Professional weirdo Paddy McGuinness presented his twisted parody of satire this week in the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Under the headline 'What Corrigan did for the wharfies' McGuinness, with his eye firmly set on the nineteenth century, claimed that Chris Corrigan "creates wealth for everybody". The fact that a damn sight more of that wealth ends up in the bank account of Corrigan, C. - rather than the people who actually do the work - flew blissfully over the sad shambles that passes as Paddy's head. Anyone with half a grasp of what ensued during the waterfront dispute knows the best thing Corrigan could do for wharfies is to stick his head in a bucket of water twice and take it out once.
Paddy starts his creative rant by cloaking himself in the mantle of fact, but immediately disrobes by citing a Productivity Commission report that offers no support for the bizarre assertions that follow.
"Most union militancy these days is directed towards protecting the vested interests of union officials," rails Paddy, who obviously hasn't been near the real world for some time. Poor deluded Paddy obviously believes the campaigns at Ansett, One.Tel, Morris McMahon and Metro Shelf are some bizarre conspiracy bankrolled by Moscow gold.
McGuinness has obviously been an insecure man through his life. He took the criticism of his lazy engagement with the left in his younger days personally and has spent the remainder of his sorry existence crawling to the loony right for acceptance. While some go to extremes to win the acceptance of their peers McGuinness's efforts are truly remarkable.
In an unusual show of bravery, Paddy takes his attack right up to a dead man. After claiming that attack dogs and security guards wearing balaclavas weren't "thuggery" Paddy rounds on Tas Bull, the recently deceased leader of the MUA, citing Bull's autobiography.
"At no point in this book does Bull ever admit that anything good happened on the ships and wharves that was not the work of the union." This, Paddy old chum, is largely because nothing good did happen that wasn't the work of the union. The idea that working conditions in the maritime industry improved because of the generosity of ship owners is not borne out by the experiences of seafarers. If it comes down to the generosity of shipping companies Paddy may wish to take his next "pleasure cruise" aboard a Panamanian registered container ship.
Bull's autobiography is a great read and sets out exactly how the maritime unions managed to improve conditions over the middle part of the twentieth century.
McGuinness's bizarre fulmination on Bull's choice of abode, Hunters Hill, reeks of a conservative tantrum. Obviously Tas couldn't have lived in "working class" Balmain as all the housing there has been taken up by the gentrification that Paddy will no doubt be familiar with. Clearly, it sticks in Paddy's craw that someone who worked so hard for so long for their fellow workers didn't end up living in a caravan park in Leppington. The fruits of labour, in Paddy's world, are obviously not to be shared with the great unwashed.
Paddy's assertion that the Seamen's Union of Australia is responsible for the collapse of the coastal shipping trade will bring a bemused smile to anyone who has actually bothered to look beyond the Darling Street Wharf when evaluating this country's shipping industry. The Howard Governments green-light for substandard, flag of convenience ships to work Australian waters is the real death knell for domestic shipping. Its ramifications for working conditions, national security and the environment are big negatives for Australia. Yet, according to Paddy, its because the MUA won't let Australian companies pay their employees in salt.
Paddy is a truly amusing caricature of the blustering paranoid right in full cry. His brain explosions must be embarrassing to the very people whose support he craves. Is he Mad? Possibly. Just out to lunch? Probably. Irrelevant? Certainly.
Readers may wish to email Paddy and congratulate him on being our Tool Of The Week at [email protected]
Workplace Standards Tamania has served notice on Barminco, contractor to Copper Mines of Australia, giving it until August 10 to replace 56-hour rosters with ones that don’t generate dangerous levels of fatigue.
AWU Tasmania secretary, Ian Wakefield, hailed the orders as a "huge victory that will flow on to every other state and territory."
His union has been the central player in a 30-month fight against Barminco rosters fingered for wrecking families and communities across the Apple Isle.
Public meetings in towns like Zeehan and Queenstown urged Barminco to move away from rosters that forced its employees out of sport and just about every other element of community life.
Clubs, pubs, shops and community groups all said they had been devastated by the effects of the rosters.
"We had the support of whole communities down here," Wakefield said, "the West Coast mayor, the local doctor and the local priest included.
"These companies run 56-hour a week rosters. They are killing our members and they are killing their communites as well."
The rosters, under which a typical worker would do four consecutive 12-hour night shifts then three 12-hours day shifts, back to back, before getting four days off, were developed at fly-in, fly-out operations in WA.
