The Hooway Henwy from central casting gets a gong this week, but it's not one of the Falun vawiety, wather he is wewarded with the Tool Shed after a masterful display of self-interested political expediency.
Is there any wonder that he is weferred to as the Foweign Minister, as most of what happens in his Ministry is foreign to him.
Lord Downer of Baghdad likes to see himself as the champion of the oppwessed.
Just last month he was up at Eawle Page Cowwedge in the Northern Tablelands weminding the descendants of Austwalia's Bunyip Awistocwacy of why Black Jack McKewan's Countwy party wouldn't trust the Libwal party as far as they could comfowtably spit them out.
It was Menzies who stood fiwm against the onslaught of Nazism, according to Lord Downer and he's reading of Rin Tin TIn, while the Quislings from the ALP ran off mouthing their admiwation for Hitler and Mussuwini.
Or was it the other way awound?
Oh well, who cares. Daddy was there. He soon sorted things out.
None of this sucking up to foweign wascals for him!
And so Downer the Lesser follows in the bwave family footsteps by vanquishing evildoers and stamping out tywanny.
Well, most of the time.
You see, the problem is all these opwessive governments are just so damnably lucwative.
So if one of those little Chinese chaps stawts doing a Petrov and twying to come in fwom the cold when we're about to sign off on a deal that will give us cheap T shirts, runners and Oyster sauce until the end of time, it's all damnably inconvenient as I'm sure you will all undewstand.
Spooks and all that are all jolly good and vewy exciting, but if they want to have 1000 spies opewating here that's their business. The Foweign Minister can't be expected to be wesponsible for what's happening here, that's why he's the Foweign Minister.
The Foweign Minister is more into the exciting stuff like Iwaq, where were libewating people back to the Stone Age.
Besides, no one seems to mind how many spies our good friends the US has opewating here.
And the head boy, Costewwo, keeps rewinding us all that we mustn't let those pesky little issues stand in the way of a handsome weturn on capital.
And the Chinese cewtainly have an admiwable way of dealing with those gwubby little upstawts fwom the unions.
Put them against the wall and have them all shot, just like daddy would do, or that strange fellow fwom Sydney, the Catholic chap, Abbot. All vewy sensible.
Besides, Alex is vewy fond of the Peking Duck.
Yes, Bwave Lord Downer, when faced with an issue of standing fiwm on human wights or capitulating to a fast buck is sure to fold faster than Superman on laundry day.
Such a stwong, firm, pwincipled Tool.
After hearing months of evidence, the seven-member bench chaired by Justice Geoffrey Giudice, accused the Federal Government of putting forward a submission that breached its own laws and would have pitched many people into poverty.
The bench rejected big business claims, echoed by Prime Minister John Howard and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews, that it didn't pay sufficient attention to employment levels.
In delivering a $17 a week increase for Australia's lowest paid, it was critical of the Government's failure to supply it with information about the number of Australians dependent on the minimum wage, despite repeated requests to do so.
Mr Giudice said the Commission was bound to consider impacts on employment, living standards, inflation and international competitiveness.
In the last 10 years, he said, productivity had risen 25 percent; economic growth 35 percent; while, significantly, the number of employed Australians had increased 19 percent; and the number of unemployed had fallen 26 percent.
"In light of the growth in employment over the past eight years and the fact that unemployment has declined to its lowest level in 28 years, it would be difficult to accept that the commission's safety net adjustments have been excessive," the Commission said.
It said the Government's call for an $11 a week minimum wage increase, would have seen Australia's lowest-paid workers fail to keep pace with inflation.
This year's minimum wage claim, run on behalf of 1.6 million people by the ACTU, is expected to be the last.
Federal Government has unveiled plans to sideline the IRC as an "independent umpire" and replace it with a hand-picked committee to review the figure "periodically". The committee, to be known as the Fair Pay Commission, is expected to slash minimum wage growth in line with Coalition policy.
If the IRC had accepted government submissions, since Howard's 1996 election, Australia's lowest paid workers would be $2600 a year worse off.
The government delivered the IRC a final snub by refusing to show up for this week's decision.
Andrews said there we "no obligation" on the Government to respect tradition in the matter.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) spokesman, Scott Barklamb, said the rise would undermine the ability of employers to hire new staff.
Barklamb said he was pleased the Australian Industrial Relations Commission would make way for a new system, more attuned to employer desires.
