.
Although I still belong to the Socialist Left faction my alignment to that faction is one of symbolism rather than absolute commitment. I would consider myself no less a "Lefty" sitting outside the formal faction. However, the way factions are institutionalised within the ALP at the moment, I and many others don't have much choice, although that is slowly changing.
Factions now have fractions. Within each fraction there are personality groups. Those that control or influence each of these groupings have really only one agenda, that is, to build up parliamentary influence capable of determining Ministerial positions. Anyone who argues that there is a lot more to factions these days is kidding themselves.
There is not enough time in this article to detail how each of these machine groups work, but those that have been the controllers, the beneficiaries or victims of factional and fractional wheeling and dealing know the exact nature of the beast. They are hardly democratic, although they try to give an impression that they are.
The zealots in all factions will argue passionately about how factionalism is necessary if we are true to our philosophical or ideological beliefs.
This is simply bullshit!
Its peoples actions not factions that will lead to change.
Factions have simply become internal mechanisms of control. They are losing authority. Within the trade union movement they are becoming only mechanisms of consultation and within the ALP they are searching to find ways to keep their constituency locked into factional caucus positions.
Factions over the last 5 or so years have become like "straight jackets", but with more people finding ways of escape. Rank and file members and unions want to be able to express their views and debate issues without being labelled Right or Left.
Defactionalisation doesn't mean an end to beliefs or debates on issues. To the contrary defactionalisation will open up debate on a whole range of issues which in the past have been "managed" depending on what's in the interests of the faction.
Defactionalisation won't mean anarchy either. Some will tell you that without factions the Party would have no direction and control.
Factional zealots will of course have less control because in a defactionalised environment it's the elected officers of the Party and the executive which would provide the leadership.They would need to be more accountable and communicative to all of Labors membership not just people in the factional know.
Not possible in the ALP you might ask? Anything is possible if there is the will to do it!
If we look at the Labor Council of NSW as an example, it still exhibits some notions of competition when it comes to the ACTU, but this is more to do with roles, relationships, processes and priorities.
In some ways the Labor Council of NSW is becoming (in political terms) the broad political church in terms of its officers, that the ACTU has been for many years! The difference? The Secretary (Costa) who can be as opinionated and pugnacious as any one I've seen, is very much open to ideas, views and debate.
I've never seen anyone in the Labor movement network as much as Costa to keep in touch with what all unions are thinking and doing.
Look at the how Labor Council Executive works by comparison to the NSW Administrative Committee. Having attended both, it's like chalk and cheese.
Labor Council is a lot more open. Very little caucusing "left"/"right" is evident on issues and unions feel at ease either raising issues with the Executive Officers or at the Executive meeting itself. That's not to say there aren't or won't be differences. More often than not, however, these differences aren't "factional", they are "issues" based.
At an Officer level the Labor Council is inclusive of ideas and no one is backward in putting forward their views. Unlike the ALP, none of the debates get caught up in the old factional time warp of the past.
Every issue that is debated invariably has a different alliance of people arguing the case.
Ultimately, on any "serious" issue there are real attempts to try an reach a position which maximises unity, not division.
At a time when the trade union movement is under continual scrutiny and attack the only way forward is under the banner of unity and cooperation. This needs to occur in the Australian Labor Party. We need to recast the culture and rules of the Party to one where the ability to stack branches, manipulate rules, and crunch numbers is not the criteria for determining public office.
I'm not able in this short article to articulate the many changes I'd like to see happen to the Party,suffice to say that defactionalisation will only be possible if the decision making processes in the Party are more communicative ,transparent, and accountable.
Changes are already starting to occur in this regard but it will require brave people and strong leadership to ensure the process towards defactionalisation doesn't stall.
Chris Christodoulou is the senior industrial officer at the NSW Labor Council and joint assistant national secretary of the ALHMU
The charges were raised last weekend, in an extraordinary column by Piers' off-sider Michael Duffy -- accusing me of "incipient facism", "thuggish tactics" and "one of the most offensive attacks on freedom of speech." Fighting words, indeed.
In a full-page diatribe ironically titled "Right to Speak up for Tolerance", Duffy elevates our $1000 bounty on Piers into some higher attack on the values that made our nation great.
I'd argue this is a perversion of any notion of freedom of speech; turning it into a slogan which hides the reality that the public forums are dominated by a small group of middle aged men with a reactionary world-view.
This point is best illustrated when my boss, Michael Costa, (who was criticised in the piece for not disciplining me!) attempted to get a letter to the editor printed in the Telegraph in reply to Duffy's column.
Guess what? The Telegraph, the self-proclaimed champion of free speech and the need to hear all views, refused point blank to print it.
When Costa's secretary rang the Telegraph Letters Editor late in the week to ask whether we'd get a run she was told: the Telegraph does not publish letters just because they come institutions like the Labor Council, and that the Daily Telegraph must represent the views of everyone in the community, not just Michael Costa.
So how does this decision fit in with the rehtorical argument of freedom of speech.
While Piers continues to indulge his own thin skin and carp on about the "fatwah" against him, his critics are given no column inches in his news paper to argue their case.
Which makes the claim that Workers Online is silencing Piers seem pretty hollow.
Where have we impinged on your freedom to speak, Piers? You chatter on incessantly about the "chatteirng classes", and devote your columns to promoting your own political agenda while complaining that "political correctness" has silenced you. For someone who's been silenced, you still seem to be making a lot of noise ...
Which is really the point of the issue.
The Daily Telegraph purports to present news, but it really promotes agendas in line with its own political prejudices.
It instincitvely bashes unions without having an industrial reporter, it monsters ideas without engaging with them first, it tells its readers how to think rather than providing them with information.
As Costa noted in his unpublished response to Duffy: "If the people the Telegraph regularly attacks such as Aboriginals, the unemployed, homosexuals or trade unionists had the same access to your pages (the very people the real "facists" have always targetted), then you could justifiably pontificate about a principle like free speech."
The Telegraph printed a heavily edited version of Costa's letter Saturday. It also ran a front page story on the sacked Oakdale miners -- although it managed to avoid any mention of the CFMEU in the story or editorial. Does any of this invalidate the above theory? I think not ...
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005