Fresh from running up the largest Parliamentary travel bill in the country flying to and from his own private airport, Deputy PM John Anderson is fast becoming a leader with no party. This week that bastion of bolshevism, the NSW National Party, joined their Queensland colleagues in opposing any further privatisation of Telstra leaving Anderson increasingly isolated.
While he doesn't have to drive on substandard roads like the rest of us, Anderson spends a lot of time traveling the country selling the "benefits" of full Telstra privatisation.
One of Anderson's most ingenious arguments is that "Telstra will be sold anyway". This bizarre inevitability and resignation on Anderson's part shows how much the coalition are captive of a mindless pursuit of ideology regardless of the outcomes for millions of ordinary Australians.
The public are growing weary of snake oil salesmen such as Anderson stumping around the country promising that the Privatisation of Telstra will usher in a wonderful age of great service and that by pissing a few million up against a tree the Government can guarantee an end to poor service, inferior technology and holes in donuts. It just doesn't wash. Everyone understands the public mood except for the Federal Cabinet and the stockbroking fraternity.
Anderson has led his Federal colleagues to a position of irrelevancy by not standing up over this fundamental issue of rural infrastructure.
"The National Party has got an awful lot to answer for here because they have caved in completely to the Liberal Party on this issue," said Tanner on the ABC's Insider's program last week. He summed up Anderson's position well when he described the Nats as "a wholly owned subsidiary of the Liberal Party".
It seems Anderson has already privatised his own party, selling it off to the big end of town.
Even the Victorian Nationals are opposed to selling Telstra. This must concern Anderson considering the Victorian division has produced such intellectual giants as Julian McGauran.
As a substitute for having a policy that actually delivers to his constituency, Anderson is placing what passes as his faith in a marketing campaign.
Anderson has completely missed the point about people's objections to having their assets summarily sold out from underneath them. Making our telecommunications infrastructure and its employees answer to the market rather than the community has already been an unmitigated disaster. Now we know whose interests Anderson represents.
An advertising campaign is not going to improve telecommunication services or give anyone outside the advertising industry job security. How clueless our Deputy PM has become became apparent when he was sidelined during the Iraq War. Anderson, like his party in regional Australia, is fast becoming an embarrassing irrelevancy. Our Tool of the Week will need more than smarmy spin doctors to save him from a backlash in the bush if he tries to get his crazy plan to flog off Telstra up.
It's about time the bush was represented by people who know and understand what it's like to have to deal with corporate giants like Telstra, rather than spineless yes-men to the Liberal's divisive and destructive agenda.
Representatives of Morris McMahon workers addressed the NSW Labor Council after winning their battle for a collective agreement the day after a national furore broke over a picket line confrontation.
The CFMEU national secretary apologised unreservedly for aggressive picketline actions, caught on video, diverting attention from the longest-running picket in recent memory.
Delegates thanked all unions who supported the picket including the MUA, CFMEU, ETU, RTBU, NUW. LHMU, NTEU, IEU, Teachers Federation, PSA and CPSU, saying their support was "indispensable in the final victory".
But they singled Sutton out for special recognition.
"We're sorry about the opposition to you last night but we thank you for your support on the picket line," Edith Rapana said.
Her Morris McMahon colleague Keith Brown echoed the sentiment: "John Sutton came down on numerous occasions; he's been a big supporter of ours and we're very sorry he's been singled out."
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian says the dispute centred around issues fundamental to Australian workers: the right to belong to a trade union, the right to have a union bargain on their behalf and the right to a decent wage.
Bastian says key points in the settlement are:
- a legally enforceable, certified union agreement
- a fair and reasonable pay increase
- recognition of their union
- rights for union delegates
- and limits on the use of casual contract labour.
"Importantly, they have not signed individual contracts," Bastian says.
In his first week as Labor’s Workplace Relations spokesman, Emerson lashed Abbott’s handling of the portfolio as partisan, out of touch, and ideologically-driven.
"I don't condone violence but sometimes emotions boil over. We should be seeking to avoid conflict of that sort and a good way to do that is to offer a vehicle for resolution, rather than allowing emotions to get hotter and hotter," Emerson said.
