"The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away."
- Tom Waits
The Opposition-Leader-In-Waiting-And-Waiting-And-Waiting delivered yet another budget that mirrors the Liberal Party's ideology that the central role of government is to allow its mates to stick their snout in the public trough.
It was illuminating that this government, whose morals appear to exist at the same level as Malcolm Fraser's trousers, used the hoopla and showmanship of budget night to try and slip a few quick ones past while no one was watching.
On budget night they introduced the legislation to "reform" the Parliamentary superannuation scheme. This classic piece of doublethink at once acknowledges how outrageous the current scheme is - so far from community standards that it needs NASA to keep track of its orbit - and yet keeps its rather, ahem, generous provisions for the incumbent seat polishers.
Mind you, more than a few of the government members will need to call on their super in the not too distant future the way things are going.
The sheer disingenuousness of calling up a tactic that was last used in the dying days of the Fraser Government beggars belief!
This whole shabby exercise is steeped in irony - our Tool Of The Week coming to the aid of his flailing leader, Howard; the man whose job he so desperately and obviously wants; using the same tactics that Little Johnny tried to use in 1982.
Let's hope it is just as effective.
You would think that after that effort, they would get it right the second time around, but no.
With tax cuts aimed at the 30% of Australians who earn more than approximately what the Howards spend on wine each year, this sad parody of a government has singled out as to who it is there to represent - and it ain't battlers.
No doubt those that are down to their last three cars are doing it tough, and those who are missing meals each week should make sacrifices so that the fittest can survive. It is Pete's way.
One can only admire Costello's ongoing commitment to ensuring the survival of the species through a bit of social Darwinism.
He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he does not flinch from setting firm priorities.
He enthused over the importance of spending $64 million on letting the destitute know where the nearest workhouse is. Also, setting the Centrelink repo men onto those who cannot predict their future incomes down to the last cent - despite the fact that it's probably three fifths of stuff all to start with - is another stroke of policy genius.
It is good to see Pete encouraging the advertising industry to help out the millions of Australians for who are set to miss out on his economic miracle.
Well, it saves them the trouble of having to spend that money on actually relieving the situation of the millions of Australians who actually live on $15,000 a year or less.
Luckily this exercise in fiscal panic isn't sullied by spending the surplus on something trivial like education, health or the national infrastructure. Why do that when you can plonk the lot on red 36 and see how the wheel spins.
It's a bit rich for our Tool Of The Week to wander around the country playing Midas after suddenly finding billions of dollars down the back of the lounge after crying poor for the last eight years.
Hopefully this fiscal turpitude is the last we have to put up with from a man who's foray into public life has been a great loss for all concerned, not just those on $52K a year or more.
These are just two of the anomalies identified by analysts as building workers point to the government dedicating five times as much to "attacking" unions as to protecting lives.
The ACTU has slammed the budget for "squandering" a record surplus while still failing to save Medicare, public education, or make childcare and other basic services more affordable.
"The tax cuts are outrageously unfair - handing $42 a week to the richest 10% of Australians," says ACTU President Sharan Burrow. "There is no tax relief at all for 70% of working Australians earning less than $52,000 a year."
Burrow described the budget's family package as poorly designed, unbalanced and disappointing.
"The one-off payments to families are a cover for the badly managed family payments system that is trapping parents into debt,' says Burrow.
Aged Care Left To Spin
Melbourne-based aged care worker Bella Millar said staff would be disappointed that more was not being done to improve the care of the elderly.
"We try to provide the best care we can but we are constantly rushing and not being able to give the quality of care we would like," she said.
HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said the budget did not require a single operator to lift their staffing levels, pay higher wages or improve the quality of care.
Mr Thomson also questioned why the Federal Government had failed to adopt the recommendations of the Hogan Review for a massive increase in training and education of staff to address the shortages in the industry.
"In fact more is being spent on PR spin to sell the package than on training by the department in the next financial year," says Thomson. "Aged care providers will get substantially more money but it is not tied to improving care standards.
"A report produced for the Federal Government last month showed that less than 20 per cent of staff have enough time to properly care for residents."
