When George W Bush stands up and says he is proud to be a merkin, we can believe him.
With a Category 5 Republican Administration bearing down on the working poor in the US, it was left to George W. Bush to ensure that no one was left playing the blame game following the pathos and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
There was no game to play. The blame was there for all to see.
It may not be fashionable in neo-liberal circles, but the founding basis of the state, any state, has been the ability of the leader(s) to protect the people from harm.
Any leader who wantonly, or by malfeasance, leads a people into harm, or exposes them to tribulation, is seldom considered to have executed this most basic of responsibilities.
While George W's idea of executing his responsibilities has something to do with the electric chair, he and his administration's pathological ineptitude was writ large in a tragedy that eclipsed the cowboy paranoia of the war on terror.
For a week George was home on the range at Crawford while what was patently the biggest storm in a long, long time built up in the Mexican Gulf.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Marie Antoinette told Les Miserables of Paris to "eat cake" if they had no bread; George W. played guitar while the levee broke.
What preparations were made? Officials sent out the George W. doctrine; neo-liberal mantra -"everyone for themselves". This 'run for the hills' solution may have been calming for those prepared to be gouged by market forces at play in the motel sector and at the gasoline pump, but it didn't help those who relied on public transport, the urban poor.
If people couldn't get out then, hey, that was the free market in action.
For those left behind George W Bush had no plan.
As N'Orleans mayor Ray Nagin pointed out, this was a class issue. People, the working poor, were literally left behind to die.
Luckily the war on terror had George W Bush's ever-vigilant Department of Homeland Security off looking in dark rooms for black cats that weren't there.
The resources that should have protected the all important levee, not to mention the business end of the Louisiana National Guard, were off fighting George W's war against the ayrabs getting' their hands on oil owed to the US through Manifest Destiny.
Then, when the stink rose from the place where Daddy Bush was inaugurated as the Republican Party candidate in 1988, the Superdome, Bush emerged to lecture about property rights and to suggest that prevention of insurance fraud was more important than human life.
When this just inflamed tensions, George W responded with a photo opportunity.
In the meantime mothers wept, children screamed, bodies floated through streets and others, inspired by their political masters, took the law into their own hands at the decisive end of a gun.
Over a million bewildered Americans wondered why their country had abandoned them.
The end of the neo-conservative project that started under Reagan occurred on the night of August 28 when Katrina showed that the weather is still a far more important conversation than abstract theories about individual liberty.
George W Bush's criminal maladministration may defend its ideology of all power to the individual, but there are a hell of a lot of individuals who are dead, sick or who will never be the same again through this pursuit of a crass, material liberty for a few, at the expense of any form of life except for a Hobbesian nightmare of all against all; a life that is nasty, brutish and short.
Forget oil prices, geopolitics, clever word games or even the ham buffoonery of a failed Texan Oil Tycoon.
Our Tool Of The Week has murdered his own people.
The single mum's contract leaves sick pay in the hands of management, which refused point blank although she was taken off its premises in an ambulance.
The call centre operator, dubbed 'Sharon' for privacy reasons, had two weeks off with a respiratory condition - including several days in hospital - after collapsing at her desk.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said she was working while clearly in an unfit state because Telstra had also denied payment for two previous sick days and her family could not afford to lose any more money.
The union, which has since won her payment for eight of the days, says she was also put on a 'performance improvement program' on the day she returned and given an official warning for being behind her monthly sales target.
CPSU regional secretary Stephen Jones said Sharon got the job 18 months ago on the proviso she signed an AWA. As well as leaving sick pay to the discretion of management, the contract also allows Telstra to alter her hours at will.
He said Sharon was not told why she was not being paid for her sick leave and still does not know if she will be paid if she falls sick in the future.
Jones said Sharon's situation could become increasingly common.
"The Federal Government's radical workplace laws will make these types of individual contracts all the more common. This means that current conditions, such as sick leave, annual leave, weekends, overtime and penalty rates are now under threat.
"The message for workers when asked to sign AWAs is that the devil is in the detail.
"Management talks about trust and flexibility but when it comes to the crunch flexibility means doing whatever management wants," Jones says.
Telstra employees covered by the union negotiated enterprise bargaining agreement are guaranteed 15 days personal or carer's leave each year.
Sharon's issue was highlighted when the Unions NSW Rights at Work bus visited Bathurst, last Friday, at the end of a week-long trip around communities in the state's west.
Financier Macquarrie Bank coughed up the money after a two-week picket of an apartment development, following the collapse of builder, JLB.
CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, confirmed $3 million of the settlement would go to unpaid subcontractors, while another $150,000 had been earmarked for wages and entitlements owed to building workers, clerical workers and management staff.
"They all put their hands up and they were all owed money," Ferguson said.
"I'm not sure if the company went into administration or receivership. It doesn't matter, the point is it didn't pay.
