Imagine John Anderson's surprise when he found out he'd retired.
One can only assume it came as a surprise. Our Tool Of the Week doesn't seem to be aware of anything much that happens on this planet.
He wasn't aware that there is better security at the Mudgee McDonalds than at Sydney Airport. Anyway, what did that have to do with him, he was, after all, just the Minister for Transport?
And the only reason he stuck his hand up for that job was because it meant he could land his plane wherever he liked, which is a handy thing if you zip around in a Cessna the way some scoot around the eastern Suburbs in an MG. Luckily, the rest of us are safely stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on our overcrowded and crumbling infrastructure.
Apart from pointing his own plane around and making sure it went up when it was supposed to go up and came down when it was supposed to come down, John had a pretty vague idea about how the aviation industry worked.
So when the share price of Ansett went down when it was supposed to go up, poor old John was a bit nonplussed.
He consulted his advisers, Bessie, Daisy, Tiddles and Rex, but they just mooed and quacked and barked and poor old John was in a pickle.
Then a mass of humanity equal to the population of Wagga ended up out on their arse and John's response was to move on to the Gunnedah show and doff his hat and listen to the whistling sound that seemed to emanate from between his ears.
For our Tool Of The Week is the sort of chap the National Party throws up that in any other society would be dismissed as a village idiot, but here gets taken vaguely seriously because he's related to half the district, and that's just the sheep.
The Country Party of Black Jack McKewan and several rather closely related generations of Anthony's provided landed gentry with the benefits of socialism, while still being able to keep membership at a number of decent Pitt Street Clubs.
Then along came the free market, pillaging the countryside and being about as helpful as the Black Death in many districts. Any self-respecting Country Party MP would have taken to the economic dries of the Liberal Party with an axe years ago.
But not John.
This is, after all, the bloke who sat and picked his nose while the Mudgee Abattoir keeled over for want of sustenance, knocking a hole in the size of that town in Anderson's own electorate you could drive a Debt Truck through.
If our Tool Of The Week had of just sold his electorate down the drain you'd shrug, and write him off as another scion of the landed gentry who spent his public life wallowing beyond his depth.
Even if our Tool Of The Week had risen to a level of mediocrity that allowed him to bugger up some minor portfolio like Tourism, you'd just smile and go "what's that madman Anderson up to this week?"
But our Tool Of The Week so embraces the meritocracy of the Free Market he landed the leadership of the National Party through seniority when the men in white coats dragged Tim Fischer away.
This has allowed him to demonstrate a spectacular level of incompetence we had always suspected, but hitherto had not witnessed.
One could only watch on in awe as Anderson managed to repeatedly perform the triple pike twist with a back flip of Political Ineptitude.
From creating international incidents out of nothing, to trying to fatten the Telstra pig on market day, John is a man who will be a hard act to follow.
But he also represents the great Australian tradition of egalitarianism that is not shared by the flint hearted elites of his Liberal party, for only through the National Party could a man with the IQ of a house brick fill the second most powerful position in the country.
Twenty four hours after Andrews labelled ads about his government’s IR agenda "deceptive" and "misleading", staff from his own department confirmed they were spot on.
Angry Department of Employment and Workplace Relations staffers rallied in Sydney to refute their Minister's claims workers' wouldn't be forced to sign individual contracts by legislation he is introducing to federal parliament.
Andrews' own department, they revealed, is already forcing new starters to sign non-union AWAs (Australian Workplace Agreements) as a condition of employment.
Further, they blew the whistle on the department's attempt to coerce 15 Melbourne colleagues into signing AWAs.
Their union, the CPSU, produced DEWR documentation supplied to the 15 with a Yes box already ticked, alongside the statement, "I acknowledge my commitment to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement".
The revelations rip the ground away from the government's attempt to soft-sell its radical IR agenda under the "freedom of choice" banner.
They left the Minister looking out of touch with his portfolio, coming just 24 hours after he demanded that an ACTU ad campaign be pulled off radio and television.
In an emotional counter-attack, Andrews blasted ads which claimed his legislation would force workers to sign AWAs.
"The bottom line is that no Australian worker can trust the word of the ACTU when it comes to explaining this legislation," Andrews said. "It is all about scare. It is dishonest and wrong."