They came to Tasmania's metaliferous mines six years ago as contractors took over mining operations on the promise of huge cost cuts. Essentially, they allow mines to run around the clock with three rosters, instead of the traditional four, slashing the workforce by 25 percent.
Worker and community outrage forced most mines to re-write working hours but Barminco and a string of smaller contractors held out.
Barminco, last week, surveyed its own workforce on their hours preferences, possibly in a bid to appeal the orders, and got an 85 percent return in favour of traditional, less family-antagonistic rosters.
The issue came to a head last year when the Tasmanian Government commissioned an independent report on the issue. ACCIRT found excessive working hours common in Tasmanian mining and that these adversely impacted on occupational health and safety.
Last week's Workplace Standards order was the first, anywhere in Australia, that nominated fatigue, caused by working hours, as a health and safety issue and instructed the employer to remove the hazard.
Barminco and Copper Mines of Tasmania have been told to:
- cease arrangements that fall outside shifts prescribed in the notice
- establish a Fatigue Management policy in accordance with OH&S laws
- work with employees to assess the risk of proposed working hours
- provide documentary evidence of their intention to comply with the notice by July 31
In order to make its position clear Workplace Standards has set down working hours limits in writing. These would prevent anyone working an average of more than 48 hours a week over a full year.
It’s one of the reasons he is sporting a FSU “I Have A Life” sticker and backing workmates’ campaign to resist longer working hours Australia’s largest general insurer, IAG, is trying to force on them.
"Our boy's 10 months old, he's just at the age where he's open and aware of what's going on. If IAG had it's way, Callum would be going to bed when I got in the door," Loaney said.
He explained that workers from IAG's city offices had already given up 20 minutes or more a day to accommodate the company's March shift to Pyrmont premises. Its current campaign for lowest common denominator working hours, he said, was one step too far.
Loaney explained that some workmates used the flexitime system in operation at IAG to try and take a full day off with their families each month. An extra half hour a day would make that ambition, too, more difficult.
IAG has swallowed up a number of operations, along with different working hours patterns, in recent years. Some divisions have traditionally worked 37.5 or 38 hours a week, while workers formely with NRMA Insurance have worked 35.
When it came time for EBA renewal the company decided it would base its claim for standardised hours on the longest working day.
Workers from across the departments decided they wanted the shortest day, even ahead of the 7.1 percent pay offer the company has put on the table.
The feeling is shared by staff at IAG's Victorian arm, IMA. When 500 of them were surveyed by a joint management-union committee 420 voted no to the payrise when it was tagged to an increased half an hour a day at work.
Underwriting manager Loaney said he had been surprised and encouraged by the strength of feeling about working hours. He estimated membership at Pyrmont had surged by as much as 50 percent since the issue cropped up.
He accused IAG of failing to live up to its claim to be an "employer of choice".
"We can work 35 hours, get the job done, and spend good quality time with our families. That's the way we want it," he said.
Shadow Workplace Relations Minister, Craig Emerson, joined Abbott to the list for the “ideological obsession” which has prevented construction of a new mail screening facility at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, designed to protect national borders.
Several large Melbourne construction companies have had bids, initially accepted by Australia Post, thwarted because Abbott objects to enterprise agreements they have negotiated with the CFMEU.
Baulderstone Hornibrook, Multiplex, Hansen Yunken and St Hilliers were all approached to build the security complex before having their tenders rejected by Abbott's office.
Early favoured bidder, Baulderstone Hornibrook, had just completed a much larger Victorian job for Australia Post for which their same EBA had been judged "code compliant". Industry sources say the company only learned it had been rejected when Abbott made the announcement on current affairs show Meet The Press.
According to the Australian Financial Review stunned contractors can't get straight answers from the Minister's office about how their EBAs breach Abbott's code.
The Minister concedes the enterprise bargaining agreements are all legal. He has introduced the code, without reference to Parliament, in a bid to reduce union influence in the industry.
Emerson said Abbott's anti-union "obsession" had compromised the country's security.
"The new facility for Australia Post was scheduled for completion by the end of this month, but Tony Abbott's interference has led to not a sod being turned," Emerson said.
"Several reputable companies have submitted tenders acceptable to Australia Post, but Tony Abbott has prevented the project going ahead merely because the companies have lawful agreements with the CFMEU.
"Yet again, Mr Abbott's divisive approach is damaging Australia's national interest, this time by compromising Australia's border protection regime."
Meanwhile, Abbott has dropped all pretence of impartiality to urge employers to join him in his crusade against the CFMEU.