"We will continue this type of action on behalf of workers and family businesses in spite of the threats of the federal government."
The CFMEU has already targeted developers of JLB sites at Wollongong and Dee Why for similar attention.
It made a breakthrough at Dee Why, last week, when money men came across with $10,000 for a dudded building worker.
Similar actions drew the wrath of Terry Cole during his discredited Building Industry Royal Commission on which the government based a range of anti-worker measures.
Last week, the Senate passed the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill, which seeks to drastically limit the ability of building workers to defend wages, conditions and entitlements.
The Act makes just about every form of industrial action unlawful and broadens the meaning of industrial action to include anything that deviates from normal work patterns, potentially catching sickies and deliberate lateness.
Restrictions or delays over safety fears will be "unlawful" unless the threat is later judged to have been "imminent".
Individual workers face fines of up to $22,000 and unions can be slugged $110,000 for each breach.
The legislation will be policed by a new Australian Building Industry Commission, likely to be headed up by anti-worker activists Jonathan Hamberger and Nigel Hadgkiss.
Both men, in previous guises, have drawn severe judicial censure, for their actions against the CFMEU.
The Commission will have the power to force building workers to attend secret interrogations sessions where they can be compelled to answer questions and produce documents, and may be ordered not to reveal the details of interrogations to anyone but their lawyers.
Any breach of those provisions is punishable by prison.
The federal government has also announced its intention to introduce special legislation that will "ring fence" contractors from rights and responsibilities conferred by industrial law.
That is a concern to Ian Fullford of the Australian Trades Contractors Association who estimates between 40 and 50 of his members benefited from the Marrickville picket.
He described his organisation's relationship with the CFMEU as "positive".
"They were very reasonable," he said. "They sat down with Macquarrie Bank and ourselves and helped get a settlement.
"I could probably have got an agreement myself but whether I would have been able to get the money, at the end of the day, is another matter.
"To some extent, we have a common interest because, often, when their members don't get paid it is because our members haven't been paid."
Ferguson says federal standover tactics will not intimidate the CFMEU.
It plans pickets of JLB's former sites if financiers do not come across with hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to workers and contractors.
Meanwhile, Workers Online understands that officers from the Building Industry Taskforce have been investigating green bans imposed by the union, including one designed to protect Redfern Oval.
Trainee bus driver Tracey Carpenter was sacked after State Transit refused to alter her rosters so she could look after her kids, aged two and four.
Carpenter's hours of 12.30pm to 7.30pm created difficulty in securing child care, and private arrangements could not always be made, meaning she had to take time off work.
Carpenter told Kingsgrove Depot management 12 months ago of her situation, in the hope they could help her, but they refused.
"There are 450 drivers at Kingsgrove Depot," says Raul Boanza from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). "It would have been shit easy.
"For 12 months she wasn't being assisted in any way."
When Carpenter completed her traineeship she was presented with a letter from management dumping her from State Transit, citing absences because of her children.
"Everything else on her record is perfect," says Boanza, who took up the matter with Kingsgrove Depot managers. "The absences are genuine and well documented.
"They told us when we met with them that they couldn't be satisfied that she could keep her family issues under control."
After meeting with Carpenter's union representatives State Transit management said they would reconsider her position if she could provide "documentation' to show that her family situation would not impact on her work.
"We are not bargaining over this issue," says Boanza. "She has the right to go back to work.
"State Transit has failed her on legal and moral grounds.
The RTBU will take the matter to the Human Rights Commission, claiming discrimination against Carpenter on marital and family grounds.
Amendments to the “Better Bargaining Bill”, passed through Parliament last week, ban employees, at different sites, from asking for similar wages or conditions, even when they are doing the same work.
They make industry-wide strikes illegal, and allow the Industrial Relations Commission to shut down lawful industrial action.
The move to block "pattern bargaining" or "equal pay for equal work" comes as the Government's Office of the Employment Advocate is promoting "pattern" individual agreements that cut ruling rate payments and do away with negotiated conditions.
The pattern bargaining ban applies only to collective contracts but is silent on AWAs and other forms of individual contracts.
The Bill gives third parties the right to seek IRC orders that would halt protected stoppages, and gives the Commission the power to stop protected action when it becomes effective.
There are no matching remedies for anyone to challenge employer lockouts.
The amendments, defeated three times in recent years, are now headed for the Coalition-controlled Senate.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said they were another example of the Howard-led government's "hypocrisy" on workplace relations.
"We are now banned from asking for similar wages and conditions across multiple employers," Combet said. "At the same time, the government is actively promoting individual contracts by which employers can reduce the wages and entitlements of employees.
"It is blatantly unfair because this law only applies to collective agreements and not individual contracts."
Combet said Canberra was taking every step it could to deny Australians the right to collective bargaining.
The amendments are forerunners to major legislative change that will remove unfair dismissal rights from millions of Australians, and slash existing entitlements back to five minimum conditions.