"That dispute lasted 15 weeks and Tony Abbott's went in and inflamed it. That seems to be his role in life. He rings up bosses where there is a dispute and either eggs them on, or urges them to continue the dispute.
"Tony Abbott is the Minister for Conflict and Confrontation. I would be the Minister for Co-operation and that is a better option for workers and employers."
Emerson gave the car industry as a "classic" example of the Abbott approach. He pointed out the Federal Government had urged employers to take a hard line against workers or lose millions of dollars in industry support.
"They made the threat very, very clear," Emerson said.
He argued that the confrontational approach was inevitable because the Federal Government had deliberately enterered Australian workers into a wages and conditions "race to the bottom' against South East Asian counterparts, that they could not win.
That policy, he says, is entirely dependent on stripping workers of bargaining power. Hence, the downgrading of the IRC as an indendent umpire and reduction of collective bargaining rights.
Abbott's Termination of Employment Bill, he said, had the same rationale, making it easier for employers to sack people and workers less secure.
Labor, he pledged, would take the opposite tack, increasing funds for training and education so Australia could compete at the top end of the market as a high-skills, high-wage, player.
He said unions should be dealt back into the main game as principal players in 21st Century Australia.
Emerson expressed confidence in the leadership provided by ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, and president, Sharan Burrow, predicting he would work co-operatively, and productively, with both.
The ‘procurement policy’ would force government department to ensure that all successful tenders and recipients of state money met defined criteria, including using the NSW Industrial Relations system and allowing collective agreements.
Endorsing the approach, NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson said the time had arrived to ensure the interests of workers were at the forefront of government decision-making.
"More and more companies are bidding for government contracts or seeking government aid," Robertson says. "It is only fair that they are asked to meet certain obligations in terms of their treatment of workers."
While unions had struck a Memorandum of Understanding with the department of Public Workers and Services was struck last year, there are concerns that the agreement is not being enforced.
Some recent examples include:
- The NSW Health Department's decision to source hospital linen from Chine rather than locally.
- A string of government building projects where sub-contractors dodge their legal entitlements
- - the decision by State and regional Development to give financial support to the Stellar call centre, which employs workers under individual contracts.
"The government is not fair dinkum about their codes," Robertson says. "Tony Abbott has not problem pressuring firms to adopt his ideological agenda to federal funding, so I don't see why Labor Government's shouldn't be applying the same rules.
"The deal should be: you use our industrial relations system, you will not offer individual contracts and if you don't like it, we won't give you a government contract."
The NSW and Victorian Governments are providing matching funding to the Union Education Foundation, which will be chaired by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, with a board comprising senior union and employer representatives.
It is the first national training program since the demise of the federally funded Trade Union Training Authority, which was de-funded when the Howard Government came to power.
Courses will lead to nationally recognised qualifications endorsed by the Australian National Training Authority for union delegates.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet says the training will equip employee representatives with skills to participate more effectively in enterprise bargaining negotiations.
"Education about enterprise bargaining can help achieve the productivity and efficiency improvements required for Australia's ongoing international competitiveness," Combet says.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson, who will also sit on the board, says the fund makes good economic sense. "I congratulate the NSW and Victorian Governments for filling the leadership void left by an ideologically driven federal government.
"State Labor has led the way in creating a framework for civilized workplace relations, balancing the need for productive businesses with the rights of workers to bargain collectively.
"Training workplace delegates to use this system is the necessary next step in modernising industrial relations while maintaining decent wages and conditions."
by Carly Knowles
The dossier records another teacher being accused of humiliating a yawning student by yelling “I don”t want to watch you yawning, so next time, have a better breakfast and go to bed earlier.”
Teacher's Federation secretary Barry Johnson, says such allegations are "ridiculous" and the Federation is concerned that the department spends such a lot of time investigating such trivial matters that real child abuse in the community may go undetected.
"The definition of what constitutes child abuse is too broad."
It was alleged one teacher "engaged in inappropriate contact" by poking a student in the back "causing him to feel some pain". The teacher was in fact intervening to prevent that student assaulting another.
The dossier recorded another teacher telling a student: "If you hit me again, I will report you to the police for assault." That student told the Department of Education and Training the teacher was "intimidating" and should be charged with child abuse.