The following day his credibility was in tatters.
Rather than dealing with his department's actions, Andrews chose to kick for touch. Andrews refused to comment on the CPSU evidence, saying he couldn't interfere with departmental IR strategies.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, called the Andrews defence "absurd" and pledged the advertising campaign would continue.
He labelled Andrews a "hypocrite".
Laws passed in federal parliament, this week, subject building workers to $22,000 fines if they walk off jobs to join the protests, but Andrews is threatening legal action against any worker who opposes his bills.
In a bid to head off escalating opposition, the Workplace Relations Minister, last week, issued a warning to anyone who joins the nationwide protests.
"I would invite workers to think carefully before considering joining any industrial action being organised by the ACTU or specific unions," Andrews said.
"Employees should also be aware of the potential consequences if they choose to take unlawful industrial action."
Under proscriptive laws introduced by the Howard Government, meetings and rallies are illegal forms of industrial action.
Participants can be fined or gaoled, employers who choose to pay them can be fined, and unions found to have organised the actions can be slugged up to $110,000.
Key elements of the Government's workplace agenda include green-lighting unfair dismissals, making equal pay for equal work illegal, holding down the minimum wage, and sidelining collective agreements in favour of individual contracts that can be forced onto new starters without negotiation.
Brett Williams from Minchinbury in Sydney’s west took it upon himself to grab a captive audience on a packed Sydney commuter train to spell out what the changes would mean for punters.
"I just stood up and introduced myself and explained what the changes were," says Williams. "There was a good reaction. People were interested. People were asking questions. People wanted to hear what was happening."
"I'm not political," says the Rail Tram and Bus Union member. "I just wanted to do it for the interest of other Australians."
Williams' colleague Stephen Threllfall invited his Central Coast neighbours over to watch the twenty-minute DVD produced for the SkyChannel delegates meeting on May 27.
"People had no idea of how serious this was. Next I'm taking it down to a neighbourhood pre-school to show the staff there."
Paul Douglas went to buy a lottery ticket and was buttonholed by the sales assistant over his 'You're Rights At Work' badge.
"She asked me what's going on and I told them this is going to affect everyone, especially mums and dads and helping out with kids sport. She wanted information so I dropped off some flyers you can get from the website, www.rightsatwork.com.au
The grass roots campaign is part of a number of actions planned for this week, which includes minimum wage workers hosting Unions NSW secretary John Robertson and ALP leader Kim Beazley at a Randwick Childcare Centre, while across town ACTU Sharan Burrow launching the 1300 362 223 info hotline at Sydney Airport.
Beazley will then be heading up the Pacific Highway to meet locked out Boeing workers at RAAF Willamtown, who are resisting being kept on AWAs by US Contractor Boeing.
On Tuesday there is rally outside the Housing Industry Association office at 4 Byfield Street, Ryde, at 12.30pm over apprentices being forced onto AWAs.
Wednesday is the NSW Premiers Roundtable with public sector workers at 11am, which is followed on Thursday by the inaugural Brown Nose Day being put on by the Working Students Network at Sydney University.
The week culminates in Friday's State Wide Sky Channel Hook-up at 9.00am, with the key meeting at the Sydney Town Hall telecast to over two hundred venues across the state. Check for a venue near you!
To argue economic progress through stripping away workers’ rights is not underpinned by reality, according to the academics from eight universities around Australia.
A major finding is that overseas evidence indicates Australia's system of collective bargaining, which the government is trying to discourage, has delivered strong economic benefits.
The report also states there is no evidence that more flexible forms of employment, as advocated by the government, lead to greater productivity.
The group's convener Professor Russell Lansbury said the reforms took the low road with the economy, cutting wages and conditions, rather than the high road to a high value-added economy with committed workers.
Further, these reforms would do nothing to fix the nation's skill shortage or lower unemployment.
Put simply, "If you create crap jobs you get a crap economy," according to Griffith University's Emeritus Professor Peter Brosnan.
The report also condemns the effect the reforms would have on the community, individuals and families.
Professor Lansbury said the reforms would damage the fabric of Australian society, worsening the balance between work and family, by encouraging poorly-paid jobs with irregular hours and little security.
