Serial Company Director Margaret Jackson sent a message back from her slow orbit around the planet Jupiter this week to remind us of just how out of touch she is with the real world.
"I can't believe that thousands of staff are focussed on this as the most significant thing in their life," said Jacko of her recent pay rise in the vicinity of 66 percent.
Jackson is the head of the team that is currently engaging in a bit of good old-fashioned scab herdi...err...customer protection.
It would appear that the one thing they are trying to protect customers from is staff that have job security and decent training.
Our Tool Of The Week falls into the economist's trap of being totally correct while totally missing the point.
Margaret is one of those wonderful corporate robots that dream of a world where we all do nothing except work and sleep, preferably with very little sleep.
It's probably quite true that for many Qantas employees there are many things that are more significant than their jobs.
It's called having a life.
It might be the partner's latest hairstyle or even what they're going to do with that bit of the backyard where the Wisteria used to be.
It might be dad's health, that recipe for mint carrot cake or the latest Bryce Courtney novel.
But it doesn't follow that her and her mates helping themselves to a pay rise the size of the GDP of a small African country doesn't get up their nose.
While it mightn't be the most significant thing in their lives, Margaret, it doesn't necessarily follow that it isn't the most significant thing in their working lives.
Given that Margaret and co seem to enjoy treating their staff like something that you'd scrape off your shoe after a walk in Sydney Park, we can only congratulate her for revealing with exquisite timing.
The feeling amongst the people at Qantas who actually do work (as opposed to those that sit around mouthing off inanities like our Tool Of the Week) is not exactly one of rapturous joy for the good fortune that has befallen Jackson and her dopey colleagues.
Here's a tip for our Tool Of The Week.
Get a life Margaret, and you might just get some hint of why your workers aren't too keen to let you rubbish theirs.
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson said the payout again highlighted the fact that James Hardie had learnt nothing in recent months about ethical behaviour.
James Hardie today announced that it would pay CEO Peter McDonald $US6.5 million, or $A8.83 million, to leave the company while former chief financial officer Peter Shafron, who also resigned this morning, would receive $US865,000.
Robertson said he was concerned that the company, in the middle of negotiations to meet its compensation liabilities, was 'out of control'.
"This is an insult to victims of asbestos who are being told James Hardie does not have to to meet their legal obligations and a slap in the face to negotiators trying to secure a just outcome," Mr Robertson said.
"This company just does not get it - they are rewarding unethical behaviour with riches beyond the dreams of the people whose lives have been and will be destroyed by asbestos."
"If the company had any regard for the victims of this elaborate s cam, they would put these millions into the compensation fund rather than into the pockets of those responsible for this sorry affair."
He was backed by Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW secretary Paul Bastian who said the payment was an affront to people who had contracted deadly asbestos diseases by working for James Hardie.
``How James Hardie could find their way through to doing that reinforces that this company has no sense of corporate morality or contrition towards its victims,'' Bastian told AAP.
The conduct of both Macdonald and Shafron is being investigated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, after the Jackson Inquiry recommended charges for breach of corporations law be laid.
James Hardie has appointed promoted Louis Gries, previously the head of the company's US operations as interim chief executive officer.
Daniel Guyomar was standing on a fryer to clean an extraction hood at a KFC outlet at Cranbourne when he fell into a deep fryer. He was hospitalised for 19 days following the incident.
Southern Restaurants, operators of the outlet, were fined $25,000 by the Magistrate's Court. A Victorian judge overturned the conviction and the fine after hearing evidence the employee had received written procedures.
"The message that this sends is if you can afford to appeal then you can look forward to getting off," says Renata Musolino, a safety information officer for the Victorian Trades Hall Council. "Would KFC executives let their own children be treated like this?"
"Relying on written procedures when dealing with any employee is inappropriate," says Musolino. "Particularly young people who need to be supervised.
"The industrial conditions in the fast food industry mean that workers are often forced to take unsafe practices due to pressure."
Workers Online understands that this was not Guyomar's normal workplace and that he was unfamiliar with the store. The job was usually done by another employee before the store opened so the fryer would not be on.
"The instructions he was given were laughable," says Musolino. "One was basically, use a step ladder and don't fall off!"
After the appeal the Cranbourne KFC restaurant franchisee was placed on
a two-year good behaviour bond, without conviction, and ordered to donate $10,000 to charity.
WorkSafe Victoria's executive director, John Merritt, said with Christmas approaching and many young workers entering the workforce for the first time, employers had to look to training and supervision.
"Employers and workers need to realise that a serious injury received at
15, 16 or 17 might be with them for the next 60 years," Merritt said.
"Employers need to anticipate what could go wrong, and have the procedures to ensure it does not. Written procedures are only part of the story. They need to be followed. That's where supervision comes in."
"Young workers need to be careful, and ask their boss for help if they're not sure if they're working in a safe way."
A proposal to grant Collie tradesmen local government representation leave is one of half a dozen clauses Westfarmers Coal is seeking to have ruled "not pertaining" to the employer-employee relationship.
Westfarmers has issued writs for unspecified damages against WA AMWU officials, Jock Ferguson, Colin Saunders, four workplace delegates, and their union.
The case, arising from the High Court's controversial Electrolux ruling, is set down for hearing in Perth on November 4 and 5 before Justice French in the Federal Court.
Westfarmers has also taken exception to clauses that seek to control contracting and deliver right of entry, delegate education and leave provisions.
Arising from the Electrolux decision, employers are expected to argue that months of on-again, off-again industrial action at Westfarmers Coal was "unprotected", exposing the union, its officials and delegates to damages that could run into millions of dollars.
Corporate lawyers, Clayton Utz, are representing Westfarmers Coal in an action Ferguson says will be a "lawyers' picnic".
"Lawyers will be the big winners in this and everyone else will pay through the nose," Ferguson said. "It's not hard to guess what John Howard did before he went into Parliament.
"This situation will settle down eventually but, in the meantime, there will be a lot of pain, suffering and expense.
