Most of the time the Tool Shed deals with your common garden variety loser who's made a name for themselves by offering some piece of whimsical logic that says more about them than the point they are usually failing to make.
But this week we have a man who has the heart of a pocket calculator, but with none of the utility.
Ken Phillips is the director of the work reform unit of the Institute of Public Affairs.
This, of course, is the sort of job you would expect to be filled by some bottom feeding pedant who has never actually done an honest days work in their lives.
But ken has excelled himself this week with an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald claiming that unions going into bat for safety don't help safety.
That unions trying to get justice for people killed and injured at work is apparently just some money making venture that his mates over at the IPA like to do.
Well, Ken and his mates might think that making bucks out of killing people is a good thing, god knows they do it all the time, but we in the union movement don't actually have that sort of sociopathic bent.
Ken was having a whine about unions launching prosecutions against companies that kill people as if the killers were somehow the victims.
What next? Ken's opinion piece on why all those people at Port Arthur kept jumping in the path of poor Martin Bryant's Bullets? Or will he produce a crafted piece on why Ivan Milat got a raw deal because hitchhikers were trespassing on freeways?
The thing is, no one recalls seeing Ken at Joel Exner's funeral.
He was also mightily absent from visiting Joel's mum, Sue Baxter, after her son was killed.
He couldn't even bring himself to name Joel in his op-ed piece. The 16 year old was a non-person to Ken; simply an arguing point.
What can we expect, he probably thinks Doonside is a golf course in Scotland. After all, it's nowhere near Hunter Street is it?
The IPA may like to reflect on the fact that we are talking about human life here, not some broken wheelbarrow; although, on Planet Ken a wheelbarrow is probably worth more than human life.
Ken actually showed his understanding of the situation, which is approximately three fifths of bugger all, when he claimed the Public Service association launched prosecutions to help teachers.
Well, even given that he got their jobs wrong, does Ken seriously suggest that the Teachers Aids should have smiled sweetly while being assaulted in their workplace?
If Ken thinks being assaulted in your workplace is OK then maybe we could take his arguments to their logical conclusion?
Thanks to Ken we can see exactly what the small-minded end of town actually thinks about workplace safety.
For them, as in everything else in their sad little lives, it's all about money.
The idea that dignity, humanity or even common bloody sense could ever be a motivation to treat people decently is just not on the radar of airheads like Ken.
One can only hope that society shows Ken Phillips the same sort of respect he showed Joel Exner, if ever Ken Phillips falls head first five metres onto a concrete slab without any protection.
Justice Shane Marshall made the comments about covertly-recorded conversations at the centre of a Building Industry Taskforce prosecution against Multiplex.
Marshall ruled the Taskforce's case that Multiplex had tried to coerce a subcontractor to negotiate an agreement with the CFMEU was "without foundation".
However, he said, that secret electronic recordings made by a subbie, using a Taskforce investigator's recording device and in his company, were legal and admissible as evidence.
Justice Marshall conceded that reasonable people might view such conduct as "devious" and "under-handed".
The Building Industry Taskforce was supplanted, last week, by a permanent Building and Construction Commission with extpanded coercive powers.
Taskforce officers, who have drawn repeated judicial censure for their tactics, have been transferred to the beefed-up Commission to be headed by anti-worker activist, John Lloyd, a former staffer with Howard Government Minister, Peter Reith.
CFMEU Victorian official, Jesse Madisson, said the Commission was continuing the "secret squirrel" tactics adopted by its predecessor.
It refuses to disclose its address and continues to record conversations.
Madisson said building companies like Multiplex were "collateral damage" in the Taskforce's war on building workers' wages and conditions.
"They are out to get workers and their unions, nobody else," Madisson says.
"Despite deaths in our industry and chronic underpayments there has not been a single prosecution of any employer on those grounds. The only time they go after a building company is if they suspect they are co-operating with the union.
"The Taskforce attitude to employers has been - if you don't attack the union we will treat you the same as them. This was a classic example."
