Our Tool Of The Week is waiting in the Tool Shed and if he's waiting for a train he may be in there for some time.
Now the misguided amongst us may think that a railway system is something that is used to transport large numbers of people between various places using a device known as a train.
The aforementioned train arrives and departs from the various places, referred to as stations, at pre-designated times according to a system known as a timetable.
This is to assist the previously mentioned large numbers of people, known as passengers, to travel between the stations referred to above.
Unfortunately this rather quaint notion of what constitutes a railway system is not in keeping with the visionary management of our Tool Of The Week, RailCorp CEO Vince Graham.
Graham has a rather unique approach to transport management - mainly by dispensing with the transport element, and then also getting rid of the management angle as well.
On planet Graham a railway system isn't necessarily about stations or trains, and it certainly isn't about passengers.
Rather, a railway system appears to be about allowing a small group of people, known as managers, to hang on to rather significant salary packages while coming up with increasingly Byzantine ways of making life a misery for as many of their fellow citizens as possible.
The guiding principle for Graham's team of over-achievers is not to actually have a rail system that conforms to some specious notion of actually providing a service, but rather it is about saving money.
The key to Graham's genius appears to be that, if he continues with this rather unique approach to the concept of public service, there will be no rail system at all, thus saving a very large sum of money.
This, of course, would free up significant amounts of capital that can be then spent on boosting the salaries of his brilliant management team and save them from the tedious process of actually employing people, having to look after trains, stations, rail track and passengers, etc.
Now, in order to do this, Graham has had to employ some pretty slick management strategies.
Our Tool Of The Week has ideas about how he can best implement his vision and in the end he appears to have used both of them.
They are brilliant in their simplicity, if not their implementation.
The first strategy is to lie.
Make up all sorts of excuses and attribute responsibility to people who are not in a position to defend themselves. Rant hysterically about the situation until everyone is thoroughly confused. Boldly state that there is a need for change when there is none, and then implement some half arsed idea that some drunken executive came up with on the back of an envelope after a long lunch at one of Sydney's more fashionable eateries.
The second, and final, plank of what may be termed Vision Graham is to blame everyone and everything else in the universe if anything goes wrong.
Whether or not the person, thing or circumstance is actually to blame is irrelevant. The core strategy works as long as nobody is blaming him.
When both are used together we get brilliant explanations such as the falling trees causing disruptions last week.
This is despite the fact that it is more than just philosophers who are asking if a tree falls on the rail system, did it ever really exist?
All of this substance, or at least what passes in lieu of substance, in Graham's vision can be exemplified by a certain alleged incident that really goes to the heart of the sort of intellect, or at least what passes in lieu of intellect, we are dealing with here.
Our Tool Of The Week is a Penrith lad and allegedly he took it upon himself to crow loudly in Penrith's Red Cow Hotel one evening, allegedly about how he was going to do this, that and the other thing to rail workers when he had the chance.
This, that and the other thing appearing to not be particularly pleasant according to reports, especially if you were a rail worker who was interested in something approximating a decent job.
Nonetheless Graham allegedly crowed on with his opinions, which is his right in a free and democratic country.
The only problem was that the Red Cow Hotel is located directly opposite the Penrith Railway Station.
And the pub was full of rail workers.
Endorsing the new identity, �Unions NSW", secretary John Robertson said the decision was based on research, including focus groups of young workers and election exit polling that found less than half of all union members voted for the ALP.
The name change, to take effect in January 2005, is part of a broader move by Robertson to 're-brand' unions for a new generation of workers.
"This move means no disrespect to the history of the Labor Council of NSW, more a recognition that we need to change to maintain our relevance," Robertson says.
"Having seen the research - and particularly the attitudes of younger workers, two things were clear: they do not like politicians and they think Labor Council is a political body.
"In contrast, there is no suggestion of hostility to unions, just a lack of awareness of their relevance and an ignorance of our historical achievements.