ACCI chief, Peter Hendy, said he was "disappointed" at the extra money being directed at the low paid and that the ruling underscored the "urgent need to reform minimum wages".
Last year, the ACCI argued the low paid should get no increase as many of the chief executives it represented trousered hikes in excess of $8000 a week.
Disappointment at the size of the minimum wage movement was also expressed by representatives of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and Australian Industry Group (AIG).
The government's new minimum wage monitoring body, the Fair Pay Commission, is almost exactly what the BCA and AIG requested in submissions to the federal government earlier this year.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, predicted the Commission would be "stacked" with government supporters and, as a result, the low paid would cop effective pay cuts.
"The Fair Pay Commission is like something out of George Orwell," Combet said. "It's a joke."
CFMEU legal officer, Jesse Madisson, said evidence of "coercion" was being evaluated after six national building companies defied Canberra to agree on a draft three-year agreement.
The EBA, which retains the 36-hours week and delivers 13 percent wage movements, is expected to be signed by Multiplex, Bovis Lend Lease, LU Simon, ProBuild, and Baulderstone Hornibrook in the next few days.
"The underlying basis of the Workplace Relations Act is that parties should be free to reach agreements," Madisson says. "The Act forbids third party interference but the federal government has interfered, openly and aggressively, ever since we started negotiating.
"They have put every obstacle possible in our path and were still making threats this week.
"There has been an enormous amount of pressure placed on companies in an effort to stop them dealing with the CFMEU.
"We will be assessing individual cases with a view to exercising the legal remedies available to us."
The Government was desperate to get building companies to hold off negotiations until new industrial relations laws, limiting workers' rights and introducing harsh penalties, had been enacted.
Based on the discredited Cole Royal Commission, it has already enacted building industry specific laws, making almost any form of industrial action, including meetings, illegal.
These laws include gaol terms and fines of up to $22,000 for individual building workers, and fines of $110,000, per breach, for their unions.
They will be enforced by a special building industry police force with the power to over-ride basic civil rights. The Building Industry Commission can interrogate workers, order them to hand over documents and deny them the right to silence.
It may order a building worker not to divulge anything that transpires during an interrogation session to anyone but his/her lawyer.
The $65 Cole Commission lost its final shred of credibility, last week, when Building Industry Commission boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, admitted more than a year of investigations and hearings had resulted in just one prosecution, Australia-wide.
Former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, justified the taxpayer-funded Commission by claiming the industry was blighted by corruption and standover tactics.
Since the CFMEU began negotiations on a new EBA, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has urged employers not to deal; written letters offering support to those who held out; and even threatened to deny companies starts on multi-million dollar federal contracts.
The government has devised its own building industry code and threatened to black blacklist employers who negotiate outside its parameters.
In a last-ditch effort to derail the Victorian agreement, Andrews was this week threatening to over-rule advice from his own department that the draftagreement was code compliant.
Madisson said the government was gearing-up for an all-out assault on building workers' living standards.
"That's why this agreement is important," he said. "It locks in the terms and conditions of our members for another three years."
A motion before this weekend’s state ALP conference urges the Carr Government to use its power to back workers rights to the same extent that the Feds promote employer interests.
"We expect state Labor governments to fight for the rights to collectively bargain with the same vigour that the Howard government is foisting its AWA agenda on businesses it deals with," Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, says.
"Mr Carr has boasted that his legislation is the most balanced in the country, so we want him to do all in his power to abide by it and defend it."
The union proposal would also enshirine collective bargaining rights on all state government-funded projects.
The move will sidestep Federal government attempts to force workers on infrastructure projects onto individual contracts and would underpin state industrial relations laws.
Business Dole Queried
In a separate motion to be debated at the conference Unions NSW is calling for a review of businesses trousering taxpayers' money.
While welcoming Carr's injection of $35 billion into infrastructure, unions are concerned about the Public Private Partnership model, saying such moves have safety risks and will cost taxpayers.
"We're concerned that Public Private Partnerships can develop into a form of welfare for business," says Unions NSW secretary John Robertson. "We have to be sure that they don't degenerate into privatisation by the back door."
The issue has come to a head around a Public Private Partnership proposal to contract out maintenance of rail rolling stock in defiance of a deal struck between rail unions and the state government.
Rail workers discovered a secret plan by Railcorp to privatise maintenance workshops at Goulburn when the details were left on a fax machine.
