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Issue No. 203 14 November 2003  

Beyond the Workplace
The NSW union movement’s intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Hamberger Bad for Kids

 BHP Faces UN Sanction

 Hardie Shareholders Face Death

 Road Workers Swing Left-Right Blows

 Joy Battles Goode at ANZ

 Developers To Kick Transport Can

 ACTU Names Its Price

 Death By A Thousand Cuts

 Ban Holes Water Police Deal

 Cleaners Mop Up Contracts Mess

 Workers Entitlements Dumped

 Overtime Goes Bush

 Libs Push Lawyers Picnic

 Unions Set To Stand Up To Bullies

 Jack Thompson Headlines Launch

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Burma Up In Smoke
 Super Solidarity
 Perils Of Pauline
 Put A PM On The Barbie
 Tom Holds Water
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Death By A Thousand Cuts

Investigators who exposed training rorts, including information technology trainees working in sandwich bars and school kids forced to undertake traineeships to work in fast food joints, face the axe under NSW government cuts.

The PSA says standards for apprentices will be eroded by moves to cut a quarter of State Training Services field staff - the people who monitor and regulate apprentices, trainees and their employers-.

"It is unbelievable that at the very time WorkCover's accreditation failures and scandals are before an ICAC inquiry, education management is planning to loosen controls over training and accreditation', says John Cahill, General Secretary of the Public Service Association.

State Training Services provides advice to people who may find themselves in inappropriate training arrangements. It also provides support for employers who find they can no longer deal with their trainees and apprentices who have gone off the rails.

"State Training Services makes a very real contribution to keeping all players honest and to providing accountability for expenditure from the public purse," says Cahill. "The proposed 25 percent reduction in field services staff will have a significant impact on the quality and regulation of training provided to apprentices and trainees"

The Industry Training Service Centres are the only body of people in NSW who are charged with particular responsibilities under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, 2001 including:

* ensuring/confirming the capacity of employers to train for all declared trades and callings;

* ensuring/confirming the competency of those emerging from their apprenticeships and traineeships;

* issuing all "trade & calling" qualifications in NSW;

* assessing and reporting to Vocational Training Tribunals on the adequacy of trades and callings training (especially in the workplace);

* assessing and reporting to "Trade Recognition Tribunals" -- qualifying, quantifying & validating applicants' experience, on-the-job training and current level of competence -- to enable the Tribunals to properly determine the issue of a trade qualification

When there are abuses in the training systems the field staff are the people who find them and deal with them. Examples of abuse dealt with by field staff include:

* A national tyre franchisee employing apprentices across NSW as spare parts interpreters. Actual job was tyre fitting. No apprenticeship training from the employer or registered training organisation. There was no trade work available at any site.

* Apprentices and trainees left without supervisors.

* Electrical and automotive apprentices signed up to the wrong trade to match the off-the-job training, not what is happening on the job.

* Apprentice carpenters building roof trusses on production lines.

* A company with 40 staff are all signed up as trainees. When the company is investigated it is found that several are not actually working in NSW, one was working in New Zealand.

* Group training companies suspending apprentices for months at a time - some sought times in excess of 12 months - and not advising the apprentices of their options or advising the department that no training is taking place.

"When the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act was a Bill in 2001, the unions of NSW spoke strongly of the need to maintain the integrity of training in NSW and the role of the independent umpire," says Mr Cahill. "It is difficult to see how either can be maintained with the current proposals."

Education cuts target children with disabilities

Meanwhile PSA General Secretary John Cahill today called on the NSW Education and Training Minister, Dr Andrew Refshauge, to recognise the vital role of educational support staff of the Department of Education and Training in delivering a program to assist community-based early intervention services for young children with disabilities.

Mr Cahill demanded the government maintain these important community services and reverse the planned job cuts in its misnamed Lifelong Learning restructure.

The Intervention Support Program administers $10 million of Commonwealth funds, which are used to support approximately 6,000 young children with disabilities and 500 community-based pre-schools, long day care centres and early intervention services including the major peak disability organisations. The community-based services to be affected include those provided by local councils.

The Association yesterday wrote to affected organisations, urging them to complain to the Minister about the cuts.

The program helps supports the cost of educational services for children in non-profit early childhood settings, children and adolescents in residential care, and capital grants for non-government centres to benefit children and students with disabilities.

"The community has a right to expect that these important community services will be maintained at their current level, especially with all of the news about childcare centres failing to meet appropriate standards for children without special needs. None of the position cuts to this important community service area of the Department of Education and Training can be justified, especially after job cuts in previous restructures".

Staff of the Intervention Support Program, one of four program areas of the Community Grants Unit, learned on September 24 of the loss of two of their four dedicated staff members plus vital administrative support clerks for all four programs.

"Dr Refshauge has said that the 1,000 job cuts announced in June were about slashing non-essential 'bureaucratic' jobs but it's not true. The only "fat" to cut in the Department of Education and Training is in the ranks of senior bureaucrats, but these positions have been increased in the proposed new structure, while educational support staff are been cut back drastically", said Cahill.


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