There is always a bit of a risk in being the Prime Minister's favourite yachtsman, as Alan Bond well knows.
Mark Bethwaite; champion yachtsman, member of the Mosman Sporting Wall Of Fame, Chief Executive of Australian Business Limited, prime minister's representative on the Sydney Olympics committee and all round Tool has been gibbering like a crazed howler monkey for weeks now about what is referred to with a straight face as "reform" over at the yacht club.
His intellectual tacking manoeuvre left him on the rocks last week when he claimed that he was here to defend Christmas.
"Santa will still bring joy to children on Christmas morning," said Bethwaite in response to news that AWAs were stripping people of penalty rates for working public holidays.
Our public holidays were not under threat declared Bethwaite. Our Tool Of The Week reassured us all that, in fact, the 25th of December would still exist. It was just that we'd all be working that day on ordinary time.
Bethwaite's belief in Santa Claus comes as some relief, as it underpinned his logic that these wonderful new workplace laws are a "win, win, win" outcome.
And he's more right than he knows.
It's a win for business, business and business.
Unfortunately if you actually work for a living things may not be so wonderful, but hey, as the skipper reminds us, that's life isn't it.
"There are those who say that no employee should be worse off under any change,' says Bethwaite, who shows that he does grasp the basics of human decency. But to do that is a problem according to our Tool because to do that "institutionalises mediocrity for all".
And he should know. Mediocrity appears to be his strong suit.
"Australia has one of the most welcoming and accepting workplaces in the world and it will not change," says Bethwaite. Just which workplace this was remained unclear, but it was pretty obviously not his
And we need AWAs because "Enterprise bargaining has clearly resulted in a more harmonious workplace". Hmmm, devastating logic that.
We should be grateful that we give up the best years of our lives to keep him in yachts, after all the new laws will defend the fact that people get paid according to Bethwaite.
What exactly they will be paid remains unclear.
If one of his mates wants to pay people with a rock and a shiny thing well, why the hell not!
As he points out, "contribution above and beyond that of fellow workers should be recognised by higher remuneration, perhaps he means in money. Who knows? Sun's over the yardarm and it's time for the rum ration.
Besides, he's delivered the clinching argument that should shut up all those pesky priests who keep up that unpleasant chatter about the working poor.
"God looking down would not design a system with the complexity of that which operates in Australia."
So there you have it. Our Tool Of the Week has informed us of what god thinks, so that should finalise the matter.
Which poses the question, where did that other yachty, Alan Bond, end up?
A Centrelink staffer told Workers Online, on condition of anonymity, that job seekers who say no to such AWAs will be ‘breached’ – leading to cuts in their social security payments.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson has challenged Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews to give a public assurance he won't use the unemployed to grass cut workers' entitlements.
Kevin Andrews needs to come clean with the public," Robertson said. "We don't want double-speak, we want a straight answer - will his government refuse unemployment benefits to people who turn down AWAs that undercut registered, legal agreements?"
The federal government is pushing secret individual agreements (AWAs) in preference to collective agreements.
It has already legislated to allow employers to force new workers to sign AWAs, as a condition of employment, and has announced its intention to scrub the No Disadvantage Test that measures them against existing awards.
Even, under that system, Robertson said, its Office of the Employment Advocate had rubber-stamped individual contracts that undercut, or eliminated, conditions included in legally-registered agreements.
Under Andrews' proposed new system, AWAs will be legitimate if they meet five minimum standards which do not include penalty rates or overtime, and allow annual holiday entitlements to be slashed to two weeks.
Simultaneously, Canberra has announced its intention to get tough on beneficiaries by cutting entitlements to those who do not accept paid employment.
Robertson said withholding benefits from Australians who refused to undercut negotiated agreements would be a "significant step" towards the US system, based on a growing class of people referred to as the "working poor".
"This Minister keeps making contradictory statements, ducking and weaving, and then accusing us of misleading the public," Robertson said.
"It's time he told the truth, so Australians can make up their own minds, based on the facts."
As the ACTU and ALP prepare a legal challenge to the government's plans to use $20 million in taxpayers funds to sell the changes, local MPs are attempting to go to ground or back away from them altogether.
Louise Markus, Federal member for Greenway, is just one of a number of Coalition MPs attempting to stave off community concern about workplace law changes.
Markus had been dumbfounded when questioned about the changes by electrician Anthony Hack in June. Hack had popped into Markus' office to find out more about the changes and was told they would benefit him by making things "simpler".