"The High Court has opened up a difficult situation because nobody knows what the rules of engagement are any more. All protected action over the last six years appears to be up for grabs as a result of its Electrolux ruling.
"Workers who genuinely believed they were acting within the law, can be sued retrospectively for millions of dollars over actions that employers also believed were lawful at the time.
"This case is a classic example. Westfarmers Coal is going to the Federal Court to have clauses ruled unlawful that it has already agreed to in negotiations."
There will be intense interest in the Westfarmers case from workers, employers, lawyers and politicians.
Senior Sydney-based industrial lawyer, Lachlan Riches, told Workers Online recently that the High Court had left IR operatives high and dry with its Electrolux ruling.
"They have left it ambiguous as to what the ground rules are and, as a result, fundamental rights that go back 80 years will be challenged and re-examined," Riches warned.
Immediately after the ruling, a string of employers, including Dandenong-based truck manufacturer, Iveco, tried to have clauses rubbed out and industrial actions declared illegal.
Industrial law firms began circulating employers with advice that long-agreed provisions might now be illegal and render entire documents, including wages, unenforceable.
Justice Michael Kirby warned fellow judges in a dissenting opinion on Electrolux that their decision would have a "chilling effect" on collective bargaining.
He called the majority view "impractical" and "narrow", suggesting it was divorced from workplace reality.
"To expose an industrial organisation of employees to grave, even critical, civil liability for industrial action, determined years later to have been unprotected, is to introduce a serious chilling effect into negotiations that such organisations can undertake on behalf of their members," Kirby wrote.
The TWU’s Scott Connelly said 524 people had died in NSW truck accidents since 37-year-old, Darri Haines, was killed in a 1999 fireball, after bodgeying logbooks and consuming methamphetamines in a bid to meet schedules.
"This is a step in the right direction," Connelly said. "But Workcover needs to go after the clients if it is serious about road safety.
"It's the Woolworths, Coles and BHPs - the clients - who set the schedules and drive the pricing structures.
"Under the current OH&S regime their behaviour can be addressed but, despite 524 deaths in five years, it has never been done.
"The clients are the root of the problem and their behaviour has to be addressed if we are going to make our roads safer for everybody."
Connelly said IRC vice president Michael Walton's decision was a "landmark ruling" because it established that highways were workplaces for OH&S purposes.
It also gives Workcover access to rosters, log books and records, allowing them to write prohibition notices before accidents occur.
The decision appears to determine that, under NSW OH&S legislation, risk of fatigue is enough to warrant Workcover action.
Walton found long-haul driver Haynes had been making deliveries, up and down the NSW coast, fuelled by methamphetamies, because he was afraid he would lose his job if he didn't meet schedules set by his employer, Jim Hitchcock.
He found Hitchcock guilty of failing to provide safe conditions for his employee, after hearing Haynes had clocked up 5400km in the week before his death.
Hitchcock's company, Sayogi Pty Ltd, "paid very little, if any, heed to the risk, either to its employed drivers or to anyone else at risk of an accident," Walton said.
He found "fatigue" was a primary cause of the accident and said Hitchcock's company had "provided incentives" for drivers to increase their hours behind the wheel.
"The company pressured its drivers to meet delivery deadlines resulting in breaches of the logbook," Walton said.
"Drivers risked their jobs or incomes if they failed to comply."
Connelly said such fines could drive small operators out of the industry but, in all likelihood, their contracts would be picked up by other operators on similarly unrealistic terms and conditions.
According to TWU figures, 77 people have died in NSW truck accidents so far this year.
The engineers, in charge of purchasing some of Sydney's most important water assets, are being made forcibly redundant with their jobs expected to go to short-term contractors.
The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers took the case to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission over what it saw as a dangerous program of de-engineering within State Government utilities.
Sydney Water agreed not to proceed with the termination of the workers, who have over 50 years experience between them, for at least a week.
APESMA NSW director Martin O'Connell said as Sydney grapples to ensure
the quantity and quality of its long term water supplies the dumping of
expert full-time staff in favour of contractors was an irresponsible and
short sighted move.
"Sydney Water's assets are meant to last 100 years but it is logical that if
contractors with three-year terms are employed they will be more concerned
with short term profits.
"While Sydney grapples to find a solution to its ever-dwindling water
supplies it is crucial that any technology employed is appropriate for
the task and of the highest possible quality.
"These tasks will never be done justice by short-term contractors that lack
the experience and technical expertise to ensure the long-term viability of
the state's most important assets."
The first of three asset managers was due to be dumped last Friday, with the next due to leave the following Friday.
Sydney Water has downsized its staff by more than two thirds over the past
Newly-elected MP Peter Garrett will hand out safety achievement awards at the third annual UnionSafe NSW Safety Delegates Conference this week.
Award winners, from chicken boners to schoolteachers, will be recognised for efforts to make NSW workplaces safer.
"This is all about recognising the outstanding achievements of people in the workplace," says NSW Labor Council OHS officer Mary Yaager. "Often they have to do quite a bit of work outside of their normal working hours.
"It's disappointing that some managements do not acknowledge the valuable contribution these people make to reducing workplace injuries and increasing productivity."
A feature of this year's awards has been the increasing recognition of the issue of asbestos in the workplace and the work of safety committees.
Long time union and safety campaigners will also be recognised with the awarding of the Brian Miller Lifetime Achievement Award and the Frank Belan Community Contribution Award.
The conference, set down for the 29th of October at Parramatta's Riverside Theatre, has become a highlight of the Occupational Health and Safety calendar, will feature NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della-Bosca, as well as WorkCover CEO John Blackwall.
Last year 26 safety representatives were recognised by NSW Premier Bob Carr for their contribution to making NSW workplaces safer.
The conference will also hear from safety experts and unions about hot OHS issues such as bullying, fatigue, psychometric testing and return to work.
The AMWU is seeking public support to thwart plans unveiled by Australian legal icon, CCH, to outsource production work on taxation, workplace and family law publications to Malaysia at the cost of 70 Sydney jobs.
