Unions say the move by peak business group the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its head Peter Hendy was akin to using ANZAC Day to call for war pensions to be reviewed.
"The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has no respect for workers at all, " says Unions NSW secretary John Robertson. "This is tasteless in the extreme."
"This hypocrisy needs to be condemned,' says Peter McClelland, NSW CFMEU president. "You only have to look at a union workplace to find a safer workplace.
"The plain objective of the ACCI is to de-unionise and restrict access of unions in the workplace."
ACCI chief Peter Hendy went on television to call for the overhaul of occupational health and safety laws as thousands of Australians gathered to remember colleagues, family and friends who have been killed at work.
Robertson joined NSW Premier Bob Carr, religious leaders and families of those killed at work at a ceremony in Sydney's Darling Harbour where a park and memorial was dedicated to the memory of workers killed on the job.
Andreia Jones-Viegas, who lost her husband Glen at a building site last year, addressed an emotional service, saying safety need to be a bigger priority for employers and governments.
"Everyone remembers ANZAC Day and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives," said Viegas. "But most people ignore the hundreds of Australian men and women who die each year fighting to put food on the table for their family. Men like my husband Glen.
"Every year more than 400 workers are killed, destroying their families. This figure will grow if the Federal government carries through its threat to restrict right of entry to union officials to inspect safety."
Gatherings around the nation echoed Andreia's call, reflecting growing concern by workers that proposed changes to workplace laws would compromise safety.
"All our wealth is based on the graves of workers who have perished,' said Premier Carr at the unveiling of the Reflection Park memorial. "Especially before there was decent OHS. You don't get those things without giving trade unions rights."
Five million workers in more than 100 countries took part in International Day of Mourning remembrance services around the globe.
Meatworkers union leader Kath Evans has hailed the decision as a "win for all workers across Australia" and a classic example of the "little guy taking on the big guy".
"This is a unanimous decision from a conservative bench,' says Evans. "We are delighted."
"What this means for workers is that if they are re-instated they will have a job and not simply be paid to 'go away'."
Stephen Blackadder, a boner at Ramsey's abattoir in Grafton, was sacked in September 1999 after he refused to move from his usual job of boning the hindquarters of pre-chilled carcases, to another job for which he was not fully trained and risked aggravating an existing injury.
On the previous day Blackadder had given evidence unfavourable to Ramsey in AIRC unfair dismissal proceedings involving another employee.
The high court found that Ramsay's had breached an AIRC reinstatement order when it put Blackadder back on the payroll but refused to provide him with work.
Justice Kirby of the High Court presumed that the boner believed his change in duties the day after the AIRC hearing was "more than coincidental".
"The [Workplace Relations] Act does not grant the employer the unilateral power to buy its way out of the obligations imposed on it under a valid law of the Parliament," he said.
"'Reinstate' means literally to put back in place," Justices Callinan and Heydon said in the court's leading judgment.
They said the issue at stake in the case was whether the WR Act's unfair dismissal provisions required an employer "to provide actual work" to a reinstated employee.
"The words 'reappoint' and 'position' should not be read in any restricted way."
Complaints about uncomfortable and poor quality pantihose have inspired the Flight Attendants Association to conduct a national survey of more than 1800 women who work on the Qantas' long haul routes.
Issues raised with the union include thermal discomfort and the dropping of the gusset causing heat rash and thrush.
"Panty hose is the flight attendants version of protective clothing," the FAAA's Andrew Smedley says.
"Our members are on their feet for excessive periods of time, they travel through multiple time zones and temperature zones so they need a quality product."
"We have no grievance with Qantas, we are collecting information so we can raise the argument on behalf of our members."
Qantas issues each attendant just 18 pairs of nylon-mix pantihose each year that must be worn for periods often exceeding 24 hours and re-used numerous times.
It is feared the ill fitting and uncomfortable garments could pose an occupational health and safety risk for the workers. Members also have the option of wearing trousers.
Meanwhile, fashion choices have returned to haunt a gaming room attendant who was told that because she posed in a bikini in a men's magazine and wore a mini skirt in public she has no right to refuse an order to wear revealing outfits at work.