"This is a dangerous gamble with rail safety, rail worker's jobs and reliability of services," says Nick Lewocki from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), who pointed to the failure of such arrangements overseas.
Unions have put forward eleven points that must be met before the ALP will support a proposed Australia-China Free Trade Agreement.
"Chinese labour activists continue to be detained in brutal conditions for simply organising to demand the payment of unpaid wages," reads the motion, which is jointly sponsored by Doug Cameron from the AMWU and Russ Collison from the AWU.
It slams the "Howard Government's capitulation to Chinese Government pressure to gain market status".
Both the European Union and the United States have consistently refused to recognise China as a market economy.
The state ALP's policy making body will be told there is "an obligation in all trade arrangements to respect core labour standards" and that poor labour standards and an undervalued currency provide an unfair trading advantage to the Chinese economy.
Crime syndicates based in Lebanon using flag of convenience vessels are offering bargain-basement freight rates and then simply making off with the cargo.
The vessels load up as legit before doing a name and flag change at sea and fencing the goodies through other ports.
The Federal Government has flagged a security crackdown on waterfront workers, while allowing flag of convenience crews in unchecked.
"there is no point getting security checks for Australian workers, if guest workers are allowed onto our coast without any effective way of screening them or the owners of the vessels they are bringing into our ports," says Robert Coombs from the MUA. "
So concerned is the US over the record of flag of convenience ships, that it has continued to refuse them any access to its coastal trade as a security risk.
"Yet this government is hell bent on opening up our coast and letting these same ships in - even allowing them to ship volatile cargoes such as ammonium nitrate on our coast," said Mr Coombs. "Fraud is so widespread in the international shipping industry that criminals can buy jobs on ships. And we've had Immigration reporting last year that over 100 seafarers have jumped ship in Australian ports since July 1, 2001 - with some still at large.
Flag of Convenience shipping has a long criminal record for drug smuggling, gun running, people smuggling, environmental and labour abuse and now terrorism, according to the MUA, and poses a greater threat to security than waterfront workers.
"You can't put a container in your workbag and go home," says Robert Coombs.
The blunders are a serious stumbling block to Foxtel's digital rollout and telephony corporates are looking around for someone to blame.
Foxtel has pointed the finger at its parent company, Telstra, which, in turn, is trying to level hefty fines on independent contractors.
CEPU (Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union) rep Shane Murphy said under-resourced contractors would fight back.
"If they attempt to fine these guys, or send them back at no charge, we will be calling a meeting and seeing where we go from there," Murphy said.
"One key reason for last year's strike was to get training on new technology.
"The company agreed but nothing has happened. Most of these guys hadn't worked in telephony before and they are expected to go into people's homes, cut into phone lines, then connect the phone lines back to the digital boxes.
"It's specialist work and, to do it properly, you need a minimum of a fortnight's training. Telstra gives them two hour in the classroom and sends them out."
The independents are at the bottom of a pyramid contracting operation that has been used to slash rates, conditions and training.
Foxtel contracts its cable connections to two international firms, ABB and Siemens Theiss, who, in turn, contract to Telstra, which subcontracts the work to independent operators.
Its satellite connections are contracted to BSA and Downer, then Telstra, then the independents.
Rates at the bottom had been screwed down so far that, since 2003, more than 800 installers joined the CEPU and fought collectively to improve their situations.
Last year they struck, picketed and blockaded corporate on the way to earning installation rate increases of up to 33 percent.
Soon after the contractors rolled Telstra and Foxtel, the federal government announced legislation that would make it illegal for them to have union representation in the ACCC, where contract disputes are heard.
Murphy says the "independent contractors bill", proposed by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, would leave the installers fighting commercial giants, like Foxtel and Telstra, single-handed.
Unions NSW, which co-ordinated a three-year campaign for harsher penalties in the wake of several preventable workplace deaths, has welcomed the measure.
Assistant secretary, Mark Lennon, said the law should be seen as preventative, rather than an enforcement measure.
"We congratulate all parties involved in this step forward for health and safety," he said.
"It has been a long but worthwhile process. Our hope is that it will improve workplace safety to the point where penalty provisions never have to be used."
The Government Bill was passed after the Upper House accepted a Greens amendment that will see it reviewed by the Law Reform Commission, after three years.
Under its provisions, Workcover will have the power to prosecute "reckless" employers. Individual employers convicted of recklessly causing death can be gaoled for up to five years or fined $165,000.