The reforms would widen the gap between rich and poor, creating a society of haves and have-nots.
"The Howard government would do well to learn from past experience that industrial relations policy is more than creating a competitive economy but ensuring social cohesion and fairness is achieved for the long-term prosperity and stability of Australian society as a whole - and not just for a small minority," Professor Lansbury said.
There is no evidence to support the Federal Government's claim that removal of unfair dismissal laws would create more jobs, according to a Senate report released this week
Democrats Senator Andrew Murray said the 'Unfair dismissal and small business employment' report showed the government's claim 50,000 to 77,000 jobs would be created was a myth.
"If the case for ending essential employment rights rests on large-scale job creation you will search in vain for convincing empirical data," he said.
The report stems from a Democrats motion passed last year.
The Building Industry Improvement Bill makes illegal virtually all forms of industrial action, including meetings, and opens up individual workers to $22,000 fines and their unions to $110,000 slugs for breaches.
It gives courts the ability to order workers' organisations to pay unlimited amounts of compensation, or to sequester their assets.
The new laws will be enforced by a permanent Building Industry Commission, formerly the Building Industry Taskforce, that has the power to interrogate individual workers.
The Commission, headed by controversial former federal policeman Nigel Hadgkiss, can deny building workers the right to silence and deprive them of the common law right not to incriminate themselves.
It can order building workers not to reveal the contents of any interrogation to family or friends.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements can render workers liable for fines or imprisonment.
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, warned the federal government had already flagged its intention to spread these power beyond the construction sector.
"While Australians may be prepared to give up legal protections to fight terrorism, few would support forgoing their rights to support the Federal Government's war on unions," Sutton said.
"It would be a tragedy for this country if these powers were allowed to pass into law without any community debate."
The new regime is based on the findings of the discredited Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry. The Commission was established after Howard Government ministers claimed the industry was a hot bed of illegal activity.
Cole claimed to have identified hundreds of "improper" incidents which were passed to Hadgkiss for action.
Hadgkiss admitted to Senate Estimates, last month, that these had resulted in just one prosecution nationwide.
Hadgkiss, himself, has been the subject of adverse evidence to Parliamentary Inquiries from former police officers.
The new legislation turns his interim Taskforce into a permanent Commission with beefed-up coercive powers.
The Taskforce, while in operation, copped repeated judicial censure for its methods and some of the cases it chose to pursue with taxpayers' chequebook.
A Melbourne federal court judge described its methods as "undemocratic" and "authoritarian", while a Sydney counterpart ruled it had prosecuted the CFMEU "without reasonable cause".
Hadgkiss admitted, under Senate questioning, his Taskforce had splurged more than a quarter of a million dollars on the latter case.
Another NSW judge found there had been an "element of provocation" by Taskforce officers in a case against union members and was highly critical of one of Hadgkiss' officers who gave sworn evidence, then changed his testimony after being contradicted by a company witness.
Nigel Kicks Tin
Meanwhile, CFMEU NSW branch secretary, Andrew Ferguson, has pledged $50,000 of Taskforce money to the campaign against Howard's IR changes.
The cheque was the first installment of substantial costs awarded against the Building Industry Taskforce after Justice Wilcox, in the Federal Court, ruled a case brought against the CFMEU had been "hopeless".
Ferguson said the Taskforce had spent millions of dollars in an effort to block CFMEU entry to building sites. He noted that Hadgkiss had conceded, publicly, his organisation did not seek to prosecute employers who ripped building workers off.
Earlier this year, the Taskforce was in the middle of another controversy when it said it had lost interview notes at the heart of a former Detective Sergeant's claim that he had been the victim of "payback" and "victimisation".
Michael McGann, holder of the NSW Police's highest bravery award, sought the notes under freedom of information provisions after alleging he had been punted from the Taskforce because of a Hadgkiss "vendetta".
In 2003, McGann told a Parliamentary Inquiry, investigators under Hadgkiss' control had fabricated evidence to the Wood Royal Commission.
"As soon as I came onto his radar at the building Industry Taskforce I was a marked man," McGann said in February.