The suite of anti-worker laws will be backed by jail time, and massive fines for unions, and individual workers, who engage in industrial activity that will be pronounced unlawful.
The government plans is legislating for fines of over $100,000 for unions and up to $20,000 for individual members.
Melanie Reardon was also denied time off after her brother died, and says she was told, “everybody had to die sometime”, when she wanted to take her mother, who has cancer, for chemotherapy treatment.
Reardon told a Unions NSW meeting last week how she had worked with a broken leg for a year because she couldn't get the time off from work to have the necessary surgery.
She says that workplace flexibility means all give and no take for employees like her.
"I'm happy to work my share of weekends," says Reardon. "Before I signed the AWA I had two weekends off in six to spend time with my children, but now they wanted to take away another weekend from me and my family."
"You ask yourself what you're working for?"
Reardon was told by Harvey Norman that if she did not sign the AWA, which made no mention of roster changes, the company would not be able to keep her employed.
"The rosters change every three or four weeks and you have to change your entire life," says Reardon. "
Since joining the retail union, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), Reardon had her AWA overturned and won back her Award rights and a roster with family time every weekend.
After she challenged the new rosters she was 'counselled" for using a work telephone to contact the union. She asked for the "counselling" to be removed from her employment record; the day after that she was terminated.
"The company claimed to terminate her for her injury and being unfit for full duties. Reardon is cleared for full duties and ready to work," says an SDA spokesperson.
Reardon also discovered she was not been paid penalty rates for weekend work.
"We were not told what we were entitled to," says Reardon. "We were told at Harvey Norman that we were not allowed to join a union because we were not paid award rates."
Reardon was appalled when she could not get time off to attend a family gathering after her brother unexpectedly passed away, instead being required to assemble and disassemble bar stools at the Liverpool store.
The SDA has lodged a claim for unfair dismissal against Reardon's employer in the Industrial Relations Commission.
The Australian Research Council-funded projected found that stripping Australians at workplaces of less than 100 people of unfair dismissal rights could create 6000 jobs, against the 77,000 claimed by the Prime Minister.
The study, by Paul Oslington and Benoit Freyens from the University of NSW Business School, set out to quantify the costs of dismissing employees, how they varied across industries, and the impact of the size of the operation.
Over three years, they carried out a quantitative survey of 1800 small and medium sized firms, employing more than 33,000 Australians, in conjunction with economic modelling of company behaviour.
More than 200 firms in the survey reported redundancies and there were 598 reported sackings of which 451 were not disputed.
The survey put the average cost of an uncontested dismissal at $3044, or 10.3 percent of average wage costs, against $14,705, or 35.7 percent, for the 37 matters that went to arbitration or the courts.
Modelling brought them to an estimated gain of about 6000 jobs nationwide if small and medium sized businesses were give the green light to unfairly dismiss workers, in line with government plans.
"Unfair dismissal regulations are politically sensitive in Australia, associated with a number of other controversial changes to labour market regulation," the authors wrote.
"It is important to evaluate the unfair dismissal changes separately from the other proposed changes - it is perfectly possible that one change may not be supported by the evidence while others are beneficial.
"Neither of us had a political agenda in undertaking the research, and in fact our beliefs were probably that firing costs haed a large effect on employment. The evidence suggests otherwise."
The Finance Sector Union has won a Federal Court judgment to stop the Commonwealth Bank from transferring employees into a different company to be employed on individual contracts.
In his ruling, Justice Merkel described as "essentially an industrial regulation avoidance scheme, (which) possesses an ingenuity that is reminiscent of the tax avoidance schemes of the 1970s".
The dispute arose out of a decision by the CBA in May 2002 to establish CommSec as the future employer of employees to be employed under individual contracts in the Premium Financial Services division of the bank.
The move would have forced several hundred employees to resign and accept new positions with substandard conditions, according to FSU national Assistant Secretary Sharon Caddie.
"The bank was attempting to alter job parameters, and reduce conditions, for hundreds of staff in a dodgy sleight of hand," she said.
In a decision handed down this afternoon in the Federal Court, Justice Merkel found that the FSU had made out its claim that the bank discriminated against its employees by making it a condition that they resign from the Commonwealth Bank to take up positions in the Premium Banking division.
He also found that the failure to consult with the FSU about that decision breached its obligations under the certified agreement. He also found that the agreement the bank made with its call centre staff, intended to cover its managers, was invalid and that ComSec appeared to have misled the AIRC when it applied for the agreement to be certified.
Ms Caddie said the decision should send a clear message to employers that the rights of union member employees would be protected by the courts.
"The bank tried to force its employees onto individual agreements with no clear limits on hours of work, reduce their leave, and retrenchment entitlements and allowed the bank to reassign employees to other roles within its related companies," she said.
Anne Gooley, Industrial Principal at Maurice Blackburn Cashman, said the decision was a victory for union members. "The court has found that the use of a wholly owned subsidiary to employee labour to avoid award and agreement relations was not on," she said.