When Hack pointed out that simpler meant having 42 matters in his Award reduced to six Markus changed tack, saying that AWAs were the way to go because her husband had one.
Other Liberals seem more reticent about their position with member for Lindsay, Jackie Kelly, Liberal senator Ms Fervanti-Wells and member for Eden Monaro, Garry Nairne, all refusing invitations to talk to workers face to face about the changes.
But thier National Party colleagues seem even less enthusiastic about the changes with Member for Page, Ian Causley calling for a rethink on the policy after workers rallied outside his Lismore office.
"In the party room this is something we're going to have to have a look at," says Causley, who admitted to media that he believes in unions and would fight any proposals that killed off collective bargaining.
Newly elected Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has already ruffled feathers, including those of Treasurer Peter Costello, by expressing his concern about the government's proposals.
And Queensland National Party leader Lawrence Springborg says his party is not alone in rejecting the industrial relations proposals.
"It's not only the Queensland Nats that have this problem, it's the WA Libs, it's the South Australian Libs, it's the WA Nats and it was 60 per cent of the delegates at the Liberal Party federal council meeting last month that had similar concerns," he said.
Meeanwhile, The ALP and ACTU have threatened a High Court challenge to the Federal Government's multi-million dollar IR advertising campaign if the Coalition cannot show the expenditure has been properly authorised.
Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and the peak union body have engaged Melbourne law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman to investigate the validity of the campaign's funding.
Roxon says the plans could breach s83 of the Constitution - groyunds for a High Court injunction against further advertisin
The Federal Government has not denied reports that its second wave advertising could cost as much as $20 million, but according to Roxon, there is no obvious line item in the Federal Government's May budget authorising such expenditure.
The move have been slammed as an attack on shareholder activism with Paul Bastian from the AMWU pointing to the recent James Hardie campaign, which would be gutted by the Howard government’s proposals.
In recent years a number of unions in areas as diverse as mining, transport and banking have used company annual general meetings to pursue issues that affect employees.
The government is looking to raise the threshold for shareholders being able to place items on the agenda of annual general meetings from the 100 signatures currently required to having 5% of the company's capital value.
For a company such as Westpac that would mean having to own $1.7 billion worth of shares.
"It means that every Westpac employee would have to receive a full share allocation each year for 85 years before employees would collectively accumulate enough share of the capital to be able to meet the threshold," says Geoff Derrick from the Financial Sector Union.
The FSU sees this as part of a broader move to silence shareholder activism.
"Last year, when the FSU wanted to place issues on the agenda of the Westpac AGM, the meeting was co-incidentally moved to Auckland," says Derrick.
All previous AGMs for the country's oldest bank had been held in Australia.
"The trade union movement is far more heavily regulated than corporations,' says John Robertson from Unions NSW. "When unions hold elections they are compelled to conduct a postal ballot."
"If it's good enough for unions it's good enough for corporate Australia.
"This proposal will undermine the capacity for individual shareholders to be involved."
On June 17, K & K Bowden, was given 28 days to pay CFMEU member, Justin Sutherland, $8800 after being found guilty of discriminating against the teenager, and denying him a range of allowances he had been entitled to.
Commissioner Grayson said he was "comfortably satisfied" the union had made out its case "in all respects" and ordered Bowden to meet its costs.
Thirty five days after the decision was recorded, the CFMEU confirmed Bowden had paid neither sum.
"We will have to file in the local court for a writ of execution," union legal officer, Leah Charlson, said.
"The decision is on the record and has had media coverage but the Taskforce is not interested in breaches by employers that infringe on the rights of workers."
Sutherland told the Commission he had been sacked after asking for travel allowance, and that Bowden had threatened his union membership would "haunt him for a long time".
Sutherland said that prior to his dismissal he had received no indication of dissatisfaction with his work.
The Commission found Sutherland had been dudded of $1680 in travel allowance during his seven months as an apprentice plasterer, along with lesser amounts for tool allowance and termination of employment.
It also found the company had denied him his rostered days off.
The Commissioner said it was "clear" the apprentice had been summarily dismissed because he pursued his entitlements.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted for the Australia Institute, found that the prospect of asking for a pay rise "terrified" or "horrified" the majority of young people.
Labour market economist, Richard Denniss, asked 50 Australians, aged between 23 and 28 in fulltime work, about their attitudes to job security and wage bargaining.
