General Cosgrove took time off from his Chicken Little routine last week to join in the public dumping of top cop, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.
The self important buffoon, fresh from doing what Australian generals do best - fighting wars in faraway lands that have nothing to do with us, had the temerity to suggest that Keelty was wrong in his assertion that the war in Iraq hadn't made Australia a bigger target.
No one in their right mind would seriously believe that.
In using the words 'Cosgrove' and 'intelligence' in a sentence one is tempted to associate the phrases 'not a lot of' and 'lacking'.
Nonetheless this shining product of the Australian Commissioned Officer Class stated that he drew his bizarre conclusions after seeing the same intelligence as Mick Keelty.
What we all know is that he drew whatever conclusions the Prime Miniature told him to draw. After all, he didn't want Howard's chief-of-staff, Arthur Sinodinis yelling down the phone at him.
Intelligence isn't probably the right word to use in relation to a bloke who decided that Australia would be better off with an overpriced, inefficient and unsuitable tank simply so he could go off and play with his American buddies.
This is the bloke who likes to be portrayed as a hero over East Timor, but as we found out, that appears to be only so that the Howard government could bully its way into a one-sided treaty over petrol reserves that doesn't really help the East Timorese at all.
Fighting over oil reserves seems to be a penchant of the good General.
While in East Timor Cosgrove busied himself by calling for the disarming Falintil, the guerilla army of the East Timorese people, describing it as an "untrained and unsanctioned as a military force".
And we all know who trained the Indonesian army while it ran amok in Timor, don't we.
And as for the idea of Falintil laying down its arms while the Indonesian backed militias were still active in the country...smart idea that!
One pro-Falantil source at the time described the move as "suicide".
No wonder half his army is stoned off their heads, if the results of drug tests in Darwin are to be believed.
Then again, if Cosgrove was the genius that stood between you and being sent to die in some godforsaken hole in the interests of cheap petrol then you'd probably want to escape yourself.
Cosgrove's military recently took a rather unhelpfully defensive tone towards an inquiry into deaths in the Australian Armed Services; Cosgrove accused by family members of service men and women who had died as conducting a "cover up"
Now our Tool Of The Week has settled comfortably into the greatest cover up of all - the lies told to the Australian people to protect a dangerous and unjust war that has turned this country into a target for terrorists.
Next time you are a witness to the useless paranoia that accompanies this never ending 'war on terror', such as bored Chubb guards on the Harbour Bridge or the lack of garbage bins at Central Station, then you'll know that thanks to General Cosgrove, the terrorists have already won.
In the middle of all this palaver, last week our Chief Tool had the gall to tell Australia's 'leaders' what was needed to keep up this unending search for a black cat in a dark room that isn't there; our no-brainer war on a concept.
"Quick, slick and accurate decisions" are what's called for, according to our Top Brass Tool.
Well, two out of three ain't bad. Pity about the accuracy.
Representatives of striking Melbourne and Sydney technicians both caught a whiff of Australia’s largest company when Foxtel took a $400 a week interim payment off the negotiating table.
"It looked like we might have been able to reach an interim settlement on Monday but someone intervened and we suspect it was Telstra," Victorian CEPU secretary, Len Cooper said. "It had Telstra's grubby fingerprints all over it."
Cooper said the payment wouldn't have got technicians back in their vans but, prior to its withdrawal, the parties had been close to an interim agreement that would have allowed digital installation to proceed while contractual arrangements were being finalised.
Telstra is Foxtel's largest shareholder. It owns Australia's dominant pay tv network in partnership with Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd and Kerry Packer's PBL.
Cooper said Telstra technicians received messages on their mobile phones during the week, requiring them to make themselves available for Foxtel work.
"Telstra corporate managers have been complaining that the action by Foxtel technicians is a direct threat to their contracting out strategy," Cooper said.
NSW official, Shane Murphy agreed.
"Telstra is up to its neck in this," he told Workers Online.
The withdrawal prompted 800 sub-contractors around Australia to vote to extend their strike "indefinitely", last Thursday.
Murphy led a convoy of 200 vans all the way from Chester Hill in Sydney's western suburbs to Foxtel's Piermont corporate headquarters where technicians staged a raucous protest.
There were van blockades of other corporate offices around the city and similar actions in Brisbane. Melbourne techs blockaded the company's Victorian headquarters last Friday, then headed to state parliament for a protest rally.
