by Phil Doyle
"The Prime Minister is an honourable man. He is not a liar," says Dick Honan with a straight face. As for Dick himself, well, that's anyone's guess.
The remarkably well connected Dick had to let a few people go from one of his moonshine plants in Victoria this week. People with eyes in their head thought it was because of those ubiquitous "We Don't Have Any Ethanol In Our Petrol" signs that have appeared at servos across the country.
Dick told the workers in Portland it was because the bad men in Canberra wouldn't let him put more than 10% of his moonshine into the petrol at the aforementioned servos.
Then Dick told Tony Abbott it was because the Labor Party are a bunch of party-poopers that had derailed his gravy train. What he told John Howard is a mystery as Little Johnny can't seem to remember if they ever met at all, or even what day of the week it is.
The rather appropriately named Dick is onto what Arthur Daley used to refer to as 'a nice little earner'. He has a monopoly on a product that nobody wants and the government is prepared to subsidise him to the tune of something approaching the national budget of Tuvalu to produce it.
And, in case anyone does decide they might like to sample the Old Familiar Juice, the government will tax anyone else into submission so that the consumer will have a choice of Dick's product, Dick's product or Dick's product.
As part of a job lot the government also threw in a few James Bond characters to do a bit of what some people call pro-active marketing strategies and other people call spying.
This, apparently, is the free market in action and saves Dick the inconvenience of having to work for a living.
Dick seemed a bit miffed when somebody started questioning his remarkably charmed deal from the Howard administration. I suppose anyone be if a cheque with a lot of zeros on it looked like disappearing out of their paw.
Dick is a big believer in the free market policies of Howard's crew. Our Tool Of the Week once sat on that other great bastion of free market forces in action, the Wheat Board, which is an institution that conservatives supported for decades as a bulwark against socialism and price fixing.
This allowed Dick to have a few long lunches with that other honest Australian - Max Moore-Wilton. Max, of course, ran the Prime Minister for a few years and would remind John of things like pants first, then shoes or what day of the week it was.
Through this connection Dick and the John were able to exchange BSB and account details and the business gets done. The best part is that the only person who really losses out is the taxpayer.
Our Tool Of The Week shows just how far a person with an entrepreneurial spirit, a dodgy fuel additive, a few well connected mates and absolutely no morals can go in this day and age.
The polling results were released on the eve an ACTU Congress where 800 worker representatives will thrash out policies to rebuild social services, including Medicare.
A survey of 1000 voters nationally, conducted this month by Australian Research Consultants, found that 75 percent of voters would prefer the government to spend money on services like hospitals and schools instead of tax cuts.
Significantly, the proposal was endorsed by 69 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Coalition supporters.
"People are being forced to pay more for basic services like health and education which are now the fastest rising causes of inflation," ACTU president Sharan Burrow said.
"The government's changes to Medicare and university funding will shift even more costs onto individuals."
Burrow said low-paid and casual workers, an increasing percentage of the population, could not afford private health insurance or Medicare co-payments for GP visits.
Unions are expected to endorse a co-ordinated campaign in defence of Medicare at this week's congress.
The latest ABS inflation data shows the costs of health, up 7.5 percent, and education, 5 percent, were the fastest growing elements in the Consumer Price Index.
The ACTU congress will also consider policies to raise the legal minimum wage to $13 an hour and a Test Case to improve family leave rights. The Test Case would allow casuals to convert to permanency and set a 48-hour cap on weekly hours.
Congress speakers will include Federal Opposition leader, Simon Crean, NSW Premier Bob Carr, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and leading unionists from the US, Canada, Europe, Africa and New Zealand.
Last week’s historic High Court decision, determining vessels on the coastal trade should be subject to Australian industrial jurisdiction, was reinforced when the AIRC this week rejected a CSL application to discontinue ropeing in actions against its ships on the grounds of "public interest".
In the wake of Commissioner Raffaelli's decision, delivered on Thursday, the MUA confirmed it would seek to have awards made for the Tuscan Arrow, Mandarin Arrow, Teal Arrow, the Ituna and Hakura.
The first three ships are owned by Hong Kong interests and operated by Jebsen of Norway. The Ituna and Hakura both fly Tongan flags but are managed by Intercontinental Ship Management, a respondent to the Maritime Industry Award
All pay wages and conditions well below those contained in Australian industrial agreements.
"The next step in the process is to put in place an award that covers foreign ship owners operating on the Australian coast," MUA lawyer, Bill McNally, told Workers Online.
"It is important that any such award does not put Australian shipping in a disadvantaged competitive position.
