We don't hear much from Kev the Rev these days, so when he strode to the dispatch box to issue a statement on T-shirts it was assumed that he would no doubt be discussing the miserable effort by Westco last week.
Instead of railing against the sleazy humiliation of the staff at the clothing retailer what did we get from the workers friend? A denunciation of union T-shirts on building sites.
This is a man that would be happy to see a thousand staff sexually harassed than for one to join the union.
Whatever world Kev is living on it sure isn't the real one. How would Kev feel if his daughter was forced into a T-shirt that had 'Stop Pretending You Don't Want Me' printed on it?
Andrews couldn't even bring himself to mention the Westco case. That would, of course, mean having to admit that things like individual contracts are leaving vulnerable workers exposed to this sort of abuse.
Instead he banged on about those naughty, bad building unions. Yawn! Do they seriously believe that anyone outside the League Of Rights believes that garbage?
His other great initiative this week was a move to change the law to allow the Federal Government to kill workers through it's own negligence, and then be able to walk away. What a goose!
How long will this intellectual pygmy spend his time hiding behind the Building Industry taskforce? No doubt the Federal Government is moving quickly to set up a Retail industry Taskforce. After all, this is about protecting working people from exploitation isn't it? Or is this government only interested in propping up sleazy employers?
The good Reverend and his coalition cohorts must be mystified as to why they can't seem to get any traction on the Union Bogeyman issue, especially as the union movement is obviously the spawn of Satan.
Well, but the events at Westco illustrate why.
Many working people are so under the pump that the idea that having someone to go into bat for you being a bad thing is laughable. Especially when the sort of thing that happens at Westco is pretty much a daily occurrence in one form or another at workplaces across Australia; with the Federal government giving employers carte blanche to do pretty much as they please to their fellow citizens.
Andrew's silence on this issue has been deafening, and speaks volumes for his and his government's grasp on reality. Instead of trying to fight the cold war by proxy, they might want to have a good look at what's really happening to people in the workforce.
Isn't there something in the good book about treating people as you'd like to be treated? If that's the case then our Tool Of The Week obviously feels that there is a need for people to dump on him from a great height, as he seems quite happy to do that to everyone else.
Maybe Kev should pull his head out of the bible a bit more often and have a look at what's happening to real people in the real world. But the chances of that happening are about that of a snowflake's chance in hell, which would be a good place for Kevin Andrews to go to after his finished with a stint in the Tool Shed.
South Coast Labor Council secretary, Arthur Rorris, highlighted three recent accidents to urge the Government to base a medical retrieval unit, similar to those operating out of Sydney, Newcastle, Tamworth and Lismore, at Wollongong Hospital.
He says the resistance of Health Minister, Maurice Iemma, may be costing lives on the South Coast.
Concrete renderer Ron Tabak died before he could be reached by a doctor dispatched from Sydney two and a half hours after witnesses say he fell into a trench.
Rorris cannot comment on specifics of the case because it is before a coroner but alleges that, from the time of finally being called, it took a Sydney-based doctor 35 minutes to reach Port Kembla by helicopter.
"We should have a doctor available in 10 minutes, not 35," he argues. "There is a hospital up the road but there is no retrieval unit based there.
"People on the South Coast are sick of this Minister's intransigence. From here on we will be holding him, and local politicians, responsible every time one of our workmates dies on the job."
Rorris said the Tabak death came within days of the lid being blown off the Port Kembla ethanol plant in an explosion, and a worker falling into a deep ditch at the nearby Sydney Water Treatment Works.
"We have a lifesaver helicopter and we have paramedics but these services don't come with a Wollongong-based doctor. In cases of serious injury, the first 20 minutes can be vital," Rorris said.
The Labor Council secretary says his organisation's fears have been highlighted by this week's leak of an internal review conducted by pilots at Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.
That review lists six case studies, since June last year, in which "tasking" of the helicopter was overlooked or delayed within the South Coast region.
"The commitment of the Medical Retrieval Unit to serving the community and the professionalism of the Unit's officers is not in question," report authors say. "This review document shoud not and is not designed to detract from the positive relationship that the Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service and the Medical Retrieval Unit share.