Corporations can be fined up to $165,000.
Employees jailed under its provisions will have access to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The legislation was strongly opposed by employers, the National Farmers Federation and the Liberal Party.
The union is making a submission to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission calling for the axing of the meagrely-paid first year apprentice level, which is turning young people off a career in the trade.
If adopted, new apprentices would go straight to a second year apprentice rate, seeing the average wage for apprentices increase $80 per week.
But the increased wage for first year chippies will still be $40 lower than the wage for an 18-year-old McDonalds employee.
At the moment, an 18-year-old in Melbourne would be $135 a week better off if they worked at McDonalds rather than become an apprentice carpenter.
National secretary of the CFMEU, John Sutton, said the low wage rate was a major reason for the ten per cent drop in building apprentices in the last 15 years, leading to a skills crisis.
Fourth year apprentice carpenter David Baker, from Sydney, said he knew 10 people who had left their apprenticeships to work in other fields because of the low pay in often dangerous work.
"You think why am I doing this for this amount of money," Baker said.
Meanwhile the AMWU has welcomed a discussion paper from the Queensland Government which identifies low apprentice wages as a major problem in the skill shortage.
The service which helps between 2000 and 3000 working women every year has been forced to close its doors due to a funding freeze and continuous uncertainly about Government support.
The Working Women's Centre is the state's only independent provider of free industrial legal advice for non union women. It is funded by the NSW and Federal Governments and supported by a range of unions and individuals.
This week the Centre said it had no choice but to close after the Federal Government refused repeated requests for a funding boost and failed to confirm any money would be available until almost the day last year's funds were due to run out.
Unions NSW deputy assistant secretary and Working Women's Centre treasurer Alison Peters said it was a deliberate tactic on the part of the Liberal Government to hold back on funding in order to choke unwanted services.
"It is no coincidence that on the eve of launching the greatest attack of workers' right in Australia's history, the Howard Government has cut off assistance to those who will be hardest hit."
"This is about gagging dissent on unfair laws and stripping workers of every protection."
Working Women's Centre Chair Rae Cooper said it was the state's most disadvantaged women who would be hardest hit by the closure.
She said the major clients of the service were low paid casual, part-time and permanent workers who were not members of their union and were unable to afford to hire a private solicitor.
Of the thousands of women helped every year by the service about one third were experiencing pregnancy related discrimination, whether it be outright sackings, problems returning to work following maternity leave, or being blocked from accessing flexible work arrangements.
Cooper said bullying, unfair dismissals, and underpayment of wages were also major issues, with demand for the Centre's services increasing every year.
Doors are set to close at the Centre from Wednesday 30 June.
Forty gardeners and service staff went out on the grass over pay differences of several thousand dollars a year less than other public sector workers doing the same job.
As they sat outside the gates of the Governor general's official residence, Yarrulumba, tucking into cucumber sandwiches, senior officials of the Governor general's department agreed to bring the staff into line with other public sector workers.
Vince McDevitt from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says that achieving "pay-parity" with workers in other parts of the public service doing similar jobs was the key issue.
"The pay rates in the Office of the Governor General are generally around 4% behind other departments doing comparable work," says McDevitt. "For example, a gardener working in Government House grounds is paid several thousand dollars a year less than a gardener doing the same job at Parliament House."
Mr McDevitt said the protest came after nine months of unsuccessful talks over pay for the 80 or so gardeners, butlers and catering staff working for Major-General Jeffery.
The current agreement expired in March and the staff had rejected a previous offer as "inadequate".
Office of the Governor General staff are at pains to point out that their succesful protest action is directed at senior management, not the Governor General who is held in high personal regard by staff.
Victims of bullying at work, perpetrators, and concerned citizens are being asked to share their experiences to help stamp out future attacks.
The University of NSW is conducting a bullying survey that will form the basis for future workplace training programs and education materials.
PHD student Paula Saunders says the results will help clarify people's understanding of bullying, the cultures in which it persists, and how it can best be dealt with.
All answers are confidential and participants will remain anonymous.
The web based survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and can be accessed at http://www.psy.unsw.edu.au/BullyingSurvey
For more details contact Paula Saunders at [email protected] or (02) 9385 3457
They will join unions and church groups in a community forum in Sydney on June 18.
Speakers include Greens politicians Kerry Nettle and Lee Rhiannon, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union's Doug Cameron and Uniting Care's Reverend Ann Wansbrough.