Once an allegation has been made, even if it is unfounded, teachers are placed on a risk assessment scale and are monitored for a specified period. If teachers choose to leave the school, or the profession, they have marks against their names for the remainder of their working lives.
"The process involving our members is both demeaning and stressful and many of the teachers against whom allegations are made have their careers destroyed," says Johnson.
The concerns are not just disciplinary. A female teacher was unable to comfort a tearful primary child on a school excursion for fears claims would be made against her. The student woke during the night crying for home, but the teacher was afraid to be seen in her nightclothes comforting the boy.
NSW Premier Bob Carr says teachers must be able to comfort children, restrain them from danger, or break up fights without fear of child abuse charges.
"It is essential that commonsense prevails and that we get the balance right between the rights of teachers and child protection" Carr says.
The Premier will get results of the legislative review next month.
Teachers Federation spokesman, Phil Bradley, lashed fee hikes unveiled in Treasurer Michael Egan’s latest budget as “unfair and elitist”.
They would, he said, cost tens of thousands of people in NSW the opportunity to further their education, and the greatest impact would be on the most disadvantaged.
Programs such as Outreach, for students with special needs, Career Education and Volunteer Tutoring, he predicted, would be jeopardised.
"Why would you volunteer to tutor if you have to pay fees to do the course?" Bradley asked.
Bradley said the fee regime ran counter to ALP state policy, which called for the abolition of all TAFE fees for "mainstream vocational courses'.
Government boosted fees for some courses by 300 percent and deemed there would be no difference in the scale between students studying a few hours a week and those in fulltime learning.
The Teachers Federation argues that the Government has shifted the burden for underwriting a TAFE education from the community to individual students, whether they can afford it or not.
It argues that less than half the $27.5 million fee windfall would be returned to TAFEs to cover increased operating costs.
The Carr Government's aggressive fee increases are seen as a potential problem for Federal Labor which is trying to make political capital out of escalating HECS debts.
The fee hike further sours relations between the Carr Government and teachers. There was already a stand-off over the increasing reliance on casuals, paid at less than 60 percent the pro rata fulltime rate, to staff TAFEs.
Seven out of 10 TAFE teachers are regarded as part-time casuals, although many have taught regular hours for decades, and they account for 50 percent of classroom hours.
Not only do they lose out on salary but they don't get paid holidays, other entitlements, or have any job security.
The Teachers Federation says TAFE teachers are the only regular teachers in the public or private sectors who are not paid pro rata the fulltime rate.
by Carly Knowles
Over 40,000 people left Australian shores for good last year, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward told an ACTU forum on childcare this week. She warns this figure is going to increase, due to the expected global downturn in the labour force in 2005-07.
As the baby boomers retire and the labour force shrinks, "workers will become extremely sought after commodities and companies will be forced to create and offer workplaces that are both attractive and responsive to employees' needs."
According to ACTU President Sharan Burrows, The finding that 174,500 Australian children missed out on childcare last year shows that childcare is a need not being met for Australian families.
Jo-anne Schofield, the LHMU's National Assistant Secretary says this is because "there are just not enough trained child care professionals."
The LHMU is calling for a significant increase to the award so that workers will be attracted to the profession and to "properly recompense this important group of workers".
Lowenna Dunkerley, who is soon to complete her diploma in childcare, is considering retraining as a teacher because "it pays better and has better holidays". She's not keen on up to three years more study at university, but she thinks it's probably worth it.
"The pay sucks. Everyone thinks so", she says. "It's really hard work. You're full on for nine hours a day, you're responsible for between five and 10 children, you change nappies and have to keep a constant eye on them."
Schofield says, "Unfortunately there is plenty of evidence that people qualify to work in the child care sector but never work as carers because of the low wages".
"Child care centres are crying out for appropriately trained workers but these workers are nowhere to be found. We can only expand child care services if we are prepared to train and properly pay all the workers needed in these centres."
Goward says childcare services are essential if we want to keep Australian workers in Australia. She says "The question is not what will it cost, it's what will happen if we don't have it.
"Companies or indeed countries that persist in not performing for working parents will do so at their peril".
According to ACTU figures, Australia's government expenditure on childcare is 0.1 per cent of GDP, ranking 26th out of 28 OECD countries. The highest expenditure is in Denmark where 2.1 per cent of GDP is spent with the OECD average at 0.6 per cent.