"In the past week we have jumped important hurdles on jurisdiction and public interest."
The High Court victory, delivered by unanimous seven-nil verdict, came in spite of Federal Government intervention on behalf of Canadian-based CSL.
The company has indicated that if an award is eventually struck to cover former ANL-line vessels, Stadacona and Yarra, it will continue to employ Ukranians in preference to Australian seafarers.
MUA officials shrugged off the CSL stance.
"We can't force them to hire Australians. We can only make the playing field as level as possible and make sure Australians are not disadvantaged," legal officer, Bill Giddens, said.
Thirty five boners at Sunnybrand Chickens struck for two days last week, then weren’t offered work under status quo conditions, when they turned up to comply with an IRC ruling.
Meatworkers Union spokesman, Justin Davis, said the closure of Workers Compensation Act loopholes, effective from July 1, lay behind Sunnybrand's move to force employees to become self-employed contractors.
Sunnybrand was one of a number of NSW companies, involved in dangerous industries, who had evaded the Act's intention by splitting workers into different employing entities so the majority didn't attract Workers Compensation levies at higher, industry rates.
The NSW Government closed the loophole last month, provoking Sunnybrand to seek the services of the Australian Independent Contractors Agency, a consultancy that claims to transform workers into contractors.
"Sunnybrand is facing the fact that it must now pay correct Workers Compensation rates and it doesn't like it," Davis said. "They're not trying to hide it, that's what they've told us."
The company's solution would mean boners losing entitlements, like holiday pay and sick leave, as well as being forced to take out their own accident and injury policies.
"The whole thing is just a sham to defeat Sunnybrand's responsibilities," Davis said. "These people wouldn't be independent contractors at all.
"They couldn't turn up with chickens to bone for Inghams.
"They would still be required to turn up at a certain time, to work on company product, under company supervision, to company specifications."
Davis described Sunnybrand's general IR attitude as "aggressively anti-union".
IRC Commissioner Ritchie issued a direction that the boners return to work last Thursday and that the status quo prevail pending a full hearing of the case.
Workers say that when they reported to the site the company insisted on employing some of their number as contractors, defeating the intent of the Commissioner's ruling.
CEPU members at RSL COM, Chatswood, have launched a petition amongst workmates urging the company to end "harrassment, excessive surveillance and monitoring" associated with visits to the toilet.
More than 60 workers, across several departments, have been directed to log-off to go to the toilet. They then have to make up the time spent relieving themselves at the end of their shifts.
Last week, RSL COM responded by calling two individuals into a manager's office and instructing them to "stop creating negativity in the workplace".
CEPU organiser, Alice Salomon, said workers were determined to pursue their "low-key campaign" until management changed the policy.
"Going to the loo is a right, not a privilege," Salomon said.
She said serious health conequences could flow from putting off toilet visits, including urinary tract infections, incontinence, conswtipation and bowel distension.
"It is demeaning for grown adults to be treated like school kids and have to account for the time taken to the toilet," she said.
"It's indicative of what bosses think they can get away with in Tony Abbott's anti-worker, anti-union industrial relations environment."
A RSL COM worker confirmed workmates were being called into the manager's office daily and quizzed about time taken to visit the toilet.
She called the process "humiliating and degrading".
WA CFMEU secretary, Kevin Reynolds, has written to major lending institutions, urging that loans to builders be made conditional upon ongoing, independent safety audits.
He is seeking meetings at which his union would mount a case to deny finance to builders and developers unable to satisfy basic safety criteria.
"We are talking about corporate responsibility," Reynolds said. "It is a shocking indictment on the construction industry that as many as 50 people die at work every year when many of these incidents are easily preventable."
Reynolds said the Hanssen operation provided proof that builders were flouting safety regulations to win competitive advantages in the market.
He produced digital photoraphs of a Perth site, operated by the company, that he said looked like an "Indonesian swamp".
"All they need is bamboo scaffolding to complete the picture," Reynolds said. "The root of the problem is money, according to fellow builders, Hansen wins projects such as these by bidding up to 20 percent below other bidders.
"Cutting corners in areas such as safety puts the lives of Australians at risk.
"In our view, lives would be saved if financial insitutions had regard to the safety records of builders and developers when considering applications for finance."
The CFMEU's photographs come from two sites - Wellington St and Terrace Rd. On the latter, Worksafe banned work until safety improvements were made.
Reynolds accuses Hanssen Pty Ltd of failing to comply with improvement and prohibition notices.
Members of Tony Abbott's interim Building Industry Taskforce have been regular visitors to Hanssen sites. The CFMEU accuses them of failing to take any actions to deal with safety violations.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson this week flagged the prospect of unionists taking action in support of league players after the newly unionised players met to kick off negotiations for an enterprise agreement.