Abbott flagged building sites crawling with taxpayer-funded industrial policemen in a question and answer session with Property Council members this week.
He said legislation, due in Parliament by September, would boost numbers with Nigel Hadgkiss' Building Industry Task Force, to be known as the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), by 500 percent.
He suggested 200 officers could be employed with fulltime presences on major city building sites.
The proposal would take taxpayer funding for Abbott's campaign against the CFMEU to well over $100 million. The Cole Commission swallowed up $60 million, and Hadgkiss' 40-strong interim Taskforce has received a $9 million budget for its first year of operation.
CFMEU Victorian secretary, Martin Kingham, accused Abbott of trying to coerce building companies to breach legal agreements with his organisation.
"He is using taxpayer money to try and make them get out of EBA contracts they have signed. That's coercion," Kingham told Workers Online.
NSW broke ranks with Labor administrations in Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart to throw its weight behind a faster and more complete demolition of protections in the clothing, textile and footwear sector than even the Productivity Commission is suggesting.
The move shocked TCFUA officials who had spent months lobbying Egan to support them and other Labor Governments with submissions aimed at protecting jobs.
The reasons for being fobbed off became clear when NSW presented submissions contrary to ALP policy which calls for a tariff freeze unless reductions can be proved to be in the national interest.
"This Productivity Commission has been put in place by the Federal Government to throw out the jobs of Australians. In my view, the bastards shouldn't exist and Michael Egan is not much better," Tubner said.
Labor Council will go over Egan's head to seek an urgent meeting with Premier Bob Carr on NSW's decision. The Productivity Commission is scheduled to make a final report to Federal Government on the future of Textile, Clothing and Footwear tariffs by July 31, based on the submissions it has received.
Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian Labor Governments all presented submission that reflected party policy.
Tubner lashed the NSW stand on tariffs as an "extreme ideological one" that, he said, would cost jobs around the state.
"The position to the Productivity Commission on behalf of the NSW Government in fact argues for a faster and more complete dismantling of tariffs and industry assistance than advocated by the Commission itself," Tubner said.
"Even worse, it is completely and totally in contravention of national and state ALP policy.
"The threat to these working Australians demands nothing less than the premier's direct intervention to ensure ALP policy is honoured and NSW jobs preserved."
Tubner pointed out the debate on industry tariffs took place against the backdrop of a Japanese announcement that it would increase tarrifs on Australian goods.
Dr Judith Perl will tell a transport industry forum in Sydney on Monday that punishment, based on random drug testing, will do nothing to make workplaces safer.
"If you are going to punish on the basis of positive urine samples you are going to get in trouble, you are going to make many, many mistakes," she said.
The warning came as the NSW Government flagged regulations that would allow the State Rail Authority (SRA) to sack employees who tested positive for alcohol or drugs, under a new one-strike-and-you're-out policy.
Perl is no soft-touch on the issue of alcohol and drugs. She played a key role in the development of 1987 legislation allowing police to arrest and test motor vehicle drivers for drug impairment, and is used as by police to give evidence on the effect of alcohol and drugs on the human metabolism. Her testimony has helped convict sex attackers and murderers.
But, she says, there is a world of difference between identifying the presence of a substance and pin-pointing impairment.
To sack on those grounds, she says, would be "unjustified" and "very severe".
"There are drugs that hang around for days after use and don't indicate any impairment whatsoever," she says. "You can return a positive reading and be no risk to yourself or anyone else."
Cannabis and morphine, commonly used for pain relief, both fall into that category.
Perl says meaningful attempts to improve workplace health and safety must be based around identifying impairment, rather than exposure.
Professor Anne Williams of the University of NSW and Professor Graham Starmer, University of Sydney, are two other leading academics in the field who will address transport industry employers and unions.
The RTBU's Nick Lewocki is expected to tell the conference the hardline approach is a "knee jerk" reaction to political pressure being brought to bear on new Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa.
Lewocki says alcohol or drug impairment has not been identified as a culprit in one major incident on state rail's accident-prone system.
He is urging Government, instead, to implement recommendations from the Glenbrook Inquiry, including improved communications systems, sign-off procedures, and programs to deal with fatigue.
The NSW Labor Council has established a special campaign website where workers can email Premier Bob Carr and Attorney General Bob Debus to act on undertakings made more than two years ago to end electronic monitoring at work.
In particular, unions seek a ban on employers monitoring workers emails and blocking emails from unions.