Foxtel forked out $15 million to spruik its digital revolution but take-up has been thrown into disarray by newly-unionised contractors who have seen earnings tumble in recent years.
Technicians claim that around seven years ago the average contractor was grossing $160,000 but that repeated rate cuts have shaved that figured back to around $43,000, from which technicians have to pay expenses and tax.
Cooper says the re-unionisation of contractor technicians is highly significant for the labour movement.
"We are seeing subbies getting organised and returning to the family," he said.
Electricians blame Energy Australia’s "penny pinching" for the "shocking" state of the network, and say dangerous incidents have already struck Paddington, St Peters, Chatswood and Milperra, warning of an Auckland style crisis unless maintenance is stepped up.
Energy Australia has been accused of hiding behind media spin and ill-informed platitudes instead of addressing the real problems facing Sydney's electricity network.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has placed a ban on working 'live' at the affected substations until the problems are fixed.
Affected suburbs where substandard substations are in operation includes Chatswood, Mosman, Lane Cove, Manly, Beacon Hill, North Head, Lindfield, Pymble, Turramurra, Cronulla, Leichhardt, Mason Park, Drummoyne and Randwick.
Some substations have had tarpaulins placed over equipment to protect it from the elements.
One of these tarpaulins gave out at Crows Nest on Ash Wednesday this year, throwing North Sydney into gridlock as traffic lights failed and hundreds of homes and businesses were left without power. Energy Australia employees had notified management of the leak at the Crows Nest substation over two years prior to the incident.
Sydney CBD was thrown into darkness last September when Energy Australia gave the city a "spring gift" blackout courtesy of what the ETU has labelled as a "hugely overburdened electricity network".
"Members know the Central Business district is overloaded," says ETU Organiser Steve Butler. "The triple banked system cannot handle the strain that is being placed on it. The system was gold plated for the 70's and 80's but was allowed to deteriorate due to economic rationalism.
"When bean counters are in charge of an electricity network then the beans these bastards count become more important than employees or customers."
The CFMEU is demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from the owner of King St eatery, Safari, to make good on money owed to sub-contractors when his development company, Donmastry, hit the wall.
Restauranteur, James Nazmi, has been unavailable to the CFMEU since Donmastry went belly-up last December, threatening the survival of several contractors working on a restaurant he was building in down-town George St.
The bricklayer, gyprocker and scaffolder from that site are owed $200,000 between them.
CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said his members were "sick and tired of shonky operators" who wrote off significant debts while continuing to operate other businesses.
Activists mounted a two and a half hour protest outside Safari Restaurant, last Thursday, which won enthusiastic support from onlookers and passing motorists.
That action, however, provoked threats of legal action in the event of Nazmi's restaurant again being targeted. Management said Nazmi had gone to ground in Indonesia.
"We know the law and we will respect it," Ferguson said. "This bloke can keep running but we won't allow him to hide. He has threatened the survival of a number of honest contractors who employ our members, and all their families."
Ferguson is encouraging residents and supporters to join Friday night's protest which will be self-catered, courtesy of a spit roasted pig.
The CFMEU says Nazmi has been associated with a string of failed companies, including DH Exports and Imports, Dewdore, Donmastry, Fairway Design International, Paul Nazmi and Purete.
They have called on workers who donate to the charity to suspend payments until the individual contracts are withdrawn.
The Australian Services Union is urging all Smith Family workers to reject non-union Australian Workplace Agreements as one of the worst examples of charities asking their workers to become martyrs.
The proposed agreement, which has been circulated to The Smith Family's 200 staff nationally would abolish:
- Annual Leave Loading
- Overtime payments
- Weekend and Shift penalties
- Payment for working public holidays
Workers would also give up the right to be conculted on workplace changes, could be directed to work outside their rostered hours for no extra payment and could be stood down without pay as a result of industrial action - whether or not they are participating.
All these conditions are being traded off for a three per cent pay rise - even though the next Minimum Wage increase would deliver 2.9 per cent without any trade-offs
ASU state president Sally McManus says the Smith Family's AWA is one of the worst examples of a charity cashing in on the goodwill of a dedicated workfiorce
"Workers enter the community services field aware that they will not make a fortune, but at least they can have the protection of a union and some decent conditions," McManus says.