The union has produced a range of stickers for supporters to attach to their copies of CCH publications and is calling for messages of support for threatened Sydney families to be sent to parent company Wolters Kluwer.
"We are going to the users of CCH products, and the general public, asking them to press the company to reassess its strategy," AMWU official, Matthew Lowe, said.
"The people under threat are highly skilled workers who format, sub-edit and check CCH's Australian publications."
One of CCH's is biggest clients is the ATO for whom it provides legislative reporting and commentary on taxation law.
The export of CCH jobs came as Telstra finally fessed up to its intention to export hundreds more IT jobs to India.
Australia's largest company, boasting an annual profit of more than $4 bilion, says it must further slash IT costs.
The CPSU and the ALP both accused the company of "cynicism" for waiting until after the federal election to confirm plans the union has been warning of for months.
In a related development, Qantas is training strikebreakers, in case Flight Attendants take action to thwart its plans to move 1000 jobs offshore from December.
Melbourne firm, Johnson Tiles, will dump 100 workers from its Bayswater manufacturing plant in December, so it can distribute cheaper product from overseas.
GUD Manufacturing has announced plans to close its Sunshine oil filter operation at the cost of another 100 jobs. The company, which paid its chief executive a $750,000 bonus this year, will have its filters made in China.
Last month, US-based giant Kodak, shut its Melbourne plant with the loss of around 600 jobs.
Concerned Victoria AMWU secretary, Dave Oliver, has written to the Bracks Government seeking a summit meeting about the future of manufacturing in the state, particularly its ravaged western suburbs.
The FAAA is offering protection to people hired on short-term contracts that require them to be available for up to two months without pay.
The new recruits, who have received 11 days training rather than the usual six weeks, finish their course on October 21 but don't have any shifts shifts scheduled until December 11.
The employees are contractually prevented from doing other work in the interim and will not be paid for at least seven weeks.
Though initially lured into training with the offer of 12 month contracts the newly trained workers have only been offered three months.
Flight Attendants Association official Steve Reed says Qantas has no intention of giving the workers fulltime jobs and is playing on their enthusiasm to work in the industry.
Reed says many resigned from fulltime jobs for the chance of working for Qantas.
"It is very cruel," says Reed "we have amended our claim in the EBA to try to get these people full time employment."
"Patrick's don't have anything on this mob."
In a letter to the FAAA one recruit expresses "disgust" that Qantas has trained her simply as back up in the event of a strike.
"This is shattering news as we are after fulltime positions not just for a week or two and then (sic) left out in the cold with no job and no security.
"Our training group is scared that we are becoming the meat in the sandwich of this whole affair," the recruit writes.
The new recruits are training in the dead of night from 11pm until 8am and have to give passwords to be picked up from hotels by drivers.
They were also forbidden to talk to other flight attendants or other Qantas staff.
Qantas initially denied union claims the workers were strike breakers until media exposure forced them to admit, last week, the staff would be used in the event of industrial action by Flight Attendants.
Qantas plans to shift 1000 staff to London when the current EBA expires in December in a bid to save $18 million in accommodation and allowance costs.
The FAAA says the move mean flight crews will work longer hours for less money. Flight attendants have signalled their preparedness to strike over the issue during the busy Christmas period.
The dispute is looming as a key Bellweather for the Federal Government's new aggressive Industrial Relations strategy.
Management of the former publicly owned company have already clashed with the Australian Services Union this month after awarding directors a 66 percent pay rise.
ASU members have threatened industrial action over the million dollar pay rise, which comes only two years after a 40 percent increase.
Bomb in Santa's Sack
The media furore over Qantas' new recruits broke only days after Workers Online revealed plans by the airline to sack one of it's longest serving employees on the eve of Christmas.
Margaret Takis, who has served Qantas for 30 years and speaks five languages, injured herself pushing a wheelchair at the airport earlier this year, and was forced to take time off.
Takis' doctor says she is ready to return to work but Qantas labels her a "risk" and says, if she can't find an alternative position, she will be dumped.
Over 50 of Margaret Takis' workmates at Sydney's International Terminal have already signed a petition expressing outrage at the treatment of the 57-year-old, who is only a few years off retirement.
Customs officers, on the frontline of the war on terror, were on a 24 hour strike aimed at improving wages and conditions in an effort to combat under-staffing.
Airport and port services were skeleton staffed across the country after 75 percent of the 4800-strong workforce struck in frustration at lack of progress during six months of negotiations.
The custom's officers' union, the CPSU, said the service was understaffed and a recent survey had found 30 percent of workers were so unhappy they intended to leave.
The survey also said over three quarters of employees found it hard to support their families on current salaries.
Management responded to the strike by flying 40 senior managers from Canberra to Sydney to carry out frontline duties.
The CPSU's Evan Hall said officers were happy to have senior managers do the job of processing passports and checking luggage.
"Now at least Custom's management will have first hand experience of the challenges we face," Hall said " You never know this might make them a little more sympathetic to our call for a fair deal.
"Since 9/11, the work of Customs officers has never been more important, or more challenging.
"We need a pay rise that will allow the agency to easily attract and retain highly skilled officers".
Hall apologised to the travelling public but believed there was no other way to let management know the depth of discontent in the service.
This is the most drastic action by the border protection force after six months of meetings, negotiations, petitions, rally and protests.
The latest offer by the service, was a pay increase of five per cent for the first year, four per cent for the year commencing January 1, 2006, and another four per cent for the year from January 1, 2007.
The previous offer was four per cent a year for two years.
The 22 man NSW Maori Rugby League squad, coached by former NRL player Luke Goodwin, includes several current NRL players as well as some exciting new talent.
The NSW Maori Rugby League is the breeding ground of players of the calibre of current NZ International and Melbourne Storm forward Alex Chan.
The current side is captained by Souths player Stevie Skinnon and also features former St George player Darren Ramika.
Sydney building workers have raised $30,000 to send the side on the trip, which coach Goodwin believes offers an extra incentive for players taking on the top Maori league talent going around.