Lisa-Maree Wintle was sacked by Another World 4 Kids Kindergarten-Pre-school after telling the boss she wanted to take maternity leave to have her first baby.
NSW IRC Commissioner, Ian Cambridge, said the injustice of the sacking provided a "case study for the protection provided by unfair dismissal laws."
"If contemporary objective standards determine that it would be acceptable to dismiss someone because they were pregnant, one might envisage a society absent of an important protection for basic human dignity," Cambridge said.
He said it was hard to contemplate that any employer "acting with such abhorrent disregard for the circumstances of a pregnant woman" might be able to avoid being held to account on the grounds it was a small business.
The company claimed Wintle had left a Christmas party, for children and parents at 6pm, before it had finished. Wintle pointed out her working day was from 7.30am to 3pm and that on this day she needed to get home.
She had informed the centre of her pregnancy weeks earlier.
Wintle ran her case, with support from the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU).
In awarding her the maximum compensation available, Commissioner Cambridge said reasons for the dismissal, advanced by the childcare operation, had been "spurious"
The Coalition has introduced a bill to parliament that would deny anyone at a workplace of less than 101 people the right to challenge an unfair sacking.
Hadgkiss is on the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) management team that has just served up a non-union agreement that seeks to either slash or remove a range of family-friendly entitlements from 80 staff.
Its clawbacks would see cuts to employees' rights to paternity, adoption, personal and carer's leave, and bereavement leave abolished entirely.
The federal agency wants to turn overtime requirements on their head, requiring workers to show "reasonable cause" why they can't perform extra hours, and is seeking to abolish "permanent" employment for new starters.
Workers would have to agree to meet the Minister's expectations, politicising the crime fighting agency along the lines of the partisan Building Industry Commission, and are being asked to agree not to involve "third parties" in any disputes.
The CPSU has fielded complaints about the AIC demands but says low union density is a serious problems that staff need to overcome.
"The AIC has a history of poor industrial relations," according to the CPSU's, Vince McDevitt. "But low union membership at the agency has allowed them to get away with it.
"Their current agreement is a non-union agreement because it is so poor we weren't prepared to be involved. This is even worse but unless people join the union and get involved, they will get away with it."
McDevitt said the recent victory in the Governor General's Department should offer AIC staffers heart. On the back of a membership leap, from around 20 to 50 percent, the CPSU signed off, last week, of "some very positive gains".
When Hadgkiss, appointed to his position five years ago, was asked about the AIC he responded "what's that?"
After a gentle reminder he recalled being a board member but denied double dipping on the taxpayer.
"There are no fees," Hadgkiss insisted.
The owners of the container ship Pacific Quest were fined $180,000 in the Brisbane District Court after satellite imagery and oil samples linked the unwelcome Chrissie present to their vessel.
Mattrim Marine Inc of Panama pleaded guilty to the charge of pumping oily waste into Reef waters.
"Yet again it is a flag of convenience vessel that is to blame for environmental vandalism," said International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Australia Co-ordinator Dean Summers. "This is the second to date, with another Panamanian flagged vessel, Pax Phoenix,fined $85,000 last October for yet another act of deliberate pollution on the Reef in 2001.
Summers stressed that the UK based company managing the Pacific Quest was infamous for its treatment of crews.
" Zodiac Marine are notorious rat bags in the industry," says Sunmmers. "We urge AMSA to see if the ship could be linked to other unexplained oil slicks in her Australian trading pattern of Fremantle, Adelaide and Melbourne."
Each year the ITF and the Maritime Union of Australia have been demonstrating the dangers of Ships of Shame on our coast at surfing festivals with maritime workers covering themselves in an oily slick to demonstrate the impact a major spill would have on Australian beaches.
The successful prosecution is the result of a joint investigation into the spill by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Federal Police and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The Quest is a 23-year-old container ship coming to the end of her life and has since been taken off the Australian run after Australian Maritime Safety Authority expose.
Thousands of people, both workers and farmers, rallied outside McDonald's in Devonport yesterday to protest the fast food chain's decision to bump up its percentage of imported potatoes to half, leaving locals in the lurch.
Tasmanian secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Anne Urquhart, said unions and farmers were joining together to save the industry as a whole.