"The judge found that CommSec mislead the AIRC when it applied to certify its new agreement with these employees," she said.
The court will reconvene on 14 October for a penalty hearing.
A 'Your Rights At Work' merchandising initiative by the ACTU is emblazoning everyday items with the campaign logo, helping it to reach saturation point in Australian workplaces, at community events, and on the street.
The items - which also includes bags, tops, a mouse mat, and a bright yellow safety vest - can only be ordered though unions and only by close of business Wednesday 14 September.
After that, the ACTU will assess the success of the endeavour before deciding whether to offer the goods again.
ACTU workplace marketing officer Charlie Yanni said response from unions had so far been positive, with t-shirts, lollies, and black shopping bags proving early winners in the popularity stakes, and the yellow safety vest taking a bit longer to catch on.
He said the ACTU came up with the idea because it recognised there was a need.
"We saw there was a need to brand 'Your Rights at Work' and get it out within working environments in a way that is instantly recognisable.
"We chose a mixture of practical, fun, and wearable items so people can make use of them in workplaces, on weekends, or at community events. They can be given out at Christmas.
"By offering these items to unions we free them up from the administration and make it much easier than if they had to source the products themselves."
Union members wanting something more from their Spring/Summer fashion collections, wishing to spread the word at work, or looking for that special gift at Christmas, are bound to find a befitting item.
But they are reminded the merchandising can only be ordered through their union and only until Wednesday 14 September. For more details and to view the catalogue email [email protected] or call 1300 362 223.
Karl Safranek was shocked when the company gave him the bullet after he reported a health and safety breach but refused to name the person who had hitched a lift on the prongs of his forklift.
"I reported the incident but I didn't want to name the person," he explained.
"I have been told he has a reputation but I don't know if that is right or wrong.
"What I do know is that I have a wife and a six-year-old daughter and we live in an isolated place. It's not suburbia, we are 60 acres from the nearest house.
"I'm not saying anything about the person involved because I don't know but I had real and genuine concerns about pushing the guy into a corner.
"I discussed it with my wife and she thought I was doing the right thing."
Safranek said he didn't even know he had anyone on the forks of his machine until he looked over his shoulder.
Unions NSW and the CFMEU are fighting Safranek's dismissal in the NSW IRC, in a test case about the breadth of health and safety obligations.
The CFMEU's Brad Parker said it was a "unique case" that deserved "unique consideration".
The union, he said, had put three practical alternatives to Carter Holt Harvey that would have dealt with Safranek's concerns. It suggested either:
- organising a meeting of all employees to outline the dangers inherent in clambering aboard moving forklifts
- that Karl would outline the specifics to the chair of the site safety committee who could then take it up with the offender privately
- that health and safety authority, Workcover, be called in to deal with the issue
Carter Holt Harvey rejected all those avenues and fired the employee of three years.
"I thought I did the right thing and never expected to lose my job as a result," Safranek said.
"They took a hard line. There was no consideration of my concerns because they wanted to be seen running the show."
The advertising staff, from suburban Leader Newspapers, were stood down when they imposed work bans in frustration at nine months of negotiation during which the company failed to make a single wage offer.
The breaking point came when Leader Newspapers refused to agree to a clause that would have provided for independent IRC arbitration of workplace disputes.
Last week, 40 NUW members picketed Leader operations around the city's suburbs.
"Our members wanted to send News Ltd a message that they were fed up with the stalling tactics and wanted the EBA they were promised months ago," NUW secretary, Martin Pakula, said.
"Leader responded by standing everyone down, we assume, in the belief it would force them back to work. Well, that has failed, our members are more determined than ever to win a reasonable EBA outcome."
The NUW and News Ltd have been in negotiations since December.
Talks were thrown into disarray after just one month when NUW members were issued with non-negotiated AWAS that the majority refused to sign.
Pakula said Leader Newspapers had thrown up road blocks at every stage of negotiations.
"This is a dispute about basic safety net provisions, to protect our members' interests in the event of conflict with the company, like we have now," he said.
Nearly two thirds of respondents in a marginal electorates survey said the Prime Minister's radical workplace agenda would be "bad" for the average worker, while 62 percent thought Australians would be "worse off" under individual contracts.
The poll of 614 people, living in marginals Australia-wide, was conducted by Melbourne-based, MarketMetrics Research, between August 19 and 24.
It found a high level of awareness of the government's workplace agenda, and strong rejection of Canberra's "higher wages, better jobs" spin.
More than three quarters of respondents said they had heard a lot or something about Howard's proposals, and 75 percent rejected his claim they would lead to better pay.
There was overwhelming support for laws that would enshrine rights to collective bargaining and union representation. Eighty seven percent of respondents thought union membership and collective bargaining should be legally enforceable rights.