"We saw when South Sydney was under threat the important role the fans of the game played," Robertson says. "Many of those fans are trade unionists who would back the players in against their employer."
The Rugby League Professional Association is working through the Labor Council to negotiate the agreement, with deputy assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou assigned to manage negotiations.
A group of senior players including Brad Fittler, Gordon Tallis, Brett Kimmorley and Trent Barrett have committed to attending regular meetings to drive the agreement.
Fittler told media this week that after several attempts over the last decade to secure a collective agreement, players were determined to see the process through.
"This is not about me, it is about the young guys coming into the game," Fittler said. "It's been a number of years now, we've tried to put players associations together and they've all failed, and it's only been because there's been no strength behind the players. We believe we've got the strength now."
RLPA president and former Newcastle Knight Tony Butterfield says it is important that the game's leading players have taken a leadership role in negotiations.
"The leading players have made a conscious decision to work as a group to improve the wages and conditions for all players," Butterfield says.
Key issues on the table include clarification of the salary cap issue; player education and welfare and intellectual property rights.
Teachers and administrative workers from as far away as Victoria left names and phone numbers with NSW Labor Council, volunteering to tell how insecure employment had impacted on them and their families.
Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, was further boosted by emails received at Channel Seven when he debated the issue with Employers First executive director, Gary Brack, on Sunrise.
"Security strikes a chord," Robertson said. "It is a real issue in the community.
"On Sunrise, they were reading emails from viewers which we did nothing to generate. One woman wrote in saying she had worked four years as a casual, without any security, in the hope of being made permanent.
"That's exactly what this Test Case is about."
Workers Online understands that another man has written in, offering to give evidence of being kept on casual terms by one of Australia's most high-profile companies for more than six years.
Buoyed by the public response Labor Council will take its argument for restrictions on employers who keep workers in casual limbo, or use labour hire to defeat security of tenure and entitlements, to state and federal politicians.
Just last week, the Sydney Morning Herald produced data labeled "alarming" by ETU secretary, Bernie Riordan. It quoted studies showing that a quarter of Australians, aged between 20 and 24, were in neither fulltime work nor study, and that this situation applied to 70 percent of Indigenous Australians in that age group.
Riordan called the figures an "indictment" on Government policies and urged Labor Council to add the researchers who produced the studies to its Test Case arsenal.
The Test Case, formally supported by the NUW, PSA, CFMEU and MEU, will argue specific awards should contain a clause, or clauses, that ...
- entitle regular casuals to opt for permanent employment after six months service with the same employer
- entitle labour hire employees to employment with the host employer after six months doing the same job for the same employer
commit employers to full consultation with employees and relevant unions prior to contracting, and to guarantee existing jobs, wages and conditions.
Papers were filed in the NSW IRC last week and the substantive case is expected to be heard next year.
The ALP, Democrats, Greens and independents combined to defeat the Federal Government's attempt to tear away the safety net for workers unfairly dismissed.
The Democrats, reflecting the concerns expressed trade union lobbying, moved a number of amendments that were rejected by the Government. These amendments sought to address concerns about how the Workplace Relations Act would have defined an employee and protections for casual workers.
"Labor senators did not support the Democrats' proposed amendments to the Bill. With or without the Democrats' amendments, Labor strongly opposed the imposition of the Howard Government's unfair dismissal system on the States," said Shadow Workplace Relations Minister Craig Emerson.
"The Workplace Relations (Termination of Employment) Bill sought to weaken the protections for working Australians against being dismissed unfairly and to take over State unfair dismissal laws."
"It is a win in a battle that is ongoing, but a win nonetheless," NSW Labor Council assistant secretary, Mark Lennon, said. "We should enjoy the success and be vigilant as we go forward."
The result was another slap in the face for industrial relations Minister Tony Abbott whose ideologically driven approach is reflected in a poor track record in getting legislation through the Upper House
"Some of his strategies aren't well thought through," says Lennon.
CPSU Tax Office secretary, Shane O'Connell, linked the developments, describing the ATO edict to the mainly female section of its workforce, most of whom earn around $35,000 a year, as "bite back".
"Telling these people to reapply for their own jobs is insulting, wasteful and hurtful," he said. "It is bite back.
"The ATO was unhappy about having to make more than 200 processing workers permanent after keeping them on as casuals.
"We sat down with them only two weeks ago for what they call a corporate briefing. They never mentioned this at all."