The AMWU is getting behind an international day of action, boycotting Coke products on July 22, and has urged other unions to join the campaign and extend it to organised workplaces.
The first thing unions should do, AMWU secretary Paul Bastian says, is remove Coca Cola vending machines from their premises.
Bastian says that, besides the eight killings carried out by paramilitaries since 1996, the company has been accused of involvement in tortures, kidnappings and sackings at other Colombian plants.
The day of action coincides with the opening of a US court case in which Coke botters, Panamco and Bebidas, face charges of human rights violations.
The company's main Latin American bottler, Panamco, is being sued by Columbia's food and beverage union for financing right wing paramilitaries, alleged to have murdered and intimidated trade unionists.
NSW Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, said the international day of action would send a powerful message to the soft drink giant.
Robertson endorsed a co-ordinated campaign to bring home to Coca Cola the strength of feeling about killings and human rights abuses in Columbia.
Enterprise bargaining negotiations broke down after the tyre manufacturer refused to put a guaranteed wage increase on the table. They also pressed for ...
reduced sick leave entitlements
increased hours of work
reduced numbers of work breaks
slashed entitlements for injured workers
the unrestricted right to use labour hire or casual labour
the right to further increase working hours
Bridgestone directors say tyre production in Adelaide is a "marginal" proposition and that the operations sustainability swings of cost reductions.
But last year, alone, six executive directors took $454,000 out of the company in "bonuses", on top of $1.4 million in base salaries.
Bridgestone walked out of negotiations and announced they would put their clawback document to a vote of 600 workers at the Salisbury plant, the majority members of the LHMU.
"We have broken down because directors won't move from a position that while they pay themselves six-figure salaries, and juicy bonuses, they say workers don't deserve anything," LHMU assistant secretary, Chris Field, said.
Hanging over the tyre industry is the fact that one of Bridgestone's major competitors, SPT, last year closed three of its four Melbourne sites with the loss of more than 1000 jobs.
Bridgestone has gone public over the threat of cheap imports to its future, whilst importing almost half its Australian product from cheap labour countries.
The AIRC this week ruled that it did not have the power to force Channel Seven to provide email communications for unions involved in enterprise negotiations.
Instead, it says union delegates could make use of Channel Seven's phones, fax machines, photocopiers and notice boards.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the decision suggested that the Australian Industrial Relations was locked in the dark ages.
"In this case we have a media company, utilizing high-tech communications, but arguing that their staff should not have access to union emails.
"Even the AIRC now distributes media releases by email and posts decisions on the internet; but it does not recognise the same need for unions.
"The reality is that email is a fast, cheap and efficient means of communications which should facilitate better negotiations and more harmonious industrial relations."
Robertson says the decision heightens the need for legislation in NSW to cleary set down workers' rights with respect to emails in the workplace.
"The NSW Government has had proposals to preserve workplace email privacy, including the right for unions to keep members informed for some time. This decision shows the time to act is now."
The 2000 hotel workers employed by the multi-national chain, have voted to accept a union-negotiated agreement which delivers a $61 a week wage increase - over three years.
"While John Howard comes up with all sorts of excuses to deny working families the basic right of maternity leave union members have rolled up their sleeves and sat around the negotiating table with Starwood Hotels to win this important social advance," LHMU official Tim Ferrari says.
"Maybe John Howard can study these clauses and try to catch up with what what working women want."
The agreement is an improvement on what the Industrial Relations Commission awarded earlier this year for low-wage workers in the hospitality industry who are either not unionised, or have not achieved the collective power to insist on an enterprise agreement .
The new agreement comes after three weeks of debate and voting involving hotel workers at Starwood Hotels, including the Sheraton Hotels in Brisbane, Noosa and Melbourne; the Westin Hotels in Melbourne and Sydney; Four Points in Port Macquarie and Geelong and the "W" in Sydney.
The US has put the labour rights agenda on the table during bilateral talks, although it was Congressional requirement linked to NAFTA and concerns of the flight of jobs from Middle America to Mexico.
But the Australian Government is arguing that any issues to do with labour rights should not be in trade agreements, a position reflected in the recent bilateral agreement with Singapore.