In their last attempt, in 1999, the side made the final against Auckland and Goodwin is quietly confident of going the extra step and taking out the tournament.
"This is one of the best sides I've ever seen," says assistant coach John Trinder, who singled out young Western Suburbs first division player Aaron Hermina for big things. "He's a freak. He can step off both feet and has a good kicking game."
There is considerable interest in the side from New Zealand with Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser Steve Keenan fielding enquiries from MaoriTV and TV3 prior to the side's departure.
Members of the CFMEU dug deep to support the team, which includes many players who spend the summer months working on construction sites around Sydney.
"Building workers should be proud of themselves for digging deep to support this team and giving this very strong NSW team the chance to be the first team from outside New Zealand to win this tournament," says CFMEU secretary Andrew Ferguson. "The CFMEU represents many Maori's workers in the building industry, as shown by the 15 players from the 22 man squad who work on construction sites between football seasons, and our rank and file members are right behind these men."
"These men have a reputation for hard work, and sticking up for their mates on building sites, so it isn't surprising to see other workers doing the same for them, and helping them to achieve a dream."
Last week's shock announcement by Planning Minister Craig Knowles of a government inquiry into expansion at Port Botany has raised the spectre of a third operator armed with AWAs, seeking to destroy wages, conditions and job security.
MUA branch secretary, Robert Coombs, said the government appeared to have gone behind his members' backs, even after they had raised productivity levels to world's best standards.
"In meetings with the government we had been given informal understandings that when a port closed workers would follow the new jobs.
"Now it seems they will close Darling Harbour long before Port Botany container facilities are expanded.
"And there is a real possibility of a third operator who would be a stalking horse for cutbacks in wages, conditions and job security.
"We would argue that P&O or Patrick should operate the any new facilities but, whatever they do, they must involve the MUA and insist that labour be hired under awards and agreements.
"This is very important to our members. If government does not come clean, we will take them on over it."
After the turmoil, "war" as Coombs characterised it, of the 1998 waterfront dispute, the MUA backed increased productivity and campaigned, successfully, with existing operators for more permanency of employment.
The union was one of few public supporters for Carr's plan to close traditional Sydney wharves and extend Port Botany.
Coombs said that situation was driven by his members' appreciation of the city's growth and its need for increased container facilities. But, he warned, it was never unconditional and would be smartly withdrawn if the government did not deliver on its undertakings.
Pratt's privately-owned company has had single-site, non-union agreements knocked back by workers at Warwick Farm, Dandenong and The Packaging Company, Smithfield, in the past week.
AMWU organiser, Juliana Dickinson, said Australia's second richest man should take the message on board and talk to worker representatives about a national agreement, overwhelmingly endorsed by employees at 14 sites.
"It's time Richard Pratt and his company listened to what the workers are saying. The overwhelming No vote is, in fact, a Yes vote for a national agreement," Dickinson said.
"The inducements haven't worked because people can smell a lemon from a mile off. They know they will be better off with the protection of an agreement that brings them together."
Dickinson was speaking after the first three ballot results were announced. Warwick Farm workers gave Pratt a 94-22 thumbs-down, while colleagues at Dandenong and Smithfield returned 97-57 and 48-3 results.
Those votes came after the company delayed Warwick Farm and Dandenong ballots by a week while managers aggressively promoted its single site case.
Over the next seven days, the Pratt proposal is scheduled to go before workers at Visyboard, Perth; Visy Paper, and Visyboard and Visy Recylcling sites, at Smithfield.
Visy has steadfastly refused to negotiate with the AMWU since formal moves for conciliation were initiated in August.
The company has warned that the interests of smaller site employees will be rolled by the weight of numbers at other workplaces.
"Union agreements are not about rolling anyone," Dickinson said. "Quite the opposite, they are about better outcomes and protections for everybody."
The AMWU, and its predecessors, have been involved in the Visy operation since it began with a single Brunswick site in 1948. Since that time it has grown into one of the world's biggest packaging operations with more than 4000 employees in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Asia.
In 2002, Pratt's personal wealth was estimated at $3.8 billion. Last year, Visy operations added more than half a billion to that figure. Business analysts estimate that Pratt trousers more than $60,000 a year for every person on his payrolls.
Yet, the billionaire is offering smaller wage increases than both his major competitors and wants to slash income protection rates.
He promised bonuses of $1000 a head to Warwick Farm workers if they would vote for his non-union agreement; $500 for Dandenong employees but nothing for their colleagues at Smithfield.
And that, in a nutshell, Dickinson says, is the problem with single site agreements.
"We believe people doing the same work, for the same company, should be entitled to the same improvements whether they are on a big site in WA, or a small one in Queensland," she said.
That's the question university students vying for the chance to do union work experience as part of the "Union Summer" program are asking themselves.
Twenty of the applicants will complete a three week internship with the AMWU, The Nurses Association, ASU Services, LHMU and the TWU.
Interns learn workplace mapping, communication skills and campaigning techniques in a three day training course, before joining organisers on the job.
Union Summer co-ordinator, Amanda Tattersall, says the program gives students an organising experience which can be used to build union membership in their own workplaces.
In past programs students have been involved in pickets of anti-union employers and in the successful campaign at Sydney Casino.
"The students also take their new skills back to campus to help build the working students union network which educates students about their rights at work and about unions in general," Tattersall says.
Many participants go on to work for unions and to use their skills in community campaigns. Former interns include Trish Bradbury from the TWU, the CEPU's Alice Salomon and Dom Rowe from ASU Services.
"Union Summer gave them a start in unionism while they were doing a degree, so coming into the union movement was easy because they knew what to expect," Tattersall believes.
"With union density amongst young people at 11 percent programs like this are essential for union renewal amongst the next generation of union members."
The program, which begins in the last week of January, is in its fifth year.
A similar program begun in the US in 1995 now attracts over 1000 people a year.
Interested students can email Amanda Tattersall at [email protected] for an application form. Applications close on the 12th of November.