Rhiannon said the forum would aim to show people the changes planned, which will see reduced wages and the axing of overtime and shift allowances.
"If the Prime Minister thinks the community is going to roll over and watch people's working conditions disappear overnight - he's got another thing coming."
The Workers Rights, Union Rights, Your Rights forum will be held from 2pm to 5pm at the Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills.
For more information contact Kristian Bolwell on 9230 3551 or 0411 638 320.
The eight have been allowed by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to stay on award conditions until September after holding out from pressure to sign individual contracts.
Eighteen workers aged 18- to 25-years-old were outsourced recently by their employer to a labour agency, which tried to force them to sign the contracts.
Two have since resigned, while eight signed the contracts.
Justice Kavanagh of the Industrial Relations Commission agreed the remaining eight workers could remain under their existing award conditions until a claim of victimisation can be heard in September.
National Union of Workers spokesman Mark Ptolemy said the agreement took pressure off the workers for the time being.
"The company and the agency have failed in their attempts to bully and rush these young workers.
"The NUW will stand by the workers and will protect them against an aggressive agency and heartless employer."
The Wages of Spin
From the company behind the smash hit stage production of the
"Children Overboard" Inquiry, CMI: version 1.0 presents
The Wages of Spin
Does it matter we went to war on a lie?
Sydney: May 20 - Jun 5 Canberra: July 20 - 30
> "You went abroad in our name on a just cause.... Thank you from Australia." - John Howard
> "Nobody knows, nobody has asked and nobody even tries to establish what the level of casualties might be. That is true, isn't it?" - Senator John Faulkner, Senate Estimates Committee
> There is no point in producing information that may be misleading or unhelpful." - Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill, in response.
Last year Sydney's version 1.0 went overboard with its surreal and gut-wrenching CMI (A Certain Maritime Incident), taking the transcript of the Senate's "Children Overboard" Inquiry as a performance text. Now the company has turned its attention to the war on Iraq, and the fabricated (and shifting) justifications for it, with a new show, The Wages of Spin (Performance Space, May 20 - June 5).
The Wages of Spin is political theatre, version 1.0 style - playful, surreal, visceral and tragic, with no easy answers. There may be casualties. There certainly will be liberties taken with the found texts. So, in the words of a thousand arts journos and a thousand PR hacks, what can the audience expect to see? Expect to see kittens in gift-wrapped boxes, flag gags, fake blood, shock-and-awe slapstick and Benny Hill-esque puns about weapons of mass destruction. Expect to laugh... until you're confronted with the horrors of POW interrogations. Expect to see some serious grappling with the horrific possibility that the Right may have been right... the war may have been a good thing.
The Wages of Spin plays to Sydney's chardonnay set at Performance Space (May 20 - June 5), before entertaining Canberra's political elites at The Street Theatre (July 20 -30). Bookings: Sydney, 02 9698 7235 or [email protected], Canberra 02 6247 1223.
Artists Performer/Devisers: Stephen Klinder, Deborah Pollard & David Williams Dramaturgy: Paul Dwyer Outside Eye: Yana Taylor Lighting: Simon Wise Video: Sean Bacon Sound: Gail Priest Producer: Harley Stumm
Sydney Performance Space, 199 Cleveland St Redfern. 20 May - 5 June (Wed - Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm) Tix $25/20/15. Bookings: 02 9698 7235 or [email protected]
Canberra The Street Theatre, Cnr Childers St & University Ave. July 20 - 30 (Tue - Sat 8pm + 2pm matinee, Sat 30th) Tix $29/24. Bookings: 02 6247 1223
Media Info Harley Stumm 0411 330 654 or [email protected]
Print-friendly Attachment contains more info about version 1.0 & the artists
Worried about Howard's anti-union laws?
Don't miss the ... National Union Fightback Conference
Saturday, 11 June, 8.30am
Trades Hall, Melbourne
(cnr Lygon St and Victoria Pde, Carlton South)
A national gathering of trade unionists to discuss building resistance to the Howard government's anti-union laws. Our aim is to develop organisation among active unionists across Australia.