"In this context, the role of a peak body must be to portray the positives of unionism - and trading as 'Labor Council' it is clear we are making that task harder than it need be."
The name change will apply to all operations of the Labor Council including official titles of officials, public statements, presentations, meetings and official duties.
< b>Exit 'Rusted On' Labor Voters
The move to re-brand Labor Council has been reinforced by research showing less than half of union members gave their first preference to the ALP in the recent federal election.
A poll of 403 NSW union members, conducted by Auspoll in the fortnight following the federal election, found:
- 49 per cent voted for the ALP
- 31 per cent voted for the Coalition
- and 12 per cent voted Green.
On a two-party preferred basis, Labor enjoyed a 65-35 split, significantly more than he 47-53 election result, but far short of unanimous support .
"This research suggests two things, " Robertson says.
"First, the ALP can not take union members for granted. There is a real challenge to the ALP to differentiate itself from the Coalition in terms of the policies it presents.
"Second, it suggests that while union members are not party political - but that they do expect all sides of politics to give them the legal right to bargain collectively."
AWU state president and long-time shearer, Mick Madden, issued the advice as the National Farmers Federation dug in its heels against calls to have rams, as big as 170kg, sedated for shearing.
"This is an OHS issue and a serious one," Madden said. "Shearers should assess the rams they are confronted with and where they are big and dangerous, insist on sedation, or refuse to shear them on health and safety grounds.
"Selective breeding means some of these animals are 50 percent bigger than they were 20 years ago but shearers haven't been put through the same program.
"All this is compounded by the ageing of the shearing population. Farmers will pay for fitter, healthier animals but they won't pay the wages needed to attract younger people into the industry.
"Shearing is a dangerous industry, by its nature, and some of these rams multiply that problem."
The AWU says specifically-bred super rams are now twice as heavy as many shearers. On the basis that the average sheep run carries 20 - 50 rams, the union estimates farmers could sedate for a top figure of $25 a session.
Sedation, prior to shearing, has been carried out safely on sheep properties in WA and New Zealand. The AWU says reports from those users suggest injections affect animals for about an hour and have no side effects.
Last week, however, National Farmers Federation officials were doing the rounds of bush media outlets, railing against the prospect of sedation.
Madden, who was once knocked out by a ram in a NSW holding pen, says that response highlights the need for shearers to protect their own health and livelihoods.
"The Farmers Federation are whingers, it's what they do best," Madden says.
"Every time there is a move to attract younger people to the industry, they argue incapacity to pay, then spend the rest of their time complaining that youngsters don't want to shear their sheep.
"Now we have the NSW Farmers Federation arguing that shearers should live in tents.
"Shearers should take this matter into their own hands. They can't afford to be injured, their families can't afford it and, despite what the Farmers Federation might think, wool growers can't afford to lose them either."
The exhortation is contained on a new poster prepared by the organisation in response to ABS figures that show Australian bosses still value women at only 85 percent the rate of men.
"Prepare your daughter for working life," the Equal Opportunities Commission poster reads. "Give her less pocket money than your son."
"Unequal pay is an insidious form of sex discrimination, which requires top level commitment from government, unions and businesses to stamp it out," says commission acting chief executive Matthew Carroll. "In 2004 women still don't earn as much as men, are subjected to sexual harassment, get sacked for being pregnant and suffer from widespread discrimination."
The Victorian Government launched a Pay Equity Inquiry earlier this year to investigate pay disparity between men and women.
"The Inquiry will investigate the pay disparity between males and females. The Commission is playing a key role in this inquiry, together with representatives from business, unions and Government," says Carroll. "The lack of affordable childcare combined with the pay gap forces most families to forfeit the earnings of the lower paid mother."
"We eagerly await the findings of the Inquiry which we see as a very positive first step to developing strategies to address this important issue."
The Equal Opportunity Commission has been celebrating the 25th anniversary of Deborah Wardley's (Lawrie) landmark battle to become Australia's first female commercial airline pilot.