Boycott and Picket the Safari Restaurant
SUPPORT UNPAID SUBCONTRACT BUILDING COMPANIES IN THEIR CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE how can you help? Boycott the Safari Restaurant, Sign our Supporters Petition, Make a donation to the campaign and Picket nightly from 6.15pm - 28 King Street, Newtown.
Friday Oct 22nd,6-8pm, 'Politics in the Pub', Gaelic Club, "US influence
on Australian Politics", Prof George Parsons, Dr Greg Pemberton.
Siev X memorial exhibition
Tuesday 26th October,6.30pm,Pitt St Uniting Church, 264 Pitt St, Sir
William Deane, former Governor General, will open the National Siev X
Memorial Exhibition. Originator of the Siev X Memorial Project, author and
psychologist Steve Biddulph will introduce the project, as will Tony Kevin,
Siev X expert. Sydney choir, Café at the Gate of Salvation performing.RSVP
(02) 9427 1174.
The State Of the States
The State of the States 2004, to be launched at Sydney's Vibe Hotel - 111
Goulburn Street - at 6pm on Tuesday 26 October (6pm for 6.30pm, all welcome,
Saharawi benefit night
Celebrate the Saharawi‚s love of dancing and the rhythms of Africa with the Café of the Gate of Salvation, Mohamed Bangoura (African drum and dance) plus special guest performers. All proceeds go to the Saharawi refugees in Algeria.
People of North Africa who have been waiting for 30 years to return to their homeland of Western Sahara. While Morocco occupies their country, they have survived in refugee camps in the harsh Algerian desert, one of the most inhospitable places on earth. It's the East Timor of Africa.
27 October 2004 $25/$15conc, The Basement- Sydney. 02. 9251-2797
ACTU And Labor Council of NSW Drug, Alcohol and Fatigue Seminar
The ACTU and the NSW Labor Council will be hosting a Drug, Alcohol and Fatigue Seminar at the Sydney Masonic Centre on Wednesday 10 November 2004.
Increasingly employers are insisting that employees and potential employees submit to various forms of testing to ensure they are drug free.
Employees and their unions have opposed many forms of testing as they are intrusive, open to abuse and all too often used to create fear and culture change in the workplace. A number of major employers are currently attempting to force through policies and government and industry safety regulators are attempting to impose standards.
Unions do agree that drugs, alcohol and fatigue don't mix with work and that an impaired worker is a danger to themselves, their fellow workers and others. Unions also seek a holistic response that deals with all causes of impairment, including fatigue and one that recognises the privacy and other rights of employees. There has been a variety of positions put by different unions and union bodies.
The ACTU in association with the State and Territory Labour Councils believes it is time to develop a single view on this important issue. To this end a Drug, Alcohol and Fatigue Seminar will be held at Sydney's Masonic Centre on Wednesday 10 November 2004.
The seminar will have a practical focus and it is hoped it will produce a draft policy on the issue for consideration by the union movement as a whole. Numbers are strictly limited and a $50 fee will apply to cover overheads. Book early to avoid disappointment.
On payment of $50 (GST Inclusive) each participant will receive a booking confirmation by email and details for web access to conference materials.
Forward cheques to ACTU level 2, 393 Swanston Street Melbourne VIC 3000.
Email registration to [email protected] Participants will receive written material, including an updated program in advance of the seminar in electronic form.
The price quoted is inclusive of GST. Upon acceptance of this registration the form becomes a Tax Invoice. ABN 81 849 815 200
Cancellations: You may make substitutions at any time; please notify us as soon as possible. Cancellations must be in writing. Registered delegates who do not attend or who cancel less than two weeks prior to the conference are liable for the entire fee.
Barnesy Does It For East Timorese Kiddies
Thursday November 11th, 6.30pm-11pm, Carlton & United Brewery bar and
function centre, Broadway, (opp.UTS) Australian Jesuit's Foundation "East
Timor Kids Benefit Nite" to send color-in books and pencils to Timor. Entry
$65 .00 (limit 300 people) includes food, drinks, stalls, auction, music.
Performers include Jimmy Barnes. Details
Women in International Security Department of Defence Briefing
Monday 22nd November, 5.30-6.30pm including question time, Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade, NSW Office Level 10 Angel Place 123 Pitt Street,
Sydney, 'Women in International Security (Australia)' invite you to a
Department of Defence Briefing Two senior women within the Australian
Department of Defence will share their experiences from recent assignments
in East Timor and Iraq. Speakers: Jacinta Carroll - Director Europe,
Middle East and Rest of the World Major Powers and Global Interests Branch,
International Policy Division Sari Sutton - Acting Director,
South-West Pacific, International Policy Division Guests arrive - 5.15pm.
WIISA event - RSVP -
NEWS: UNIFEM Australia is currently coordinating the Spring Walk
campaign. Funds raised by will go to UNIFEM's work with Women's Peace and
Security in the Pacific. For further info contact Brooke at
politics In The Pub
Friday Nov 26th 6-8pm, Politics in the Pub, Gaelic Club, Surry Hills,
"Aceh & West Papua" with Dr Nurdin Rahman and John Martinkus.
150th Anniversary of Eureka Rebellion 2004
The VTHC is organising celebrations. They are as follows:
Saturday 27th November: State Government major event in Federation Square:
Afternoon Family Day
Monday 29th November: Union Commemoration Event Flag raising - Federation Square or Lygon Street at 2.00pm. Simultaneous flag raising at Bakery Hill Ballarat and Latrobe Valley. Win TV to broadcast. VTHC Choir
Thursday 2nd December: 6.00pm: Unions have a presence in Eureka Compound
7.30pm VTHC, NSW & QLD Trade Union Choirs 8.30pm 'A Night Under the Southern Cross'. Story Telling and songs with Richard Franklin, Shayne Howard, Dennis Court
Friday 3rd December (Eureka Day): Dawn Ceremony at Eureka Compound
(Community and unions), followed by Community Breakfast. 9.00am Union Train from Melbourne. 10.30am Ballarat Building Unions Picnic. 8.00pm Danny Spooner
- History of Eureka at Ballarat Trades Hall.