The CPSU won ATO agreement to advertise 236 permanent operations positions after taking the status of long-term "casuals" before the IRC.
It has expressed particular concern about the "psychological" element of the office's latest proposal.
"There are a lot of very upset workers out there," O'Connell said. "Many have been with the ATO for more than 10 years and go through rigorous performance assessments. To suddenly be told you may not be the sort of person the ATO wants is deeply affronting.
"Based on this pointless and wasteful exercise, you would have to say it is not this section of the Tax Office that needs its head read."
O'Connell said recent ATO selection processes had cost the organisation between $2000 and $4000 a person. He estimated putting existing operations staff through additional applications, and psychological tests, could cost millions.
Those discrepancies are well above international averages, provoking ACTU delegates to consider demanding limits, along with increased accountability.
Eight hundred worker representatives will debate wide-ranging measures to beef-up corporate accountability at the ACTU's triennial congress in Melbourne this week, including calls for improved disclosure of executive pay.
They will vote on a draft policy requiring corporations to come clean of executive payments at shareholders meetings by reporting details and how those figures relate to company performance.
Other key demands include greater rights for beneficial owners, including super funds, and measures to ,,,
ensure the independence of directors, analysts and auditors
restrict the exercise of options
improve protections for corporate whistleblowers
remove corporate tax deductibility on salaries of more than $1 million
increase penalties for breaches of directors duties
increase personal liability for damages by directors responsible for losses through breaches of their responsibilities.
ACTU statistics reveal that, outside Australia, chief executive earnings average out at 11 times the legal minimum adult wage.
Other key policy areas for debate, during congress, come under the general headings - Future of Work, Work and Family, Future Strategies and Youth
The ACTU is seeking endorsement for its plan to run a Test Case that would bring an immediate 25 percent increase to thousands of 20-year-olds. In supporting affiliates, chipping away at youth rates, the ACTU will argue for 20 year olds to receive full adult pay rates.
Casualisation, highlighted by the NSW Labor Council's Secure Employment Test Case, will be another focus of the union gathering.
Latest statistics reveal that more than a quarter of Australian workers now survive in casual or part-time work, with 80 percent of jobs created in the past decade paying less than $26,000 a year.
Casual employment, without security or entitlements, is increasingly becoming regular and fulltime. Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, told Parliament earlier this year, that more than 50 percent of the millions of casual employed in Australia had worked regularly, for more than a year, with the same employer.
Organising, campaigning, lobbying, negotiating and taking legal action are canvassed in proposals for dealing with the explosion in casual hire, contracting out and labour hire.
The Office intends either transferring of abolishing a quarter of its positions.
"How are we supposed to have faith that this department will look after the best interests of workers in the state if they have scant regard for the rights of their own employees,' says PSA industrial officer Anthony D'Adam.
Staff picketed the Oxford Street offices on August 14 with further action planned for August 21. Staff at Newcastle, Wollongong, Bankstown, Parramatta and Coffs Harbour offices also took action.
There is concern that the cuts will affect service delivery by the Office of Industrial Relations as well as leaving the futures and livelihoods of many employees in limbo.
Existing agreements, and government policy, state that any move to restructure jobs requires consultation at the point of contemplation. In direct contradiction to this the Office of Industrial Relations called staff to meetings two weeks ago where they were told that their unit or jobs were gone.
D'Adam also indicated an alarming development with the new Department of Commerce recently holding a corporate planning day to establish the direction for department that has absorbed the Office of Industrial Relations. That meeting, while having a number of peak business organisations in attendance, excluded any participation from the NSW Labor Council or any trade union representatives.
The job cuts follow assurances from the new Department of Commerce that the role of the Office of Industrial Relations would not be diminished. As recently as April 16 NSW Premier Bob Carr told the NSW Labor Council that the Office of Industrial Relations would be strengthened.
Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca was also in attendance at that meeting.
The NSW Labor Council is looking to meet with the Premier and the relevant minister to support the striking workers.
NSW Minister for Industrial Relations John Della Bosca MLC, NSW Attorney General Bob Debus MP and the architect of the failed Victorian legislation David Moody from Slater and Gordon spoke at the event, which was held by the ALP's Employment and Industrial Relations and Law Reform and Constitutional Processes Policy Committees.
The Ministers present did not commit themselves to passing any new legislation but Minister for Industrial Relations John Della Bosca indicated his willingness to look at shortcomings in the OHS law. He said that as a result of discussions in Bathurst the NSW Government would look closely at the operation of the OHS Act in relation to fatalities. The minister said he had also approached the Attorney General regarding sentencing guidelines for OHS prosecutions.