Mr Carroll said this was the first complaint to come before the newly established Victorian Equal Opportunity Board and the first contested anti-discrimination case in Australia.
"Since Deborah's victory much of the blatant discrimination faced by women has decreased significantly. However, Deborah, who now lives in The Hague, said that Australia lags behind European countries in addressing sex discrimination, maternity leave entitlements, sexual harassment and sexist attitudes towards women."
"Despite years of legislation and education, we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality."
Councillors will vote on a ground-breaking move to shut down construction sites over seven long weekends every year, next week.
Endorsement would effectively see council officers enforcing the 36-hours week construction unions have had written into more than 1000 enterprise bargaining agreements.
CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said that would deliver a "win-win situation" for Sydney families and thousands of building workers.
"Some building companies expect our members to work up to, and in excess of, 60 hours a week. That is bad for morale, bad for productivity, destroys families and increases workplace accidents," Ferguson says.
"Most of the industry has recognised that and agreed to seven shut down long weekends a year. This resolution addresses the shonky operators and gives residents a break from the dust and noise that are side effects of the construction boom.
"It delivers seven long weekends a year where people can have a lie in, take a walk or just enjoy their neighbourhood free from the irritation of jack hammers and dust.
"It's a community initiative about quality of life."
Firth said it would give Sydney residents "unique" opportunities to rest and relax in peace.
"Nobody enjoys being woken up by a jackhammer, especially on a long weekend," she said.
Green councillor, Chris Harris, has already pledged support for the proposal. He said it would improve the lives of residents and building workers.
Other Sydney councils, including Waverley, Leichhardt and Ashfield, are understood to be considering similar moves.
"They�ve blamed wet weather, hot weather, cold weather, windy weather, trees and train drivers," says Nick Lewocki from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). "The only people left to blame are the passengers.
"What will they do next, suggest that the system operate without passengers so the trains can run on time?"
RailCorp staff have labelled "mistruths" management claims that late or non-existent train services were the fault of drivers taking sickies.
RailCorp attempts to "demonise" staff came after the parties failed to reach agreement on enterprise bargaining negotiations.
Sticking points include family friendly leave provisions, rostering, equal penalty payments for all employees, quick resolution of disciplinary procedures (which can currently drag on for 18 months) and a move by RailCorp to split rail maintenance workers onto two agreements.
Lewocki confirmed industrial action was likely.
"While the government maintains its current position union officials have a mandate to call industrial action," he said.
The beleaguered rail system reached meltdown, last week, when not one afternoon service ran within four minutes of timetable and several didn't show up at all.
Newspapers were full of letters from angry patrons whose plans had been thrown into disarray by late or non-existent services. Trains are just as unreliable on weekends, even after management slashed services by 40 percent.
In the wake of last week's rush hour shambles, staff reacted angrily to management suggestions that they were responsible for the system's flaws .
"The RTBU is concerned that the industrial relations agenda of the Carr Labor Government is based on the same criteria of [RailCorp's] on time running and will result in the same chaos that is facing the people of Sydney that use the rail network," Lewocki says.
Alex Claassens from the Locomotive Division of the RTBU says people are aware the system is in crisis, and getting worse.
The packaging giant, headed by billionaire Richard Pratt, agreed to fold two existing EBAs into a single document, featuring annual wage movements of 4.75 percent, at 11th hour talks in Melbourne yesterday.
AMWU industrial officer, Juliana Dickinson, called the agreement a "major victory" for 600 workers who had waged a three-month campaign.
They had given notice of indefinite action, effective from 12.30pm yesterday (Thursday), at sites in Queensland, NSW, WA and Victoria.
"Solidarity, and commitment to collective action has delivered one agreement," Dickinson said. "Strong and disciplined leadership by our delegates around the country was the key to securing it.
"Everyone welcomes Visy's change of heart and is looking forward to a more co-operative relationship in the future."