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS AND PARTICIPANTS -
· Martin Kingham (Vic secretary)
· Kevin Reynolds (WA secretary)
· Joe McDonald (WA asst secretary)
· Chris Cain (WA secretary)
· Steve Dargavel (Vic metal division secretary)
· Bronwyn Halfpenny (Vic food division secretary)
· Craig Johnston (former Vic metal division secretary)
· Joan Doyle (Vic P and T branch secretary)
· Dean Mighell (Vic secretary)
· Qld branch representative
· Matthew McGowan (Vic NTEU division secretary)
· Marisa Bernardi (NSW organiser)
· Jenny Kruschel (Vic TCFU assistant secretary)
· Tim Gooden (Geelong and region TLC acting secretary)
· John Parker (Gippsland TLC secretary)
· Northern Rivers Union Network (NSW) representative
· Senator Kerry Nettle
· Sam Watson (Qld)
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: Mike Treen (UNITE, New Zealand)
Initiated by Socialist Alliance
Initial sponsors: Michele O'Neil (Vic TCFU secretary); Union Solidarity Group; Northern Rivers Union Network (NSW); Teachers Alliance (Vic); Jim Keogh (MUA Veterans Association Southern Branch secretary); Ken McBride (MUA Veterans Associations Southern Branch assistant secretary; Community Radio 3CR; 3CR's industrial affairs program Strikeback; 3CR's On the Picket Line; national community radio's trade union show Stick Together Show; Members First (CPSU-federal activist group)
9am Opening Plenary: How will the Howard agenda impact and who's in the firing line?
10.30-12 noon Workshops:
o Challenging anti-union laws: lessons in victory & defeat from the 1997 union campaign in Western Australia and New Zealand in the 1990s
o Froim the Clarrie O'Shea campaign to the MUA dispute - where unity and mass action won the day
o Union organising outside the capital cities
o Casualisation and the attack on equal wages
o Film: Oil workers' struggle in Venezuela
1-2.30pm Plenary: Strategies to resist and defeat anti-union laws
2.45-3.45pm Plenary: Proposals for action
3.45-5.15pm Workshops: Break up into industry and regional TLC groups.
Films to run at the same time as workshops
Evening social event : 6pm-late - Live music from Dan Warner, food and drinks.
Old Ballroom, Trades Hall
Childcare will be available on-site on the day, but we need bookings in advance.
SLAPP in the face of democracy
Public forum on how corporate legal actions try to silence community groups
6:00pm - 8:00pm Friday 17 June 2005
NSW Law Society, 170 Phillip St, Sydney
Committee Room 2, Level 2
Bob Brown - Gunns 20 defendant, Greens Senator
Peter Cashman - General Counsel, Maurice Blackburn Cashman
Robin Banks - Director, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
The legal limits of political protest in Australia are being squeezed by law reforms and SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) which pit corporate interests against community groups.
On 13 December 2004, logging company Gunns filed a $6.3 million writ in the Victorian Supreme Court alleging damage had been caused to Gunns' business in the course of a forest campaign. Defendants in this action include Senator Bob Brown, The Wilderness Society and individual activists.
Meanwhile at a federal level, the Howard Government is pushing for a uniform defamation law, which will allow corporations to sue community groups and individuals for defamation.
All welcome - entry is free
Organised by Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and
the Legal Observers Project (Sydney)
For information contact Jemma Bailey on 0401 666 434
Workers rights union rights your rights
Mark Lennon Unions NSW
Sally McManus ASU
Andrew Ferguson CFMEU
Doug Cameron AMWU
Kerry Nettle NSW Greens Senator
Garry Moore NCOSS
Robert Coombs MUA
Derrick Belan NUW
Lee Rhiannon NSW Greens MLC
When the Coalition takes control of the Senate in July
Prime Minister John Howard will introduce industrial relations
laws that will increase the burden on working people and the
The Greens are helping unions to mobilise support for decent
working conditions and an industrial relations system that
recognises the rights of working people to organise and to strike.All welcome
Lee Rhiannon MLC
organising an alternative to the
Coalition's industrial relations agenda
The Past is Before Us
the Ninth National Labour History Conference will be held at the Holme Building, University of Sydney from Thursday 30th June until Saturday 2nd July. Over 100 presentations of papers, films, and an exhibition from Unions NSW and the Noel Butlin Archive. Meredith Burgmann, MLC, President of the NSW Legislative Council will officially open the conference. The Conference dinner at NSW Parliament. For more information go to the conference home page
The conference program is up on the website - http://asslh.econ.usyd.edu.au/program.htm
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
As a current Security Operative my interest in the letter Security Lacking (Workers Online , April ,1, 2005), is entirely one of self interest and my first query in relation to this letter is who actually is the author and what is their relationship to the security industry?