"There are several suggestions from our discussions which I am now examining," he said.
CFMEU Says Current Laws Inadequate
The CFMEU, who support of the creation of an offence of corporate manslaughter/killing in the Crimes Act, pointed to cases like the death of Dean McGoldrick. His employer was fined $20 000; a sign of the inadequacy of the current OHS laws on workplace fatalities.
The CFMEU's Rita Malia, who was present at the conference, used the recent Pan Pharmaceuticals crisis to argue tougher measures were needed to protect against negligent bosses.
"If the Pan Pharmaceuticals crisis had resulted in the death of a customer the public would expect the company to be charged with manslaughter. And if the Crimes Act was not able to convict the company, then the public would expect that the law be amended.
"The death of workers should be investigated and prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions just like any other fatality caused by gross negligence such as negligent driving. NSW here has the opportunity to become a world leader in addressing fatalities at work caused by gross negligence," said Malia.
The Victorian Experience
David Moody, who drafted legislation in Victoria that was subsequently defeated in that state's upper house, pointed out that it is currently "practically impossible" to prosecute a corporation or a director of a large corporation for the crime of manslaughter but that amending our laws would enable this to happen.
"Criminal law in Australia is not practically capable of being used successfully in prosecuting corporate criminal behaviour which results in the death or serious injury of workers,' said Moody. "It is not uncommon for a company facing OHS/criminal charges to go into liquidation, thus avoiding payment of any fines which might be imposed on the corporation.
"There is nothing which focuses a senior officer's mind more on OHS issues than the prospect of gaol time in the event of a breach."
Moody argued that inclusion of new corporate criminal offences in the existing OHS Act would lead these offences to be "regarded by both the public and the courts as 'second rate crimes' not worthy of serious attention and certainly not worthy of real criminal sanctions (such as gaol terms)".
Moody said the failure of the Victorian legislation was due to the consultative process, with only four of over forty submissions on the legislation coming from unions or victims groups.
The View From The NSW Govt
"The Carr Government takes workplace safety very seriously," said Della Bosca after the forum. The Minister set out the NSW Government's record on workplace safety including the establishment of a Fatalities Unit in WorkCover with expertise in criminal prosecutions.
"In addition to monetary fines of up to $825,000, current laws also provide for custodial sentences," said Della Bosca. "I was particularly interested to hear one of the architects of the (now withdrawn) Victorian Bill explain that the Victorian legislation would be unable to deliver what NSW unions are calling for. It is a complex and difficult issue."
"In 1997, Professor Ron McCallum recommended that because there is an existing crime of manslaughter when workplace deaths are caused by grossly negligent and/or reckless conduct, there was no need to place the crime of industrial manslaughter in the Occupational Health and Safety Act," Mr Della Bosca said.
Public anger stems from management calls over which workers have no control, according to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union which wants staff protected from public violence.
"One guard got spat on three times in one shift,' says RTBU lead organiser Phillip Kessey. "Our members are in the front line of having to deal with decisions of management."
Despite the introduction of Transit Officers the number of assaults inflicted on State Rail staff has seen a dramatic increase in recent months, leading the RTBU to urge recommendations from last year's Beamer Report on Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa.
The Union is seeking a meeting with the Transport Services Minister to check progress in implementing the report.
The Beamer report, Occupational Violence Committed Against Public Sector Transport Workers in New South Wales, made thirty recommendations designed to improve the safety of State Rail employees.
- Calls for State Rail to develop an implementation strategy for the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design review and audits of stations be developed.
- A detailed analysis of incidents and contributing factors to be undertaken by State Rail and a program of risk-based and intelligence-led security developed for on train security guard and station based security officers. A greater level of cooperation should exist between transport agencies in regard to violence at work.
- State Rail and State Transit to provide their employees with a guide that summaries occupation violence policies and provides practical information on occupational violence issues.
- To define the roles and responsibilities for State Rail and State Transit managers in security risk management, position descriptions should be amended to include security related performance criteria.
- Sentencing Guidelines be developed by the Attorney General's Office in relation to persons who assault public transport and other employees.
"We support the introduction of Transit Officers," says Kessey. "But merely fining or infringing someone is not going to stop the problem. We think they are doing a terrific job. They've got the hardest job, but they are hamstrung."
Kessey says the RTBU would like to see legislative change to beef up the powers of transit Officers.
"Our members have put up with tremendous reform,' adds Kessey. "There are fewer people to do the jpbs and more demands on them. Management are making decisions without consulting with staff."
The NSW Labor Council is supporting The RTBU's calls for a public campaign of awareness about assaults on State Rail staff.