Analysts say the attitude would put young people at a marked disadvantage in an employment environment marked by a shift towards individual agreements.
A model Australian Workplace Agreement for a "brush hand", displayed on the OEA’s website, takes away paid annual leave, paid sick leave and paid public holidays.
The agreement, being promoted to employers as an alternative to enterprise bargaining agreements, states the lost penalties are compensated for by the $17.50 hourly rate of pay.
The all-in rate contrasts to the $21.49 per hour that a painter makes on an enterprise agreement in the Wollongong area, which does not include a range of penalty payments and allowances.
The OEA is legally obliged to apply a No Disadvantage Test to secret individual agreements that measure them against safety-net awards. Even against that standard, the OEA document comes up $94 a week short, according to the CFMEU.
The model AWA also sets out a standard 40 hour week, which the agreement states can be reduced without pay at the employer's whim.
However, if the employee is required to work beyond the 40 hours, pay continues at the standard rate without overtime penalties, which are usually protected under an enterprise agreement.
CFMEU Wollongong's David Kelly said the AWA put legitimate businesses at a disadvantage against employers who wanted to deny workers their entitlements.
"Illegitimate small businesses will be forced into the system," Kelly said.
Kelly measured the payments set out in the OEA's pattern AWA against rates paid in Wollongong collective agreements.
Besides the all-in figure being $3.99 an hour shy of the base rate, it made no compensation for daily travel allowance, annual leave, leave loading, a 36-hour week or a $3.50 an hour productivity bonus.
"In practice, your proposal is running in completely the opposite direction," the British Trade Union Congress has warned the Prime Minister in a personal letter.
It says while Howard's Fair Pay Commission would replace awards and restrict wages for the low-paid, Britain's Low Pay Commission has extended regulation of the labour market, and increased low-paid wages above the rate of inflation.
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, says his organisation is concerned about Howard's intentions to remove protections from working people in terms of their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining - both "fundamental human rights covered by core International Labour Organisation conventions.
Meanwhile, within 24 hours of touching down in the UK, a British columnist has nailed the Prime Minister's faux cricket expertise.
In a withering attack, worthy of our own Tool Man Phil Doyle, the Guardian's Marina Hyde, wrote Howard's presence was enough to "sink the heart about the Lords Test".
"If ever there was a case for the separation of powers between sport and politics, Mr Howard is it," Hyde wrote.
"Heaven knows what day this creature is to pitch up at Lords but you can bet your last brass razoo that he'll be itching to give those fabled analytical skills a run-out. Mr Howard may be a big fan and he may be under the impression that nattering about sport on the airwaves makes up for his deficiencies elsewhere, but in most instances there are blind wombats with a better feel for what's happening on the field."
Read Hyde's words of wisdom in full, including the bit about Shane Warne's relative emotional sophistication, at ...
In another embarrassing defeat for the Nigel Hadgkiss-led Taskforce, A Melbourne judge has rejected its claim that CFMEU organiser, Fergal Doyle, "intentionally hindered" a Melbourne site supervisor by checking safety standards.
On the contrary, Justice Ron Merkel ruled, the supervisor had left his normal duties to follow Doyle and an elected safety rep around the site so he could digitally record everything they did, on the advice of the Taskforce, itself.
Justice Merkel said the worker representative had not required the supervisor's participation in the safety inspection and the decision to follow him around, for about half an hour, had been "entirely a matter for him to decide".
Doyle had claimed the right to visit the site because his union had negotiated a certified agreement with a subcontractor at the Villex site.
Justice Merkel found Doyle had exercised right of entry to the job as a "matter of fact, rather than a matter of law" and said it was "unfortunate" that the case did not resolve the "real dispute" about the validity of safety inspections under subcontractors' EBAs.
The head contractor had sought to block Doyle from the workplace.
The Taskforce, bankrolled by taxpayers to spearhead the federal government's crusade against building workers, has spent millions of dollars in running cases on behalf of industry employers.
CFMEU officials complain that it doesn't seem bothered about courtroom defeats. That its real objective appears to be tying the union up in legal proceedings and forcing it to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on defending its right to exist.
It has drawn scathing judicial criticism for its methods and some of the cases it has run.
Earlier this year, Justice Wilcox in the NSW Supreme Court, described a case it had brought against the CFMEU as "hopeless".
"Even on the view of the facts propounded by the applicants," he said, "their case was hopeless. It was instituted without reasonable cause."