Initially, Visy refused to discuss the national agreement claim, voted up at meetings on all its sites. Instead, it ran ballots, offering bonuses to individuals if they would break ranks and pick up single-site, non-union agreements that offered less than the 4.75 percent signed off on by major competitors Amcor and Carter Holt Harvey.
That strategy came to a halt after the proposal was rolled by ballots at TPC Smithfield, Visy Board, Warwick Farm; Visy Board, Dandenong; Visy Paper, Smithfield; Visy Board, O'Connor (WA); and TPC, Kewdale (WA).
Yesterday's early-morning meeting brought agreement on the single document, wage movements and increased redundancy entitlements.
Dickinson said the "nuts and bolts" of bringing the existing documents together would take place next week.
"This a great result because it gives Visy employees the best chance of defending their wages and conditions in what could be uncertain times," she said. "They have already proved that standing together works."
Less than four weeks after its election victory, the Howard regime has intervened in a federal court hearing that seeks to make it illegal for employees to bargain over a number of issues, including contract labour and local government representation leave.
Lawyers for Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, arrived in Perth, last week, to back Westfarmers in its challenge to the legality of half a dozen clauses advanced by Collie maintenance workers.
Westfarmers has gone further, issuing claims for unspecified damages against the AMWU, its state secretary Jock Ferguson, assistant secretary Colin Saunders and four rank and file delegates.
The company, one of Australia's largest, will be able to chase respondents' assets if the Federal Court rules in favour of Westfarmers and Andrews.
The issue stems from September's Electrolux decision in which the High Court ruled only matters directly pertaining to the employer-employee relationship could be included in agreements under the Workplace Relations Act.
Anything else, its judgement suggested, could render signed agreements invalid and leave workers, and their representatives, who had engaged in industrial action, open to massive damages claims.
Dissenting judge, Justice Michael Kirby, predicted the majority decision would have a "chilling" effect on enterprise bargaining.
The Perth case stems from industrial action taken by maintenance workers at Westfarmers subsidiary, Premier Coal, in July. Westfarmers originally contested its legitimacy in the Industrial Relations Commission where it failed to win an injunction.
Some of the claims now being litigated by Westfarmers, and Andrews, had already been agreed to in negotiations.
In his submission to the court, Andrews contended workers were not allowed to bargain over union fee deductions, right of entry, union meetings, local government representation leave or controls on contract labour.
In a move that is being strongly resisted by Gippsland based workers and their families, Esso, part of the Exxon-Mobil group, is attempting to shift workers onto a 14-day roster.
"Workers are already missing their kids birthdays and grand finals," says John Parker from the Offshore Workers Embassy. "With this move kids will start to miss their dad and rely on not having a dad around.
"It puts a huge strain on the family and fathers get isolated."
Parker says the Longford embassy is a place for oilrig workers and their families to bring their grievances, to get represented and to get information.
Contractors for Esso, including Lothways TBS Pty Ltd, are being pressured to fall in with the Esso plan to shift from the current seven day on-seven day off arrangements to 14 days on-14 days off.
A move by Esso contractors Kellogg, Brown and Root and Corke Instrument Engineering to introduce a non-union collective agreement including the roster changes was rejected when 96% of workers voted down the change in a secret ballot.
"This is yet another signal that these changes are unacceptable to working men, many of whom are fathers, who should not be forced to be away from the families for a fortnight each month," says Australian Workers Union (AWU) national secretary Bill Shorten.
An AWU survey earlier this year found 90% of workers wives opposed the 14-day rosters.
Workers represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and Construction Forestry Mining and energy Union (CFMEU) have entered talks with a conciliator in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
"The longer we're sitting around the campfire the more we're hearing about what workers employed by these contractors have to put up with," says John Parker from the CFMEU. "They are forced to share protective equipment, they are out in wet weather hanging over the ocean dealing with storms and sleeping four to a 14 x 14 foot room.