Childcare - No Help For Working Families
"This government is doing nothing to help the thousands of families desperately waiting for quality long day care places," says Jo-anne Schofield, LHMU assistant secretary. "There is nothing to address the structural issues of affordability of child care places and the quality-monitoring of child care centres."
"The government cannot assure mothers that they are monitoring and delivering quality places for our children."
The LHMU has also slammed the Federal Government's "failure" to support low-wage childcare workers.
Attacking Construction Unions A "Waste"
Meanwhile the CFMEU is appalled at Treasurer Peter Costello's decision to "waste" five times as much attacking construction unions than it is prepared to spend addressing safety.
"Poor safety management costs the construction industry $190.3 million a year, but Peter Costello is not prepared to invest in effective measures to improve the health and safety record of one of Australia's most important industries," says CFMEU National Construction Secretary John Sutton
"The $21.7 million allocated for the Federal Safety Commission contrasts starkly with the $105 million the government is prepared to waste attacking building unions and workers who pursue collective bargaining agreements."
The company that spearheaded WA’s revolution in workplace culture was, last week, taking down posters that urged employees to "Aim high, move fast!"
The red posters carried reminders of huge production targets set by the company. "The count down is now on," they announced. "Between January and December 2004 the Port must ship 100 million tonnes of ore."
Underneath was a series of graphs telling workers how far they had slipped behind schedules.
Bentley's former workmates are demanding an independent safety audit of the whole Port Hedland operation, amidst claims safety standards have fallen since BHP Billiton tried to deunionise the Pilbarra.
"It seems a culture of production before safety has developed and shortcuts are being taken to accommodate the tonnages required to meet contracts," AMWU state secretary Jock Ferguson said.
He was speaking after union reps were blocked from visiting the area where Bentley, 26, was crushed in an early-morning accident. More than a week later, it was still shut by order of WA's Mines Department.
Workers inside the facility claimed that on the day of his death, Bentley's 18-man crew was seven short of full complement.
ACTU Pilbarra organiser, Will Treacey, said safety standards had "plumetted" since BHP Billiton used massive inducements in a bid to write unions out its iron ore script.
In 1999, it succeeded in luring 40 percent of the workforce onto non-union federal AWAs, courtesy of offers $10,000 - $20,000 higher than it was prepared to pay union members. On top, it whacked up super payments to non-union workers, from eight to 14 percent of earnings.
"The thing with these individual contracts is that they inhibit people from speaking out on safety for fear of being hammered in performance reviews," Tracey says.
"Anyone who speaks out on safety is labelled a trouble maker."
He said Bentley's death followed two " near fatalities" at Port Hedland in recent months.
In one instance a man received 51 stitches after his head was crushed in a crane lift, in the other, at Finnucane Island, a structural collapse occurred over the site where a bobcat had been operating barely five minutes earlier.
Ferguson said workers had told him "safety fears" had been put to management a matter of hours before Bentley was killed.
A mass meeting, last week, unanimously endorsed the call for an independent safety audit at Port Hedland.
Bentley, a respected AMWU delegate and safety rep who recently announced his engagement, was buried in Perth last week.
The cheques had been used as payment for domestic bills at Leichhardt Post Office and were supposed to have been delivered to clearing house, Austrapay, as a matter of priority. Instead, they overnighted on a truck dashboard, according to CEPU assistant secretary, Greg Rayner.
"If it was one of our drivers and there was no strike action Australia Post would be looking to discipline the driver in question or possibly dismiss him" said Rayner.
At Strathfield, he claimed, a heavily pregnant woman was told by her supervisor she would not have maternity leave approved if she joined the strike.
"Wayne Barney (her supervisor) said he would only approve the leave if she came to work on Thursday and broke the strike," Rayner said.
Management told workers who defied the strike ballot to bring "anyone known to them" to work during the stoppage, Rayner said.
Staff were told, "as long as they're over fourteen and seven months we'll pay them, I know teenagers were working at the Hunter mail centre" another official said.
CEPU state secretary, Jim Metcher, said because of the use of "scab labour", the union would strike again this Friday.
"The dirty tricks and bullying of the workers taking industrial action has only inflamed the situation," Metcher said.
The union claims the Australia Post wants to franchise post shops, the commercial section of the business, allowing new operators to slash wages by 30 percent.