Details of Australia's position has emerged as pressure grows about the impact it would have on the public provisions of state government services. There are also doubts about whether government purchasing policies favouring Australian companies with good labour practices would be allowed.
"Pressures are being mounted by corporate interests in the US for Australia to restrict the right of government s in this country to fund public education and health services," NSW Teachers federal general secretary Barry Johnson says.
"Australians have made the democratic decision that public regulation and often public provision of these services is required to ensure that there is equitable access to high quality essential services.
"Decisions about these issues are a matter of social policy and should not be negotiated in a trade agreement."
Labor Council is arranging a meeting with NSW treasurer Michael Egan to discuss these concerns.
For more details visit AFTINET at: http://www.aftinet.org.au/
The Australian Workers Union presented the log, a comprehensive agenda of reforms needed to improve conditions for workers outside the major metropolitan areas.
AWU state secretary Russ Collison the worst drought in twenty years has made life a lot tougher for the average shearer, farm hand and horticultural worker whose reliance on seasonal work has always made life a struggle.
The Log of Claims consists of five key demands:
- A State Drought Summit - to bring together stakeholders to guide and develop Government policies to ensure the survival of the bush.
- Reform to the Rural Accommodation Act - to ensure farm and property workers are housed in adequate dwellings when working.
- Development of a National Water Policy - all state Labor Governments working together to ensure Australia's water supplies survive.
- A new Government Purchasing code - ensuring that Agriculture Department contractors' employees have a right to organise and are protected by the relevant OHS and Industrial legislation.
- Reforming Rural Workplace Safety practices - a new focus on changing rural work practices to minimise workplace deaths and injuries.
"Government has a responsibility to the bush and a Labor Government has a special responsibility to rural workers," Collison says.
" With the Carr Government's victory in March we have a unique opportunity to set the framework for rural NSW over the next four years with a special focus on improving the lives of average country workers, who have never done it so tough."
Evatt Foundation Breakfast Seminar
Australia's retreat from egalitarianism
Professor Frank Stilwell (chair)
Professor Hugh Stretton
When: Tuesday 8 July 2003
Where: Macquarie Room, Quality Hotel (formerly the Southern Cross Hotel), Cnr Goulburn and Elizabeth Streets Sydney, opposite the Goulburn Street
Parking Station, and a short stroll from both Central and Museum railway
Cost: $14 (includes breakfast)
Timing: Breakfast will be served from 7.30 am, the seminar will commence promptly at 8.00 am and finish on the dot of 9.00 am.
Bookings: Please RSVP to the Evatt Foundation by: Mail: Evatt Foundation, University of NSW, Sydney, NSW, 2052; Telephone: 9385 2966; Fax: 9385 2967;
or Email: [email protected]
For more information, visit the Evatt Foundation's website:
'THE WORK / LIFE COLLISION- What is to be Done?'
Tuesday, 8th July 6:30 for 7:00pm
Gleebooks: 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe 2037
Please RSVP to gleebooks - ph: 9660 2333 or
email: [email protected]
a panel discussion
author of "The Work/Life Collision"
Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner
National President of CFMEU
BUILDING UNION CITIES - US STYLE
WHEN: Wednesday 9th July 2003 from 10am to 12 noon
WHERE: Ground Floor Training Room, Labor Council Building, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney
WHO: With AMY DEAN, CEO, South Bay Labor Council, Silicon Valley
In 1995 when John Sweeny and the New Voice Team took over the leadership of the AFL-CIO, they pledged to revive organising and to devote leadership and resources to reactivating labour councils and build a movement. Amy Dean is the Chair of the AFL-CIO Advisory Committee on Central Labor Councils. She has worked very closely with the Sweeny team and has pioneered the revitalization process of US Labor Councils.
During the seminar with Amy we will:
Ø Talk about building union cities
Ø Outline the challenges of new economy organising
Ø Discuss how the US Union movement is building community unionism
Ø Explain how the South Bay Labor Council has become the voice of working families in Silicon Valley
Ø Explore with us the challenges of how the movement can move from reactive to proactive political and social practices
Ø Describe how the US labour movement began to get pro-worker candidates elected to office and how they kept those candidates accountable
Ø Detail how leading US unions utilize comprehensive campaigning techniques to build industry power
George Monbiot Speaks
At the invitation of Oxfam CAA George Monbiot is giving his only public talk outside the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, at the Valhalla Theatre on Tuesday 15th July at 6.30pm.