In 2001 the NSW Law Reform Commission recommended safeguards be put in place based on the Video Surveillance Act, which places strict limits on how and in what circumstances employees can be filmed.
The reforms have been bogged down because the A-G now claims it is a federal government issue. This is contrary to advice provided to Labor Council by Supreme Court Justice Jeff Shaw, prior to his appointment.
Labor Council argues the Carr Government should move on the recommendations and then be prepared to argue the constitutional issues - the alternative is to allow Howard to set the standards.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says unions have been arguing for some years that workers should not be spied on at work.
"Employers should not screen private emails. While there should be limits placed on email usage, emails themselves should not be monitored.
"Big Brother's eviction night is a good opportunity to launch our campaign. While the contestants in big brother have agreed to be monitored, workers do not and should not be spied on.
Labor Council is calling on all workers to visit our 'Who's Watching [email protected]' site and send a message to the government - go to http://www.labor.net.au
The Labor Council has establish the 'Terminated' website, to provide information on the latest attempt by the Howard Government to pare back dismissal rights by over-riding the state system.
It details how workers, particularly women working in casual and part time jobs, will lose their rights to argue they have been dismissed unfairly if the federal system prevails.
And it allows workers to send an email to the Australian Democrats calling on them to block the Abbott laws at http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/unfair/unfair.html
The bill is currently before the Senate and is yet to be debated. The Democrats, who hold the balance have indicated they will reject exempting small business, but are yet to formally declare their position on the federal system over-riding state law..
Meanwhile, the ALP's new industrial relations spokesman Craig Emerson will address the NSW Labor Council this week to outline Labor's position on termination and broader work issues. Democrat Andrew Murray has also been invited to attend.
The news broke as Australia film and television actors gave producers a July 23 deadline to meet their demands or face escalation in a campaign that saw members walk off the sets of McLeod's Daughters, Blue Heelers, Stingers, All Saints, Home and Away, MDA and Neighbours, as well as feature film Strange Bedfellows, this week.
Tony Barry, a veteran of 48 feature films and 60 television leads, hailed the spirit and courage of younger performers who backed industrial action.
"It is not easy to find it within themselves, the courage to walk out on strike," Barry told NSW Labor Council. "It's a big ask of people who haven't had any work in months."
Barry said the vast majority of striking actors were paid well below the average Australian wage and most, whilst commited to their craft, had to find other jobs to survive.
He urged Australians to prize their artists, actors, poets and writers, arguing that if producers and networks were allowed to replace genuine culture with "product" everyone would be poorer.
"The Yanks bring product here that has already made its money in the States at the expense of our own stories," Barry said.
"Don't tell me our work can't make a difference. I understand the power of film and television."
Barry played in Scales of Justice a docu-drama that led to the fall of Queensland's Bjelke Petersen Government, and Beyond Reasonable Doubt, a New Zealand movie that preceded the release from prison of Arthur Allan Thomas, wrongly convicted of double murder.
Key claims behind this week's 24-hour stoppage include better pay for guest actors, often required for weeks but only paid $162, and improved deals on residuals and repeats.
Kevin Harrington, star of The Dish, Sea Change and Neighbours, said his Sea Change girlfriend, Georgina Naidu, was paid only $100 a week for the four weeks her part required, under the current regime.
by Carly Knowles
Unions plan to set up 'student networks' on campus to inform TAFE students and encourage them to get active about changes that would see fees increase by up to 300 percent and basic skills courses no longer fee exempt.
The networks have the added advantage of increasing union presence in TAFEs where students are likely to carry membership into the workforce.
Secretary of the TAFE Teacher's Association, Linda Simon, says students have not been consulted about the proposed changes even though they are directly affected.
Initially, some unions have agreed to set up stalls, hand out leaflets, place posters around campus and sponsor a petition to the Education Minister opposing the changes.
"In the long term it allows us to build up a very active student voice. We can then work with our TAFE students to increase their involvement in unions overall," says Simon.
The networks will be based on each campus, but will also have a focus on the students' particular union.
"We want it to become their organisation, their networks, we don't want it to be run by the teachers. But we do want it to be connected to the unions." Says Simon.
The CFMEU, the AMWU and the Teacher's Federation are already planning the first stages of the networks and Simon expects other unions to soon come on board.
The Independent Education Union will argue teachers at the Jewish Orthodox college must be paid back their 12-months' worth of lost superannuation and guaranteed that in future they will be paid on time.