Metcher said 3000 full-time positions had been lost in NSW alone over recent years.
"What Australia Post wants to do is to contract all jobs out to franchise arrangements and reap the benefits, such as commissions from franchisees who put them under different employment in terms and conditions."
Workers are trying to protect jobs and incomes through enterprise bargaining negotiations. They want consultation before changes are forced through and the right to have disputes arbitrated by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
Australia Post was the inaugural winner of the Tony Award - struck to "honour" the country's worst employer.
The facts came to light when ABC Learning Centres executive director, Michael Kemp, told a work value case in Melbourne his company would not reconsider its Bullets sponsorship to lift carers’ pay.
Liberal Party-linked ABC has expanded quickly under Federal Government's policy of moving childcare from community to for-profit control. It runs more than 300 centres around Australia, paying youth carers as little $5.99 an hour.
Entry level adults get $11.90 an hour while fully qualified employees, backed by two-year childcare diplomas, earn $14.14 before tax.
ABC is opposing the work value case being run by the LHMU in Victoria and the ACT. The union is claiming $17.51 an hour for workers with diplomas and $13.38 for adults without tertiary qualifications.
"These people are being left behind while others in the industry are getting extremely rich," LHMU industrial officer, Sue Bellino, said.
"Unfortunately, we still have to fight an attitude that childcare is baby sitting rather than education during key developmental years."
Former Liberal Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Sallyann Atkinson, chairs the company's board while party heavyweights, Andrew Peacock and Jeff Kennett, also have close associations.
Its managing director is Eddie Groves, listed by BRW as Australia's fourth-richest man with an estimated personal fortune of $146 million. Groves is suing the childcare workers union for damages over comments made during the wage dispute.
Kemp confirmed in evidence, last week, that the company was on track to post a $20 million after tax profit this financial year.
An ABC Learning Centres representative told AAP its Brisbane Bullets sponsorship was part of an ongoing commitment to clients. She said putting that money into carers' wages would boost individual earnings by 63 percent "a week".
Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, estimated the Carr Government had shelled out nearly $200,000 on lawyers in the first two weeks of a Test Case expected to run before the IRC for more than six months.
"After the Premier's outburst in Parliament this week it is extraordinary that his government is prepared to waste big money on opposing a case that seeks to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable people in our workplaces," Robertson said.
"Whilst the Premier stands up and fires a shot across the bow of the IRC in case it has the temerity to award public sector workers more than three percent, the state retains several different lawyers to argue against secure employment."
Robertson was commenting after being grilled by a squadron of employer briefs in the IRC for a day and a half.
Labor Council has already accused employers of "filibustering" its Test Case by putting on more than 120 opposing witness statements.
They are opposing NSW Labor Council claims that would ...
- entitle regular casuals to choose permanency 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.
The NSW Government is underwriting eight lawyers - from solicitors to silks - for the anti-Test Case campaign.
The Public Employment Office has three briefs at the bar table, State Owned Corporations retain another three, and the Industrial Relations Minister subsidises two more.
The full IRC bench this week heard from the first rank and file witnesses about the difficulties of surviving without guaranteed earnings or basic entitlements.
Members of the Australian Workers Union are this week celebrating the decision by the ACCC to oppose the acquisition of Adelaide Brighton by Boral.
The AWU argued the merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition in the industry, in breach of section 50 of the Trade Practices Act.
The ACCC accepted its argument that ensuring Adelaide Brighton remained an independent force in the cement industry was vital to prevent greater market concentration in fewer hands.
" Allowing the merger would have been unhealthy for the industry, and would have adversely impacted all Australians," AWU national secretary Bill Shorten says.
"If the merger were to proceed, prices for cement and concrete, and eventually the cost of construction work, would inevitably increase."
Shorten says the approach to the ACCC - traditionally the forum for opposing union activity - was a new tactic to stop the trend of market concentration into fewer hands.
"We have disagreed with previous decisions by the ACCC which have allowed market concentration in the heavy construction industry but in this case we give the ACCC's decision a tick," Shorten says.
Budget white noise drowned out Hogan Report calls, delivered to Minister for Ageing Julie Bishop, for massive increases in staffing, training and operator accountability.