"It's an unlikely marriage but we're singing the same song.
"The whole community is rallying around this."
Although no-one will be directly laid off because of the decision, reduced hours will mean 350 workers at the Simplot plant at Ulverstone, which processes the potatoes, could take home $100 to $200 a week less.
But Urquhart emphasised that it affected not only the factory staff, but also the farmers and rural workers.
"The decision has been pretty widely felt across the community.
"Families who drive past McDonalds say they're not going there for lunch because they don't buy our potatoes."
The AMWU will continue the campaign with farmers, broadening its target to major supermarkets, which are moving to import more processed food from overseas.
Coles announced a plan this week to increase the amount of generic stock, which is mostly made up of imported ingredients, on its shelves to 30 per cent.
LHMU organiser, Julie Taylor, said Hall & Prior's Linen Services Manager made the threat when she visited one of the company's facilities.
The LHMU says that when Taylor asked the manager if his statement was a threat, he replied "things can happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time".
Members of the public are being urged to get involved in the blue by sending SMS messages to Hall & Prior which is demanding clawbacks for a $1 an hour wage increase.
The dispute, at 14 WA aged care sites, affects around 600 workers, earning between $13 and $13.51 an hour.
The company, which bills itself as a care industry professional, is demanding trade offs of two weeks annual leave and access to accrued days off in return for the wage increase, already agreed by most other operators.
It has tried to frustrate the workers' claims by establishing a non-union negotiating committee.
"We are not going to stand for union officials or union members being threatened," LHMU state secretary, Dave Kelly, said. "It is illegal, and we will pursue any manager who makes threats when employees are simply having discussions about a wage claim."
The union is asking supporters to SMS Hall & Prior on 0419 929755 with one or more of the following messages:
- $1 an hour
- NO TRADE OFFS
- One Union Agreement
The military dictatorship has gaoled 500 employees of Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) who were to resist the privatisation.
The move came as Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Pakistani President Perveez Musharraf were signing off on a joint anti-terrorism agreement.
The CEPU Communications Division has written to President Musharraf protesting against the attacks and demanding all gaoled workers be freed.
Unions NSW are backing the Pakistani workers with secretary John Robertson describing the use of anti-terrorism laws as disturbing.
"We have seen similar laws used in the US by George Bush against Longshoreman. We are concerned we are going to see this Federal Government use them against the union movement in NSW.
"The term terrorist is used quite freely these days. We've even seen Nelson Mandela referred to as a terrorist."
The CEPU is concerned the move comes as the Howard government is gearing up to seel the remaining public stake in Telstra.
They are calling for protest letters to be sent to the president of PCTL, Junaid Khan, [email protected], senior vice president of PCTL M Shahzad Sadan [email protected] and the Pakistani Telecoms Minister, Awais Leghari, moitt.gov.pk or [email protected]
Companies who put their workers' lives at risk will face fines of almost $1 million.
The new offence of knowingly exposing a person to risk of serious injury or death, which carries a maximum five-year sentence for a first offence.
The laws include:
* an overhaul of OHS authority Worksafe and a new appeals process against inspectors' decisions;
* expanded sentencing options such as safety improvement programs and publicity orders; and
* new powers for union representatives to enter sites suspected of workplace safety breaches.
The laws go further than NSW's legislation, which introduced gaol terms for recklessly causing death last week.
Bosses in NSW who are convicted can be gaoled for up to five years or fined $165,000.
Companies in NSW found guilty can be fined up to $1,650,000.
Australia's Largest Ever Workers' Meeting
Sydney Town Hall and 200 other locations across the state
Call 9264 1691 for details of the venue closest to you
Live Sky-Channel Hook Up
Say NO to Howard's Attack on your rights at work
Sydney Town Hall and 200 other locations across the state
Call 9264 1691 for details of the venue closest to you
Live Sky-Channel Hook Up
Say NO to Howard's Attack on your rights at work
Politics In the Pub - Katoomba
You don't know what you've got till it's gone
What you can do to protect your rights
2.00pm, Saturday July 9
Great Western Highway
Blue Mountains Unions Council Inc http://bmucinc.com/
Industrial Relations Reform: Fair Go or Anything Goes?