Groundwork for the Taskforce was laid by the federal government's $65 million Cole Royal Commission. It rejected level playing field arguments in favour of unbridled competition where employers that cut safety standards and cheated on tax or workers compensation could be used to deliver cheaper jobs.
The Cole Commission heard evidence from the ATO that bodgey sub-contractors were costing taxpayers billions of dollars, every year, through widespread non-compliance but chose to target industry unions, instead.
Prior to the Royal Commission, enterprise bargaining agreements had been an effective compliance guideline for head contractors because unions wouldn't sign off with operators that openly rorted the system.
After a year of hearings, it brought down findings that reworked political themes advanced by former Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott.
On the basis of those findings, the Howard Government has legislated to block effective union organisers from building sites; outlaw industrial action; proscribe safety-related action; and make it illegal to give preference to contractors who pay negotiated rates.
It has also made it unlawful for workers on different jobs to ask for the same wages and conditions.
These laws will be policed by the Building and Construction Commission. It uses lawyers and former policemen to rove building sites with the power to tape conversations and can order workers to hand over documents, attend secret interrogations and dob-in workmates.
The Commission can bar workers from informing anyone, other than their lawyers, what transpired during an interrogation session.
Building workers who breach any of those Commission instructions can be gaoled or fined thousands of dollars.
Unions found to have been party to industrial action, or to have tried to block bodgey operators, faces fines $110,000 fines for each breach.
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said the assault on building workers was a threat to the democratic rights of all Australians.
He said the government had given officials the green light to spy on his members, build secret files on their industrial activities and, even gaol them, for sticking up for one another.
"Every Australian should be concerned because the government has made it clear these laws are their blueprint for the whole workforce," Sutton said.
Interestingly, the Building Industry Taskforce, went out of existence much the same way as it entered - losing in court with a judge expressing strong reservations about its tactics.
The NSW Attorney General's Department has entered the debate, saying charges may be laid, against the federal agency, under the Workplace Surveillance Act.
Centrelink blocked thousands of CPSU members from electronic contact with their union after it issued a series of emails encouraging workers to take industrial action over stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations.
From this week, the NSW Surveillance Act specifically outlaws that action, but Centrelink argues that because its workers are Commonwealth employees they are exempted from the state's workplace laws.
A spokesperson from the Attorney General's Department has refuted the claim, saying there is no specific exemption for Commonwealth agencies.
"This kind of activity on the part of employers is clearly in breach of the new laws, which come into force on Friday.
"Should Centrelink continue this approach ... they will be acting unlawfully, and prosecution authorities will be asked to consider the laying of charges under the Workplace Surveillance Act.
"The Act binds the Crown in respect of NSW and 'in so far as the legislative power of the Parliament of NSW permits, the Crown in all its other capacities'."
"When the Government passed this legislation the intent was to protect all workers in NSW."
Workers Online understands that Centrelink has now added the ACTU homepage, containing in-depth information about proposed industrial laws, to its list of banned websites.
Rural Press's Launceston Examiner claims 25-year-old Wes Young resigned but didn't produce any supporting evidence before the Industrial Relations Commission.
Young denies resigning and says he was chopped because he pursued stories critical of a $1.5 billion Gunns pulp mill proposed for Northern Tasmania.
Young said he was promised a job at the Advocate, another paper owned by Rural Press, but the deal fell through after a conversation between the Examiner's chief of staff and the Advocate's editor.
He was then told he had resigned from The Examiner.
Media Entertainment and Artists Alliance Tasmanian Secretary Andrew Muthy said the cadet should have been put back on the Examiner's payroll.
"There's no reason for the company to behave this way," Muthy said.
Young said he had tried to transfer because of pressure from management over stories criticial of Gunns.
He says management at the Examiner issued him with a warning after he wrote a story about a push for a town vote on the mill, and was directed by his chief of staff not to write a story on a community group opposed to the mill.
In Parliament, last week, Tasmanian Greens Senator Christine Milne took up the case and said the Examiner had a "special relationship" with Gunns.
"There is example after example of the suppression of stories that are in any way critical [of the pulp mill] and the promotion of stories that are in favour," Milne said.
Milne cited a report on Media Watch earlier this year that claimed the Examiner ran an advertising feature as news.