"It is, however, apparent that a number of barriers to performance need to be overcome for the unit and the aeromedical network to perform as well as it would wish."
Senior manager, Andrew Hart, told staff around Australia that resistance would be futile.
"NO T-shirt equals NO work," he insisted in a memo revealed this week by The Australian newspaper. "Any team member that does not dress correctly for work will be sent home.
"The company at great expense has provided these T-shirts and they should be worn with great pride."
But they weren't. One Melbourne shop assistant who wore a barrage of offensive comments refused to wear the garment and was told to go home.
Westco Jeans staff in a Bankstown outlet flatly refused to wear the offensive shirts.
Melbourne Trades Hall's Jobwatch blew the whistle on the company, accusing it of failing in its obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment. It's involvement led Westco Jeans to withdraw its directive, described by The Australian as "draconian".
The company's ability to put female staff in such an invidious position has been sheeted home to the Howard Government's policy of forcibly stripping awards back to 20 matters it deems "allowable" .
That policy removed a provision from the federal Shop Assistants Award that stated employers could not require employees to wear revealing or indecent clothing that would cause harrassment.
Shadow Workplace Relations Minister, Craig Emerson, called the Government's demands "ideology gone mad".
He demanded an explanation from Minister, Kevin Andrews.
"How can he defend the immoral exploitation of women made possible by his award stripping agenda?" Emerson asked. "The previous provision cost employers nothing, and its removal could hardly be said to have assisted productivity."
Andrews is currently sponsoring a Bill, the Workplace Relations Amendment Bill 2002, that would lead to another round of award stripping. It seeks to remove negotiated clauses on skills-based classifications, training, jury service payments and long service leave from federal awards.
Following a four-year campaign by unions, NSW will become the first state in Australia to prohibit employers filtering union emails through office servers.
Several employers, including Channel Seven have prevented unions communicating with members during industrial action by filtering out all message coming from the union.
Unions have argued this is .an inappropriate use of employer power, likening the right to receive union emails to the well-established principle of union noticeboards in the workplace.
The break-through is part of a package of measures that will be covered by the Email Surveillance Act, which also includes:
- employers requiring a court order before they can covertly spy on worker emails
- and employers being required to develop a code of email usage in consultation with workers before they can overtly monitor usage
These measures will bring computer monitoring into line with the right oif workers not to be secretly filmed at work.
The NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson said the move was truly an historic development and a recognition that workers using computers at works have privacy rights.
"By bringing legislation forward the Carr Government can rightly claim to be taking an national leadership role in respect of workplace rights."
Robertson says the Labor Council would continue to work constructively with the government to ensure the passage of the legislation in the current session of Parliament.
After 20 years in the building game construction worker Max Masias was forced out of the industry on medical advice while compo doctors hacked his entitlement from $23,700 to $4800.
"We have a compensation system that doesn't compensate," says Masias, who was forced to go into debt to send his family back to Peru, as he could no longer afford to keep them in Australia on his compensation payments of $380 per week.
In 2002 Dr George Weisz, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and WorkCover approved medical specialist, told Masias that if he continued working in the building industry he would end up in a wheelchair. Weisz assessed Masias' disabilities as being worth $23,700.
After Masias' claim was lodged the insurance company made an offer of $15,000. A subsequent assessment of Masias' impairment was levelled at just eight percent, reducing his compensation entitlement to just $4800.
Masias, whose three children are 10, six and four years of age, has taken a stand because "there are plenty of workers in his situation".
"I have seen other families where there is an accident and the income drops dramatically and couples split."
Masias, who says he misses his family deeply, is determined not to become another statistic.
"It's hard to speak up but I have to."
Concerned NSW Unions are set to raise the case with the Minister for Commerce, John Della-Bosca.
"We told the Minister that this was coming when the reforms to workers compensation were introduced and now it's starting to happen," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "Every time this happens we will be sitting the minister down with the workers so the Minister can say face to face to the worker why the worker is worse off."