I would also query his suggestion that the current high profile of Chubb should be a reason to facilitate a round-table discussion as to work practices and conditions, the implication being that something positive may arise from such dialogue?
While never having worked for Chubb, I cannot form any opinions as to their policies, their procedures and the application of these within the current industrial legislation.
The companies I have worked for have been very aware of the safety of their employees and their work practices and conditions reflect this. So the opinions I have formed as to Chubb are merely from new papers, anecdotal and hearsay and I would expect some would say heresy, but in a democracy they are still valid.
It is my view that rather than some round-table discussions, which could be construed as being a fair and equitable weight being given to the views of all parties, when the reality is that we now live in a deliberative democracy, a euphemism for contemporary feudalism, with the lord of the manor being the CEO of a corporation, a usually anonymous conglomerate of individuals hiding behind corporate law, an entity which the Howard Government is currently, attempting to animate as having the same rights as an individual citizen, with the ability to sue individuals for defamation. This legislation will effectively stifle if not completely remove the ability for free speech.
So while I found John McPhilbins letter interesting, but without example of either what his first paragraph refers to, or actual incidents as examples it was also very ambiguous with the exception of his last paragraph and the only suggestion that I would offer is that the behaviour of the dominant security providers be subject to a Royal Commission.
I am employed part time in one of the four major banks. I think the ACTU should call for national work-bans or ongoing strike action. I don't think the ACTU should spend too much on advertisements. It should use any reserves it has on supporting struggling family when they are forced to take industrial action. I feel this is one of the biggest issues facing working class people in the country. Not is the government content to cut disabled, aged pensions (the most vulnerable people in our society), now it's to take away any protection of a decent wage. Will Australia become the 51st state of the USA?
From someone who is trying to emigrate to Oz, and with a partner who has specific skills which are in demand in your great country, I find your immigration procedure extremely long, drawn-out and very difficult and expensive to get around.
My partner, who is an experienced electrical and electronics engineer with a first class degree and has diversified into the chemicals industry with seven years experience as a process technician, cannot get sponsorship for employment in Oz. The cost of us actually paying ourselves through a Migration Consultant would be around $11.000K!
What I cannot fathom is why we are asked to pay such a high price when we have the labour which you are in need of, but at such a high price many people in the same boat as ourselves will not be able to put the money up front to gain entry to your wonderful country.
So, if there is any company who is willing to give two hardworking Scots a chance (I myself have an advanced diploma in business).
There is one teenage girl left in the detention camp on Nauru. Is this young girl the symbol of suffering that Mr Howard needs? Is she the candle on the rock to warn all others who flee persecution, war, rape and torture?
This young schoolgirl has no girlfriends to talk to. She is lonely and keeps to her room. This is her fourth year locked up.
We would not like our daughters in this situation, but there are things even worse that her family have fled from.
Is this girl to be left on the rock of Nauru as a symbol of our treatment of refugees? Is she the face of Mr Howard's border protection?
Who is Schapelle Corby? What's that you say? You don't know? How could you possibly not know? Every Australian knows who she is. And why is that? Because the media, always eager to pander to the appetites of the masses who demand sensationalism, gossip and gore, have saturated the airwaves, the TV and the printed media hour by hour, day by day, week by week for the past several months.
The media may yet outdo its gargantuan achievement in the trial of Lindy Chamberlain. Thanks partly to the media, catering to the unbridled lust of so many Australians who wanted Lindy to be proven guilty, this poor woman spent three years in jail, giving birth to a child whilst incarcerated, and had her life almost destroyed, along with her marriage and the vocation of her husband Michael.
After three years in prison, unexpected new evidence proved beyond doubt that she was innocent and all convictions against herself and Michael were quashed. Two years later when she received $1.3 million in compensation from the Northern Territory Government for wrongful imprisonment.
Now that Schapelle Corby has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, there will be appeals and appeals to fill the media and the empty minds of the masses for possibly years to come.
Did Karl Marx say religion is the opiate of the people? Perhaps so. But nothing seems to be as powerful an opiate as an extended court case - massively over-reported by the media - of some quite insignificant individual who has fallen foul of the law.