Gleebooks by emailing email@example.com[email protected] or phone 9660 233
This event is co-sponsored by
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, Gleebooks & The Adelaide Festival of Ideas
Venue: The Valhalla - 166 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
$8/$5 conc & gleeclub RSVP Tel: 9660 2333 or email [email protected]
When Brian arrived at Pearly Gates, St Peter was at the entrance to greet and ask him a few questions.
'Good day mate!,' Brian said to St Peter as he took out his 'Safety Ratification' book.
'I have just arrived here and I already have noticed at least 10 OHS breaches,' Brian said to St Peter.
'Where is your safety committee,' Brian inquired.
'Aaah,' a stunned and startled St Peter began to stammer.
By then a small crowd had gathered to see what the commotion was all about.
'Bbri.. Brri.. Brian,' St Peter tried to explain, 'this, this is heaven, and we, we do things quite differently here. We...'
But before St Peter could even finished his sentence, Brian had formed a safety committee at the entrance to Pearly Gates.
Meanwhile down below, Lucifer looked up in disbelief.
'Thank heaven his is not down here with us,' Lucifer said.
All the shonky developers and bosses nodded their heads in agreement.
NSW state labour laws are as ineffective as labour laws of the United States if the Electrolux attack on its Orange work force is sustained.
Where is the Industrial relations minister and decent labour laws to settle this issue once and for all. Why has the Carr labor government abandon its rank and file. Why do labor members of parliament remain silent when oridinary working people are are attacked and pressured to quit the union?
The labour movement must get more radical if it hopes to survive and remain a coherent force. The struggle is only going to be harder, we must start by targetting labor members who do not support the labour movement, both federally and state, its not a left / right clash but a return to traditional policy and action. We need people who prepared to join The ALP in safe seats and dump the sitting MP's . Can we trust the Carr government any longer.
I read with interest your story about Adrian Ware and life after sustaining a serious injury at work. In the article you mentioned that various family members, including Adrian's wife, parents and parents-in-law all now assist Adrian and his family with tasks that he can no longer do.
Every day, many people sustain injuries in the course of their work, some of them very serious ones. And every day their family members become carers. Many workers juggle their employment with caring responsibilities for a family member who is frail, has a disability, chronic or mental illness. Unfortunately, not all workplaces are carer-friendly yet and it can be difficult for carers to get emergency time-off or flexible hours when necessary. The "Carer Responsibilities" amendment to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, passed in 2000, goes some way towards rectifying this.
In addition, carers often don't know where to find out about the assistance that's available in the community. That's where Carers NSW can help. Through our Carer Resource Centre (1800 242 636), we provide information, Carer Support Kits and emotional support to carers. The Carer Resource Centre is like a one-stop shop about everything carers might need to know about caring. Our services are free.
We would appreciate you informing carers about our service so that they know that support is available. It is important for carers to get help with caring, especially where their caring responsibilities are high or very time-consuming. Carers NSW is a good place to start.
In the last issue Kim Bullimore said, in respect of Cuba:
" We on the Left need to understand that democracy cannot and should not be reduced to a political process as Norton has done, but instead should be defined and judged as to the quality of life it is capable of offering."
On this basis of course countries like Singapore and others who provide a good living standards are counted as democratic. tell that to the
union and party leaders in jail./ Every criticism of Cuba is met with the 'explanation' that it is a victim of the US. No doubt it is, but
that is a shopworn excuse for an elite of bureacrats to live very comfortably while feeling smug about being 'revolutionaries' fighting the
dreaded US imperialism.
Some of the Left seem determined to re-live the days when the great Socialist Fatherland of the Soviet Union ( or China) was the beacon of
hope. Personally I hope that Cuba finds a way towards real democracy but having illusions about what exists there now helps nobody.
It's time for the left to radically re-think its situation, instead of clinging to old verities and illusions.
Old Ted sat quietly, looking at the assembly. He knew them all some for well over thirty years. He nodded recognition to a few friends , they nodded back, or waved a paper or pipe stem.