The Federal Magistrate's Court told the attendant that throughout her employment at the Sydney hotel, she was never asked to do anything she was unwilling to do outside the workplace.
Telling the attendant that she had sex discrimination confused with sexual discrimination, Federal Magistrate Rolf Driver also dismissed allegations that her employer had sexually harassed her by pinching and squeezing her bottom and breast.
He said the evidence was unsatisfactory to uphold the claim but that 'something' had happened to upset her.
The LHMU said that although under the hotel award employers could dictate skirt lengths, if a worker feels the attire they are forced to wear is inappropriate they should be clear about their opinion and contact their union.
The managers, who have been labelled Dick Tracy and Co by workers, were lambasted by the industrial umpire, who described their actions as "disappointing".
One of the managers drove across Sydney from Sutherland to spend two and a half hours sitting in his car spying on workers on their picnic day.
Workers claim they have been photographed and shadowed in cloak and dagger style operations while they are going about their work.
Managers at council's Rooty Hill depot were accused of writing detailed reports on staff movements, taking photos, and "building a case" for dismissal against them.
The workers conducted a sit in at Blacktown Council's Rooty Hill depot after a worker was threatened with the sack after popping into a shop for five minutes.
The worker had been shadowed for two and a half hours by a manager; an act that has seen him labelled as "an industrial peeping Tom"
"The Award clearly states that managers must give instruction in the first instance," says Steve Donley from the United services Union (USU). "Management are saying they have the right to manage, but this is ridiculous."
"This is another example of the importance of award protection."
Donley said that if workers were doing the wrong thing then management should step in straight away.
Commissioner Bishop of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission chastised Blacktown Council's actions and ordered essential services staff to paid from 4pm on the day of the strike.
Under new uniform guidelines secured by the NSW Police Association, officers will no longer be obliged to wear ties while undertaking frontline operations.
The change, that will mean ties do not need to be worn with cargo pants during winter months, are the final stage in a modernisation of police uniforms that has been championed by the NSW Police Association for two years.
Whilst initially reluctant to accept the Association proposal, relentless advocacy and the obvious logic of the reform won over Police Commissioner Moroney.
NSW Police Association president Bob Pritchard today described the win as "a victory for common sense".
"This completes the transition from a ceremonial uniform to an operational uniform for frontline police," Pritchard says
"There is still most definitely a place for a ceremonial uniform at official functions such as funerals, parades and court hearings, but it is not appropriate for street policing.
Pritchard says there is something faintly absurd about expecting police to wear ties whilst having rocks thrown at them during incidents such as Macquarie Fields and Redfern.
"This solution gives frontline police a practical, user friendly uniform that will only improve their effectiveness in protecting the community."
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson outlined the program of events at the annual May Day Toast, calling on activists to look beyond traditional marches and rallies to connect with the community and shift public opinion.
"I do challenge those who see a lap of the city streets as the beginning and the end of the campaign to take a reality check," Robertson said.
"Because, if they think this is a battle that can be won with a placard and a chant, they are kidding themselves.
Instead, Unions NSW has developed a three-stage campaign to raise awareness of the changes, hold the government to account for its impact and build a base for rebuilding unions industrially and politically over the next electoral cycle.
Key events include:
- A state-wide delegates meetings on 27th May - to equip rank and file delegates with the tools to lead educate their workmates and the community about the impact of these highly technical and legalistic changes
- A week of workplace activity, culminating in the largest stop work meeting NSW has ever seen - beamed into every suburb and country town via Sky Channel on 1st July
- On the ground political campaigning - targeting marginal seats and getting rank and file workers to actually knock on doors and engage with the public
- Dialogue with churches, sporting and community organisations about the impact of the changes on workers' ability to be involved in community life
- And Australia's largest ever family picnic to highlight the threats these laws pose to family life, at Sydney Olympic Park, 7th August, the day before Parliament resumes.
Unions NSW is working to a campaign budget of almost $4 million - the largest ever campaign funded by the union movement in NSW.
The ambassadors - who are referred to as 'leaders' by the company - are arguing they should be considered employees and are entitled to the $18 an hour that a minimum rate award would deliver.