"Sharing these rooms with three other blokes for 14 days would not be pleasant."
Parker says one worker described oilrig conditions as "like a prison ship".
The Embassy is also investigating allegations of workers being exposed to asbestos on ESSO Oil Platforms.
A Family Picnic Day is scheduled for the Embassy on Sunday, November 7..
The embassy has erected a Christmas tree and is vowing to stay until problems are resolved.
One month after being given five hours to pack up and join the dole queue, 42 workers at the centre of the stand-off are still on the payroll and a meeting, yesterday, agreed they would stay there until at least March 31, next year.
Unions thrashed out the "breathing space" with Treasurer Michael Egan and IR Minister, John Della Bosca, on the understanding state owned corporations and the public service would look to find permanent positions for those who want to stay.
The agreement is an about-face after government denied any obligations to the electricity workers when it green-lighted dismissal notices, delivered on October 12.
Government said the engineering and technical jobs disappeared with the closure of RBMC, the Residual Business Management Corporation left over from the sale of Pacific Power's trading arm.
"The state government claims there is no work available and these people are work shy but that's bullshit," PSA official Bill Ferguson said. "They want to work and they have the skills to help maintain the integrity of our power supplies.
"We have written assurances from the Treasurer and the Premier that there would be no forced redundancies as a result of power reform. We are asking them to stick to their word."
Negotiations have been backed up by support for the no forced redundancy line from stop work meetings around the state.
Transgrid head office staff gave the resolution unanimous support at a meeting in Hyde Park yesterday and Delta Power station workers at Wallerawang and Wallgrave will consider it this week.
Tradesmen and trades assistants who repair cells, buildings and other equipment, are changing employer after the state government contracted maintenance to a new outfit, United-KFPW.
Now staff are being asked to sign AWA's that will see them lose $2000 a year in salary, use of company vehicles, and RDO provisions.
The individual contracts also stop unions representing workers collectively, limit consultation and force dispute resolution through the OEA.
In addition workers would be put on three months probation though most have been working at the facility for six years.
AMWU industrial officer Colin Drane believes this clause could mean staff will be asked to train other workers before being carpeted.
Drane says workers are outraged the Labor Government is delivering a de facto endorsement of AWA's.
"The federal government implement their ideology on the ground in policy," says Drane "but the Carr Labor Government appears unwilling to support a pro worker position, this has got to change."
"If the Carr government is going to pursue outsourcing of services it should be done in such a way to ensure workers pay and conditions are not compromised."
"Nor should services be compromised."
"The coalitions supports their core constituents big business, the Carr Government should show more support of it's core constituents - workers."
The New South Wales Department of Environment & Conservation move to close the Western Regional Assessment Unit (WRAU) in Dubbo has sparked industrial action across the department.
"For people to receive an e-mail telling them their job has gone speaks volumes about the way in which this Department is conducting its industrial relations," says John Cahill, general secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA). "This closure and the way in which it has been handled is nothing short of a disgrace. There has been no consultation or discussion of any type with the PSA.
"This incident has now sparked industrial action across the entire Department. To say our members are very angry is an understatement."
The PSA believes that the decision will amount to further job cuts to the regional workforce.
"The Carr government has no regard for workers in regional areas and has treated these people with complete disdain," says Andrew Ferguson of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), whose members have also been caught up in the move.
"It's appalling treatment that workers can be told by email that they are no longer wanted or needed."
"The Carr Government needs to start treating workers and the community with respect and engaging in genuine consultation before conducting these cynical acts of cost-cutting."
The WRAU was responsible for performing important environmental studies into the Brigalow Belt Unit across an area stretching from Dubbo to Grafton in the State's northeast, an area workers claim is of vital importance to the regional economy of the State.
Last week the Carr government transferred control of the centre to Corrective Services, leaving workers fighting for their jobs.
The PSA believes the government should have continued with it's interim management as the situation had calmed after the implementation of a "back to basics" approach.