His comments came just four months after a Melbourne judge accused Hadgkiss' organisation of using "undemocratic" and "authoritarian" tactics, after it had demanded that workers submit personal bank account details.
"Such notices are foreign to the workplace relations of civilised societies, as distinct from undemocratic and authoritarian states," Justice Marshall said.
The Taskforce was then exposed in the Australian Senate for secretely recording people at work.
The federal government responded by announcing its intention to turn the Taskforce into a permanent Commission with increased coercive powers.
The department was recently outed for forcing new employees onto AWAs, while Andrews was assuring the public they were all about "choice", now it is flying in the face of government assurances it will retain the IRC as a robust dispute-settling mechanism.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is refusing to sign off on an agreement with 1500 CPSU members while they have the right to refer disputes to the Industrial Relations Commission.
"The Prime Minister is on record assuring Australians the commission will have an ongoing role is dispute resolution. If that is true, why is the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations refusing access to its own staff?" CPSU spokesperson Lisa Newman asked.
"We have had the right to take serious disputes to the IRC in our last two agreements but have never used it. We see it as a backstop that puts pressure on the parties to resolve issues in the workplace it.
"Without it, unfortunately, an aggressive party can simply stonewall an issue without making a genuine attempt at resolution."
Negotiations with the department have now dragged on for 11 months, raising concerns that it is running the political line of the federal government, rather than trying to bargain good faith.
Canberra is committed to spreading secret individual employment contracts in preference to transparent collective agreements.
While EBA workers have been stone-walled, employees have been lured onto AWAs offering immediate increases.
Departmental sources say whatever the going EBA offer, the department adds approximately one percentage point to that increase if workers will sign AWAs.
"Effectively, they are trying to starve people onto AWAs," Newman said.
"They have already said that the only way to get a job is on an AWA. Now they are suggesting the only way to get a wage rise is through an AWA.
"It's an interesting take on freedom of choice."
Frustrated CPSU reps are asking the public to help push the department into negotiating in good faith.
Online protests can be sen to Andrews and his departmental head, Peter Boxall, by following this link http://www.cpsu.org.au/campaigns/DEWR/protest/index.html
A Canberra firm, Energy Services Environmental, went behind the back of employees who signed its original AWA deal to offer nearly eight dollars an hour extra to one man holding out.
The letter offering the deal ended up on the lunch room table, which led to the remaining workers confronting their employer over the different pay rates.
The boss then called police to evict a union organiser who met with workers who had expressed concern over their AWAs.
Rodney Larsen, a supervisor with Energy Services Environmental, grabbed Matt McCann from the Electrical Trades Union by the arm in an attempt to get him out of the workplace after McCann had met with employees
When McCann refused to go Larsen called the police.
"When they turned up the coppers rolled their eyes and seemed pretty annoyed about having their time wasted," says McCann.
Two employees out of a workforce of ten have refused to sign AWAs offered by the company which strip public holidays, penalty rates, shift allowances, holiday loading, rostered days off and have a 41 hour working week.
Energy Services Environmental attempted a collective agreement, also known as a LK Agreement, which would have roped the two workers not on AWAs onto the same conditions as the AWAs.
When this agreement went to a vote the workers on AWAs chose not to force their two colleagues onto the lower conditions.
The two workers are continuing to refuse to sign the company's AWAs.
"If we lost the use of the state Industrial Relations Commission it would be a lot harder to get the result we achieved," says electrician Dean Storey, who was presented with a safety achievement award by Commerce Minister John Della-Bosca for his campaign to clean up the Hilton job.
"It would have been illegal for us to withdraw our labour on safety grounds."
Storey took on construction giant Leightons over their liability to pay workers for time lost on the job after WorkCover shut the site down while asbestos was removed.
Leightons had refused to cough up the cash, but Commissioner O'Neill of the NSW Industrial relations Commission found they had to pay up.
The win for the workers on the Hilton job set an important precedent in taking the onus for dealing with key safety issues off subcontractors and shifting it instead to principle contractors.
"It takes away the contractors being the meat in the sandwich,' says Geoff Prime from the ETU.
Storey was present at the Sky Channel hook up at Coogee on July 1 and addressed 600 workers about his experience at the Hilton refurbishment job and what the changes to workplace laws mean.
He's now active in passing on the word to workplaces across Sydney about what people are likely to lose under the IR Changes.
The locked out workers, who are asking for a collective agreement from the aerospace multinational, saw the scabs off after scores of workers in Brisbane rallied outside Boeing Australia's Brisbane head office.