Government’s partner in the 1998 assault on maritime workers, Parick Stevedores, faces millions in potential fines after being found guilty of five breaches of OH&S laws.
Manning levels was the key issue in the waterfront dispute. Patrick chief executive Chris Corrigan wanted to reduce downtime and cut jobs but the IRC found that forcing drivers to work entire shifts in single-operator straddles has caused serious injuries.
"Here we are with a document, four or five years after the event, that says they weren't right," MUA national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said.
He described the IRC findings as "vindication" of the union's position but played down the effect it would have on Patrick's operation.
He said negotiations in the years since the waterfront confrontation had produced "substantive progress" and that, as a censure, the IRC ruling applied to only a "handful of hardline company managers".
"The big thing for us is that this should bring home to the last of the cold war warriors that the world has changed," Crumlin said.
"It refutes their argument that Occupational Health and Safety concerns are an impediment to productivity. Rather, it vindicates the union position that unsafe practices are the real impediment to productivity."
Crumlin said the attitudes of remaining "Berlin Wall managers" had left a number of Patrick workers unable to drive straddle cranes again.
He said the fact that the union and company had been in mediation over the issue for 12 months indicated there had been a breakdown in the review process.
The Australian Services Union says workers have been told to turn their attention away from monitoring the quality of water around sewage outfalls because environmental protection was ‘no longer core business’.
ASU state secretary Kristyn Thompson says pre-budget leaks suggest that Sydney Water could be one agency where the Treasurer would break a long-standing government commitment and order forced redundancies.
Thompson says the public had reason to be concerned about any reduction in staff levels at Sydney Water, with seriuous doubts on existing staff's capacity to:
- ensure that drinking water is kept at safe levels, particularly after the 2000 crisis was linked to poor staff levels
- monitor sewage systems are working safely and do not pose risks to the coastline and major waterways
- and deal quickly with faults to the system so that the water crisis is not exacerbated by burst mains and leaking pipes.
"As a Premier who has always cared for our environment, Sydney Water members are calling on him to instruct Treasurer Egan to keep Sydney Water off-limit to cuts to staff and resources," she says.
"We have seen what happens when Sydney Water does not have the staff and resources to do its job properly - let's not make the same mistake again."
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the "so-called budgetary crisis" is a way for Treasury to break its commitment on No Forced redundancies.
Some 12 months ago, Treasurer Michael Egan signed a letter with Council guaranteeing no forced redundancies.
"The Government's own figures show that more than 2000 Australians die from a work-related cause every year," says ACTU President Sharan Burrow. "The death toll from work is higher than the national road toll."
"Despite this terrible situation, Minister for Employment Kevin Andrews has tabled new legislation to override the crime of 'industrial manslaughter'."
"Instead of taking a lead in this area and legislating to ensure better protection for Commonwealth employees the Howard Government is taking health and safety laws backwards."
The Federal Government has introduced legislation exempting Commonwealth workplaces, including businesses like Telstra and Australia Post, from the ACT laws.
Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said the ACT legislation, which makes industrial manslaughter an offence under the territory's Crimes Act, was "a retrograde step in preventing workplace fatalities".
This contradicted statements from the responsible ACT Minister, Katy Gallagher, that the introduction of the legislation had seen a sharp rise in efforts by ACT businesses to comply with the Territory's occupational health and safety legislation.
The ACTU concurred with the ACT Government's experience.
" bad employers often need the threat of severe penalties to be pressured into providing a healthier and safer workplace," says Burrow.
Gallagher told media outlets that the Commonwealth's bill was "ideologically driven" and "an intrusion into the rights of the ACT to determine its own laws".
If passed, the Federal Government's bill will also exempt Commonwealth workplaces from similar laws adopted by any other state or territory in future.
Around 200 AMWU members at Steeets Ice Cream stood firm for 12 months, seeing an aggressive HR manager, chief engineer, site manager and company director off the premises before Unilever changed the flavour of its bargaining.
The departed were key players in efforts to undermine unionism at the Minto factory, pushing claims for a non-union agreement and cut backs to the rights of shop stewards and officials.