But there is a difference this time. So many people, especially women, wanted Lindy Chamberlain to be found guilty. Now those people who lust for gossip and gore want Ms Corby to be found innocent. But it matters not. The fate of one individual will no doubt continue to be reported ad nauseum.
Thank you so much for the exerpt from JT Lang on the attempts to destroy the IR arbitration system and legislation in the 20s. I hope we are as successful this time, against this most destructive, deceptive, blatant opportunist Prime Minister, as people of principle were then. I find myself powerfully wishing I was not on a federal award due for an EB this year, along with lots of others.
I am going to print this off and leave it around work. And now I know another reason why my old man thought Lang could walk on water. "He really cared, about the people, and the poor people, Rosemary" he used to say.
Johnny is about to remove the right of most employees to apply to the industrial commission for reinstatement or compensation when/if they are unfairly dismissed by their employer.
Does this mean that an employer will be able to ask for sexual favours, in the first instance, then sack you, in the second instance, and, as long as the employer does not explain that you were sacked because you refused his sexual advances, you can not lodge an unfair dismissal claim or a sexual harassment claim?!
If your employer stops paying you for the work you do, and then later explains that you were sacked (without notice or notification) two weeks prior, is the employer safe from prosecution for unfair dismissal and the lack of payment of wages for those two weeks?
I pity those single mothers who's youngest child turns six and who have to explain to social security that the boss sacked them two weeks ago, that they have no evidence that they were sacked and they have not been looking for employment since being sacked because they were still doing unauthorised work for their previous employer... Oh and they need a health care card because they have a STD from their old boss!
Please be advised via this website that all Quality Inspectors (car cleaners/detailers)employed by Hertz Car Rental at the Perth Domestic Airport are involved in ongoing Industrial Action in order to negotiate a TWU agreement for it's employees. This action is in part for appropriate wages to be paid under a award in order to receive penalty rates and appropriate pay for Saturdays and Sundays, evening shifts and leave loading.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could lend your support and encouragement by making other Hertz TWU memebrs throughout Australia aware of this situation and our fight for what is right, proper and fair.
Many thanks for your support,
That was the term we used when we elected governments to build us things - roads, railways, schools and hospitals, power grids, sewage and water - when we entrusted our tax dollars to leaders who would pool them for our common good.
Then the economists convinced us that 'public' and 'works' had become a contradiction in terms, that the real role of government was to reduce debt and balance their budgets, year after year after year.
Then these chooks came home to roost and things stopped working because governments had been too scared to invest in the future.
And those same snake oil salesman who'd convinced them to stop spending came back with a deal they could not refuse - let us do the spending for you!
This is the logic behind the solution to our 'infrastructure' crisis - the use of private capital to build, own and operate what were once public assets - in return for legally guaranteed dividends over many decades.
Officially, they are know as 'Public Private Partnerships' - the private sector raises capital to fund public projects to derive a profit: not exactly a licence to print money, but something very close.
The advent of PPPs has seen a seismic shift in politics - particularly at a state level.
At one time public works had become a beauty contest, where a whole range of worthy projects competed for limited public funds. Now governments have a different challenge, to choose which of a seemingly limitless series of proposals should be given the green light.
There are some clear attractions to PPPs within the current constraints of economic thinking, not least the ability to get on with much needed projects - now. But there are also questions.
First, what inducements and/or shortcuts are included to make a PPP attractive to the private sector?
The obvious sweetener is the decision to charge the public to use services that used to be free.
But there are more subtle inducements at play too.
Freeway contracts negotiated by the former Greiner Government, for example, included guarantees that competing public transport corridors would NEVER be built.
Secondly, there is the sneaking suspicion that the only business case for these PPPs is the ability of the government to commission work by low paid contract labour, rather than workers on public sector wages and conditions.
If, this argument goes, the only way to make a PPP profitable is by either charging the public more or cutting workers' wages, is there an overall public benefit from the exercise?
It is these concerns that are behind two of the really substantial policy debates at this weekend's ALP State Conference: the review of PPPs and a call for Labor Governments to demand firms tendering for contracts to offer their workers collective agreements.
This is the new political dynamic that has been imposed on us - if governments have access to these rivers of gold what conditions do they put on their flow?
Labor Governments must do more than just commission projects to keep executives living by the waterfront - they need to ensure that labour values are respected in the work that gets them there.
Maybe it will make the profit margins a little thinner and the bargains a little harder to strike - but standing up for the workers and taxpayers was never meant to be the easy option.