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS REFORM 2005
A one day conference for all who are interested in the Federal Government's
industrial relations reform agenda
Held: 13 July 2005 at Sofitel Wentworth Sydney
Confirmed speakers include:
Professor Ron McCallum, Susan Zeitz, Professor Greg Craven, Professor Andrew Stewart, Paul Munro, Elizabeth Wynhausen, Professor George Williams, Margaret Lee, Paddy Gourlay, Kathryn Heiler, Bill Mitchell
and a representative from the Australian Council of Social Service
A States and Territories Government initiative
The conference will:
_discuss the Federal Government's industrial
relations reform agenda
_ examine constitutional implications and the
relevance to federalism
_ through panel sessions, explore the
arguments from all sides of the debate
_ engage prominent thinkers and speakers in
industrial relations, constitutional law,
economics, welfare and academia
ICE Australia - 183 Albion Street Surry Hills NSW 2010
Email: [email protected] Telephone: 02 9544 9134
Fax: 02 9522 4447
For more information and to register, go to
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?
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 Canberra's political elites at The Street Theatre (July 20 -30). Bookings: 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
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
Workers rights union rights your rights
2-5 PM Saturday 18 June 2005
Tom Mann Theatre
136 Chalmers St Surry Hills
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 wider community.
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.
Lee Rhiannon MLC
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
It is a positive outlook for workers employed as Quality Inspectors (car detailers) at the Hertz car rental facility at Perth Domestic Airport (corner Ross and Snook Drive Redcliffe) in their continued fight for proper wages and conditions in the WA Industrial Relations Commission on Wednesday June 22.
Casual employees have been guaranteed work by the WA State Manager after previously being stood down and stopped from having any regular work because of their affiliation with the TWU.
After consultation via telephone to the Melbourne head office, Hertz Western Australia has finally agreed to sit down and negotiate with its workers, although the company is still hesitant in agreeing to place its‚ workers under the Transport Workers Union (General) Award of 1961, despite the fact that it already pays its vehicle drivers under the very same award!
Workplace Delegate Nicki Shea agrees that the outlook is positive. All we have wanted from day one is the company to sit down and negotiate with us to our pay and conditions rather than place a contract in front of us basically force us to sign. If we can negotiate a better deal then obviously it benefits the workers who will be far better off financially which will only encourage job loyalty. This will also protect the interests of the company, because at the end of the day we all have a job to do and it is a credit to the workers and the TWU who have stuck together and fought for what is right and fair and that is all we can ask.
The Hertz workers have continually asked for appropriate wages to be paid under an award in order to receive penalty rates and correct pay for Saturday and Sunday work, evening shifts and leave loading, all under a TWU agreement.
Hertz at the Perth Airport operates 365 days per year from 6.30am to 11.30pm including every weekend, public holiday (Christmas, Easter etc). The matter has now been adjourned for three weeks in the WA Industrial Relations Commission, whilst talks and negotiations are undertaken by the two parties concerned.
Workplace Delegate at Hertz for the TWU.
(Further information and comment can be directed to Mr Rick Burton TWU Organiser on 0417914108 or the TWU Perth Office on (08) 93287477.)
FOXTEL, despite the fantastic Hugh Jackman putting on a brave face, are an embarrassment.
They enjoy a rating of being in the top 20 worst call centres in Australia, with the current manager being flown in from Sydney weekly to try to salvage the current mess.
The technicians subcontracted to do the work of installing in homes are again leaving in droves due to poor salaries.
Even better, the call out rate to technical problems has escalated due to it seems poor design of the systems.
And yet the beleaguered CEO KIm Williams, fondly looked upon by father-in-law Gough, tells us how successful everything is.
Dear Kim - please get a grip on things. FOXTEL is not a success. In fact the shareholders of Telstra still wonder what happens to the seemingly billions of dollars "invested" in this white elephant.
Time to find someone sensible to manage your human resources disasters there...could Hugh be the man?
I carried out my little anti-Howard protest today, in downtown Lismore. My daughter, a friend and I politely asked passers-by if they would like a Howard sticker, reading "YES! I voted Howard". Most people either said "No! I didn't vote Howard." or "No thanks." Some older people quietly took the sticker with a bemused expression on their faces. One lady thought I was a supporter and yelled out.