"It appears that The Smith Family wants to embrace the very workplace policies that lead to the social breakdown it puts so much hard work into redressing."
The NSW Labor Council has backed the campaign calling on all workers to withhold workplace donations while the Smith Family pushed their current industrial agenda.
Workers representatives suggest airline passengers used to more comfortable and flexible arrangements will react badly to restrictions imposed by the low-cost start-up.
One worker had a passenger follow her to the toilets and try to assault her after she failed to provide a window seat, while a Melbourne colleague has described abuse as an everyday occurrence in the baggage services area.
"We are expecting we are going to cop that," says Linda White, assistant federal secretary Australian Services Union (ASU). "Qantas employees are expecting unhappy passengers because of the fairly strict conditions in Jetstar."
"We are expecting air rage to go through the roof."
The issue of increased air-rage because of Jetstar was a big talking point amongst airport workers at meetings across the country, according to White.
"We have demanded that Qantas deal with us on this issue," says White. "The procedures they have in place are not good enough to deal with this problem."
Qantas' response has been to notify a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission.
The ASU has a website on Air Rage, including the results of its national survey on the effects of air rage on airport staff. ASU members report being grabbed by the throat, having briefcases and mobile phones thrown at them
The site can be visited at www.zeroairage.com.au
Swedish giant Attila Levin will take on Jeremy Williams in a heavyweight bout on April 15 at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom in the first all-union event in the sport’s history. Sixth ranked, Jameel "Big Time" McCline will appear in the co-feature.
Boxing is the last major professional sport without a union. Boxers and retired boxers have no health care, pension, or other benefits.
The JAB, founded by former World Light Heavyweight Champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, has set out to protect the rights of boxers and ensure the highest possible safety standards at all matches.
"The JAB is drawing the attention of boxers worldwide," says Muhammad.
The fledgling union aims to create health and pension benefit plans for boxers; a minimum salary scale; Ensure fair distribution of fight proceeds between boxers and promoters and to assist boxers in their transition from boxing to other jobs upon retirement.
Apart from Levin and Williams, notable early recruits include WBA Featherweight champion of the world, Derek "Smoke" Gainer.
"The idea of a boxers union is a long time coming. Boxers have been exploited for too long and the industry needs a strong unifying force. JAB is the answer." Says Gainer
The compromise was thrashed out following a long campaign in which workers argued testing was being used as a "disciplinary" rather than a "safety" tool.
The dispute came to a head when Minister Costa backed Railcorp management's use of Section 127 Orders that could have subjected striking AMWU members to fines or imprisonment.
"Rail workers are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing," says John Robertson, secretary of the NSW Labor Council. "Rather than dealing with the safety of workers and the public, this is being used as a 'big stick' by Railcorp management, including the CEO and the Minister."
"This is a safety issue, not a disciplinary issue."
Railcorp is seeking to introduce a regime that is even more stringent than that employed by the NSW Police Force.
Drug testing will continue at Railcorp, but the moratorium has been introduced on disciplinary action against staff until research is conducted into the effectiveness and methods used to measure drug use by workers. Railworkers will not be allowed to continue working if they test positive but it will stop the practice of workers being summarily dumped for "failing" a drug test, rather than being offered counselling or rehabilitation.
Railcorp have refused to budge on the way alcohol testing is being conducted.
Rail workers representatives have labelled RailCorp's approach to drug and alcohol testing as hypocritical. Senior Railcorp management will not be subject to the drug and alcohol testing policy, jobs are being slashed from safety critical areas while this policy is being implemented and that recommendations from earlier inquiries into rail accidents still haven't been acted upon.
"Let's get fair dinkum about safety," says Bernie Riordan NSW secretary of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). "All sorts of recommendations came out of the inquiries into the Glenbrook and Waterfall accidents, including improvements to communications equipment, that haven't been acted upon."
For rail workers, the real safety issue is impairment. Front line rail workers have pointed out that there are more issues that affect rail safety than being under the influence, including being impaired by other factors including being short staffed due to job cuts.
The drug testing methodology has also come under question, with some drug tests taking up to 24 hours to return a result - which does not address the ability of safety critical staff to perform
The Queensland organisation broke ranks with Master Builders nationally, refusing to support a cornerstone of the proposed Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill, that would ban pattern bargaining.