Industrial Officer, Geo Papas, says workers have approached the Minister in the past about the centre's problems and want to play a part in implementing reforms.
This includes a new system of sanctions and rewards for detainees, new visiting procedures - including strip searches after visits, and legislation to fast track the transfer of violent adult offenders to the adult detention system.
Papas says if corrective services do assume control workers should be given the opportunity to retrain and join corrective services as almost all live in the central coast area.
"We want all doors to be opened to members to get work with corrective services...and also be given employment opportunities with government sector jobs on the central coast."
Workers at Kariong will place a picket on Kariong when Corrective services officers take over this Wednesday at 6am.
Corrective services officers, who are also members of the PSA, have been asked not to cross the picket line.
Federal moves to resuscitate industrial relations and voluntary student unionism in the sector have been blocked by the senate.
Those changes, introduced last year and tied to $404 million in funding, tried to corporatise university administration, exclude clauses in EBA's which ruled out AWA's and axe limits on casual staff numbers.
NTEU official Andrew Nette says the government is flagging a return to a debate it lost and the recent election provided no mandate for.
"No-one in the sector agreed with the package then, and no-one agrees with it now."
"It's purely ideology and it displays no understanding of the academic labour market, how universities run and no understanding of the considerable flexibilities management already has."
"They had voluntary student unionism in WA and it proved do debilating to compus lief and campus culture the government reversed it."
"Studen unions provide advocacy, cheap food, textbook subsidies and all kinds of other services."
A survey of more than 600 doctors, nurses, police, health, community services, and emergency workers revealed a lack of dedicated resources was causing problems for people living with mental illness and the workers left to pick up the pieces.
Survey results, released by the new Mental Health Workers Alliance, showed:
- More than 90 percent of police officers said caring for mentally ill people was affecting their ability to do core policing work
- More than 80 percent of nurses estimated the occupancy rates of beds dedicated for mental health patients was 100 percent or above
- More than 60 percent of doctors said they felt pressured to prematurely discharge mental health patients into the community and almost 70 percent were unable to find a beds when needed in the past three months
- Some 80 percent of ambulance officers, hospital registrars, social workers and other health and emergency workers listed bed availability, staffing, and resources as major issues impacting on care for mental illness sufferers.
As well as highlighting what is wrong with the mental health system the Mental Health Workers Alliance has a plan for putting the problems right. As part of its Five Step Program for a Saner Mental Health System the Alliance is calling for:
1. Appropriate funding for mental health by increasing the mental health proportion of the State health budget to at least 12%, as recommended by the Mental Health Council of Australia, and for mental health expenditure to be transparent and quarantined.
2. Better resourcing for long term supported accommodation options for all
people with mental illnesses, including homeless people.
3. Increasing the capacity of inpatient units and community services to guarantee 24 hour access to those in need of treatment.
4. Appropriate crisis care, including 24 hour mental health expertise in emergency departments and community teams, to alleviate pressure on front line emergency services.
5. Addressing the problems of recruitment and retention in the sector by providing incentives to enter employment, enhancing access to training schemes, and providing support for learning and development opportunities.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson praised the Mental Health Workers Alliance for coming together to ensure workers' voices on the issue would be heard.
"This study shows that government policies on mental health impact not just on those chiefly charged with caring for them but that it affects workers throughout the health and emergency fields.
"A failure to adequately resource the mental health sector is contributing to clogged emergency departments, an insufficient number of community and long-stay facilities, and overburdened police and emergency services."
The MHWA is a joint initiative of the Nurses Association, the Police Association, the Health Services Union, the Australian Services Association, and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation.
To find out more about the MHWA or to subscribe to the Alliance's e-bulletin visit http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/mhwa/mhwa.html
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.
Some ponemes are on this new CD from the Synaptic Graffiti Collective (Slam the Body Politik) - profits to the Refugee Action Collective (Qld). http://scart69.net/synapticgraffiti/ - there's some very slick stuff there (and some not so slick, but interesting).