Saturday 4th December: 2.00pm Eureka Diggers March. It is proposed that a bus will leave Carlton at aprox 10.00am, and leaving Ballarat at 4.00pm.
Sunday 5th December: 12 noon: Eureka Memorial Committee Dinner at Ballarat.
For more information: http://www.eurekaballarat.com/index.php
Sat Dec 4th, 9am-1pm, UTS Broadway,Achehnese Community of Australia
(ACA) seminar on human rights abuses in Aceh. Speakers include Ed Aspinall,
Justice John Dowd, etc. Contact Vacy (02)9949-3553. .
Films, Politics and Learning Conference
Organization: OVAL Research, Faculty of Education, University of Technology 6 & 7 Dec These nights aim:
- To bring together radical film-makers, radical film buffs, and radical educators.
- To inspire educators about ways they can use film in their work.
- To inspire film-makers about ways they might facilitate learning about politics.
- To foster discussion and advocacy about this field of practice.
We are seeking videos and films under 2 categories:
1. Agitprop: protest, guerrilla, activist, political, subversive short films /videos.
2. Participatory film-making: community films/videos as social intervention. The only format accepted is DVD.
Send copies with entry form to Celina McEwen, The Centre for Popular Education, UTS, PO Box 123, BROADWAY NSW 2007 AUSTRALIA. Deadline for entries is September 30, 2004. Entry forms can be downloaded from www.cpe.uts.edu.au/pdfs/FPLentry.pdf
For further information email Celina on (02) 9514 3847 or [email protected]
Your October 15 editorial, "Historical Revisions", said "for the union movement the challenge is to reclaim our positive agenda". This cannot be done by, as you suggest, owning "the tremendous economic achievements" and "the reforms" of the Hawke-Keating Accord years, however.
These "economic achievements" did not serve workers. The wages share of national income ˆ down (and the profits took up most of the slack). Earnings - down through the 1980s. Earnings inequalities up, especially between the bottom 80% and the top 20% and between men and women. Productivity up - through longer working hours and lost working conditions. So the national economy delivered more prosperity to fewer people than ever before, but not to most workers.
Hawke and Keating also gave "reform" a new Australian political meaning. The regressive introduction of user-pays (for example, in tertiary education), the first wave of privatisations and ever-increasing "obligations" on social security recipients were only some of the reactionary measures to be misnamed.
The biggest blow to social cohesion and solidarity from the Hawke-Keating years, however, was the decline of union membership ˆ by one count from 49% in 1981, at an accelerating rate, to 35% in 1996, and then to 25% and below in the new century. Support for an industrial and political pro-business agenda by most of the labour movement radically reduced its ability to develop the new activists who would have held together existing memberships and organised new workplaces. The impact of this took several years to develop and has not yet been fully overcome. How are "the best ideas to come from the ground up", as you suggest, if that ground has been razed?
This picture above is a "remarkable achievement" for the ALP, but not for any "party of the left". Union activists, rather than accept your injunction to try once more with feeling, need to think and think again about whether the ALP is an adequate political party for workers. That is the real question raised by this election result. If other unionists reading this, like me, think not, get involved in trying to create something that is.
(In a personal capacity)
NTEU UTS Branch Committee member
Ph.D student, University of Wollongong
(Topic: The Accord and class consciousness: the working class under the
Hawke and Keating governments)
I offer you an alternative view to the "economic achievements" of the past decade that the ALP and the workers have helped to "achieve".
The economic "prosperity" that Australians believe they enjoy is little more than mounting debt that provides the false impression that the workers are finding their way into the middle class. Meanwhile, the ALP has abandoned the worker, once-proud unions have been dismantled, and workplace agreements have created thousands of non-union workplaces where workers, like my husband, are exploited and asked to work in increasingly dangerous workplaces. Work safety has become an insurance game, and has lost the original mission of protecting the worker. I believe the last election has proven that the ALP no longer offers a benefit to the workers of this country, and that these workers now need a new political party that will address the growing inequity in our society. As for interest rates and inflation, these will inevitably rise! in our global western economy. When that happens, the workers who have been duped into massive debt and housing loans for over-inflated properties, will be the first to suffer. Perhaps then the workers of Australia will once again find their strength in solidarity and a common purpose to create a more equitable society where people count for more than money.
For the first and only time this decade Christmas will occur on
a Saturday with the transfer of the Christmas public holidays to the
following Monday and Tuesday. This has allowed thousands of retail employees
to plan to have four days with their family and friends at this holiest of
In the interest of community convenience, job opportunities and reducing a
river of money flowing out of the greater part of queensland into Brisbane
and the coastal tourist areas, the National Retail Association is presently
applying to have the wide-spread opening of retail outlets from Boxing day
to Tuesday inclusive.
Christmas can be a most stressful time for retail employees and shoppers
alike. Shoppers legitimately complain about the length of queues and abysmal
staffing levels. As the only available depositories for such complaints we
can only work to frantic pace and give excuses, out of corporate duty, to
customers who have promoted us into their lives throughout the year by
confiding in us their daily joys and despairs.
Imagine our long-made plans for this oasis of peace, a four day holiday, in
the midst of battle for monetary profit. Plans of eating mum's potato salad,
followed by Christmas pud and cream, a slow and chatty beer with dad and a
knowing wink from mummy-in-law, as I feign sleep in the midst of friendly
Apparently "civic and business leaders are concerned that a river of money
will flow out of Toowoomba to the east" as early post-Christmas sales occur
in Brisbane ( "The Chronicle" 16/10/04 ). If the National Retail Association
has it's way Christmas will be reduced to one brief and frantic day. There
will be hurried "hello", "Merry Christmas", " no we can't have a drink,
we're driving","sorry we have to go" as we dash the gauntlet of the
Christmas road toll and spread our ebbing cheer. Surely it is better to
allow a brief flow of money to leave the city than to flood our Christmas
roads with our own blood and heartache. Even better! Encourage the tradition
of family values, that Queenslanders are rightly proud of, to occur in
The Shop Distributive and Allied Workers Association is currently battleing
the claims of the National Retail Association and aplying for an additional
"closed" day, New Years Day! It is not a public holiday this time round, it
falls on a Saturday. The public holiday follows on Monday.