Labour relations and regulatory approaches to health and safety management in Europe - including small firms
Professor David Walters
University of Cardiff, Wales, UK
The seminar will discuss the development of arrangements for regulating OHS management in health and safety in the EU and will focus especially on the role of worker representation in this process. Starting from the adoption of supra-national measures at the level of the EU, it will trace their implementation in different EU countries against the background of change in the structure and organization of work and fragmentation of the labour market. It focuses particularly in trade union responses to these changes and comments on the role of work environment issues in trade union labour relations strategy currently and for the future.
David Walters is TUC Professor of Work Environment at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. He has researched and written widely on the subject of regulation and labour relations of health and safety in Europe. He is editor of the journal Policy and Practice in Health and Safety. Recent publications include Health and Safety in Small Enterprises (2001) and Regulating Health and Safety Management in the European Union (2002).
Date: Friday, 22nd August 2003
Time: 3.30pm - 5.00pm
Venue: TMP/HUDSON Global Resources
Level 12, 123 Pitt St (between Hunter St and Martin Pl.), Sydney
School of Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour, UNSW
Industrial Relations Research Centre, UNSW
OHS/Risk Management Special Interest Group, Australian Human Resources Institute
For more information contact Marie Kwok on 9385 7156 or [email protected]
Tom Keneally and Malcolm Knox at Gleebooks
author of The Tyrant's Novel
in conversation with MALCOLM KNOX
WHERE: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd. Glebe
WHEN: Thursday 14th August, 6:30 for 7:00pm
COST: $8/$5 conc & gleeclub
BOOKINGS: ph: 9660 2333 or email: [email protected]
An oil rich country. A tyrant. A deadline to die for ...
Trapped behind barbed wire in an alien land, a man used to guarding his secrets is compelled to set the record straight ...
$8/$5 conc gleeclub welcome
Gleebooks: 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe 2037
Please RSVP to gleebooks - ph:
British Trade Union Campaign Seeks Solidarity from Australian Workers
Supporters of two victimised British trade unionists are asking their Australian brothers and sisters for support in their campaign to get justice for the two men, Michael Herbert (TGWU) and Leslie Asher (GMB).The two men are active union representatives at Manchester City Council in England, which hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002. Leslie Asher is a leading rank and file trade union representative and also active in the black workers movement, while Michael Herbert is also editor of the North West Labour History Journal.
For the past 7 and 10 years respectively they have represented their unions in a joint management/trade union team on Best Value, a team seen by many as
a model of best practice and good industrial relations.
On 25th April the Town Hall management unilaterally tore up the agreement and gave notice that Michael and Leslie had to leave the team on 31st May, claiming that after 7 and 10 years they were still „on secondment‰! They also drastically reduced their grades and salaries, slashing a total of eleven thousand pounds from their joint pay at a stroke, and ˆ without discussion or consultation - ordered them into jobs at much lower grades.
The Council is refusing to discuss the issue with the trade unions.
Both men are currently off sick with stress and also suffering financial hardship. Friends and colleagues have formed an independent support group to publicise the case to the labour movement at home and abroad, The Friends of Michael Herbert and Leslie AsherThe campaign is supporting Michael and Leslie‚s request that their status and salaries be restored and that the Council find them posts at that level of responsibility. Supporters includes trade unionists, academics, labour historians, artists, musicians, writers, pensioners and many others.
The campaign is asking Australian workers to do the following;
1. Sign the online petition which can be accessed through the website
2. Send an email to the following people at Manchester city Council
expressing concern about the case and asking that they recommence immediate
negotiations with the trades unions. (When doing so it would be a good idea
to indicate that people are writing from Australia, mention their union and
ask for a reply as soon as possible)
Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive, Manchester City Council
Email: [email protected]
Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester city Council
Email: [email protected]
Mr Jon Redfern, Head of Personnel, Manchester City council
Email: [email protected]
3. Raise the issue in union branches. The more emails they receive, the quicker the employer will see sense on this issue!.
For more information contact Bernadette Hyland, Campaign Co-ordinator for The Friends group, [email protected]
Your "Tool of the Week" while an extremely successful component of your publication "Workers Online" gives no opportunity to express praise to those who have in the previous week or month attempted assist the Little Aussie Battler.
I would like to suggest a Bouquet Page, and would nominate that right wing Shock Jock Alan Jones and his Side Kick and professional Wind Bag Ray Hadley, their most recent behaviour in support of the Battler from Struggle Street, some have suggested, is indicative of having taken to mind altering substances?