"Aged Care appears to have done well in the budget but there is no guarantee the money will go where it is needed," HSU secretary, Craig Thomson, said.
"Government has put up $2.2 billion without a guarantee that a single provider will lift staffing or standards or care.
"Professor Hogan said measures to address staff shortages and the huge wage disparity with the acute sector were "paramount" but they simply haven't been addressed."
Professor Hogan recommended funding for an extra 2700 nursing places at universities. Costello delivered 1000.
The Treasurer slashed recommended numbers of aged care staff doing medication management training, or vocational training by more than half.
Professor Hogan also called for public investment to be tied to greater levels of operator accountability.
Hogan's report came hard on the heels of the first major workforce survey of the sector by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University.
It revealed that less than one fifth of 6000 aged care workers surveyed around Australia felt they had adequate time to care for residents.
Thomson said the taxpayer billions simply didn't address staffing or standards.
"In fact, more is being spent on spin to sell this package than the department will spend on training next year," he said.
"Aged care in our country has reached the point where standards have to be raised. Please consider, has not worked. It has failed elderly Australians and the people who work with them."
CFMEU secretary, John Sutton, is urging federal and state governments to pick up on a German "carrot and stick" approach to re-skilling industry.
Sutton said construction workers were sick of employers ducking training responsibilities by demanding increased access to skilled immigrants.
Workers Online has broken a number of stories involving the use of Federal Government-authorised Section 457 Visas to slash existing Australian wages and conditions.
Three South African chefs were deported last year after claiming a Manly restaurant had rorted them of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Just last month 25 qualified boilermakers, welders and pipe fitters walked off jobs around Western Australia claiming they were being paid less than a third the rates earned by workmates on union-negotiated agreements.
The South Africans, imported on four-year visas by labour hire-cum-immigration agency Freespirit said they had ignored warnings against joining trade unions to throw in their lots with the AMWU.
Spokesmen said they were told they would be deported if they joined Australian unions.
One man who went public with his predicament was sacked from a Perth engineering shop the following day.
Sutton said Australia must invest in the skills of its own people.
"German Chancellor Gerhard Schoreder's Government has adopted a policy of fining companies who fail to employ apprentices and rewarding those who train young workers from the fines collected," Sutton said.
"If that strategy is good for Germany, it would be good for Australia too."
Teacher unions are citing comments by the Premier this week followed by an eleventh hour attempt to introduce new evidence on the wage claim's economic impact as inflammatory and inappropriate.
The IRC has completed hearing evidence in two concurrent special cases that would determine wage outcomes for teachers in State Schools and the Catholic sector.
After achieving an interim none per cent increase, teachers are seeking a further 16 per cent based on changed work value.
While the government has already introduced legal argument citing the economic impact of the claim, the Premier turned up the heat this week issuing a media release directed squarely at the independent umpire.
'The Industrial Relations Commission simply cannot continue to hand-out un-affordable wage increases' the Premier said
'The Commission must understand that Government does not have an endless supply of money."
The next day Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca's attempt to introduce new economic evidence - based on the Carr Government's mini-budget and this week's federal budget.
Both the NSW Teachers Federation and NSW Independent Education Union have condemned the move and are considering coordinated industrial action at the end of the month.
"What this really represents is an attempt to bully the IRC into minimising any wage claim for teachers in both the public and Catholic sectors," IEU state secretary Dick Shearman says.
"The Premier argues that NSW supports the independent umpire - he should call on his Commerce Minister to back off and let the umpire do its job free of ongoing political pressure."
Size Matters For Catholics
Meanwhile over 1000 Catholic school teachers in South Australia walked off the job last week over class sizes and better working conditions in their schools.
The Association of Non-Government Education Employees (ANGEE) says that the Catholic school teachers are demanding an 11 per cent pay rise over three years and smaller class sizes.
Teacher workloads are the main sticking point of current negotiations, according to ANGEE secretary Glen Seidel
The airline has also agreed to introduce two security guards to intervene and protect employees from abusive and threatening passengers.
The new distress buttons will be placed at every counter and every location where staff deal with passengers; if the measures are effective Australian Services Union (ASU) members are expecting Qantas to roll out the system across all airports.
The move follows a union survey that found 96 per cent of airport staff had witnessed customer rage.