The survey results were unveiled by the AMWU at federal parliament, last week.
National secretary, Doug Cameron, said they showed the public was not being taken in by the government's taxpayer-funded propaganda blitz.
"People are rightly concerned and wary," he said. "Workers know individual contracts will lead to a loss of conditions and entitlements, and that families will be much worse off."
Cameron was joined by two members, Keith Brown and Lesley Weers, who have first-hand experience of the frustrations caused by a system stacked against employees.
Brown, from Morris McMahon in Sydney, and Hawker de Havilland delegate Weers, have been involved in protracted disputes where employers have flatly refused to negotiate collective agreements, in the face of overwhelming votes in their favour.
They shared their experiences with a range of Senators and MPs.
Key results of the latest polling showed ..
- 41 percent of respondents had head a "lot" and 36 percent about "some" of the federal government's proposals
- 64 percent believed the changes would be bad for ordinary workers
- 62 percent felt that people who went onto individual contracts would be worse off, 30 percent felt they would be "a lot worse off"
- 64 percent felt people would be likely to lose penalty payments
- 58 percent thought people would be likely to lose annual leave loadings
- 57 percent said workers would be likely to lose control over their working hours
- 56 percent thought paid overtime was likely to go
- 54 percent thought job security was likely to diminish
- 86 percent supported laws that would compel employers to bargain collectively, if a majority of workers wanted to
- 75 percent disagreed with government's claim its changes would deliver better pay
- 62 percent rejected its contention they would lead to more jobs
- 52 percent disagreed they would lead to a stronger economy
Results of the AMWU polling showed greater awareness of the government's plans than had been revealed by a May survey, along with a hardening of opposition.
The performers who play Daffy and his cartoon character colleagues at the Gold Coast theme park have taken to busking on the street to raise money for their stingy employer.
"We're raising money to help management pay its performers a decent wage," the Entertainment Alliance's Seamus Mee said.
About 100 performers rejected a Movie World's final offer of 3.35 per cent followed by a 3.25 per cent increase the following year.
Their previous agreement provided for a 3.5 per cent rise and performers at other sites have secured 4 per cent increases.
Mee said strikes and other industrial action would not be ruled out.
The Canadian Government is one of the leading exporters of asbestos in the world, even though it is banned from domestic sale and strict regulations surround contact with the toxic substance.
In Australia, protests were held outside the Canadian High Commission in Canberra and Canadian consulates in Sydney and Melbourne.
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian said the Canadian Government had a specific policy of targeting South East Asia to export the cheap but deadly building material.
"The Canadian asbestos industry has demonstrated the worst excesses of corporate greed in its predatory targeting of countries such as Thailand and its neighbours, which are struggling to house hundreds of thousands of tragic victims of the Christmas Tsunami," he said.
Bastian warned the Canadian asbestos industry may try to push its exports to areas of the US devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"We hope that the U.S. Government will not also fall prey to aggressive marketing by the Canadian asbestos lobby."
CFMEU construction national secretary John Sutton said Australian workers were outraged by the Canadian Government's actions.
"We have witnessed first hand the carnage and misery these products cause and will oppose any government that allows the trade to continue," he said.
The ACTU secretary threw his weight behind the local community's campaign for a new purpose built library for their school.
Rooty Hill High School teachers received a letter from Carmel Tebbutt, the NSW Minister for Education and Training, last week, confirming that funding has been approved to improve library facilities at the school.
The Minister has also agreed to meet with a delegation from the school to discuss the school's library facilities.
"I remember we had a small library in the seventies," says Combet, whose sister was scxhool captain. "I was shocked when i went back recently to see that the infrastructure was worse than in the seventies, so I'm very pleased about the outcome."
Combet, who played fullback and centre for the school in his younger years, said he was very proud of going to Rooty Hill High and had a strong allegiance to the school after growing up in the area.
"I have very good memories. There were a lot of good people there."
"The Rooty Hill High School community is to be congratulated on its collective strength and determination throughout this campaign," says NSW Teachers Federation Organiser Henry Rajendra.
"It is wonderful to have the support of Greg Combet in this campaign," says NSW Teachers Federation Organiser Henry Rajendra. "Considering the heavy workload he has tackling the Howard Government's proposed industrial relations attacks on working Australians and their families."
Vanstone said the system, which has asylum seekers on worse conditions than convicted criminals, allowed detainees to make a "real contribution."
"Allowing people to do something productive is a necessary response to the common human need to remain active - it's a good thing," she said.
Detainees are being paid as low as $1 an hour to work in areas such as catering.
This can be cashed out in cigarettes and phone cards.
Unions NSW deputy assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou says detainees seem to be treated worse than prisoners.
"In NSW we have a set of standards for prison labour and a monitoring committee that ensures everything is above board," he said.
Christodoulou said the arrangement may be in breach of the government's own Migration Act.
The act bans "unlawful citizens" from undertaking work for "reward or otherwise".