"Wage justice has long been defined as circumstances where workers doing identical work in close proximity to one another receive identical remuneration, wherever practicable," The Queensland Master Builders told a Senate Inquiry.
"A system that encourages individual employers to pay differing wages to workers performing similar tasks on the same site, is a recipe for industrial anarchy and cannot be supported."
Bill architect and former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, has hung his political hat on banning pattern bargaining, insisting that unions sign "genuine" separate agreements on wages and conditions with every contractor and sub-contractor on each site.
He has gone as far as to withhold millions of dollars in Federal funds from infrastructure projects because head contractors had signed pattern, or project, agreements with building unions.
But Queensland employers say the system won't work for reasons of justice and practicality.
"The industry has continued to negotiate pattern agreements within certain parameters as a deliberate strategy to minimise industrial disruption," it says.
It warns that under Abbott's "genuine enterprise bargaining" the most industrially vulnerable parties would be at extreme risk.
For similar reasons, the Queensland MBA defends project agreements and current union methods of determining whether or not to take industrial action.
"Master Builders strongly supports a revamped industrial relations system that provides for registered project agreements to cater for the specific needs of the BCI (building and construction industry)," it says.
It dismisses Federal Government proposals to demand pre-strike ballots as "lunacy".
While the submissions represent a break with the pro-Government line of its national organisation. Queensland MBA strongly supported the proposal for a third party to police the industry.
It lamented the success of last year's industrial campaign, spearheaded by the CFMEU and ETU, as "the worst period of industrial disputation ever witnessed by the commercial sector".
Master Builders told the inquiry unions has won "above community standard" settlements on wages, working hours, travel allowances, super payments and redundancy insurance.
The national Master Builders Association, which has aggressively supported the Bill, admitted to the Senate Inquiry it had hired its Industrial Relations Director straight from Abbott's office without advertising the position.
Howard in Dock
Meanwhile, the ILO will examine an official complaint that the Bill violates basic labour freedom.
The ACTU has told the International Labor Organisation that proposed legislation will seriously restrict the ability of Australian building workers to bargain collectively.
"The ACTU is seeking a determination from the ILO as to whether the proposed law is in contravention of Australia's international human rights obligations," president Sharan Burrow confirmed.
The ILO was established by the United Nations to oversee human rights and international agreements as they apply to workplace issues.
One defendant received the death sentence after prosecutors alleged he had been found in possession of the ILO's report into forced labour in Burma and "other sheets of paper". All nine had been charged with high treason.
The world's largest trade union confederation, the ICFTU, has already written to Burma's military dictatorship calling the prosecutions fundamental violations of human rights. It accused the dictatorship, which had pledged to work with ILO to stamp out forced labour, of "blatant hypocrisy".
Burma has been the target of international sanctions since its military vetoed the results of a popular election, won by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, 12 years ago. It has kept Suu Kyi in prison or under house arrest for most of that time.
The ACTU's development arm, APHEDA, has helped co-ordinate Australian involvement in an international campaign to pressure businesses out of involvement with the rogue state. Most foreign investors had brought into joint ventures with the military dictatorship.
The campaign has scored at least two major successes with the enforced withdrawal of Triumph Bras and British American Tobacco.
Democracy activists have accused Burma of systematic abuse of international labour laws, including the use of forced labour to keep down costs.
The ILO, an arm of the United Nations, is investigating the latest death sentences.
"Burmese authorities must drop these charges and ensure the defendants are released from prison," the ICFTU said from its Brussels headquarters this week. "Anything short of that would show a flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights."
AMWU state secretary, Andrew Dettmer, met premier Peter Beattie in Brisbane on Friday to brief him on a fightback campaign endorsed by delegates from sugar towns at a special conference that considered the impact of Australia bending over to the US during "free trade" negotiations.
Despite assurances from deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, that no sugar access would mean no deal, his Government is now pushing a Free Trade agreement that offers no increased access to the heavily subsidised American market.
Instead, Government is meeting farmer and millers in Canberra and talking about paying them to exit an industry depended on by most of rural north Queensland.
Ayr, population 8000, for example, is a sugar town, surrounded by five mills. The same is true of most settlements from Mackay to north of Cairns. Thirty seven thousand Queenslanders are directly employed in the sugar industry.