Airport staff have been battling the growing problem of air rage for some time, including participating in a worldwide campaign on the issue promoted by the International Transport Workers Federation and conducting a survey to measure the incidence of air rage on airport staff.
ASU delegates from around the country met with Qantas Airport Managers and Head of Airports, Grant Fenn, last Monday to discuss the incidence of air rage at airports around Australia.
The ASU has slammed an "argument" between State and Federal Police and the Australian Protective Services about who is responsible for bad passenger behaviour at airports.
"Ultimately we would like and encourage the Government to stop procrastinating and introduce legislation with harsh penalties to deal with offenders at Airports," says Linda White from the ASU. "We have to ask our governments and politicians how they would like it if there was violence in their workplace."
"The parliament is public place like an airport. Members of the public who threaten or assault our politicians in parliament have police swarming everywhere but at airports it appears we have a police free zone."
The crane, one of the largest in the country, had just released an 8-tonne load when the boom came into contact with the lights.
Workers claim that the crane was situated too close to the light tower and that construction company, Grocon, did not have procedures in place to ensure the safe operating of the crane.
"One of the other cranes on the site could have done the lift," says Ken Johns from the FEDFA division of the CFMEU.
"Although no one was hurt in this incident over 50 building workers lose their lives each year," says a CFMEU spokesperson. "Despite that the Federal Government is spending $9 million a year on the Building Industry Taskforce."
"What they do is investigate us for having stoppages where accidents occur rather than investigating the accidents."
Top designers such as Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho, and the Zimmerman sisters now have to ensure work given to subcontractors is completed by workers on decent pay and conditions, warned Fair Wear's Debbie Carstens.
"When designers give out work to subcontractors in Australia do they know the wages and conditions paid to the workers sewing their label? How do they know the rates are better than $5 or $8 an hour, which are high rates for outworkers but well below the legal minimum?" she said.
"Some designers are going to end up with big headaches when
their label is found in a sweatshop."
Fair Wear said some Australian design houses hadn't got the message.
New NSW laws allow outworkers to claim unpaid wages from the Fashion House or designer who originally gave out the order if their direct employers can't pay.
In the months leading up to Fashion Week, Fair Wear has been writing to, ringing and visiting designers calling on them to take outworkers serious and get accredited under the Homeworkers Code of Practice.
Allanah Hill is the only leading designer, so far, to seek accreditation under the scheme which seeks to end outworker exploitation
Apart from protecting their label, designers were asked as icons of the Australian Fashion to take a positive lead in the industry.
Fair Wear supporters protested outside the Surry Hills headquarters of Akira Isogawa, last week.
Pig On a Spit - Safari Picket
The famous CFMEU safari restaurant picket is now a nightly picket!
The CFMEU are conducting a picket of the Safari restaurant to get the owners to pay entitlements owed to workers (the owners are also builders). The Safari restaurant is in King Street Newtown. Picket is nightly (and every night until they pay up!). From 6pm. All welcome.
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
"Every Step Counts" - Landmine Action Week
14th to 23rd May 2004 NSW Launch of Landmine Action Week Where: Martin Place Sydney Date: May 14th When 11.15am Show your support by * placing a shoe on the shoe pyramid * sign the postcard petition * learn how we can eliminate landmines * see a landmine detection demonstration * listen to music Lets eliminate Landmines - every step counts Visit the website www.landmine-action-week.org contact the campaigner [email protected] phone 0407 463 779
Under The Gums: Australian Stories For Our Kids
Celebrating Australian Children's Television
Sunday, 16 May 2004
Parramatta Park, The Amphitheatre
11.00am to 2.00pm
"Under The Gums" is a free, family day in the park to celebrate our precious cultural resource - local Australian children's television.
Cast members of The Saddle Club and Play School will be performing live together with other stars of Australian TV. There will be appearances and the opportunity to meet cast members of All Saints, Home and Away, McLeod's Daughters, Neighbours, The Big Arvo and more.
Families will be treated to an array of activities including storytelling, face painting, clowns, stilt walkers, puppets, a jumping castle, an animal farm, sack races, tug-of-war, live music, and a sausage sizzle. Entertainment on the main stage will begin at 12.00pm.