Unions and refugee groups are calling for a full review of working conditions within detention centres.
If you have had problems consolidating your super accounts; have ever attempted to take your money out of one superannuation account and roll it into another; have ever had problems or come across barriers; or you're currently in the process of amalgamating various super accounts into the one fund they are keen to hear from you.
The Australian Consumers Association, publishers of CHOICE and CHOICE Money & Rights magazines want to hear your super switching story.
• How easy/difficult was it to close your account with your old super fund?
• How long did it take to complete the process?
• What was the service like?
• Did you have help from your new fund?
• If you have more than one fund, and plan to keep it that way, why? What are your reasons?
If you're interested in taking part in the 'switching super' project, email the ACA and tell them your story.
Write to [email protected]
Food for Thought....
Don't miss out. Tickets selling fast!
Support Global Solidarity and book your tickets for the Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA annual dinner. In the current climate of threats to workers rights in Australia it has never been more important for all unionists to sit at the one table. Hosted by The Chaser/CNNN team, with guest speaker Jenny Macklin MP, Deputy Federal Labor Leader. Great prizes and a FUN night!
Date: Wednesday 21 September, 2005
Time: 6:30pm for 7:00pm
Place: Petersham RSL Auditorium (7 Regent St, Petersham-Close to Petersham train station and 412 bus stop)
Cost: $50 per person, $450 for a table of 10
To secure your tickets please phone Candice at APHEDA on (02) 9264 9343 or email [email protected]
Neilson comes to Sydney
An exhibition of new paintings by Peter Neilson will be held at Australian Galleries in Sydney from September 6 to October 1, 2005
Drifting South, Always South
15 Roylston Street
02 9360 5177
"The art of Peter Neilson is very much a product of urban Melbourne radicalism. He was born in East Melbourne in 1944 and grew up in the inner - Melbourne suburb of Essendon where he formed a life long affiliation with the local football club." (Dr Sasha Grishin 2002)
Union Avoidance and Union Recognition: A Research Seminar
Wednesday 21 September
The Darlington Centre
The University of Sydney
Spaces are strictly limited to 35. RSVP (see below) is essential
Reconfiguring Union Avoidance: Evidence from the European Union
Dr Tony Dundon
Tony's research looks at the strategies and tactics employers use to remain union-free, covering small family-run and large multi-national companies. It argues that managerial ideologies remain at the heart of the hostility to union organisation and collective representation. In addition, structural factors and cultural dimensions are found to be important aspects in the managerial union avoidance arsenal, to which union organisations campaigns can look towards in terms of future representation campaigns.
Australian Employer Responses to Union Organising Campaigns: Preliminary Results of the 'Campaign Survey'
Dr Rae Cooper
Rae presents the preliminary results of her recent survey of NSW union officials especially in relation to employer responses to union organising campaigns during 2004/2005.
Union Avoidance in a White-collar Setting: Experiences and Prospects
Stephen will reflect upon the Australian experience of union avoidance, the likely impact of the proposed Federal IR changes and implications for union strategy.
RSVP to Dr Rae Cooper on phone 029.351.5241 or email [email protected] by Wednesday 14 September. Spaces are limited to 35 so please RSVP early to be assured of a seat.
A More Diverse Media - Can the Club be Busted?
As the Howard Government prepares to overhaul Labor's cross media laws we ask what needs to be done to open up Australia's small media club to more players and a greater diversity of voices and points of view? Our speakers will consider what the new reforms may mean, and how to genuinely invigorate an homogenised and concentrated media.
Mark Scott - Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Julianne Schultz - Editor Griffith Review and ex-ABC digital strategy
Andy Nehl - TV Producer (Chaser Decides & CNNNN) and Head of TV, AFTRS
When: Wednesday 21 September from 6.00pm - 7.30pm
Where: Theatrette NSW Parliament House
Chair: Tony Moore, Member of the NSW Fabian Society, Pluto Press
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Dinner
Join us for our Annual Dinner and celebrate 21 years of global solidarity on Wednesday 21 September, 2005
Hosted by members of The Chaser/CNNN team. The dinner will feature live music, fabulous prizes, great food and free parking.
Date: Wednesday 21 September, 2005
Time: 6:30pm for 7:00pm
Place: Petersham RSL Auditorium (7 Regent St, Petersham-Close to Petersham train station and 412 bus stop)
Cost: $50 per person, $450 for a table of 10
To secure your tickets please phone Candice at APHEDA on (02) 9264 9343 or email [email protected]
Tribute to HT Lee
Photojournalist - Independent film maker
Activist for East Timor
07.08.1946 - 27.07.2005
Saturday 8th October
64 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills (upstairs)
o Andrew Refshauge (former Deputy Premier)
o Andrew Ferguson, State Secretary, CFMEU
o Katherine Thomson (Playwright)
o Kim Gago (East Timor Community)
o Neil McLean
o Peter Chandran
o Carmela Baranowski
Other speakers to be confirmed
Performances by Enda Kenny and a choir
Entry by donation
Money raised will go to the HT Lee Memorial Political Film-makers Fund to assist people going to East Timor to work on film documentaries
Jointly organised by Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union
(Construction & General Division) and
the Australia-East Timor Association (NSW)
AUSIRAQ union solidarity Jazz night.