They are flocking to join the LHMU and have formed an 'Interested Leaders Group' to help raise awareness about their rough deal.
So far the company has refused to meet with the union except when they were forced by the Industrial Relations Commission and says it will not consider formalising an hourly rate for the leaders.
The leaders are currently paid from $27 to organise and conduct a two hour meeting which entails five hours work and the rest of their pay must be earned through a paltry commission system. It is not unusual for leaders to earn less than $10 commission or to go without if targets had not been met.
LHMU NSW President Jim Lloyd said it was now time for Weight Watchers to show some leadership in looking after their leaders who help the multinational move around $2billion worth of products each year.
"We're talking about people that are paid $27 to do 5 hours work. This is an
American style minimum wage."
Lloyd said the leaders were providing a valuable service for Australians and they deserved to be compensated appropriately.
"The LHMU is concerned about Australian health and fitness. With half of all
Australian adults categorised as obese these people are doing a vitally
important job for the health of our society."
Weight Watchers says it will outline the details of the offer it is prepared to make its leaders by the end of May.
Meanwhile the leaders are literally taking a stand in workplace meetings, where they are taking it in turns to stand up and announce to colleagues that they are now members of their union.
Almost half of all finance sector workers do unpaid overtime, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, adding up to almost half a million hours every week.
Based on the average hourly rate in the finance sector, this equates to $13.5 million in unpaid wages per week or $700 million a year.
Of the 132,200 employees who undertook overtime on a regular basis 23,000 would consistently perform more than 15 hours overtime a week.
The 1,171,000 hours of overtime worked each week represents a 19% increase between 2000 and 2003.
"These figures are staggering and reflect the amount of pressure finance workers are under as their employers seek to cut costs and demand greater output from less staff." The union's National Assistant Secretary, Cath Noye said
Last year the ABS revealed that overtime had increased 4% since 2000, to 37% of the workforce.
Just over a third of the overtime workers were paid expressly for those extra hours, with one in ten regularly doing unpaid overtime.
According to the ILO one in five Australian workers put in 50 or more hours per week.
Things Fall Apart
The growing issue of excessive hours will be examined at a special seminar being hosted by Unions NSW.
It brings together leading experts in the fields of ethics, family, work and social research to examine the effects of an increasing workload on society.
The seminar, Things fall Apart: What is work doing to families and community, is set down for the 3rd June 2005 at the Australian Museum Theatrette, College Street, Sydney
For more information, or to RSVP, contact Neale Towart at Unions NSW on 9264 1461, or email [email protected]
The Health Services Union released results of survey finding 82 per cent of people believed the Federal Government should set minimum staffing levels that no facility should go below.
HSU members working in Victoria and Tasmania were part of the group that gave evidence to the Senate inquiry hearing in Melbourne.
They told senators of the impact of staffing shortages on both themselves and the residents that they care for.
Alicia Anset and Bill Jacobs both told the committee that often staff were forced to work unpaid overtime or through their breaks to fill out the paperwork required in the facility because there were not enough staff.
HSU national secretary Craig Thomson says staff shortages are so bad it was not uncommon for one staff member to be left looking after more than 70 residents at night.
The Health Services Union is the union in aged care with members working in NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
Thomson also told senators that there was overwhelming public support for the introduction of minimum staffing levels into aged care facilities.
The major overhaul of cleaning contractors comes as the Victorian LHMU announced a $15 million agreement with the state government.
"This will bring to a dead halt the cancerous spread of dodgy contractors in our school system," says LHMU Victoria Branch Secretary Brian Daley. "School cleaning in the State's 1600 government schools has been under-resourced for a long time."
"The Bracks government has now shown its commitment to lifting cleaning standards in schools with this $15 million budget injection.
"Dodgy contractors will no longer be able to operate in government schools."
The key changes include a rigorous screening process to make sure only the highest-standard contractors can clean schools as well as substantial injection of new funds - to keep schools clean and make sure cleaners are paid the legal minimum rates.
"These changes will protect more than 3000 state school cleaners from unscrupulous operators, and protect school communities from contractors that take taxpayer money, but then cut corners on keeping schools clean."