Young is taking an unfair dismissal case to the Industrial Relations Commission.
Examiner editor Dean Southwell denied the claims made against the paper, but said it was not fair to elaborate on specifics until the matter reached the commission.
Tamika Curran told Workers Online her employer had also hit her with a $400 bill to meet the excess on accidental damage done to the “unroadworthy” vehicle.
Curran, who was being paid $13.45 an hour to service industrial sites in Melbourne's western suburbs, said it was "ridiculous" that the federal government was trying to strip away rights from people in her predicament.
"The conditions I had been working under were awful, but I needed and I liked the work," said Curran, who drove a food van from 6.30am till 2pm, covering 200kms in a day.
"In a day we were expected to pick up the vans from a yard, which took roughly 10 minutes, but we were not paid for it, and take them back to the yard after we finished work, which we were also not paid for."
She said drivers were told by management to "put our foot down if we are late". On one occasion, she was expected to be in Port Melbourne at 11.15, serve food, which takes approximately 10 minutes, and then be on the other side of the city at Flemington Racecourse by 11.30.
The damage to the van occurred when the serving door caught on a pole and needed replacing. Curran was charged the $400 insurance excess and continued the day's work in another truck. Another employee experienced a very similar incident and also had to pay the $400 excess.
After the accident Curran was left in neck pain to the point of tears, getting severe migraines, which was diagnosed by one doctor as whiplash.
After another accident, last week, the food van company, who are withholding her final pay packet, dismissed Curran without warning.
Curran said she enjoyed the work but wouldn't lie down and let her former employer walk all over her. She will take her case to the Victorian employment advocacy organisation, Job Watch.
"Because I loved the job I took what was dished out," she said. "I should have stood up for myself because I knew what was wrong at the time."
Curran is urging all workers to speak up if they think things are wrong.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employers Association are calling attention to the fact that both days fall on Sundays this year, meaning employers are within their rights to ask employees to come to work.
"This leaves hundreds of thousands of employees in the retail industry, and all other industries that operate on weekends, deprived of any benefit or protection on two very significant days in the Australian Calendar," says branch secretary - treasurer of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Gerard Dwyer.
When Christmas or New Years Day falls on a weekend, the law shifts the day off workers are entitled to onto a weekday. As such, Christmas Day and New Year's Day will be observed on 26 December 2005 and 2 January 2006 respectively if the law remains unchanged, throwing a massive shadow over many family's plans.
"Christmas Day in particular is of great importance to working families who see it as one of the few days in the year that all family members are able to spend together," says Dwyer.
To stop people having to go to work on the actual Christmas and New Year's Days, Unions NSW will ask the state government to:
Have Sunday 25 December declared as an additional Public Holiday
Not allow shops to trade on the 25 December
To restrict most shops from trading on 1 January 2006 and to make turning up to work voluntary for those who work in those shops that can trade on that day.
The Manila Times is demanding “instrospection” from Nestle after Drug and Food Employees Alliance leader, Diosdado Fortuna, was assassinated outside its Laguna plant.
Fortuna was gunned down outside the Swiss dairy giant's factory, last week, in the middle of a long-running strike over the company's refusal to negotiate a collective agreement.
In a statement, his widow said: "My husband had no other enemy except Nestle management".
Fortuna was elected leader of the union at Laguna after his predecessor, Meliton Roxas, was shot dead outside the plant, during a strike 17 years ago.
"While we grant that leftist infiltrated unions can be a major hazard to doing business," the Manilla Times wrote, "corporate heavyweights should equally realise that might is not necessarily right either."
Fortuna was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on his way home from a picket line at the Nestle factory.
The IUF is spearheading a global protest campaign, calling on the Philippines Government to investigate the killing and bring the murderers to justice.
International website, Labourstart, is backing the protest and urging supporters to send protests to the Philippines Government and/or Nestle.
More information is available at: http://www.labourstart.org/fortuna
An apprentice and a tradesman were admitted to hospital after being struck by falling scaffolding on building site at The Entrance, operated by MPM Construction.