The peaceful protest in busy Adelaide Street attracted a lot of interest from the public and support from passing traffic.
"We'll be keeping the pressure on Boeing until they do the right thing," says Marina Williams from the Queensland AWU.
The AWU is promoting an "adopt-a-family' scheme where workplaces and individuals can sponsor a family of one of the locked out workers. With the dispute stretching into the eighth week the Newcastle office of the AWU is coordinating efforts to relieve the financial pressures on the workers.
The AWU Newcastle office can be contacted on (02) 4967 1155 or Freecall 1800 649 696.
The workers have also set up a website to help promote their campaign for a collective agreement.
A memorandum of Understanding between UnionsACT and the territory's government ensures that only companies who have met their industrial relations obligations will be eligible for government contracts.
The memorandum provides an enforceable tool for ensuring that appropriate conditions of employment are a pre-condition of eligibility for companies to tender for contracts.
"These IR obligations are clear," says Peter Malone, secretary of UnionsACT. "They must treat their staff appropriately in terms of wages, workers compensation, collective bargaining and right of entry.
"They can't avoid their obligations."
While UnionsACT have warmly welcomed the agreement they are also warning that the Howard Government's proposed changes to workplace laws could threaten the whole agreement.
"Changes to federal laws could potentially undermine a progressive and cooperative arrangement that only seeks to protect employees," says Malone.
Masterton Homes carpenter, Phil Withington, has returned to work on award conditions after refusing to give in to a contract that left him $7000 a year worse off.
Withington's reinstatement follows a campaign by the CFMEU, who held a picket line outside Masterton's Warwick Farm showroom, and encouraged the community to sign a petition and write to the company.
Withington, a Masterton employee for 26 years, thanked thousands who signed the petition and wrote to the company.
"I thought I was one person, standing up for what I believe, but workers rights are an important issue for everyone in the community," Withington said.
"This has made me realise that many other people have faced a similar situation, and will continue to suffer in the same way if we do not do anything about it."
Withington said he hoped his actions would encourage people to stand up for themselves.
"Our forefathers fought hard to win these workplace rights, and it is our job to keep up the struggle to make sure we pass on a better world and a better workplace to our children."
G8 protests > eyewitness report
Jim Casey, sydney activist and firefighter, has just returned from Scotland where he participated in the huge mass mobilisations at the G8 summitt. He will give an eyewitness report on the protests and show video footage of the direct actions in the fields and streets of the scottish lowlands around Gleneagles.
7-8.30 pm, Tuesday, July 26
(upstairs) Gaelic Club
64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
(close to the Central Station tunnel)
All Welcome : Entry by Donation
The forum will be preceded at 6.00pm by the regular 30A Network organising meeting, which is planning protests at the Global CEO confererence to be held at the Sydney Opera House on August 30. www.30a.org
Sneak Previews of Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis‚ political thriller
June 28, 2005: Union Aid Abroad ˆ APHEDA and the Sydney Social Forum (SFF) proudly present advance screenings of the compelling new documentary The Take, a film by Avi Lewis and best-selling author Naomi Klein (No Logo), at the Chauvel Cinema on Thursday 14 July and Friday 15 July. Canadian director, Avi Lewis will present a Q&A after each screening.
Life Without Unions - The New Reality?
The NSW Fabio Society is conducting this forum with:
Greg Combet, Secretary ACTU
Heather Ridout, CEO AIG
When: Wednesday 20 July from 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Where: LHMU Auditorium, 187 Thomas Street, Haymarket
Chair: Peter Lewis, Editor Workers Online and Director EMC
Member of the NSW Fabian Society
Forthcoming Fabian Society Forums
August: Israel & Palestine
With: Speakers to be advised
When: Wednesday 24 August from 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Where: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
September: Media Reform
With: Andy Nehl & Julianne Schultz
When: Wednesday 21 September from 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Where: Theatrette NSW Parliament House
October: One Year Down &. Two to Go - Can Labor Win in 2007?
With: John Singleton & others TBA
When: Wednesday 19 October from 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Where: NSW Parliament House
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
The Left in America are rediscovering the language they previously used that has now been captured by the Right to distract people from voting for their own economic interests. It's time we in Australia re-learnt the art of FRAMING THE DEBATE.