When you are shopping, during the week before Christmas, and you notice the
queues at the checkouts extending down the aisles, and checkout operators on
the phone waiting endlessly for their calls for change, you decide whether
jobs have been created or present staff stretched!
As you walk past full trolleys, abandoned within site of queues, you decide
whether these supermarkets have done such a marvellously efficient service
for the community (or squandered a glut of opportunity) that they deserve to
be granted a dispensation from the mores of normal business and allowed to
profit from fracture to traditional family life!
As you walk past the local corner store where "dad" behind the counter is
wearing a party hat and the kids pop out from the back door firing cap guns,
you decide whether there is no essential difference between small and big
As you walk into the supermarket on New Years Day and notice the many
queues, at checkouts operated by ill and sullen faces, you decide if you
deserve service any better!
As you walk, with your loved ones, through any large retail outlet on any
given Sunday, Think about it!
Congratulations on your editorial on the disastrous loss of October 9;.
It may not win you friends in every quarter but such contributions are needed to kick-start the debate we have to have.
At this stage most ALP and TU members have little autonomous space to have an organised political debate. Maybe Workers Online could invite contributors from among those whose views are not reported in the daily press radio and TV.
Let's have that debate.
An open letter to my fellow ALP members about the deeply misguided Senate preference manoeuvres in the federal election campaign. A cry from the heart and an expression of bitter anger
By Bob Gould
As it happens, in March this year I notched up my 50th year of ALP
membership. I joined the Labor Party in 1954 as a youth of 17, in the middle
of the battle with the Groupers.
In all my 50 years of ALP membership and activity I've never seen anything quite as dishonourable and stupid as the decision of the party managers in several states to preference the essentially right-wing group, Family First.
A question of process arises. Who in the hell makes those kinds of decisions? They should be made by the federal executive of the ALP, but clearly the wheeling and dealing was delegated to individuals, mainly from the right, and indeed from the most backward sections of the right, in each state.
The process of making such decisions is clearly deeply flawed. One issue is the dishonourable nature of the decision. The Greens have every right to be bitterly angry and disillusioned with the ALP and its managers.
On the face of it the Greens had a preference deal with the ALP, which was announced with great fanfare, and it appeared to involve an ultimate preference exchange between the Greens and Labor before right-wing parties.
The parliamentary leader, Mark Latham, ought to be very angry, because on the face of it he has been roped into a dishonourable tearing up of an agreement, to which he was very publicly party -- the agreement with the
After the event of the deal with the Greens, whoever made the arrangements in the ALP to quietly preference Family First before the Greens engaged in an act of political bastardry of the highest order.
The consequences of this decision will be disastrous. Why should the Greens, a formation likely to be around for a very long time, and growing that is steadily to occupy all of the electoral space to the left of the ALP - why should the Greens trust anything ALP preference negotiators say to them ever again?
The Greens, in fact, kept their part of the bargain and behaved honourably. On the basis of Labor's Tasmanian forest policy, the Greens ended up giving all their preferences to the ALP in all marginal seats and an ultimate preference to Labor before the conservatives in the Senate. For instance, Greens preferences will elect the ALP‚s Michael Foreshaw to the sixth Senate position in NSW.
The argument put forward by the shadowy ALP preference negotiators, who made the ultimate decision, that they could not anticipate the electoral consequences, does not stand up at all.
In a proportional representation vote, like the Senate, with the quota being about 14.3 per cent, the last position to be elected is always unpredictable, depending on the votes for small parties and the parts of quotas left by Labor and the Coalition after they have elected their first two senators.
(I‚m acutely aware of the vagaries of for the vagaries for the last position in a proportional representation ballot for six positions. In 1971, in a much-commented-on ballot for six federal conference delegates from the ALP in NSW to the vital federal conference before Whitlam was elected, I won the last position by one vote over half a quota ˆ the narrowest margin possible.
One vote over half a quota is all that‚s needed for the last position, which is a sound reason for never treating preferences in such a situation as bloody-mindedly and as casually as the ALP managers did on this occasion.)
If Labor preferences right-wing parties, the possibility always exists that the vote can build up to elect a right-wing candidate, in this instance Family First.
The basic principle should be that there are no enemies on the left, and preferences should go first to other groups on the left and then centre formations such as the Democrats.
For the many thousands of Labor Party members, including me, who worked hard on election day to elect Labor, that kind of preference approach is a principle, in addition to which it's the only practical thing to do if you want to beat the conservatives in the Senate.
With six to be elected, even if the Labor and Green vote drops there should
be no difficulty in Labor and the Greens finishing three-all with the Coalition and other conservatives.
The electoral stupidity of the people who made the preference arrangements in the Senate for the ALP is demonstrated by the result of these manoeuvres, which has been to hand control of the Senate to Howard and Family First.
The outrageous thing about this handing over of the Senate to the Liberals and Family First is that it wasn't necessary. A simple ultimate preference exchange with the Greens would have got a three-all result between the two sides of politics and led to a deadlocked Senate.
The second aspect of it is the completely artificial way that it builds a neanderthal, fundamentalist, right-wing Protestant party into a major force very quickly.
Thankfully, the ongoing demographic reality in Australia is that notional
Protestant religious allegiance, which is at the core of the conservative side of Australian politics, is steadily declining. Notional Protestants are only about 30 per cent of the population, when they were 70 per cent 40 years ago.
The number of Australians who either say they have no religious beliefs, or don't state a religious belief in the census, has gone up from nearly
nothing to about 30 per cent, the number of Catholics is stable at about 30
per cent and Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Eastern Orthodox combined have gone
up to 10 per cent.