Under the new screening system, contractors will need to 'pre-qualify' with the State Government before bidding on school contracts.
Only companies that demonstrate compliance with workplace laws and cleaning standards will pass through the screening.
In order to continue to clean schools, contractors must agree to ongoing auditing of their practices by the State Government.
The LHMU has worked with the Department of Education & Training, parents, principals and school councils to formulate these solutions to the school-cleaning crisis.
Legislation that limits resources will ultimately undermine the attractiveness of Australian universities to the multi-billion dollar international student market, says the National Tertiary Education Union.
NTEU president Dr Carolyn Allport said access to services provided by institutions was a major selling point for Australian universities.
"Universities face limited choices if they cannot charge a fee for these services. They will either have to fund them from their own scarce resources, farm them out to private providers who will provide them on a full cost commercial basis, or not provide them at all," she said.
"Student organisations make a crucial contribution to a dynamic, democratic and creative educational environment in our universities, provide a range of essential support services and facilities and give students a representative voice and participatory role in the governance of their institutions."
Meanwhile National Union of Students president Sarah Collins said there was little doubt that students would not pay union fees if they didn't have to.
She said that just as people would not pay their taxes if they weren't required to, students would treat voluntary union fees the same way.
A Sydney rally to protest plans for axing compulsory student unionism this week attracted up to 4000 people. The rally coincided with other activities throughout the country, held as part of a national day of action.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says East Timor deserves a fair go and a fair share of the billions of dollars being earned from the Timor Sea oil and gas reserves.
Burrow says it is also in Australia's best interests to have a prosperous and stable East Timor as our neighbour.
The ACTU is calling on the Australian Government to stop short changing the East Timorese on maritime boundaries and government royalties.
"It is essential that East Timor enjoys an equitable share of the anticipated $8 billion of downstream benefits from these projects," Burrow says.
The placement of a maritime boundary between East Timor and Australia will determine which country receives about $40 billion dollars in government royalties from the Greater Sunrise field.
But in addition to government revenue, there is also the economic benefit of on-shore infrastructure and investment to take into account.
"These long term projects will potentially generate thousands of jobs and bring with them numerous flow-on benefits to the local communities," Burrow says.
"The ACTU recognises that such development would enable East Timor to escape continued poverty and to build a sustainable industry."
Union Aid Abroad APHEDA raffle
The annual Union Aid Abroad APHEDA raffle is on again. There are wonderful prizes including an around the world trip for two and the proceeds go to UAA-APHEDA's work to help build human rights, workers' rights and justice in developing countries. If you can sell a book of tickets to friends, family and workmates please contact UAA - APHEDA on tel. 1800 888 674 or by email [email protected]
The raffle closes on June 2nd with the winner drawn on June 16th.
Amnesty International Australia (AIA) NSW trade union group
Alison Peters is keen to establish a AIA trade union group in NSW. The group would work on campaigns where people have suffered human rights abuses for establishing, joining or belonging to trade unions and also to involve NSW unions more broadly in AIA's campaigns. If you are interested give her a call on 0425 231 814 or email her at [email protected]
will be shown in Sydney Fri 29 April, Sat 30 Apr and Sun 1 May.
NEW AUSTRALIAN DOCO JUDGED AUSTRALIA'S "DOWN UNDER FAHRENHEIT 9/11" Variety International
Pabrikproductions in association with Mediaworld present a three night screening of
A film by Tahir Cambis and Helen Newman
Anthem is a quest for nothing less than Australia‚s soul and maybe our most important film ever." Encore magazine
In 2000 Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Tahir Cambis and Helen Newman embarked on a personal quest spanning four years and five continents. The result: Anthem, a controversial documentary movie that is a dramatic, intimate witness to people‚s lives caught up in the age of the War on Terror.
Including commentators and characters such as Julian Burnside QC, Tony Kevin, Paul McGeough, Tim Page, Phillip Ruddock and John Howard Anthem combines live action with on-the-spot reportage as it presents the viewer with the devastating consequences and acts of resistance to the "War on Terror‚" From a bounty hunter in Kabul to 9/11 families in New York; from war correspondents in Baghdad to refugees in Australia; the filmmakers take the viewer to the frontline of history.