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 .
Our Home - Iraq� fundraising cocktail party!
When: 7pm, Thursday November 18
Where: The Roxbury Hotel, 182 St Johns Rd, Glebe
What: Great live music, delicious cocktail food, drink on arrival, raffles, games, great prizes, project info, farewell Donna before she leaves, and the chance to help a good cause!
RSVP: Christian 02-9818 8422 Payment by cheque/money order including contact details to:
Our Home - Iraq C/- Senator Aiden Ridgeway P.O Box 278 Rozelle, NSW, 2039
Our Home � Iraq is a grassroots aid group working on the ground in Iraq alongside Iraqi people. Its aim is to improve conditions for disadvantaged children in Iraq and provide opportunities for them to heal from trauma and reach their full potential. Australian woman, Donna Mulhearn, will return to Iraq in November to continue this work.
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 - Free Admission. OTHER
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.
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
On Sunday 28th November Sydney will celebrate Eureka Stockade with a forum and concert at the NSW Writers' Centre in Rozelle.
The day will start with a morning forum on the significance of Eureka with two guest speakers. One will be Dr Anne Beggs Sunter, Ballarat authority on the history of the Victorian goldfields and the Eureka Stockade. The other is Sydney historian Bob Walshe. Bob was secretary of the 1954 Sydney centenary celebration of Eureka and has been promoting the importance of Eureka in Australian history since that time.
In the afternoon there will be a Eureka150 concert based on historical and contemporary themes of Eureka. It will feature well-known artists including Lyn Collingwood, Alex Hood, Carole Skinner and John Dengate They will be backed by New Theatre and the voices of the Sydney Trade Union Choir.
The $10 charge for the day includes morning tea and a sausage sizzle lunch.
For further information contact
In VictoriaThe 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]
The turn against Labor I feel is mainly due to the younger generation not really knowing the real facts of what the Labor movement has done to bring the ordinary working class out of the dark ages.
Most were not born when the Unions had a real voice.
Whilst agreeing with Robert Manne (Age-Syd Morn Herald Mon 1-11-04)that Labor will now move to the right to try to pick up the middle ground they percieve to have lost I must also agree with Barry Jones that there is seemingly no difference between the Two main Parties anyway in Australia.I believe as Robert Manne says that the Left in Australia needs to get out of the Labor tent working with the community and various groups to continue the progressive cause.How to convince Doug Cameron of the AMWU,Sharan Burrow and Greg Combet of the ACTU,Leigh Hubbard Brian Boyd of Trades Hall,John Robertson NSW Trades and Labour Council,Dean Mighel ETU,Martin Kingham,John Maitland,John Sutton CFMEU,to release their constituents from the hold of the "Right Wing" ALP Powerlords and search for left wing life/purpose elsewhere is the problem.
As i have explained many times to various Union leaders and delegates in
Victoria since i myself resigned from the Public Office Selection Committee (POSC) in the ALP, the Left will take 50 years to stack branches,stack committees,stack votes in ballots etc to regain an equal footing/voice with the right but will never ever regain control of the party that the left itself started. (I resigned the POSC due to the Bracks Governments dealing with the Nurses and Police disputes and threatening to use the Federal Court system to intervene in negotiations (Not unlike Kennett or Howard Liberal governments i thought) and also the lack of assistance to my own home region Gippsland/Latrobe Valley,previous LABOUR HEARTLAND following privatisation
of the former SECV and the resulting spiraling unemployment and social impact including marriage breakdowns,Suicide,Youth Unemployment,Youth
Suicide etc.I then resigned from the party completely following the ALP and Beazleys weak and inept me too effort at the previous election with their overall policies but especially the policies on Refugees,Noodle Nation and Health etc).