"They all either left or were removed. Either way, we had to start bargaining all over again," AMWU official, Jenni Dowell, said.
"New management came in with a more co-operative approach to their workforce and that made it possible to get an agreement. But, for a while there, it was a real shambles.
"Our people were strong and they stood together. We had plenty of meetings that the company had to pay for before there was any movement."
Workers knocked off the non-union proposition by a big majority and, last week, voted up a union document that delivered ...
- the transfer of 60 labour hire employees to direct employment
- improved shop steward rights, including 10 days paid leave a year to attend AMWU-approved training, meetings, conferences or seminars.
- additional annual leave for shift workers, totaling 216 hours per year
- an all-up 10 percent wage increase on a document that expires next August
- four percent back paid to September 1, last year
- long service leave increased from eight to 13 weeks
Last October Robyn gave birth to triplets - Lachlan, Evan and Samuel.
At seven months the three boys are a handful, but Rick, who works in the construction industry for Fredon Industries, has the new 36-Hour Week arrangements as well as his paternity leave to call upon.
The new Rostered Day Off (RDO) arrangements, which started on April 1, are designed to help electricians better balance their home and work lives.
For Robyn and Rick Petrou the timing couldn't be better.
"The new RDO arrangements will be a big help when I start to return to work part time," says Robyn. "It will be good having Rick at home."
The new arrangements will see extra time 'banked' and used so that building sites can shut down on Saturdays for six weekends a year. These weekends a scheduled to coincide with weekends where there are existing holidays.
The weekends include Australia Day, the Easter Weekend, Anzac Day, the Queens Birthday Holiday, the October long weekend and the Union Picnic day in December.
The 36-hour week campaign in the construction industry evolved from workers wanting to better balance their work and home lives.
"It's designed to give workers more time with their families," says ETU organiser Daniel Wiseman. "There is a high divorce rate amongst workers in the industry because of the industry working on Saturdays."
The move will also see overtime go to a higher rate because of the formula currently used to calculate weekly hours worked.
Timorese unionists say, Pedro Henrique, 40, was hit by the container after 19 hours on duty at the Port of Dili. The new state's labour code sets maximum daily working hours at 12.
East Timorese union official, Jose Da Costa, says Darwin-based Perkins Shipping has been in breach of the hours limit since it started operating in Dili.
Da Costa says the East Timor Maritime and Transport Union has been agitating for more than 12 months for improved working hours on the waterfront.
"Perkins has regularly been in breach of this law since it established its East Timor operators," Costa said. "Our brother has lost his life because of the company's greed.
"He should have finished work at least seven hours before the accident occurred."
The Maritime Union said another major factor in Henrique's death included the lack of workplace safety training offered on the waterfront.
Workers Online understands the Australian company pays Dili waterfront workers around $US1.00 per hour.
Henrique had been unloading an Indonesian ship when he was struck by the container at 2am on March 17.
Baulderstone-Hornibrook faces three charges of failing to provide a safe workplace in the Melbourne County Court, following the August 2001 incident.
CFMEU State Secretary, Martin Kingham, says he doesn't expect the principles of justice and moral culpability to be highlighted by the case.
Construction Unions have slammed the Federal Government over its attitude to deaths in the building industry.
"Despite such tragedies the [Federal] government is spending just under nine million dollars of taxpayers' money every year on a so-called industrial Task Force," says Kingham. "For that money the Government has ordered its hired former police officers to harass our members should they dare to stop work to mourn the death of one of their mates."
"They demand copies of our members diaries, details of telephone calls that were made to loved ones, even scraps of long discarded note paper in an effort to bolster their non-existent case.
"Such harassment of ordinary workers for political mileage is below contempt."
The County Court is expected to hand down sentencing over the charges next week.
While workers have welcomed the new policy to introduce maternity leave across the community, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has queried the ALP's plans to fund policy initiatives by reducing public sector jobs.