The teachers have been caught in the middle of a bitter wrangle between high profile Melbourne mining entrepreneur Rabbi Joseph Gutnick and his sister Pnina Feldman, who is on the Yeshiva College's Board of Deputies and married to the spiritual head of Yeshiva, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman.
Gutnick donated $5million to the not-for-profit school in 1994 but successfully applied through the Supreme Court to have the money paid back plus $10million worth of expenses and interest, after relations with his sister soured.
The case will be appealed but Yeshiva's teachers are unwilling to risk losing their entitlements in the meantime.
"The teachers at Yeshiva have been faithful to their employer. They love their jobs and they want to stay. All they are asking for is to be paid what they are entitled to and to be paid on time," NSW/ACT Independent Education Union General Secretary Dick Shearman says.
"Last Christmas these teachers were forced to wait four weeks for their holiday pay and have endured irregular pay dates ever since. This holiday their pay was a week late and they have not been paid super for a year."
"The IEU will continue to advocate on behalf of these teachers whose livelihoods have been cast into uncertainly through no fault of their own. They deserve better."
Citing ABS statistics showing that proportion of industrial disputes lasting 10 days or more had tripled from 1997 to 2002, the ACTU Executive this week recognised the need for a set of rules.
"The AIRC no longer has the power to intervene and resolve potentially lengthy disputes," the guidelines say
"As a result more industrial disputes are taking longer to resolve, and the use of lock-outs and aggressive industrial and legal tactics against workers by some employers has become more common.
Under the code all pickets and demonstrations should:
- Be coordinated and organised by a person or committee with the authority of the union(s).
- Have a clear and understood plan of action.
- Be peaceful and absent of acts of violence, intimidation or the intentional destruction of property.
- Not permit drunkenness or the drinking of alcohol.
- Honour agreements or understandings that exist or are reached between police authorities and unions or Trades and Labor Councils in respect to picket or demonstration activity.
- Have a union officer or delegate appointed as the principal union representative responsible for making decisions, and ensuring these guidelines and the agreed plan of action are observed.
- Have a group of identifiable marshals who should work with the principal union representative to establish and maintain observance of these guidelines the agreed plan of action.
- Establish protocols with police that ensure potential issues or areas of conflict between police and unionists are notified in the first instance to the principal union representative who should endeavour to resolve the issue before police are required to take further action.
- Ensure the responsibilities of marshals include dealing peacefully and effectively with any group or individual seeking to disrupt or hijack the demonstration for their own political or other reasons, or any unionist or demonstrator who acts in a way that threatens the success of the demonstration or the achievement of its objectives.
Abbott Invited to Wool Lock-Out
Meanwhile, the ACTU has invited Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott to visit a group of textile workers who have been locked out of their jobs at Geelong Wool Combing west of Melbourne for the last 11 weeks.
One hundred workers have been locked outside the company's Corio plant since May 1 for refusing to accept a pay cut.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says that as the responsible minister, Mr Abbott should explain why the government's industrial laws allow employers to lock out workers who refuse to accept a pay cut.
"The workers at Geelong Wool Combing had not taken any industrial action," Burrow says. "They have been locked out of their jobs for refusing to accept a 25 per cent reduction in their pay and conditions."
Unions have called on Tourism Minister Joe Hockey to intervene, fearing Australia's reputation as a safe tourist destination is at stake as SACL chief Max Moore-Wilton pushes on with plans to cut 40 per cent of full time jobs.
A week after the announcement more questions than answers have been provided by airport management.
They have confirmed that 100 maintenance workers will be cut and a third of the operations division, responsible for security within the airport perimeter, will also go.
But the following key questions remain:
- will contract maintenance workers be subjected to the same level of security of ASIO checks as the full-time workers they will replace?
- how will contractors be trained to meet the specialist requirements of the full time staff carrying our critical work such as maintaining runway lighting?
- and what personal stake does Max Moore-Wilton have in the cuts, giving he must reach a $380 million profit target set by Macquarie Bank.
Most bizarrely, a meeting of airport delegates this week was told that Sydney Airport would benchmark itself against Athens and Brisbane Airports.
The CPSU's Larissa Andelman says the choice of these airports shows someone is missing the plot. "Brisbane is a much smaller operation than Sydney, while anyone who has traveled to Greece would question why Sydney would set this as any sort of standard."
Airport unions this week succeeded in forcing SACL to negotiate on the changes after a hearing in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
That might not be remarkable, but the six-week course is the first of its kind specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the NSW construction industry.