Of the ones that said no, I continued "Not a supporter Sir?" and they usually said "Yes, I'm a supporter" and kept walking, "don't want a sticker?" I'd say, "No, thanks" Sometimes I couldn't contain myself as they scurried away, and I'd say "you should be proud!"
One well dressed businessman, actually the manager of the "Professionals" real estate agency, shouted at me and threatened me quite frighteningly, just for saying "Would you like a sticker Sir?" His mate said loudly as he walked back past me "I think he's great!" He didn't want a sticker either.
Anti-Howard people laughed and offered support and thanks, and I'm sure they would not be scurrying away in shame when asked to claim a "Beazley" or "Latham" sticker.
I really think this should be done somewhere else, perhaps in a government stronghold, in Sydney.
In response to your editorial justifying the ACTU's TV advertising campaign: I don't object to the union movement spending money on advertising to get a message to the wider public, but having viewed the finished product I don't think this is money well spent. The TV ads employ scare tactics and create an atmosphere of imminent doom. Maybe that's not far from the truth, but how will this motivate anyone to take action? I just felt depressed after watching them.
Where is the POSITIVE message from the ACTU about what it is going to do to resist these changes, about why it's time to join a union? Are our union leaders so resigned to living with these laws that all that can be done is sheet home the blame to Howard and co? If we want to resist these laws, don't we need some direction about what the characters in the ads could do instead of abandoning their kids or signing the contract? We need more than a PR campaign - some of the millions devoted to advertising should be spent on employing more organisers to get the message out to the grassroots - to sign up the scared workers, set up public meetings, leaflet train stations, and so on.
Let's not screw around. Let's hit back at the proposed IR reform legislation in a painful, paralysing and brutally hard hitting manner! That's my answer to Howards' offer!
The union movement is out financed, out numbered and largely out psyched. For a large majority that reside in this world that revolves around greed, consumerism, money, lust and a dog eat dog mentality the union movement is looked down upon as a poor lost child which represents the losers of society that belly aches a lot but has no real voice anymore as to the outcome of the forgone conclusions set by Government agenda.
Us union members have got our backs to the wall on this one and big business is out for the kill. Over the past decade in particular, legislation has clamped down severely upon the working class of this society in a slow, almost unrecognisable, manner that has eroded us of basic working rights. On top of this the government has opened or will open trade deals with countries considered to be ruled by despots and whose people are nothing more than life long slaves to the whims of money hungry bureaucrats ravaged by the notion of their own gluttony and self-importance.
Already the door has been slammed shut on many avenues of redress. In very near future I believe, as many of my co-workers believe, that unless the union movement takes a hard line with hard hitting drastic action now that we will leave behind a shameful set of employment conditions for the next generation to inherit. Shameful due to the fact that we took no action when the time to act was upon us.
I call upon all union members to push for industrial action in the face of Howard's implementation of the revamped IR legislation. I believe this is the only definite way of demonstrating to the government the true power of the Australian working class.
Lets not kid ourselves, we haven't much left to bargain with and nothing to lose. Become like me - a staunch, firebrand unionist. Prepare for the stoush of a lifetime or die with regret!
Your story on how Australian Topmaking Services plans to move their factory to China & sack 108 workers in Parkes (Workers Online #268) contained the following sentence:
"He threw down the challenge to his local National Party MP for Parkes, John Cobb, who is part of a government pushing for a free trade deal with the communist republic."
Now, it may come as a surprise to some, but "communism" actually has a meaning. It refers to the philosophy based on the belief in the principle "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". A moment's thought should be enough to convince people that nothing like that is going on in China at the moment.
When Mao was alive, the Chinese "Communist" Party was riven by a struggle between two factions. After he died, Mao's utopian authoritarianism was ditched as the power-brokers lined up behind the other faction. They saw their chance to rule over a major industrial powerhouse and global power - and China has been breaking the speed limit on the capitalist road ever since.
Deng Xiaoping, once safely in charge, pronounced the new doctrine "To get rich is glorious". Does this sound like communism? Of course, there was no intention of accompanying this with any democracy. They proved this in Beijing in 1989, when they sent the army to massacre students and workers who had illusions that the party could be reformed.