According to the CPSU the past few weeks have seen the ALP foreshadow the abolition or restructure of a range of Commonwealth departments including the National Office of Information Economy (NOIE) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission / Service (ATSIS/ATSIS).
"Public sector job insecurity is rising in the run up to the election," says CPSU Assistant National Secretary Margaret Gillespie. "We estimate that as many as 1,800 positions are now under a cloud."
Costings released with the ALP's Baby Care Payment proposal last week show that a number of public service agencies, including the Australian Broadcasting Authority/Australian Communications Authority (ABA/ACA), the National Capital Authority, the Bureau of Rural Science and others face cuts.
With the introduction of the new Baby Care Payment, Labor will give eligible mothers a payment paid in fortnightly instalments for a minimum period of 14 weeks. This payment will be $3,000 in 2005, rising to $5,380 by 2010.
Labor's Baby Care Payment follows its commitment to introduce 14 weeks paid maternity leave.
Women whose family income is below the Family Tax Benefit current cut-out of $85,702, plus approximately $7,000 for each additional child under 18, will be eligible for the new payment, with the family's income assessed at the time of the child's birth.
All eligible mothers, in and out of the workforce, will receive the payment.
The charge was leveled by the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), after last week's discovery of signed wage sheets for the month of December, 2003.
The records prepared by the Raffles Grand human relations manager, show two workers employed on "river cleaning" received $US1 a day. Two workers were listed at $US2 a day, while 19 gardeners, cooks, valets and laundry room attendants signed for payments of $US1.67 a day.
The IUF said that for the month of December, the 23 workers listed received $US1,073 between them - the equivalent of four nights accommodation in one room.
The payments came to light as Cambodian hotel workers continued their campaign for service charges, added to guests' bills by the country's leading tourist hotels.
Raffles Grand workers were granted full and transparent distribution of service charges by decisions of the Cambodian Arbitration Council in January and February this year. However, since those decisions, companies claim to have dropped the 10 percent surcharge.
Cambodian hotels have been adding the charges to bills for years but, according to the IUF, they have never passed the money on to staff.
Holroyd City Mayor Mal Tulloch has flagged union-council agreements spreading nationally after receiving community endorsement at last month's local body elections.
Holroyd was the first local government to sign up to a joint memorandum of understanding with the NSW Labor Council that sees the council giving preference to companies with "reputable" workplace policies.
"The community has endorsed our use of ethical and reputable companies," says Tulloch. "Everybody supported it."
Tulloch is also pleased that the Federal Government's competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has signed off on the agreements.
"The ACCC was very reactionary when they first heard of the memorandum of understanding [between Holroyd City and the NSW Labor Council]," says Tulloch. "When they read what it was about they found it very difficult to hold that ideological position."
Two weeks prior to the council election the Holroyd Festival featured a float addressing the issue of workplace safety.
The float, prepared by the CFMEU, featured Sue Baxter, mother of Joel Exner who was killed on a building site in nearby Doonside.
"The float was very well received by the community," says Tulloch. "This is a traditional working class area and people were being very supportive over the issue of workplace fatalities."
Holroyd is also set for an injection of a new union energy with Tulloch being joined on the new council by Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union organiser and local resident Greg Cummins.
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:
Event Strategies Pty, PO Box 486, UNLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 5061
Tel: 61 8 8373 4580 Email: [email protected]
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
War And Peace
John Morris wants to have his peace movement cake and eat it too! The Stop the War Coalition declared without consultation that it would organise the March 20 march and rally on the anniversary of the Bush / Blair / Howard invasion of Iraq. Fine - but then it can't blame the Sydney Peace and Justice Coalition, including its trade union sponsors, for not being part of the organising. This cheap shot echoes the bad faith demonstrated by John Morris' group in the anti-war movement at this time last year.
To avoid a public competition over the small-minded manoeuvre of John Morris' group, the Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition advertised the March 20 event and put its own effort into Palm Sunday - this weekend at 1pm, starting at Belmore Park and going to Hyde Park North.