"The Warfies Film Unit"
The NSW Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History has a wonderful afternoon coming up:
"The Warfies Film Unit"
Sunday May 16, 2-4 pm
Carslaw lecture Theatre (room 173), University of Sydney
For over 10 years from 1953 the Sydney Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation supported a film unit that brought together filmmakers artists and wharfies themselves to make a wonderful series of films about the lives of wharfies and other workers. This was the era of 'intense conservatism and anti communist feeling' that was also fought out within the union movement.
The seminar will be led by Lisa Milner an independent writer and academic whose excellent book, "Fighting Films: A History of the Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit", was published by Pluto Press last year.
The event will be of interest to AMWU members because one of the films was made for the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Union to alert it's members to the hazards of welding.
Julie Kimber - 02 95579231 / [email protected]
Rowan Cahill - 02 48612323 / [email protected]
Feminism in a neo-liberal age
Research Initiative on International Activism
'Women around the world are organizing in a common effort to end poverty and violence against women. What could be more important?' Judy Rebick, Canada.
Public Lecture: 'Feminism in a neo-liberal age', Judy Rebick
Respondent: Eva Cox, UTS
When: 19 May, 6pm
Where: Gallery Function Centre, Level 6, Tower Building, UTS Broadway
Access: Entry by donation, disabled access
Information: 9514 2714, www.international.activism.uts.edu.au
Judy Rebick is in Australia to attend the Brisbane Social Forum. Her visit to Sydney is supported by the Research Initiative on International Activism at UTS.
After the budget: Howard Out!
A discussion on the significance of the Budget and the way forward to defeat the Howard government
Tanya Plibersek MP
ALP Member for Sydney
Greens Senate Candidate
Saturday 22 May
University of Technology
Sponsored by Workers League, Solidarity and Socialist Democracy
For further information:
Phil Sandford, 9635 9276, [email protected]
Mark Goodkamp 0422 078 376
THINK-TANKS & THE MEDIA
a roundtable discussion Friday 21 May 2004
Join Overland, the VWC and special guests as we discuss the role that think tanks play in influencing media discussion, politics and public opinion.
Partake in the conversation as we seek to discover the objectives of various think tanks and the ways in which they work. Are they objective analysts of policy or guns-for-hire? Who do they employ and by whom are they employed? Why do they have such a prominent media presence?
This roundtable will feature Gary Hughes from the Age, Tim
Thornton from Monash University and representatives from think- tanks, including Tim Watts (OzProspect) and Andrew Norton (Centre for Independent Studies).
6.30ˆ8.30 pm | $7 or FREE for VWC members & Overland subscribers | refreshments provided
VWC, 1st floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne | phone: 9654 9068
Redfern at the Block - Open Day
Whanau Iwi Inc invites you to attend an open day at "the block' in Redfern (between Everleigh Street and Louis street) on Sunday May 30 - 10am to 5pm.
Powhiri and Karakia starts at 10.00am sharp
This will be an alcohol and drug free open day.
Labor for Refugees meeting with Carmen Lawrence
Date: Friday 4 June 2004 Time: 5.30 - 7pm. Place: Meredith Burgmann's Office President's Dining Room Parliament House Sydney Aim: Debriefing after ALP National Conference Please advise [email protected] if you wish to attend so that we can organise numbers for the alcohol and nibbles which will be supplied.
Is Australian Democracy Working for Women?
The Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) are holding their national conference in Sydney on the 12th and 13th June. Sessions will cover
* legislation as a way to protect women's rights
* measuring the quality of women's lives
* creating a culture for work and family reform
* what women want
Speakers include Elain Thompson, Pru Goward, Reg Graycar, Eva Cox and Mary Crooks
To register and for further information contact WEL on 9212 4374 or logon to the website at www.wel.org.au
Popular Education Activism & Organising
Education is a key to developing activists and active members of organisations. The new activist educator is an organiser, teacher, consultant and theorist. What methods are being used today to equip activists to build social movements? Does activist education reflect a democratic agenda or is it largely instrumental? How do we know if educational practices are working? Are new theories of learning be utilised? This is the second of a three forum series looking at different education, organising and activist strategies being used by movements and organizations pursuing social justice and change agendas. Union activists, environmental campaigners, community advocates, educators and grassroots campaigners are participating in the forums. The forum will actively engage participants in discussing and analysing different experiences. Case Studies Date: Friday, 18 June 2004 Time: 9am - 1.30pm Location: Centre for Popular Education University of Technology, Sydney Jones St, Broadway (Old Fairfax Building) FEES - $30 for one forum; $50 for two forums For further details contact Lee Malone (02) 9514 3861, Daniel Ng (02) 9514 3843 or Tony Brown (02) 9514 3866 email: [email protected] For updates go the Centre for Popular Education website
Dear Workers Online
I am wriitng regarding the plans to close railways across new south wales by this so cfalled labour government.