There is certain revival of Protestant fundamentalism in outer suburban
areas of the big cities, but it's a narrowly middle-class phenomenon, and
very right-wing politically. It takes its inspiration from the reactionary
association of fundamentalist Protestant religion and right-wing politics in
the United States.
Mainly because of the ongoing demographic realities, Australian politics
hasn't, until this election, taken the US shape in this respect. Fred Nile
has been battling to bring fundamentalist Protestant religion into politics
for 25 years, with minimal success.
Suddenly, the Family First preference deal has enabled these religious
fundamentalists to leap from 1.2 and 2 per cent real votes to artificial
quotas of 14 per cent, partly with the aid of Labor and Democrat
As a secular, leftist, agnostic Australian of Irish Catholic cultural
background, I find this sudden move to strengthen US-style Protestant
fundamentalism in Australian politics deeply offensive.
As many observers have commented, Mark Latham and the Labor Party conducted
a very vigorous and effective, and in my view rather leftist, election
campaign, but the economic conjuncture was not favourable, the conservative
propaganda was effective, and we lost the election.
It was a serious loss, but the basic Labor-Green vote of 47.5 per cent
(preferred) is intact. The electoral shift was among the 5 per cent in the
middle of Australian society who tend to shift from left to right and back
By far the worst feature of this election result is the blind surrender of
control of the Senate to the Liberals and Family First. Despite all the
current sweetness and light, the Coalition government will use all its
increased influence and power in the Senate to attack the trade union
The trade union movement should crucify, politically speaking, the shadowy
party managers who made the preference deal. These people have ensured that
the trade unions will have to fight for their interests from a very
defensive set of circumstances with the Liberals in control of the Senate.
PS. While we're at it, we should never forget that Labor preferences
unfortunately helped to elect the conservative Democrat, the leader of the
right wing in the Democrats, over the Greens in WA, three years ago. Labor
members and supporters, and Greens members and supporters, throughout the
country should raise hell to ensure that the kind of dishonourable bastardry
involved in the ALP preferencing Family First over the Greens never happens
"Historical Revisions" is a fitting title for your myth-making editorial (15/10), which celebrates the Hawke-Keating regime's "tremendous economic achievements" under the ALP-ACTU Accord.
What did the Accord do? It caused a dramatic shift in incomes from wages to profits. In 1982-3, the share of GDP going to profits was 12.1% and the wages share was 63.3%. By March 1996, the profit share had reached 16.3% and the wages share had fallen to 57.8%. Put another way, workers handed the bosses 4.2% of GDP -- over $20 billion a year. Between 1983 and 1990, hourly award rates of pay dropped by 15-30%.
Was this all used for productive investment? No, much of it went into a speculative bubble which, in turn, led to Keating's "recession we had to have". Then Kelty & Co began pushing us into enterprise bargaining. A fine record!
Peter Lewis says these economic changes were "driven by a partnership between a social democratic party and organised labour, something that did not happen anywhere else in the world." Unfortunately true. Elsewhere the culprits were open reactionaries like Reagan and Thatcher -- here it was labour leaders who did it to us, and we are still paying the price.
Did we at least "avoid the social dislocation and break-down of the Reagan and Thatcher regimes"? Perhaps Peter has forgotten the smashing of two unions: the BLF and the Pilots (in the latter case, by using the military against unionists).
And I love this one: "the union movement took the principled decision to back labour market deregulation - even though they knew it would make their own job tougher".
What kind of principles are these!? But actually, it wasn't rank and file workers who took these decisions, was it Peter? It was Hawke, Keating and Kelty - over workers' heads. No wonder workers began to lose interest in unions. Over the Accord years, union coverage fell from 49.5% to 31%.
And no wonder voters "threw Labor out of office", and still suspect that "Labor cannot manage the economy".
We do agree on one thing: the best ideas come from "the bottom up". Which means if we want to revive the labour movement, the last thing we need is top-down pro-capitalist projects like the Accord.
The threats to organised labour are poised to intersect some time after July next year and the Hanrahans are already starting up their chorus 'we'll all be rooned"
One only has to look at the current attitude of Qantas to see where the doomsayers are coming from: a 66 per cent pay rise for directors, three per cent for staff - those whose jobs aren't shunted offshore.
For cabin crew contemplating Industrial action there is the threat of trained teams of strike-breakers; which management now calls ' customer protection' and a PM telling workers to get used to it, while the markets reward Qantas with a higher share price.
There is no doubt there are challenges ahead for the union movement - federal legislation will make it harder to bargain collectively, the courts have narrowed the scope of what can be covered in agreements and the Hard Right is positively baying for blood.
For the first time in 30 years the conservatives will control the industrial agenda through a majority of both houses of federal parliament. What they can't control is the way the union movement responds.
The storm may be out of our control, but the level of damage will be directly linked to the way we prepare for the onslaught.
The days ahead are important - we need to understand what is coming; take steps to minimise the damage, but also get on with life, continuing to do what we have always done, argue the case for working people.
The alternative is to leave ourselves exposed to the mercy of the elements raging against the Tempest like some kind of latter day King Lear.
So what is to be done? We must prepare ourselves for the storm by building strong durable delegate structures - work that is already well underway through the focus on organising workplaces from the ground up.
We also need to be smart; staying indoors when the lightening is striking rather than setting ourselves up to take the blast.
That means being strategic in our reactions to the attacks that are coming; avoiding the obvious points of engagement; defending workers by campaigning on a positive agenda around conditions, training and retirement savings - causes that can not be silenced by an act of parliament or a court decision.
And we need to realise that all storms inevitably pass; after the downpour, there is grief and awe at the damage but also a time of renewal and regeneration.
Played well, the next period could actually be a time of opportunity - at last we will be confronted with John Howard unplugged, unencumbered by the Senate, exposing his real agenda once and for all.
And a workforce that has taken the hard-won protections for granted for so long will be reminded what it is like without them.
Our challenge in this difficult period will be to sow the seeds of a resurgent union movement, even as the storm rages.