What has followed is an attempt to create a modern version of what China was under the Imperial Mandarin bureaucracy. The bureaucracy (today called the "Communist" Party) is drawn from the rich elite and possession of a place in the bureaucracy enables advancement within that elite. The means of production (formerly land, but today the whole spectrum of capitalist property), are held individually while, through the bureacracy, the rich rule collectively.
The only thing "communist" about China is the name used by the gang of thugs and lying rodents who are running the joint. If China really was communist, there would be no question of a free trade deal - and Howard would be running a scare campaign against it which leaves the current War "on" Terror for dead. Instead, he lets its ruler address the Australian Parliament. Isn't that proof enough about the nature of the Chinese government?
In relation to your last editorial, there are many points on which I totally agree with you.
The focus of a community based campaign, targeting people where they live is a progressive step, and in pace with the way our society gathers information. There can be no doubt a strategy that engages families and attempts to solicit a community wide response can only be a good thing.
However, to disregard any kind of strike action, or imply that any kind of strike action would turn public opinion against us is a generalised assumption, and one, which could leave any powerful campaign half-baked.
I do not believe that spreading the message through advertising is a soft option, however, it is an option that could be effectively reinforced by a strategic industrial campaign. Beyond the strategies, we must acknowledge any industrial action is a right of every working man and woman. To say that workers should not take collective action is as large a travesty of their rights as the proposed Howard IR agenda.
Collective strike action is as legitimate a campaign option as any other. We would be wrong to view it as unsophisticated, out-dated or heavy handed. We would also be disrespectful of workers if we thumbed our noses at their views of industrial action.
If you have ever stood side by side with your comrades in the struggle, you will know what I mean.
Your comments of workers forgoing $200 a day, (how was that figure derived, by the way?) only to have public opinion turn against their cause is patronising and ignorant of our movement.
One of the most powerful actions any worker can take is to withdraw their labour. To discredit that option is to discredit every worker and ultimately, to discredit our movement.
Our fight is to save our cause. Our cause is to protect every worker and their families and to proudly say that dignity is not negotiable.
State Secretary National Union Of Workers (NSW Branch)
That was the plan of attack by Kevin Andrews when he saw the union movement's TV ads - designed to raise awareness about the havoc that the attack on workers' rights will wreak on the Australian way of life.
'Liar, liar' was the cry from this minister of an Administration that has given the world some of the great moments in post-modern reality - including non-core promises, children overboard and the GST.
Andrew's arguments, consistent with his strategy for pushing through these attacks, was to create a smokescreen of legal jargon to claim that these sort of things could never happen to workers.
There were a couple of flaws with this logic: first, as the ACTU legal advice clearly demonstrates, the ads were legally sound; and second, the sort of employer aggression depicted had been going on for years already.
But the Truth can work in mysterious ways and the ink on the release was barely dry when it emerged that workers in Andrews' own department were being subjected to the sort of coercion Andrews was claiming the ACTU had made up.
As Greg Combet observed in the storm that followed, the ACTU really only needed to get a camera in Andrews' own department to film their ads.
Meanwhile, instead of dousing the flames Andrews has been feeding the fire, floating ideas like a 40 hour week and a six month pay freeze
I suspect we won't be hearing much more from Kev for a little while; the PM is moving in and bringing the professionals with him.
Already there are rumours that the Liberal Party's advertising agency will be paid $20 million to 'inform' the public of the 'benefits' of the industrial relations changes.
There is no doubt these guys are good - they have proved masters at tapping into the fears of the people and wedging their political opponents.
But you have to wonder how they'll sell this one - happy bosses 'free' to fire workers? Smiling families on lower wages? Workplaces liberated from the union?
No matter what they spend, what they don't have is the personal commitment of the thousands of workers who will take part in the Week of Action of the next seven days; people who are taking a stand not just for themselves, but for their children and their children's children.
They won't have the support of the broader community, from churches to sporting organisations who - when the conversation starts - already know deep down the damage that further labour market deregulations will cause our communities.
In short, they won't have the Truth - and that has to stand for something.