CFMEU organiser, Pomare Auimatagi, said the apprentice's hard hat saved him from "serious damage" when a crane dropped a mixed load over the slab he and the tradesman were working on.
"They hauled a load over power wires and above the two men on the concrete slab," Auimatagi said. "It broke open and they were both struck by falling scaffolding."
The Building Industry Taskforce that John Howard transformed into a permanent Building and Construction Commission, last week, used taxpayers money to try and block CFMEU monitoring of MPM safety standards.
It has taken action, on behalf of MPM, to have right of entry permits removed from three experienced organisers. Removal of the permits would mean the trio could no longer do their jobs.
Its case against Northern Beaches organiser, Tommy Mitchell, was thrown out of the IRC, last month.
Decisions are still pending on bids to put Martin Wyer and David Glass out of work.
CFMEU assistant secretary, Brian Parker, said the case against Mitchell had been "ridiculous".
"Honestly, when they brought on their evidence you would have thought their witnesses were ours," Parker said.
He labelled Taskforce action "disgraceful" and said the organisation had "blood on its hands" after the Central Coast accident.
"Safety has been a real issue with this company," Parker said. "But the Taskforce used taxpayers money to try and ensure it had a free hand.
"MPM's track record has been ordinary but, to be fair, there are signs of improvement. That's because of our efforts and in spite of the Taskforce."
Auimatagi said the two injured workers had returned to light duties, this week, after treatment for head and arm injuries.
He said the incident, and the prosecution of the employer responsible for apprentice Joel Exner's death, had heightened awareness of health and safety on the Central Coast.
"The Taskforce is trying to block our work but the boys are coming out from behind the pillars and talking," Auimatagi said.
"The Federal Government's industrial relations reforms have fuelled a fear in the community that the civilised standards we have grown used to in our modern industrial democratic society will be further eroded". Watson told the Melbourne Synod, the Anglican church's governing body for the state.
Watson called for "civilised standards" including "a proper balance of work, rest and recreation" to be protected.
"The principle of eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest is a treasured hallmark of western civilisation and Australian society, and is based on the biblical principle that human beings have not been made to be productive, dehumanised units in the great machine of ever-increasing productivity," said Watson.
"Civilised society is not an extension of the corporate world. The corporate world should exist to serve the interests and well being of a caring society.
"Weekends and leisure time are not optional extras - they must be preserved for the well-being of individuals, families and the whole community - and ultimately therefore for the health of the economy.
Watson went on to say that matters involving unfair dismissals and adequate rates of pay were "matters of justice and equity about which Christian leaders cannot remain silent and will not remain silent".
"I discard the occasional comments from politicians who oppose the right of church leaders to speak on public issues when they don't like what they hear. The same politicians want our support and ask us to support them when it suits them."
This issue also came to prominence this week when the Howard Government brushed the requests of Family First Senator Steve Fielding to establish a Senate inquiry into overtime and penalty rate issues.
Senior Howard government ministers had hailed Fielding as a "fellow traveller" upon his election, but the senator's opposition to the sale of Telstra and concerns over new IR laws has seen the relationship between the Victorian senator and the Federal Government cool in recent months.
Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, had originally committed to a Senate inquiry into his legislation, but later backtracked, saying it was a "matter for the Senate" after the Prime Minister, John Howard, and other Coalition members made it clear they did not support the idea.
The about-face came after the Rail Tram and Bus Union called on Pacific National to shunt closure plans while Federal and State governments held a joint inquiry into island rail services.
Pacific National has responded by announcing November as a new deadline to resolve the crisis.
They had originally said they would shut down services next week.
"We welcome this move as a responsible one by Pacific National," said Rail Tram and Bus Union National Secretary Bob Hayden.
"For the safety of Tasmanian road users and the Tasmanian community freight needs to be carried on rail."
"This decision alone does not solve the problem," Hayden warned.
"We are concerned at the impact an extra 2000 truck movements a week would have on Tasmanian roads. We are talking about people's lives here.
"An extra 2000 trucks on Tasmanian roads would increase the road toll, just like that."