He`d started with Merriman`s Engineering from school nearly forty years ago under old Frank Merriman and expected to stay until retirement. When old Frank handed over to young Ron recently life went on the same.
Past on-the-job learning and long experience stood him in good stead. He "burnt in" new machines , ran the tricky jobs , and his opinion was valued by old Frank when new contracts or new machines were under consideration.
Ted`s poor education had ruled out management positions but "he knew the union" and was respected and trusted by the men , for twenty years he`d been shop steward.
For over fifteen of those years "award negotiations"had been held between Ted and Old Frank. Ted would knock on the office door at 1.30 on the first Monday in May. They`ed sit down with a pot of tea and a plate of iced vo-vos ; discuss their families ; the youngsters coming through - how each year they seemed more inept , not like the "old days"; and gradually work around to problems and what each wanted.
There was no argument , both knew the pros and cons , work and projects on the books , and the difference between "want" and "need" so neither could fool the other. By the end of the day the deal was pretty well set , just minor details to be sorted out before the award was presented before the men and the company board on the first of June. If Ted and Old Frank were in agreement there was no doubt how votes would run.
Merriman`s was old fashioned and conservative , but it was a "civilised" place to work. The four "girls" had it too good to want "equality". The youngest , Mrs Thornton (Leslie in private), must be going on - what?-35 now? She started when she was 18.. Twelve years ago they started building and repairing supermarket trolleys , eight years ago it became their main contract , demand always exceeded supply. Where did the blasted things go he mused. Merriman`s had built enough to cover Sydney in trolleys three deep , yet there were never any at the local supermarket. Though Merriman`s bid was never low , demand grew due to workmanship and meticulous attention to detail. Until Ron got caught with a shifty CBD construction company that went belly - up and dragged Merriman`s under. Ron sold the company to Japanese multinationals eight months ago. The men and union were assured business would continue as usual , with Ron as General Manager , and it did
until the award negotiations.
Suddenly Ron was out and Ted found himself negotiating with three university graduates who didn`t know a steel bar from a lump of cheese , but could read a balance sheet to maximise advantages. They`d flatly rejected every claim.
No discussions , just "NO". Merriman`s was finished They didn`t want
Merrimans , only the trolley contract. A giant plant in Taiwan (not even loyal to Japan , Ted thought bitterly , how could we expect them to be loyal to us), would supply supermarket trolleys world-wide. Merriman`s would be stripped and closed , or sold with the few other contracts that could only maintain a fraction of the workforce - either decision was immaterial and no business of Ted`s. Then a young twerp in a six hundred dollar suit , trying to keep clear of Ted`s clear of Ted`s clean and honest overalls , earnestly stated that men like Ted were too old and would be offered a golden handshake. They could accept or reject it , but they were finished at Merriman`s.
Most of the younger men would be retained until the Taiwan plant began supply. "Negotiations" dragged on for months. For the first time Ted had to call the union for assistance. All his life he had been a "union man" , but when help was needed it was like looking for an iceberg in a desert.
"We can`t start another strike only a month before elections , Ted" . the secretary explained and "The union is knee deep in cases before the industrial court , we can`t handle another one right now , Ted. Give it a rest ,we`ll get them next year ." from the organiser. There wouldn`t be a "next year " for those men , including Ted , laid off within six months. So even more unbelievably Ted had recommended the men walk out.
A meeting was called for that afternoon but with elections looming ACTU big-wig suddenly arrived. He communicated well with the bean-counters. His Italian suit and university speak made it hard to tell who was union and who was management. He had no time for Ted. The country needed foreign investment to get it back on its feet , Ted had to look at the big picture.
The few sweeteners Ted won were given away to prove a" genuine commitment to foreign investment" as he"negotiated" at the Leagues club. Then the union and ACTU wanted Ted to explain to the meeting why the men would get nothing.
What could he say? Anyone with a job in four years will be lucky? Many would be on the street within a year? Could he destroy his workmates dreams, hopes and beliefs like someone bursting balloons at a party? It was a disappointment for Ted , but he was set . For some it would be an unimaginable disaster. The reptile was surprised when choked by his silk tie and told the only way he`d return to MELBOURNE before addressing the men would be in an ambulance. Now the menwanted to hear what the union - meaning old Ted - had won for them.