i am at a loss to see how the decades of work that has been done to provide a decent service to people in the bush can be ripped up overnight for what gain?
many elderly and low income people rely on the rail service to keep in contact with relatives in the city and to access hospitals and the like
the service where it isnt being ripped up by these clowns in maquarie street is being run into the ground with many people shuddering when they hear the terrible word trackwork and how late the trains are every morning.
They are called 'motherhood' statements: in deference to the one universal virtue that no one would dare attack. Politicians kiss babies because no one can object to babies. And babies come from mothers and mothers are good. Always.
It is the treatment of mothers in the labour market - and the role of fathers for that matter - that has given rise to the most contemporary of motherhood statements - the bipartisan acceptance that 'work and family' is the key issue for contemporary Australians.
The Prime Minister's barbeque stopper is indeed a hot topic - but in the white light of a federal budget and in the run up to a Federal election, it is in danger of losing its original - and indeed - any meaning whatsoever.
The squeeze of work and family has not just appeared on the political landscape - it is the direct consequence of a series of policy decisions over the past decade. At its heart, it is a product of the process of industrial relations deregulation that both political parties pursued through the 80s and 90s.
The Howard Government's approach to Work and Family betrays a mindset that has reduced all public policy to budget line items, an accountants view of the world, where the only things of value are those that can be quantified.
As this week's Federal Budget shows, to the Prime Minister a family friendly policy is a tax cut, a baby bonus and an extra dollar to childcare.
While no one would deny these measures, they speak to a world defined by the fiscal bottom line a position that totally misses the point for most working families.
Yes, we work for the money to live our lives but at the end the day the desire to balance work and family is really about the need to balance the pursuit of salary with the time to meet our family responsibilities.
It is a choice between two competing objectives: money and time. More money helps - but it rarely brings you time. It is a dilemma, which by its very nature cannot be resolved solely on a balance sheet.
At its essence, Work and Family is the challenge of quality of life on the financial bottom line, for both workers and their employers. It is about is building non-economic considerations into the employment relationship. Measures like maternity leave for working mums, the right to return to work part-time, job-sharing are all important. So too are rights like carers leave being built into the employment relationship.
But even where these measures are in place, they can not - in and of themselves - untie the work-family knot.
How, for instance, do we define our working life when we live a life when our working day is defined by the time we turn our mobile phone on in the morning and then turn it off at the end of the day?
How does one quantify the cost of a stressed mother or father on the business's bottom line? How do we gauge how someone whose life is in balance performs better? What is the cost of divorce on productivity? Of depression? Of suicide?
For the Prime Minister and his ilk it's all about preaching the virtues of 'flexibility', a nice little euphemism for deregulation. To Mr. Howard it is the greatest thing for workers since sliced bread.
It is true that "flexible hours" work in some settings but they don't work in jobs that are location specific - teaching, nursing, retail (where most women work) likewise working from home is not an option for many workers, particularly those engaged to deliver specific services face to face.
"Flexible" is a word used a lot in this debate but what most workers want is predictability and more say over their hours and rosters. That's why, despite employer bleating, there is broad community support for the Labor Council's Secure Employment Test Case.
The Test Case is such a challenge to employers - including, sadly, the State Labor Government, because it recognises that the solutions to the work/family imbalance lie in reversing labour market deregulation and actually putting in universal obligations that all employers must comply with.
Far from requiring Motherhood Statements, this issue requires tough, considered intervention in the labour market. And you'll never find that in a Peter Costello budget.
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