For the past forty years or so the Left in America have been losing ground to Republican Right in their core constituency: the average American. Ever since Keating, the same has been happening in Australia with regards to the Labor Party being the traditional party of the working class now holding less low income federal seats than the Liberal Party alone.
What went wrong? the language of framing. The simplest way to explain language is basically to set the terms of the debate on an issue. For example, in America the Republicans introduced a bill into Congress to ban what they called 'Partial Birth Abortion'. When the average person hears that, they more than likely imagine a gruesome image of a baby being killed whilst half born. The term was a frame and was another word for 'late term abortion'. However because every Conservative media outlet kept repeating it along with all the Republican Congressmen, it soon became mainstream and replaced late term abortion. Unfortunately our side, the Democrats, failed to realise this and started using the term 'partial birth abortion' when they were trying to argue for a woman's right to choose. The right wingers had defined/framed the issue as 'you are either for or against partial birth abortion'. The Democrats failed to realise this and argued within this frame.
To the average person watching the Left arguing to support 'partial birth abortion', the left come across as complete monsters. Even the average pro-choice person saw it that way because most people did not know what the term meant.
When John Howard began framing Paul Keating as an 'elitist' and won over the majority of those on the bottom of the economic ladder, he reframed the debate away from economics and onto social issues, and our side unfortunately played right into it. By taking economics off the table in terms of what differentiated us with the Liberals, and only seemingly remaining different on Social Issues, we took away the major reason for these people to vote for us.
Given that most people on the lower end of the economic scale are economically left and socially conservative, the Liberals now became a match made in heaven for the conservative 'working class'.
John Howard is a master at framing and reframing. When Mark Latham had him cornered as untrustworthy due to being caught out as a liar, Howard REFRAMED the issue of trust to associate it with his 'record' on interest rates. This is exactly how he launched his campaign when he called the election. "This campaign is about trust. Who do you TRUST, to keep interest rates low?"
One recent major mistake the Student Unions have made in their campaign against Voluntary Student Unionism is accepting the frame of the government - introducing VOLUNTARY Student Unionism. When our side argues against VOLUNTARY Student Unionism, we are implying that students should be forced into it. No one likes to be 'forced' into anything. Every time we used the term VOLUNTARY Student Unionism we were arguing against ourselves and kicking our own goals. What we perhaps should have done was to frame it as 'dismembering student communities'. "We are against DSC".
This article is by no means proposing that Labor and the general Left go back to the old days and forget how much many of the reforms gave the nation the prosperity it is enjoying today, but what it is proposing is that we need to be careful with our language. We need to win back our traditional base, and we need to frame the Liberals for what they are - supporters of the big end of town elite, at the expense of the average Australian.
Other frames which we could benefit from:
With the Senate falling into Conservative hands for the first time in a long time, John Howard is going to push through MANY measures which will harm the average Australian. Every time the Howard government tries anything slightly controversial, the Progressives can be their and label the government "arrogant and out of touch". "After winning all those elections, the Howard government has become arrogant and out of touch".
To see how the grass roots of the Left in the States are reframing visit here http://www.demspeak.com/ or google 'framing'.
Highly recommended book: "Don't think of an elephant! Know your values and frame the debate" By George Lakoff now available in Australian bookstores, or Amazon.com.
I've just read the State of the Union address. I'm reminded that while the Conservatives of this country are our foremost union bashers they had a helping hand throughout the '80's from a former ACTU President in the person of RJL Hawke. I am also reminded of a speech made to the Federal Executive of the ALP by Arthur Calwell some thirty years ago the thrust of which was that, unless the ALP whole-heartedly embraced Democratic Socialism, it would end up a "muddle-headed, middle-class, status seeking party". Sadly, this seems to be the current state of the ALP. I will never give my vote to a Conservative but can understand the lack of faith the 30% must feel.
Three young kids , and a thousand sleepless nights.
Long shifts, longer bills, nae chance of ever tasting life's sweet delights.
Fear of the street, and fear of hunger's pain.
Your own house a dream, a dream long dreamt in vain.
Your blood is worth twelve bucks a bloody hour.
The sack, a threat that makes a grown man cower.
The pawnshop door, the place of last resort.
Financial vice, the system's final tort.
Christmas comes, you're heart and soul a knot.
Their simple ask, just what their friends have got.
But not a hope, the struggle's just to eat,
To pay the rent, put shoes upon their feet.
What cost, the price to help the lower paid?
No massive cost, just gestures simply made.