Ted faced the assembly , a deep pain in his chest , blinding headache behind his eyes , and a choking bitter lump in his throat. The men looked back , confident Ted would have negotiated a fair award. Slowly chatter died the meeting eyed the rostrum expectantly. Their unswerving loyalty caused him to bow his head , swallow to clear the lump in his throat , and blink back the unexpected tears. Merriman`s and these good men , mates of many years , had been sold out , and he felt somehow unclean and part of it , one of the Judases. To scattered applause he stood , proud and tall with a straight back , yet the room seemed unfamiliar. Still , his familiar booming voice
had all the authority of the union as he said "You all know this bloke , there`s no need to introduce him." As if from a distance Ted saw the ACTU mogul rise , brushing his carefully coiffured silver hair with one hand as the applause died , and faintly heard his opening ringing words greeted with a loud cheer.
"Comrades , Let me just say this. By your courageous direct action last week you`ve won an historic victory. Never again will you be ignored or taken for granted by this management." They said Ted had a
coronary , to be expected in a man of his age.
They couldn`t test for a broken heart.
Hellow Workers Online!
Please let me allow to write you from Tokyo Japan.
This is the first time to send you the Email.
I'm very plesed to tell you that I read your News on "Cyber Action Behind Hilton Win" with interesting, because We are now fighting here in Tokyo,Japan against The Hilton Hotel Tokyo about their unfair dismissal of workers.
Workers disputing against the Hilton are members of ZRR General Workers Union Tokyo and I'm a one of the members
supporting their fighting.
If it is possible, I would like to know more details about your "joined cyber-picket line sending protest e-mails to the Hilton Hote chains top executives". How & which kind of e-mails did you sent? etc.
And also I would like to tell you more detailed stories about our disputes agains The Hilton Hotel Tokyo.
If it is possible, please send me back your email to proceed further exchange on the matter.
Yours Sincerely, K.Gonjoh
Here was the architect of industrial confrontation condemning the very forces his policies have unleashed - the law of the jungle with no umpire to control proceedings.
No one condones violence anywhere and the official involved in the video has apologised unreservedly for his actions. But before we tie any individual to the stake let's remind ourselves of a few important truths.
The Howard Government came to power promising that no worker would be worse off. It then went about ripping down the industrial safety net that had created the egalitarian society that many took for granted.
No change was more instrumental in this demolition job than the removal of the powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to compel employers to bargain in good faith.
That was all the workers at Morris McMahon would have needed to force an unreasonable employer to the negotiating table. Instead, they were forced to stand outside the factory gates for more than four months.
They were fighting against another of the Howard Government's reforms - secret individual contracts that trade away collective bargaining rights, with an up front cash inducement sufficient to meet the flimsy 'no disadvantage test'.
At Morris McMahon the workers held out. Despite being offered $1500 to sign up to AWAs, they refused to bend. With the support of hundreds of unionists from across the movement, they preserved their right to be in the collective.
Every morning they would hold their ground as management and scabs broke the picket - two immovable forces meeting.
They should have been in the AIRC talking. But thanks to Tony Abbott and his crew, they were on the ground shouting at each other and worse.
The great tragedy of the week is that the Morris McMahon's workers historic win was greeted the same day by the video nasty. Worse still, it will be used to diminish all unionists by those sections of the media that see this as their historical mission.
Rather than pontificating about the evils of unions, Tony Abbott would be better served explaining how his laws contributed in a real way to the ugly situation occurring.
The genius of Abbott is to talk about the rule of law while he promotes his real agenda of industrial deregulation. In doing so, he paints an economic agenda as a moral one.
To unleash anarchy and then use the chaos that ensues as vindication is the ultimate in hypocrisy. Even for a congenital hypocrite, Abbott hit a high watermark this week.
As for the Howard Government, if you want an image of their attitude to workers, picture a couple in their family car being buffeted by Liberal politicians and big businesses; Peter Reith is kicking the tyres, Peter Costello is pouring cold tea on the roof. And Tony Abbott? He's laying a golly on the windscreen.
If you were to capture it on film, you'd call it an outrage.