And this Awards ceremony, during NAIDOC week, had a particular energy and enthusiasm -- because it marked the fulfillment of long-held dreams for the organisers and their hopes for the future to benefit Indigenous youth and the wider Australian community.
The course was developed thanks to the initiative of CFMEU Aboriginal Liaison Organiser, Les Tobler, along with Indigenous construction company, Gunai Constructions.
They found strong support for the idea at Lidcombe College of TAFE and a partnership between the CFMEU and Lidcombe College was quickly formed. Head Teacher of Construction, Colin Warn enthusiastically took on the program and played a key role, along with Tobler, and Gunai Constructions Murray Free and Chris Bell, in making it all happen.
"My main function," says Tobler "is to try to break the barriers down for our young people, to give them access to the industry and an opportunity to get the skills that other people obtain; to enable them to be their own self and start to do things for themselves in their own community."
That meant doing the hard yards, to raise money for the course and generate the community and industry support that would make it work.
But Tobler and his mates pulled it off. Besides the CFMEU and Labor Council, the list of supporting organisations included major and medium-sized construction companies; Comet and Metro Skills Training, ATSIC, Naamoro Employee Services, Western Sydney Aboriginal Corporation and the Eora Centre
Tobler told Workers Online there was something magic about the way those shy young men had bonded and worked together during the course. They encouraged each other when the tasks were difficult, ensuring that even those who'd started with very few skills completed the program successfully.
Even those, like Tommy Stewart, who'd previously worked at a variety of different jobs, was glad to hear about the course through the local CDP. He's now starting an apprenticeship as a bricklayer. Mark Smith heads to Jacksons' Landing. Dave Whitton has an apprenticeship with Bovis Lend Lease.
Andrew Pye - the 'quiet achiever' who took out the Award for Excellence -- has a job with De-Martin Gasparini.
All 14 students are ready to work in the construction industry or to go on to complete apprenticeships. The course has allowed them to obtain their Green Card induction into OHS standards and to gain basic skills in plan reading, carpentry, concreting and scaffolding, with tickets for hoist and forklift handling and driving and explosive tools operation.
Tobler is already receiving calls from other young Indigenous people keen to sign up for the program. "We want to build up this program and branch out into other areas," he says.
The company's decision to move Myer operations offshore brought howls of protest and featured in a television documentary - Diverted to Delhi. That out-sourcing expose featured Indian workers learning Australian terms and even giving themselves Australian names so they could dupe Melbourne-based customers.
The documentary, which featured both union and customer opposition to the outsourcing of Australian work, brought a strong reaction from Myer customers, leading to the cancellation of the Indian call centre contract.
ACTU call centre campaigner, Belinda Tkalcevic, said the GE Capital move was "particularly disturbing" in the light of the number of call centres pocketing tax-payer funded incentives.
The ACTU call centres union group is seeking support from key politicians for two Bills that would help protect Australian call centre and IT jobs. One would prevent government departments from out-sourcing call centre or IT work overseas and the other would require call centre agents to identify their locations to customers.
Rally against the Australia-US
Free Trade Agreement
The Australian and US governments are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement for completion by the end of the year. The US is targeting Australian social policies, which it views as 'barriers to trade'. These include:
Price controls of essential medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
Labelling of genetically modified food
Local content levels in Australian film and television
Control over levels of foreign investment in strategic industries
The Senate is holding an inquiry into the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and the WTO Agreement on Trade in Services. There will be public hearings in Sydney on 23 July at Parliament House.
Come to a lunchtime rally in support of the inquiry and to demand public debate and parliamentary vote on these negotiations.
Where:Macquarie St. Sydney, outside Parliament House
When:Wednesday 23 July at 1pm
Doug Cameron, National Secretary AMWU;
Senators on the Committee:
Senator Kerry Nettle, Greens;
Senator Gavin Marshall, ALP; and
Senator Aden Ridgeway, Democrats,
Dr. Patricia Ranald,Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
For more information contact Louise Southalan, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (02) 9299 7833 or [email protected]
: I would find it helpful if there could be a contact email with each article.
So often I read something I find extremely interesting or that I feel might work here in Canada but there is no way to contact the main person in the article.
I'm sending this after reading the article about Rabbi McCloskey in San Diego and would loved to have been able to click a link and say good work, keep it up and is there such a group in Canada.
Ed's Reply: Thanks gail - we do have the facility - often just lack the time to put in links - but you're right, networking stories is well worth doing.