John Mc Shane
What on earth is Workers Online doing touting for the so-called "SLAPP in the face of democracy - public forum on how corporate legal actions try to silence community groups"?
By promoting this green-nazi talkfest, Workers Online is giving a slap in the face to workers.
The Gunns workers and their union the CFMEU solidly support its legal action, which it has launched in desperation after a 30-year campaign of harassment, intimidation and violence towards workers by Brown and his Green-Brownshirts, cheered on by the latte sipping "progressives" in the inner city suburbs and their media darlings. Urinating in workers' helmets and water bottles, smearing faeces over doorhandles and seats of workers' vehicles, adding dangerous pollutants to petrol tanks and deadly steel spikes through trees are just some of the greenies' anti-worker tactics and the workers have finally had a gutfull.
The greenies' claim to be defending free speech is the very opposite of the truth. They want to stifle it. The green dominated Tasmanian Environmental Defenders Office tried to sue the REAL "community group" Timber Communities Australia for criticising its website. Brown and his ex-commo "girlfriend" Rhiannon are free to say anything in the cowards' castle of Parliament, and they do. Tasmania already has more of its territory devoted to totally protected forest than any other place on Earth, but the greenies won't be satisfied until every forest worker is unemployed, and the greenies can holiday in Tassie without any risk of running into any of those nasty working class people.
Workers' Online should be the voice of the workers, not their persecutors.
Just letting you know that John Howard is opening a back-slapping conference of 300 big business 'chiefs' at the Opera House at the end of August and I hope NSW unionists and their families will give them the welcome they deserve.
Just to make the link between big business and government really clear, the Business Council of Australia president and long-time union-hater, Hugh Morgan, will be a key speaker.
So will Steve Forbes (of Forbes rich list fame), former right wing NYC mayor Giuliani and a bunch of people making money out of the war in Iraq.
The 30a Network is organising a carnival out the front (the police have said 'Yes' to the forecourt) for when Howard does his welcome. People should come together from 5pm in the afternoon of Tuesday 30 August. There are union and community speakers and music to keep us warm into the night
Please check out http:/www.30a.org/ for more information on what's happening and how you can help
Please tell your workmates, friends and family
We'd love your help as part of the battle to stop Howard bringing in a U.S. style wages and (lack of) social security system
Teachers Fed rep - NSW
This weekend a group of America's four largest unions, representing 30 per cent of the US movement, will boycott the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago, beginning a seemingly irreversible march to disaffiliating from the peak body.
As of print time, the SEIU, Teamsters, UFCWIU and UNITE HERE look likely to walk away from the AFL-CIO, withdraw their affiliation fees and set up their own movement.
Trying to make sense of the schism from afar is always difficult, but from what I can make out the dissidents led by SEIU chief Andy Stern want the AFL-CIO (led by former SEIU chief John Sweeney) to shift its emphasis from political campaigning to grassroots organising.
At issue is the question of whether the political-organising funding model should be about 60-40 or 40-60.
Of course, this budget is only the emblem for deep-seated frustrations created by a hostile political environment, a shrinking membership base, and personal ambitions fuelled by desperation to find a Messiah with the one big solution.
There is no denying that unions are struggling in the USA, with single figure coverage in the private sector, and that the case for changing tactics in a particularly hostile environment would appear compelling.
But look through history and very few splits make either the splitter or the split-ee stronger. From Caesar and Antony, through Trotsky and Lenin, to the ALP and DLP - they've all ended in tears.
But why would we in Australia care if the US union movement proceeds to eat itself?
First, while we might not like to admit it, much of our union strategy has been driven from the USA in recent years. The so-called organising model that has reached the level of faith in some quarters was a direct application of the US doctrine.
Moreover, America exports most of its ideas and the US labour movement's failure to tame major corporations is an international commodity coming to a workplace near you.
Secondly, some of those looking at IR reform beyond the Howard assault see US-style 'recognition ballots' as the end game of Labor's response - enshrining bargaining rights at the workplace and allowing unions to levy bargaining fees on non-members who benefit from their work.
In this context, we will be looking at the US for strategies to win recognition ballots, and there's no denying the SEIU do it well.
Thirdly - and most importantly - the SEUI is thinking globally and has recently put up $1 million to be spent in Australia - ostensibly to further the cause of organising in multinational corporations.
Exactly how is unclear, but the prospect of the establishment of a separatist structure within the Australian movement is the last thing we need right now.
You only have to look at Chicago to see where that inevitably leads. Disunity is death.