Dettmer said sugar workers were "furious" they had been frozen out of Government discussions on the industry's future.
They invited farmer and industry reps to their McKay conference and have proposed a "united front" response, directed at saving dozens of Queensland sugar towns.
"The Howard Government only wants to talk to millers and selected cane growers," Dettmer said. "Bad luck, this is a community issue and we will involve the communities.
Dettmer says sugar has a future but it depends on good will, an all-party approach, and political support that has not been forthcoming from Canberra.
The international market, he argues, has been artificially suppressed by countries like Brazil and Thailand opting to make suguar a "loss leader", and massive US subsidies.
Certainly, he argues, the first two circumstances cannot continue indefinitely.
AMWU delegates have recognised problems the Queensland sugar industry has to grapple with. Last week they identified archaic cropping regimes, depleted plant, a lack of investment and economies of scale as key issues.
Conference attendees have committed themselves to organising meetings of local stakeholders, and community forums, as the first step in their fightback campaign.
The ETU has inserted bargaining fees in more than 25 agreements, authorising the union to charge a fee to non-members who benefit from union-negotiated agreements.
ETU NSW secretary Bernie Riordan says there is overwhelming support for bargaining fees amongst his union's membership.
"Our members can not see the justice in non-members benefiting from the union's hard work and so they have taken matters into their own hands and endorsed the 'fee for service' clauses," Riordan says.
"The union is now enforcing the clauses and have levied bargaining fees against a number of non-members who have been happy to accept their union-negotiated pay rise.
"This is a market solution to the problem of some workers not being prepared to pay their way when it comes to negotiating wages and conditions.
"Our members have endorsed the user pay principle - where a majority of workers vote that bargaining fees should apply, the union is authorised to charge non-members a fee for their pay rise.
Riordan says the ETU is now planning to run a test case to allow for the enforcement of the fees across the entire power industry.
Australian Workers Union state president Mick Madden says he has been briefed Utilities Minister Frank Sartor's office regarding the plans to corporatise State Water.
"The Minister claims he must go down this track to meet National Competition policy requirements," Madden says "The AWU made it clear that it believes the government should seek an exemption, as they did with the poultry industry, to ensure that rural communities are not the victims of a discredited economic theory.
"The corporatisation of Sydney Water has shown the pitfalls of a private board running a vital public utility. Rural and regional NSW rely on secure water flows and it is a responsibility that should remain directly with the Minister.
There are also serious concerns the Carr Government was proceeding with plans to sell off State Forests. "Forestry is the lifeblood of many rural communities and they are too important to be the4 subject of a fire sale," Madden says.
Madden says the AWU will continue to lobby the Carr Government on both issues on behalf of regional NSW.
Written by labour historian and long-time Workers Online contributor Rown Cahill, the project transforms the Marititme Union's website into an educational resource for students studying trade unions.
Explaining why students should learn about trade unions, Cahill points out that trade unionism has been a major force in the shaping of Australian society and culture.
"Trade unions have helped shape the way Australians live, from their wages and working conditions to legislation protecting and advancing equity and social justice," Cahill says.
"Some, like the maritime unions, grew out of the experience of living and working in the Australian colonies and are amongst the nation‚s oldest economic and political formations.
Cahill also points out that many students begin their working lives while at school.
"They participate in Work Experience programs and many find part-time employment, after school and at weekends, especially in the retail and fast food industries.
"If students are regarded as being suitable to be employees, then it is remiss of anyone to deny them the opportunity to learn about trade unionism, and about having some power over the determination of their wages and conditions and the quality of their working lives‰.
The MUA education package can be found at http://www.mua.org.au
This Working Life
A free exhibition at the State Library of NSW, 1 March - 20 June 2004. Through photographs of employees at work and play and revealing company records, This Working Life is an engaging look at our working past, from 1824 to the 1950s. Drawn from the State Library's little known business archives and associated pictorial material, the exhibition features the Australian Agricultural Co, Colonial Sugar Refining Co (CSR), Anthony Hordern & Sons, Wunderlich, Berlei, Colgate-Palmolive and Chubb - many of which still exist today.
The exhibition is a social history of work, from convict labour, early migrant workers and burgeoning unionism, through the rise of large local companies and women in the workplace, to modern manufacturing techniques and advances in technology. The display focuses on the workers themselves: the people behind the big companies.