Efforts by the South Coast Labour Council to have the PM address those unable to attend a $250-a-head lunch, to be held by the Liberal Party on the day of his visit, have been unsuccessful.
"I will be skipping lunch on this occasion," says South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris, who is organising an "informal welcoming party" of local people for the PM on that day.
The lunch, which could coincide with the anticipated release of the Government's new industrial relations laws, is to mark the opening of the offices for newly elected Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
The Senator's offices will be in the building that houses the Wollongong branch of the NSW Industrial Relations Building.
"At least workers who are unfairly dismissed or lose their rights under proposed new Federal laws won't have far to go to tell the Government what they think of the new Industrial Relations regime," says Rorris.
Rorris invites all members of the Wollongong and Illawarra communities to meet at 12 noon on Tuesday 18 October outside the Telstra Building on Crown Street.
Activities include the auctioning of young workers "to keep the wheels of local industry turning."
Armed French military personnel stormed the fPascal Paoli in Marseilles on September 27 after 30 union members took charge of the vessel, owned by the government run Corsica-Mediterranean shipping company SNCM.
All 30 seafarers were arrested and subsequently released.
Another two SNCM ferries, the Mediterrannée and the Napoléon Bonaparte, were prevented from leaving the port of Marseilles on 20 September.
Marseilles port workers carried out solidarity action in support of the seafarers, preventing 40 vessels from sailing.
The actions have led to the French government backing down over plans to privatise the SNCM company.
The French government was planning to sell off SNCM to investment company Butler Capital Partners. The unions - French ITF affiliate Fédération Nationale des Syndicats Maritimes CGT and the Corsican Syndicat des Travailleurs Corses - claim that some 300 to 400 redundancies would result from the sale.
"We oppose the privatisation of SNCM pure and simple. We also condemn the aggression perpetrated by the law enforcement agencies and the army on Pascal Paoli," commented Yves Reynaud, ITF inspector for the Fédération
Générale des Transports et de l'Equipement CFDT.
However, the government is now stating that a wholesale sell-off is no longer on the cards; instead, it plans to hold on to 25 per cent of the company, with 67 per cent going to Butler Capital and its competitor Veolia-Connex, and eight per cent to workers.
Backed by a number of other unions, including ITF affiliates the Fédération Générale des Transports et de l'Equipement CFDT and the Fédération FO de l'Equipement, de l'Environnement, des Transports et des Services, the CGT
union confederation is insisting that the government retain a majority shareholding.
Negotiations on the future of the company are continuing.
Fraser says John Howard, who has a long history of hostility towards trade unions, has shown a willingness to deny a fair trials to Australian citizens.
"It is something our Government has said is alright, and I don't think that's good enough," says Fraser, who went on to describe the new terrorism laws as something out of apartheid South Africa.
"Many people share my concern that tolerance, compassion and fairness have been diminished by the actions of the Government," says ACTU Secretary Greg Combet, adding new powers that allow secret interrogations of construction workers and unionists are an "attack on the civil rights of ordinary Australian workers".
Fraser and Combet have joined a push for an Australian Human Rights Act, like the ones in the UK and New Zealand.
"The Constitution does not protect Australians, the common law does not protect Australians," says Fraser, adding the new terrorism laws "are the types of powers you would expect to see in a tyranny, not in a democracy like Australia".
The new laws, which state Governments support, allow police to track and restrict the movements of "terror suspects," detain people for up to two weeks without charge and extend police powers to stop and search suspects.
But while the Government says such laws are designed to stop terrorism, the government's suspension of normal human rights in relation to they way workers in the building industry are treated has lead many public figures to worry about how far these new powers will reach into mainstream Australia.
"It's not good enough to suggest it won't happen to people like us," says Fraser in relation to people disappearing to answer police questions.
"The new construction industry laws demonstrate how a diminution in civil rights in one area of the law can lead to attacks in others," says Combet.
Former Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge and CFMEU State Secretary Andrew Fergson will be among speakers gathering at Sydney's Gaelic Club this Saturday 8 October to pay tribute to Lee, who passed away in July.