On the evening of Monday 31st June, 2003, I was invited by an Energy Company to attend the 6th Birthday celebration of the NSW Electricity and Water Ombudsman. The function comprised participants from the Industry, to the Chair of E.W.O.N. an Ombudsman and more.
Joined by Ministers of the NSW Government, journalists and the CEO's of our Energy Companies, along with past members of the Ombudsman's office, members of Parliament and more, they spoke of the honour and the right of citizens to make complaints against their Utility Companies and have them looked into and have them respected. A short video was shown of migrants and the Aussie battler outlining their concern on the Big Brother attitudes and a Couple of difficulties they had. These people spoke confidently of the way EWON assisted them and how their complaints as consumers had been listened to carefully.
As I sat and watched I remembered as a younger Labor activist in the late 70's and early 80's that I sat on a Labor Party Policy Committee called "Consumer Affairs" that we met regularly with one of the great men of the Labor Party, Sid Einfield, a man that had battled for the working class and also middle class, to ensure they had rights as consumers and those rights respected. Sid to me is one of the great men of Labor. Opposition Leaders and more shook in their boots when Sid walked into the Parliament with his files underneath his arms not knowing what issues could be raised and what scurrilous deeds could be exposed in Parliament. Our Tory mates did not see this as an important role. As I watched and saw the videos I remembered that great man of Labor and thought of how proud he would be I also thought back to my grandfather who was President of the Waverley Branch when a couple of young activists sat in the room called the Einfield. The world's a small place but the rights of the small people are upheld because of the actions of Labor and these great men that walked before us.
When we think of consumer rights and we think of what we now take for granted we spend a thought for the time, effort and issues placed before us in the old Branches of the ALP the struggles that have taken place and those great advocates that were not interested in grand standing for themselves but standing up and saying "it's right to complain" it's right to stand up for those that cannot stand up it's right to create a system where those people's voices will be heard and the little person has a chance to be listened to, be very proud of the issues that we have brought up in the Labor Movement, be very proud of those people that have walked before us, be very proud of Sid Einefield and those that have been part of out great movement - we need them all, for our memory's we need them all, for the future, we need more great Labor men and women.
Tom Collins has been at it again. He's suffered under the lash of economic rationalism inflicted by "Labor" governments and (quite rightly) resents it bitterly, but seems to object when anyone actually tries to do something about it. This time he's turning his florid rhetoric on Tony Brown, who has written an effective, if somewhat pedestrian, critique of Andrew Refshauge's plan for NSW education.
When Tom isn't trying to change the subject through ad hominem or terminological arguments, he's often making a wordy confession of his political tendencies or saying things that are just plain wrong. For instance, he alleges that " 'Lifelong Learning' is essentially an organisational restructure, but not aimed at cutting 1000 jobs but using the 'Human Resources' more effectively." Now, is Tom saying that the 1000 jobs won't be going? He then progresses to saying that, since the PSA & the Teachers Federation haven't fought against economic rationalism to his satisfaction before, they should be left to suffer it themselves now. This "dog in the manger" attitude is no way out of the economic rationalist treadmill.
Much of the rest of his rant is a succession of libels of teachers. He's careful, of course, to steer clear of schoolteachers (i.e. the people with whom most readers would be familiar), but conjures up images of vast numbers of baddies hiding out in TAFE and Adult Education. Colourful terms like "useless as a eunuch's testicles", "parasites on the public purse", "elite middle class welfare bludgers", "allegedly educated sponger never having worked" etc , are calculated to play to the prejudices of those who respond to their own positions of hardship by deciding that all other workers should suffer as well - or more so. The dog, it seems, quite firmly ensconced in the manger.
Tom, however, takes things further than mere insults. Despite his protestations of supporting Labor, he admits that "if it takes a Howard government to stand up to the intimidation of the PSA or the Teachers Federation, then 'So Mote it be'!" When workers stand up for their jobs, it seems, they are to be regarded as "intimidating" their employer, something so intolerable that Tom would prefer the most Right-wing Tory government in most people's lifetimes in order to stand up to them.
Finally (but only after passing over the multitude of other debatable points in his letter), it is necessary to correct Tom on the point of "socialist economic rationalism". The term is an oxymoron worthy of the greatest romantic poets, since according to any reasonable definition of terms, socialism and economic rationalism are mutually incompatible. The "socialists" he names are Hawke & Keating, who actually earned their stripes waging war on the Left in the labour movement. Hawke fought the Left in the unions, while Keating did it in the NSW ALP, both as open opponents of socialism. This is not to say, however, that those opponents were socialists, because while many of them called what they believed in by the name of socialism, there was only ever a handful which were not entirely incorrect on this point.