Money raised to go through Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) to unions in Iraq.
Entry donation: $39 dinner & live jazz. $19 jazz only
CFMEU auditorium, 12 Railway St, Lidcombe
Tuesday 18 October
From 6:30pm to 10pm.
Children & unwaged 1/2 price. Drinks available
AUSIRAQ union solidarity Jazz night fundraiser
Money raised to go through the ACTU's Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) to unions in Iraq. Best to book ahead for the meal so AUSIRAQ knows how many to cater for.
Contact Lynn Smith: 0439640118
One Year Down & Two to Go - Can Labor Win in 2007?
With John Singleton (Advertising Executive), Geoff Walsh (former ALP National Secretary) & Julie Owens MP (Member for Parramatta)
When: Wednesday 26 October from 6.00pm to 7.30pm
Where: LHMU Auditorium, 187 Thomas Street Haymarket
Chair: Michael Samaras, Secretary NSW Fabian Society
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there was widespread media coverage when Mr Trujillo went to Canberra with his 'reality check' report. The Federal Government told him to shut up and get on with it. But we all got the impression there was something amiss.
As a majority shareholder and regulator, the Federal Government, has firstly, an interest in selling its shares at a premium price, and secondly, an obligation to ensure that the telco functions and will continue to function properly in the future. This would mean value for price.
Reality check - given the Federal Government has so much of OUR money invested in the telco, don't you think that they should have been monitoring OUR investment much more closely than they have been?
Mr Trujillo and his team have been labelled a 'disgrace' in spite of the fact that they have attempted to reveal the true operational state of the teleco (something that has been conveniently ignored to date). The PM admits he was aware of how the share price was being propped up by redirecting profits to shareholders as dividends instead of reinvesting in ongoing and future operational requirements (what does this say about his integrity?).
Mr Costello, heard rumours but ignored them because, he claims, it was not his area of responsibility. Yet he has been salivating over the prospect of the sale and how much it will bring to the Federal Govenment coffers. He is the Federal Treasurer who should take some kind of interest in such a major Government investment, don't you think?
What I think we have here is a case of hear no evil, see no evil - and that is what's hurting investors.
As a major shareholder and regulator, the Federal Government cannot ignore and then try to redirect blame at those who have revealed the information because it is not convenient, and potentially costly, can they?
The revelations about Telstra that look likely to scuttle any chance of flogging off the last tranche of shares owned by the Australian people would come as no surprise to any readers of 'Workers Online.'
The CEPU has been raising the issue of the parlous state of the Australian telecommunications network for years. The CEPU has also raised this issue with Telstra. Telstra, typically, comes out slugging and shoots the messenger. The fact is the network has only kept going due to the commitment and dedication of those communications workers out in the field.
Telstra workers and customers have borne the brunt of management's spectacular stuff ups, offshore losses and demands for higher profit, year after year. Telstra workers, whose numbers have been slashed to the bone are
subject to punitive performance regimes which demand more work out of fewer people. Despite the rhetoric, Telstra could not give a damn about work/family balance or the effects of this on its workers.
In recent times it has come to light that Telstra workers in the field do not have the equipment that they need to do the job. Communications technicians have, in some instances, been told to hand over test equipment to contractors such as the TX120, a vital piece of equipment that the techs use primarily for determining the suitability of twisted copper pairs for use by Pair Gain Systems, ISDN and ADSL, but with application in the testing of such pairs for normal telephone services. The equipment is so fundamental to doing the job, but Telstra cannot find enough money left in the piggy bank to provide the equipment for it's own workers. Some equipment such as pit guards are not readily available. Telstra is quick however, to discipline workers who do not follow OH&S procedures such as using gas detectors and guards when working around pits. The hypocrisy is galling.
In the meantime customers have been subject to higher rental charges turning the telephone into a luxury item for many. Regional and rural customers cannot get access to broadband services, large areas are isolated by exchange failures and continued poor quality service, pair gain systems and other stop gap measures. What is unfolding is the real story of the privatisation of Telstra. A company that the workers, through it's union the CEPU warned was being starved of investment in the network, that does not have enough staff to fix the high level of faults. A company that has let faults escalate to an unsustainable level and then hidden that information from the market in order to keep happy the fat cat institutional investors.