I can provide you with any further info you may need. You can view the website to get an idea. http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/
The $500 billion dollar question. The impact of debt on the poor in the Asia Region and beyond.
Keynote address by Peter Garrett addressing the impacts of debt on the environment.
Other speakers include:
Prof Ross Buckley, Fisher Centre Bond University
Prof. Leonor Briones, Former Head of the Philippines Treasury
David Nellor, Senior Resident, IMF, Indonesia (tbc)
Prof. Jomo K.S., University of Malaya
For the flyer please go to http://www.aidwatch.org.au
Cost : Government/business/academia: $77.00 NGO/individual: $44.00 Concession: $22.00
When: Wednesday 24 March 2004. 9.00 am - 3.30 pm.
Where: Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Level 60, Governor Philip Tower, Young St, Sydney
RSVP: 15th March to [email protected]
Fischer Centre for Global Trade & Finance
Struggles, Scabs & Schooners II - a labour history tour with a pint
20th March 2004
Starts at the Star Hotel (cnr. Sussex & George Streets, Sydney)
Stopping in at four pubs, with speakers including Jack Mundey, Harry Black and Tom McDonald.
(By popular demand: dinner will be at about 6:30pm, and will be the last pub we stop at)
Cost: approx $30 (we will confirm shortly) - includes bus, dinner and water. Drunkenness is extra, singing is free...
Places are very limited (mostly 'cause its a bus!)
Cheques can be made out to Chris Gambian c/- FSU PO Box A2442 Sydney South 1235
See you there!
Palm Sunday 2004 - march and rally
4 April, 2004
Assemble Belmore Park, 1pm for march to Hyde Park North
Adelaide International Workplace Conflict Conference - 21-23 April 2004
Holiday Inn on Hindley (formerly the Novotel Adelaide), Hindley Street.
The workplace mirrors the world - dealing with conflict at work
Conflict is a characteristic feature of most workplaces and has many manifestations. Its impacts can be positive or negative. The conference will look at the sources of workplace conflict and its management. It will be of interest to human resource practitioners, advocates, legal practitioners, health professionals, conflict resolution professionals, educators, OHS&W practitioners and representatives, workplace change consultants, unions, employers, government agencies, academics and policy makers.
Dale Bagshaw, University of South Australia, Australia.
Richard Bonneau, Los Angeles Police Department, US.
Pat Ferris, Organisational Consultant, Canada.
Eric Lee, LabourStart, UK.
Patricia Mannix McNamara, University of Limerick, Ireland
Mark Thomson, Author, Australia.
Dieter Zapf, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany.
Privacy & Confidentiality - "Email is Forever"
Workplace Cultures & Managerial Fundamentalism
Workplace Grievance & Dispute Procedures
Training for Managing Conflict
Conference Registration Information:
Registration fee: $545
More information, including registration forms, can be found at the conference web site:
E v e n t S t r a t e g i e s P t y , P O B o x 4 8 6 , U N L E Y , S O U T H A U S T R A L I A 5 0 6 1
T e l : 6 1 8 8 3 7 3 4 5 8 0 E m a i l : c o n f l i c t c o n f @ e v e n t s t r a t e g i e s . c om. a u
WHEN WORKERS UNITE - FOUNDATIONS OF TOMORROW
An exhibition of banners, badges and posters produced by trade unions, and original artworks by Jeff Rigby highlighting the strong historical role unions have played in the creation and conservation of our built environment, whilst May Day materials emphasise the workers' achievements in gaining and maintaining the rights and conditions of those who built it.
From: 1st May to 16th May 2003 at Braemar Gallery, 104 Macquarie Rd, Springwood
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm
I have forwarded your "Tool of the Week" citation to Senator Lees with my endorsement of its contents.
There are many South Australians who are furious at this grubby poseur.
The coming election should rid us of this conceited quisling
The Militant Liberal Health Minister Tony Abbott got his own way steamrolling his way through the Independents on the Medicare Reforms along with the Militant Education Minister Brendan Nelson getting his way on education.
With Militancy like this where does this leave Burrow and Combet?
Well‚ Tickle me Grandmother‚ what a wowser has Cue Ball Costa's successor John Robertson turned out to be?
I refer to the article "Debate‚ on page 26 of the Daily Telegraph, March 12, 2004, in which he and Meredith Burgmann give opposing views on the hypocrisy of the Carr Government in relation to alcohol consumption in the workplace.