What gave Tom the boot from his last ongoing job (& gave him so much free time to compose his Right-wing essays) and is facing the working class as a whole is not socialism, but economic rationalism - the contemporary face of Australian capitalism. Both the Liberal Party & the Amateur Liberal Party are firmly committed to it, while nobody else in Parliament, State or Federal, has a viable alternative. It is up to the workers, by organising in their workplaces, to create that alternative - but we're not going to get far if we pay any attention to Tom Collins.
The latest contribution or as some would a say another convoluted 'Sermon on the Mount' "Toms Lesson" Workers Online Issue 186, must be the height of hypocrisy.
It is only one year ago in Workers Online, issues 137 and 142 (I did checked your archive) that Tom Collins was unashamedly ramming it up Mark Latham, yet in his latest (mind-numbingly tedious) sermon he obviously has embraced Latham's beliefs as exposed in the 'The Enabling State" published by Pluto press where he (Latham) even advocates support for Kim Beazley and the now discredited Knowledge Nation.
Having stated the obvious, and while I cannot agree with many of the examples, particularly the empowerment of the perverse there is much to be said for a total and complete reformation of the education system.
Both Latham and Botsman impute an intent to reform, and while acknowledge the obstacles caused by precedent and in particular a 900 old tradition of Universities they stop short of an actual implementation of what is required, that is a complete destruction of all educational artefacts, and an acceptance that all that has been was an illusion of learning and was/is in fact an exercise of training monkeys to mimic each other.
There is a commonalty among all these diverse opinions and one that is percussive to all revolutionary change; that is an altruistic desire to actualise ones purpose in life through the progress of humanity, and this is articulated in "The Enabling State", through the statement "People are longing to belong - to rediscover the shared values and trust of a good society."
In Short: Latham and Botsman in contradiction to their political professions clearly display the tendency to public - private partnerships an ideology planted by Thatcher, cultivated by Blair with the harvest of tears yet to be reaped by their people and they both could be batmen for either Howard or Costello.
Oxford St, Darlinghurst
In an era when workers feel under growing pressure, managers are cooking up new ways to claim them as a chattel - from electronic surveillance to biometric testing to mandatory drug and alcohol tests.
Workers are now saying enough is enough and through their unions, are moving to draw a line through the sand.
Next week Labor Council will launch an online campaign to pressure the Carr Government to make good a long-standing promise to protect workers from the prying eyes of their boss.
While limits have already been placed on video surveillance, bosses have carte blanche to read personal emails, monitor website use and dictate who can send a message into the workplace.
Welcome undertakings of legislative reform have now been sidetrack into a constitutional labyrinth that could see the NSW Government defer to Canberra without a fight. Such a move would allow the business lobby to write the laws for how they can control their workers email usage.
Meanwhile, these same employer groups are pushing for the 'freedom' to genetically test workers in a whole range of industries, under the pretence that they need to weed out workers with a susceptibility to certain medical conditions.
While they argue this is in the interest of public safety, a more tangible motivation appears to be the desire to weed out workers who may later be more likely to become a workers compensation burden.
And the issue of mandatory drug testing is also on the agenda, with the Carr Government planning to submit all rail employees to random urine testing and threatening to sack anyone with traces of drugs in their system.
Given many drugs stay in the system longer than they impair a worker, this blanket ban does represent a further restriction on what a worker can do in their capacity as private citizen and consenting adult.
Gauge impairment by all means, but random tests that bear no relationship to work performance are, on their face, a further erosion of a worker's private affairs.
Perhaps these trends are all driving the most recent phenomenon amongst workers - when asked what's important to them they put conditions like hours and leave ahead of pay.
That's why the ACTU Executive, speaking on behalf of two million workers, this week called for the public money in Peter Costello's 'piddling' tax cut to be invested in public services instead.
It's why workers at NRMA Insurance are currently putting their money where their mouths are, fighting an offer to increase the working week by three hours.
And it probably explains why 40 brave workers at Morris McMahon shunned a $1500 sweetener to sign an individual contract and chose to stand on the picket line for 17 weeks in defence of their right to bargain as a group.
Where will it end? Workers drawing limits on how much of themselves they'll give their boss? Refusing to trade away their lives for a few lousy dollars? Starting to act like social rather than purely economic beings?
It's the rationalists' worst nightmare and it is fast becoming a reality.
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