Anthem explores the very stories and issues that constantly dominant our news: detention centres, the war on terror, our relationship with America.
Funded by the Australian people through the Australian Film Commission and Film Victoria, Anthem is a timely opportunity to review the course of our recent history and the costs of the path we have chosen. Yet apart from emotionally charged screenings at film festivals Anthem has been ignored by distributors and broadcasters. "Never has a film been so fatheadly neglected by the ABC and SBS, its natural homes." Bob Ellis
Screened in 2004 at the Sydney Film Festival to a standing ovation Anthem can now be seen at
The Screening Room on April 29th, 30th and May 1st.
Accompanying each session will be special guest speakers followed by a lively post film discussion with the filmmakers. The Friday night opening will be focused on the role of filmmakers and independent media producers as critical tools in shaping vital public discourse.
"Anthem doesn't just shake the fence, it completely destroys it." Sydney Film Festival
Anthem places itself within the frame, aiming a critical lens on the role and responsibility of filmmakers and wider media in generating public discourse and maintaining strong convictions in the face of creeping censorship across the industry. Independent media producers and filmmakers are encouraged to attend and be part of this much needed debate. Each evening will commence at 7pm for a 7.30pm screening and cost $10 entry donation.
MAY DAY TOAST
7pm Thursday 28th April at the South Sydney Leagues Club, 256 Chalmers St, Sydney. Cost is $20 each and bookings/inquiries can be made to Jaime Midson on 9265 8438.
MAY DAY MARCH
Unionists are asked to assemble from 11am on Sunday 1st May in Hyde Park North with the march starting at 12 noon. Speakers are John Robertson (Unions NSW), Maree O'Halloran (NSW Teachers' Federation), Senator Kerry Nettle and Hannah Middleton (peace activist)
May Day Lunch with Eric Aarons
Produced by Casula Powerhouse Arts centre
Our annual May Day lecture explores how we might instigate change in a vastly different world from that in which May Day demonstrations were first born. In 2005, Eric Aarons will present a discussion about our value systems, global economies, religion, environment and egalitarianism.
Author and sculpture, Eric Aarons, has lived in China and travelled to the Soviet Union, Cuba, Chile and Vietnam. Eric has held some of the highest positions in the Australian Communist Party. His unique perspective is retold in his body of writing and critical thought, including Philosophy for an Exploding World, What's left? and What's Right?
"Perhaps more than any other time, there is today an essential role for rational thought; there is reality to study and grapple with; there are worthwhile, indeed essential things that can be done. Our values tell us what is worthwhile, and the passion with which we hold to them provides the motivation to tackle the tasks involved."
- Eric Aarons, What's Left?, Penguin, 1993.
Neale Towart from Unions NSW will facilitate the program. Join Eric and Neale afterwards, over lunch, for further discussion of his ideas and the role of May Day in contemporary Australia.
WHERE Liverpool Regional Museum
Cnr Hume Hwy and Congressional Drive Liverpool
WHEN Monday, 2 May 2005
11am - 2pm
COST $10 per head (includes lunch)
RSVP Please RSVP by Wednesday, 27 April 2005.
Black Diamonds and Dust
Greg Bogaerts' Black Diamonds and Dust will be launched at the Emerging Writers' Festival
by Overland Editor
Saturday May 7 at 4.30 pm
at the Victoria Hotel
215 Little Collins St
Please visit this site for more information
please rsvp if you intend to come to the launch
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA Study Tour
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA is inviting applications for of East Timor a study tour between July 17th and 24th. The ideal participant will be active in the Australian trade union movement, deeply committed to international solidarity, and keen to investigate the effectiveness of APHEDA projects in East Timor. An ability to have fun and enjoy warm weather is also a must!
The cost of the study tour is $2,050 which includes airfare ex-Darwin, accommodation, in-country transport, interpreter services, breakfasts and the study tour itself. For more information about contact Thomas Michel (02) 9264 9343, 0410 814 360
Will there be no end to the onslaught upon those must vulnerable in our society by the oppressive regime of the Howard Government.