While, I would use a different and more graphic descriptor than "Pig" to describe the current General Manager, none the less their efforts in obtaining what they perceive to be a „Fair suck of the Sav for the transferred Garbage Collectors , who are now under siege at Sydney City
Council should not go unrewarded.
So how about a Posy of Pansies for Hadley, Jones and 2GB even if you disagree?
Ring a ring a rosie,
A bottle full of posie,
All the garbos in our council
Ring for little Jonesie
It is 2am and you are woken by the heavy footsteps next door. Other odd sounds. Your doors are locked. But now you cannot go back to sleep.
As the light strengthens you see a shape at their front door. Oh, no, it is your neighbour!
Where is Jan, his wife? Your husband gets over the back fence, and finds her. She says "they‚ will be back if she moves the body.
What can we do? The days pass, the body smells. You look at your own kids.
Since the schools were bombed they have stayed at home. It is not only your daughter you keep locked inside, away from the guys with the guns.
How can you get away? The police have gone. The roads are mined, the bridges blown up.
Maybe you can find someone with contacts in Brisbane who can get you out.
How much money will it take? Do you have enough for the whole family? Who would know a safe way over the mountains?
You are too afraid to talk openly.
Whoops, did I say Brisbane? I meant Kabul.
The Taliban are back, causing terror.
Australia is sending the men, women and children home to face this.
The Maritime Union of Australia is an extraordinary organisation to be able to count so many playwrights, poets, painters, cartoonists and writers amongst its friends. In the 1950s the union had it's own documentary film unit.
For a time Sydney's New Theatre was housed in the wharfies' headquarters in Sussex Street. Artists like Noel Counihan, Rod Shaw and Herb McClintock worked with the union for many years. Writers such as John Morrison, Frank Hardy, Dorothy Hewitt, Merv Lilley, Wendy Lowenstein and Denis Kevans were among the many supporters of the union.
With These Arms is a compilation of songs and poems from many sources, from emails from old LPs and tapes, from CDs, pamphlets, magazines, and books.
From the picket lines and support concerts during the lockout in 1998 are songs and poems written and performed at that time.
These new songs and poems are from Tim O'Brien, Peter Hicks, John Dengate, Wendy Lowenstein, John Warner, John Hospodaryk, Maurie Mulheron, John Tomlinson and Penny Harrison. There are also songs and poems spanning the last 70 years or so, including many from the musicians of the folk revival movement like Don Henderson, Chris Kempster, Bill Berry, Declan Affley, Harry Robertson, and Clem Parkinson.
It's hard to think of another union in the world that has had so many songs written about it. Is to do with the constant global traveling of sailors? Or the multicultural mix of waterside workers? or the union's long history of active interest in Australian theatre, film, art and music?
The union campaigned hard over the years for Aboriginal rights, have supported fellow unionists both at home and around the world, have been involved in the anti-colonial, anti-war and anti-apartheid movements. For over a hundred years the MUA has made firm friends at home and abroad, friends who stood by union when it came to face the might of government and employer combined in illegal conspiracy in 1997-1998.
With These Arms will be launched at
Politics in the Pub
The Gearin Hotel Katoomba
Saturday August 23rd at 2pm
courtesy of Politics in the Pub and the Blue Mountains Unions Council
The launch will take the form of a concert with many of the performers from the CD including
I'm no public transport lobbyist or protester, but just an ordinary bloke believing that the Government has lost the plot regarding public transport.
Is anyone planning a weekend rally or something on this?
We've heard about the scandals surrounding the safety of rail bridges and the Millennium trains, but the current construction of the Parramatta Rail Link is much worse. Instead of a bridge across the Lane Cove River, which the Government wanted and the minor parties (including the Greens) supported but the Libs opposed, we've got a tunnel being built below the river. It means that there's no station at the UTS campus, meaning that non-northern-side students can't get there quickly, and there's now some 5km of underground track without stations, which is unviable and impractical and, worse still, highly unsafe. The Government should have put down the local zealots (who don't even vote for the Labor Party), as the Greens did, and stuck with a bridge - in capitulating to these windbags, it has acted in the most cowardly and irresponsible manner ever. And the Libs won't do anything - they're hooked to the road lobby like drug addicts. The Government chops down trees in the dead of the night, Bjelke-Petersen-style, to make way for a road tunnel, and is happy to build a road tunnel through Lane Cove, despite the idea that new road tunnels will ease traffic gridlock is an absolute lie. So why won't it clear 2ha of parkland to make way for a non-polluting rail bridge, which even Ian Cohen and Lee Rhiannon have supported? Work that out if you can. And now Bob Carr and friends want to jack up fares for public transport - what a better way to get people back into their cars and increase the gridlock! Thank goodness for Labor MP Paul Gibson and Labor Council bloke John Robertson for speaking out against the Government's stupidity. And what hypocrites the Libs for slamming the Government - they're happy to have more cars on the roads, and they will cut through the Lane Cove National Park to link the M2 and F3 roads, bringing yet more cars, doing more environmental damage than any rail line ever would do. And still on the planned road tunnel through Lane Cove, unless action is taken soon, this absolutely stupid project will start before the end of the year. Somebody has to put a stop to this - now! It's perfectly simple. The Government must stop the tunnel under the Lane Cove River, revert back to a bridge, and restore the UTS station, otherwise the Parramatta Rail Link won't work properly and we'll have another Airport-Link-style white elephant. And if the tunnel developers must be compensated, so be it - remember that work HAD started on the Franklin Dam in Tasmania when the Hawke Government stopped it in 1983 (and no doubt you remember that).