Surely as the titular head of the Labor Council and regularly experiencing the madness of the 'Bear Pit‚ and its pseudo socialist residents, he would realise that to inhabit or even deal with the inhabitants of such a place, requires the constant consumption of mind-altering substances, and nothing is as freely available as the taxpayer subsidised alcohol which has been freely available from the days of the Rum Corps, a situation, which is really a perpetuation of what Meredith refers to as "A problem for MPs is the absurd sitting hours which are a hangover from the 19th century", this being a useless appendage much like the legislative Council and its members including the President.
Seriously, as a long term alkie, I can talk with experience, and it is outrageous behaviour such as this which is indicative of the need for much more that Council Amalgamations, it requires the state to be divided into regions, and the abolition of not only Municipal and Shire Councils, but the State Government and the transportation of not only Carr, but his whole Cabinet to New Zealand when they can join David Lange on his talkfest Tours.
As for the Christmas tree decorations, Robbo and Burgmann , why don‚t they try fecken living in the real world, not the rarefied air of Goulburn or Macquarie streets.
This must be an election year because recently I read, "$267 million increase toward the Veteran's Affairs budget..."
Fair compensation for TPI's has shown no part in Federal government for well over 30 years. Since 1996, 'Honest John' has screwed veterans long and hard and still claims through his Veteran‚s Affairs Minister that TPI's are extremely well off, with their weekly compensation income totaling 42 per cent of the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings that is the lowest of the low male average weekly earnings as assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
This minuscule compensation payment is an insult today, because it assumes all TPI's were never ever going to achieve anything in life, in or out of the Military. Hence the lowest of the low livable weekly income for doing something government had full knowledge injury would happen, for and on behalf of all Australian people.
Oh, the $267 million? It didn't make it's way in raising the TPI payment above 42 per cent of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings. Nor did it address the $78 per fortnight as Danna Vale Minister for Veteran‚s Affairs, claims is lost purchase power. Nor did it adjust any back-payment.
Stability in union density does not mean the movement is standing still, indeed to maintain the current rate unions actually recruited a net increase of 33,000 workers over the past 12 months.
They had to do so in a climate that saw the workforce growth fuelled by non-union, private sector jobs and the continuing spread of casual and contract work, an area which has always been difficult to organise.
In holding the line, there have been some great advances, none the least the Foxtel contractors, many of whom left the movement when they took redundancy from Telstra to establish their own cable and satellite installation businesses..
A few years on and they are retuning to their union, albeit as owners of their own business, pushed to the brink of collapse by the constant squeeze from their new market places.
The unionists have contracts with for a range of bottom feeding companies who undercut each other to win a stake in the booming pay TV installation work and internet roll-out busniness.
Of course, the bargain basement bids are then passed onto the contractors who have no option but to drop their fees, meaning many are now working six and a half days per week to take home a salary that hovers around the poverty line.
With a campaign neatly timed to coincide with the launch of Foxtel's 'digital revolution' (and surprisingly absent from the pages of the News Ltd press), the contractors have gone on strike to assert their basic right to negotiate with the company controlling the market.
It may be a new form of employment and a new sort of industrial objective, but anyone who saw the convoy of Foxtel vans in the city this week should be under no illusion that these are real unionists displaying real resolve.
Meanwhile, in more traditional union areas, another wave is building - a demand from rank and file members for unions to demand that those who benefit from union negotiations are made to pay for the service.
It is a push across many industries, a demand for the free-loaders to pay that is driven more by a sense of what is fair in the marketplace than any notion of class solidarity.
People are prepared to pay for a decent service, but they don't like seeing someone else pick up the benefits for free.
The predictable response from employers is talk of bully-boys and returns to the days of compulsory unionism, but their shrill response belies the truth that the market-based argument of 'user pays' is compelling.
Unions have always been about markets, giving workers a joint bargaining position to maximise their leverage for wages and conditions; it is this more than any ideology that have made employers so hostile.
And as markets evolve, the need for workers to intervene or be squashed is only intensifying - and that's the real reason why unions refuse to disappear despite the best efforts and prayers of big business.
After all, in an era when you have to pay to watch the footy - albeit from 25 different angles - surely no-one can expect a free ride at work.