This oppression legitimised through association with pseudo Christian conglomerates such as the Salvation Army.
I refer to the recent proposed assault on the long term unemployed, as reported in the ABC Online 'Dole cheats' may face payment suspensions'.
As one who has (not through choice) recently been long-term unemployed 3 years in fact, and experienced the behaviours of the Salvation Army Employment Plus, I would suggest that this are the last organisation that should be provided with taxpayers dollars, for any reason. Of course this Employment Plus is a separate entity from the Salvation Army Œper se‚.
The outrageous statement from Work Force Participation Minister Peter Dutton says tougher action on dole cheats is needed; this in its self is an unfair labelling of long term unemployed
I had a Social Contract with the Australian Government, that I would work and pay my taxes, and in return, there would be safety nets in place, I have for almost 40 years maintained without complaint my part of this contract, it is now that the Howard Government attempts to renege on this Contract, a behaviour not inherent in persons of integrity.
What really left me agape was the statements from the Salvation Army Employment Plus John Dalziel, stating that:‰ they deal with a small percentage of people who are dispirited and despondent because they have been trying to unsuccessfully for an extended period of time to get a job‰-„When we work with them about their feelings of alienation they will be persuaded to go for jobs that have some potential of them getting.‰ He said
Unfortunately my experience with this particular Job Network provider was: the catalyst to these very feelings of which this spokesman referred to, these feeling culminating in extreme depression.
During my interactions with this Job Network Provider, I felt continually demeaned.
This relationship ended when , this job network provider , recommended my payments be suspended , because I refused to sign a false statement , my appeals to the Social Security Tribunal although successful , caused not only distress but additional loss of self esteem.
It is my honest belief that this organisation is totally unsuited to benefit from the Australian Tax Dollar and one only needs to give a cursory glace to the Social Security Act, compared it to the Crimes Act, to realise that to adhere to one is in breach of the other.
Also, I would query why, in a secular society, is preferential treatment being given to a Christian Sect.
On the one hand, we see our Prime Minister presiding over the solemn Dawn Service at Gallipolli, squeezing every ounce of political capital from the sacrifices of our forebears.
On the other we see one his key ministers, Kevin Andrews, helping employers hijack the workers memorial day, blaming the victims of workplace accidents for their own misfortune.
It was a tacky and disrespectful play from a government with too much power in its hands; a government that is marching to the tune of an employer lobby itself lurching further to the Right, driven by ideologues like Peter Reith's old henchman Peter Hendy, the author of this week's outrage.
My question is how can you extract so much political capital from respecting one group of dead Australians, while trashing the memories of another group of dead Australians?
As Premier Bob Carr observed at this week's Sydney ceremony: "our wealth is based on the graves of workers who have perished; especially before there was decent OH&S. You don't get those things without giving trade unions rights."
In this context, aren't these workers just as deserving of respect from those they built the nation for as our fallen soldiers?
Adding insult to the death and injury, is the substance of the employer proposal - to remove the notion of strict liability in occupational health and safety.
The effect of this change would be that where an accident occurs, instead of this being proof of an employer failing to provide a safe place of work, it would spark a legal attack on the behaviour of the unfortunate victim of the accident.
It is the legal of equivalent of the principle "Guns Don't Kill Ducks, Ducks Kill Ducks".
And it wasn't just ACCI desecrating workers' graves this week. Career One's Kate Southam opined that the reason we work unpaid overtime is thanks to the 'Anzac spirit'.
Maybe, Kate's not that far off the mark. After all, if the ACCI plan to neuter OH&S laws gets up, going to work will be a bit like navigating a minefield.
And Kevin Andrews is still working on laws that will turn industrial relations into trench warfare, with unions blocked from workplaces and workers on minimum rations.
It was no coincidence that the last Anzac, Alec Campbell, who died in 2002 amidst much national media hype, was also an active unionist who served as president of the Launceston Trades Hall.
The link between service to country, mateship and workplace unions has always been strong, but it is a reality this government would expunge from the history books.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we should remember them.