In the media this week, a number of very credible commentators have started to openly discuss not just no further sell-off, but bringing the company back into public ownership. The continued provision and expansion of services to Australians demands it. Telstra workers cannot be expected to carry the burden of the run-down network on their backs any longer. If new CEO Sol Trujillo is about to commence another 'slash and burn' reduction in numbers of staff, as is being speculated, he should start at the top with the 'managers' who have benefited from the deception of Telstra shareholders and the Australian people, unless of course they can don a uniform, drive a van, haul cable, provide their own test equipment, and work ungodly hours in often awful conditions!
Len Cooper & Joan Doyle
It's been so long since any politician mentioned the "poverty line" or the word "poverty" that I can only suspect that the current Government has eradicated that scourge. And good for them. It's reassuring to know that we're all getting a thousand bucks a week and we don't need to be embarrassed by poor people.
I rise in the morning; I'm planning my day.
I sit down to breakfast, the kids are at play.
It's eight in the morning and soon I'll be gone.
The clock it is ticking as time marches on.
I'm down in the basement I'm parking my car.
Since joining this company I've come pretty far.
The lift climbs so quickly, soon out through the door.
A view you could die for, this ninety ninth floor.
I look at the wall clock; it's a quarter to nine,
I must ring my mother to see that she's fine.
I feel a great shudder, the floor starts to shake.
I think in an instant we've had an earthquake.
I rush to a window, my heart skips a beat.
I'm looking straight down but I cant see the street.
There's nothing but smoke and a ball of Orange flame.
I freeze in cold terror, an explosion to blame.
We gather together, my workmates and I.
We don't feel to worried but a girl starts to cry.
I say it's all right Jane, it's really ok.
I hear in a corner a man start to pray.
Some time has passed on now, we know we ars lost.
Escape is impossible, a bridge we can't cross.
The exits are damaged and rescue a dream.
The flames are climbing and my heart wants to scream.
I stand at a window and look to the sky.
A shape falls before me, a choice made to die.
Perhaps it was quicker that path to the grave,
But for me it's no option: cause I'm not that brave.
I'm starting to panic, I think of my wife.
I wish I could thank her for making my life,
A time of fulfilment, a time of great joy.
My heart feels like ice as I think of my boy.
No more will I hold him nor my young daughter dear
And it's this not my death that gives me most fear
Then I think will they miss me as their lives carry on;
And their children's children long after I'm gone.
It's been quite some time since the start of this trial
And were thinking that maybe we'll walk one more mile
When suddenly hell and our world starts to fall.
Then the pain and the agony till the end of it all.
A lone piper plays, a slow dirging pace
As a mark of remembrance in this now holy place.
And the souls of those victims of this unholy crime;
will dwell in our hearts for the fullness of time.
John Mc Shane
The breakdown in American society that has been on display stands in stark relief to the response to the Asian tsunami. In Aceh the disaster stopped a civil war, in America it came close to starting one.
Experts are calling it a toxic gumbo - and who could argue? A potent mix of small government, federal funding starved by the War in Iraq, race-based wealth disparity, lax gun laws all set alight by what looks suspiciously like global warming.
There is no joy in saying that this is a case of chickens coming home to roost, but this looks more than a little like the end game down the road of rampant individualism.
Think about it; a society built on 'freedom' from government, where 'tax relief' is a self-evident good, 'gun ownership' is a right and prosperity is something enjoyed by the individual not the group.
And when that society faced an external threat, what happened? The rich fled, the poor had nowhere to go, the infrastructure collapsed and there was no effective 'state' to respond.
And in the void, the people who stayed starved, waiting for help to arrive as gunshots and looting rang out across the city, meaning the people who fled now have little to return to.
America now faces a challenge every bit as confronting as the aftermath to 9/11; while the insecurity felt after the terror attacks could be salved by military action, what will reassure those who have seen how brittle America's internal structures have become?
While it may be fun for us to watch the President try to spin and squirm his way out of this one, the big question is not who to blame, but how America can rebuild not just the damaged cities, but the damaged sense of self.
As American academic Thomas Kochan observed this week, the response needs to go beyond the rebuilding of the levee and the draining of the low lands.
Bush's tax program needs to be trashed and his social security 'reforms' put on hold, replaced by a commitment to invest in services, jobs, infrastructure - an FDR-style New Deal for a new time of crisis - overseen by a national unity council of business, government and labour.
As for Australians, we can't be too smug. After all, we are about to head down a path of labour relations that not just follows America, but leapfrogs the US model of individualism.
The question we must ask ourselves is: are we really prepared to take this journey? Is this the sort of society we want to build? Is it too late to blow the whistle and appreciate what we are about to lose?
We are luckier than the poor people of New Orleans; at this point we have a social safety net, a set of entrenched employment rights, a fair minimum wage, mechanisms that protect us - if not from Acts of God, at least from the reactions of our fellow humans.
As America comes to terms with Katrina and her aftermath, as the President dodges blame, as local officials cop heat, and as the people shake their heads in disbelief that the American Dream has become a nightmare, it should give us some pause to reconsider the path our own leader is taking us on.