It does John's group no credit to have a speaker at the March 20 rally allege that the trade union movement does not support the anti-war movement. Along with many other parts of society in Sydney, the unions have contributed money, people and organised effort to oppose the Bush / Howard war policy since the start of 2002.
Secretary, Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition
Letter written to St George Leader re: metro group story 26 Mar 2004.
In relation to the Metro group collapse Mr McClelland says that Labour has plans for a national entitlements scheme.
Why then did they not introduce one during their 12 years in power prior to Howard.
If they want my vote this time around they will have to come up with more detail than that and they will also have to scrap or severely amend Howard's 1996 workplace relations act and individual contracts system which is allowing these companies to get away with murder.
The terrorism we are witnessing is more a criminal, than a military matter. Whether it was Yasser Arafat's PLO dumping a wheel chair bound passenger overboard from the Achille Lauro into the Mediterranean ocean, or the unimaginable, unthinkable horror of September 11th.
The answer to terrorism has to be, wide spread co-operation across the world between Governments and their law enforcement, intelligence and military bodies.
Firstly, a tightening of travel document control so as to identify all persons by matching finger print, facial recognition, iris and retinal identification technologies. These data could be stored in electronic form in visa /passports to identify a person at point of entry to a country and checked through Interpol or similar body to compare known criminal or terrorist records and map the movement of people who may pose a threat.
Secondly, measured response along the gradient through intelligence gathering, both military and criminal to police work merging towards the military options depending on the threat. An effective blending of the competencies of these peace-making and peace-keeping activities at an unheard of level of co-operation across the international community, could make it almost impossible for terrorists to achieve their aims.
What is happening in the law enforcement community is, the weapons, tactics, organisation and structure, are becoming much more like the military. In the military realm, the weapons, the tactics, organisation, structure and especially the missions in places like East Timor, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq are becoming much more like the law enforcement community. To a certain degree, they are growing closer together.
Purely military responses must fail because the terrorists use hit and run, not stand and fight tactics which leave the military wrong footed and heavy handed almost every time.
The Premier has been softening us up for a horror mini budget: the saturation TV adverts adding to the millions that he says the Grants Committee has stolen from us.
Strategic leaks have set the scene for new taxes, cuts to 'non-essential' resources and a renunciation of the government's long-term commitment to No Forced Redundancies - all in the name of this fiscal crisis.
In the crisis he will call on his loyal public servants to do the same job with less, working longer hours with fewer resources to serve a public that expects more and more from a system that operates on less and less.
And when the time comes for public sector pay negotiations to recompense for this extra pressure? Well, the fiscal crisis means the cupboard will be bare.
It is true that test cases by the nurses and teachers have placed extra pressure on Treasurer Michael Egan's most recent budget surplus.
It is true that the formula for allocating Commonwealth funds discriminates against Australia's most populous state.
But it is also true that the Carr Government has been reaping the windfall through stamp duty of one of the most sustained property booms in history.
The reality is that budget projections are exercises in soothsaying - they are based on a whole series of variables that change over time. Tweak a few levers and a deficit appears, tweak them back in 12 months and things will be rosy again. Governments do it all the time.
Is this too cynical? Would a Treasurer with a surplus fetish really go ton these lengths to keep the public sector wages bill down?
We would love to know what is really behind the need for a mini-budget, but no-one form Macquarie Street wants to talk.
Here are some of the questions we believe need to be answered before the min-budget if the government is serious about keeping tis faith with the union movement:
- what assumptions have changed to create the deficit - ie where has all the money gone?
- what percentage of total government income is the $365 million that the Grants Commission has taken from NSW?
- what impact will the shortfall have on the government's pay offer?
And a couple of supplementaries:
- Why is the NSW Government briefing its lawyers to oppose the union submission in the Secure Employment Test Case?
- Is it because the NSW Government is one of the largest employers of casual labour in the state?
- Does the 'budget crisis' mean that this spread of tenuous employment will continue to spread in the public sector as departments try to maintain service levels while meeting Treasury's labour freeze.
Until the government answers these questions and gives us a coherent picture of the state of the NSW economy, public sector workers are entitled to be cynical about this current crisis.