I hope that somebody can do something here about the Government's actions on public transport, and fix up this stupid mess with the Parramatta Rail Link. And whoever does has my support - this ordinary bloke is just a believer in this issue, but sadly a lone voice. Could someone please prove me wrong?
WARREN GRZIC, a very concerned and angry observer.
We have noted from afar, and with interest the continued provocations of your regular contributor "The Remittance Man" in his letters "Tom‚ Lessons" and "The Fifth Column" a brief epistle in which he effectively condemns the, The Teachers, the Member for Cunningham and the ALP Branch Stackers and rorters. This he appeared to do with complete impunity, until we read the letter "Tom in the Manger" by Greg Platt, who appears to be an official of the CPSU.
In his letter Greg also queried as to "What gave Tom the boot from his last ongoing job (and gave him so much free time to compose his Right-wing essays)". Is it possible that this provocative bludger, and professional "agent provocateur" still survives only on receipt of the "remittances' which were originally offered by his long suffering family as an enticement him to leave his birthplace , and create his havoc in someone else‚s backyard.
But then what could one expect from an inbred, from a nation within a nation, who for six generations have continued to establish themselves through inbreeding, not only within the Pale, but without - through their continued occupation of land in the counties of Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow, this may also explain his obvious right wing views, which on occasion have been compared to the utterances of Cromwell prior to the sacking of Drogheda in 1649. This event giving rise to the only Irish blood in himself or his ancestry which perhaps explains the urbane comfort in the form of homilies offered some time ago to Paddy Gorman.
I am assuming that this is the same lad or perpetual snapper who was asked not to return to our school and sent on his way some 40 years ago.
This is not just a government that acts contrary to workers' interests, but actively sets out to destroy the union movement under the constant khaki cover of terror and global instability.
Three years ago ACTU Congress was consumed with passionate speeches about what Labor should do when it was back in power; debate on issues such as trade policy had an edge because there was a genuine feeling that future government policy was being shaped.
This time around, the feeling is more: how the hell do we get Labor back into power? And perhaps more importantly, how do we effect change if we can't achieve this political goal in the short term?
The challenge for this ACTU Congress is to develop an agenda for change that can be achieved in a hostile political environment; through workplace negotiations, industry bargaining and state legislation.
It must be built on a consistent set of values and grounded in concrete policy issues that effect the lives of both union members and non-members.
Medicare is such an important flashpoint issue because it packages the values of a fair go for all with a service that has, to date, been available to every Australian worker and their family.
Medicare is not a just a health issue, it is a symbol for a model of government that the Howard Government's mad obsession with all things American seeks to rip away - universal access to basic services.
The challenge is to transform Medicare from a point of community angst to the line in the sand where workers say to Howard: we will not trade this right off for lower taxes. All indications are this is the public mood, the union movement's challenge is to mobilise it.
As for broader debate around workplace issues, few are expecting fireworks - when you are fighting for survival, disagreement over the nuances of industrial policy does seem a tad indulgent.
Where there is tension it will emerge on issues like the call to cap hours at work, here the argument comes down to imposing central regulatory models or empowering workers to set their limits through on the ground organising.
The good news from our perspective is that this Congress will be transmitted to the movement through a unified medium - unlike three years ago when Virtual Communities transmitted bells and whistles while a bunch of idiots like me ran around in Hawaiian shirts.
This time, if you have the inclination, you'll be able to follow all the debates online through an ACTU website that is linked in with Labornet, Workers Online and dozens of other union websites.
None of which will win the war, but it at least provides a common ground to embark on the hard, often dispiriting, but ultimately pivotal mission of rebuilding unionism in such a hostile political environment.