I believe a united left wether that means the Labour movement joining an alliance with other left wing groups such as the Socialist Alliance,Greens,Indigenous Australians,Unemployed,Students etc or the Labour movement going it alone to win seats at the next federal election. A ticket could be used in preparation - practice at the next Victorian State Election and other upcoming State Elections.
If Left Wing candidates were to win several seats and i would be looking towards previous Labour Heartland as an ideal scenario to win, An example would be like in the previous New Zealand government which was a minority Labour Government made up with Green and Union seat winners to take Government. This way i believe would be the quickest and most practical way for the Left to regain a say in Australian politics. A Coalition not unlike the Liberal/Nat partnership.Win win for both sides as the ALP can then move to the Right to "snuggle up to business" and pick up the "Swinging Middle" whilst the Left can run an unimpeded agenda at grassroot politics something the Alp is ashamed to do or promote . The problem currently is Labor want to Court the Swinging middle and Business (again no different to Howard) but at the same time alienate and lose traditional heartland.
Lindsay Tanner is correct when he says Labor has to decide what and who it stands for.My "Divorce" or "Temporary Seperation" idea allows both sides Left/Right the opportunity to to represent the constituents they believe in and also to work out what and who they represent.
To end i do believe Right Wing White Collar acedemics has taken over and
ruined the Left Wing Blue Collar Party.
Now, talk of brands and markets may be close to sacrilege to some in the movement, but in an era where the benefits of joining a union have to be sold, sometimes in a hostile environment, it provides a useful framework for reviewing who we are and what we stand for.
A brand is not just a name or even a logo, it is shaped by every interaction between an organisation, its target audience and the general public.
When McDonalds shifts its focus from fried food to health food, advertising is not enough; it actually has to change its product; likewise no manner of reworking of image can rescue James Hardie until it addresses its crimes.
'Brand management' is something the corporate sector spends a lot of time and money on - it is not something that unions have done well - and didn't need to in an era when everyone joined as a matter of course. But in tougher times it is not just useful, it is essential.
The first step is talking to people - people who have chosen to join unions and people who have chosen not to - particularly the younger generation of workers who are less likely to join unions.
Over the past 12 months, that's exactly what the Labor Council has been doing, and it is the results of this research that is driving the decision to become 'Unions NSW'.
What was crystal clear from the research was that - surprise, surprise, people don't like politicians; but more disturbingly, they view Labor Council as a political organisation.
Here's a selection of quotes from the focus groups: "Sounds like a subsidiary of the Labor government"; " Part of the Labor Party" ; "Sounds like a political group."
And while this process started way before the federal election, exit polling polling conducted by Auspoll shows that the idea that union members will automatically vote Labor is a myth - in fact, less than half put the ALP first.
Of course, changing the name of the Labor Council to Unions NSW will not, in and of itself, change anything - but it is an important marker that the peak council sees itself as the champion of the union movement, first and foremost.
This does not mean that unions will not seek to play a role within the political party it created, if anything it provides a chance to differentiate itself and argue as a block, rather than a fragmented group of votes controlled by the factional warlords.
More important, this symbolic change provides an opportunity to recast unions in NSW - around where work is going and where workers can meaningfully organise themselves to get a better deal.
It is about looking at our core failures of fairness and equity and understanding how these ideals will play out in a very different world.
That's the discussion Union NSW will be sparking next month, with the visit of Robert Reich, the launch of the Working NSW think tank and a renewed focus on young workers.
As Reich points out in this month's interview, the challenges for workers in a nation like Australia will be profound as nations like China and India enter the global economy.
To Reich, unions have a key role in recognising these changes and equipping their members, not just to weather the onslaught, but to actually thrive - and that means a more creative response than just saying 'no'.
The challenge is to shape change and to do so, we need a clear picture of where we are headed, what sort of working lives our children will face if we don't act now.
As the environmental movement and the extreme right have done in recent years, we need an agenda beyond the political cycle that has the courage to imagine a union movement into the 21st century and beyond.
These are big, bold ideas, but the intellectual heavy lifting has to start now.