Enda Kenny and a choir will perform at the event, which will include speeches by:
- Andrew Refshauge (former Deputy Premier)
- Andrew Ferguson, State Secretary, CFMEU
- Katherine Thomson (Playwright)
- Kim Gago (East Timor Community)
- Neil McLean
- Peter Chandran
- Carmela Baranowsk
Entry will be by donation, with money raised going to the HT Lee Memorial Political Film-makers Fund to assist people going to East Timor to work on film documentaries
The event is jointly organised by Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (Construction & General Division) and the Australia-East Timor Association (NSW).
The event runs from 2.00 to 6.00pm at the Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire St, Surry Hills (upstairs).
Rudd Raises the Roof
Willoughby ALP Branch and SEC Cocktail Party
Meet Kevin Rudd - Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Security
When: Thursday 13 October 2005
Time: 6.00 pm - 8.00 pm
Where: 105 Mowbray Road,
Willoughby NSW 2068
Cost: $35.00 (Includes liquid refreshments and home cooked food)
MC - Carmel Tebbutt, NSW Minister for Education & Training
Once only auction of original political cartoons by Alan Moir, Bill Leak, Ward O'Neill, Stewart McCrae, Bruce Petty, Lindsay Foyle
RSVP by C.O.B. Friday 7 October 2005 to:
Imogen Wareing : Tel: 9967 2300 (wk) 0407 477 225 (Mob)
Fax: 9967 2311 Email: [email protected]
Address: 105 Mowbray Road, Willoughby NSW 2068
Cheques made out to: Willoughby Branch of the Australian Labor Party
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)
• Andrew Refshauge (former Deputy Premier)
• Andrew Ferguson, State Secretary, CFMEU
• Katherine Thomson (Playwright)
• Kim Gago (East Timor Community)
• Neil McLean
• Peter Chandran
• Carmela Baranowsk
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
Tuesday 18 Oct.
12 Railway St. Lidcombe
Dinner & live jazz $25
Kids & unwaged $15.00
Home cooked Iraqi food
To book & pay by credit card ph. Ken at APHEDA 9264 9343
All money to Iraqi trade unions
Organised by Australia/Iraq Trade Union SoIidarity.
Call Lynn 0439 640118 or Michael 0406 020702 for info
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
To the tune of the Dad's Army theme:
Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think We're On The Run?
We Are Australians Who Will Stop Your Little Game
We Are Australians Who Will Make You Think Again
So Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think The Unions' Done?
Our Awards Are Not For Grabs
We've Fought Too Hard For That
And If You Think You'll Bust Them
Then You're Talking Through Your Hat!
So Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think The Unions' Done?
Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think We're Laying Down?
We Are Australians And We Have Got The Might
We Are Australians Who Will Fight To Keep Their Right
So Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think The Battle's Won?
Shove Your Work Agreements
They're Not Worth A Worker's Damn
And Shove Your Work Relations Act
It Really Is A Sham!
So Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think The Battle's Won?
Yes. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Howard
If You Think The Union's Done?
Mel Cheal, Qld
Kevin Andrews (Rev Kev) on death in the work place is a bit rich. I'm pretty sure he's the charmer who scuttled the euthanasia law in NT. Obviously it alright to bump workers off but they can't do it to themselves - or so his god says!!!
Mark Stubbs, NT
The trouble is that the "government" has not made changes, or even considered making changes, to industrial relations and therefore cannot make informed decisions about responsible publication on the matter.
To do so would be akin to advertising changes to road rules before the involved parties had reached a decision on how the road laws would be changed. It would only cause confusion as to when and how the laws would change. It would cause anger, frustration and danger to those road users who would otherwise confidently and lawfully use the roads for the purposes they were designed for.
Although the Liberal party does have a monopoly of power in the senate, the success in total of a bid to pass legislature in favour of reforms (that the Liberals admit are not fully conceived) is not guaranteed. The recent changes to the proposals of the full Telstra sale are indicative of this.
The spending of 20 million dollars of government funds is a gamble of public funds that legislature based on a proposal, not yet fully conceived (we are told), will match the information contained in the 20 or so million spent!
Allowing the Liberal party to conserve it's party funds by dipping into Government money to gain support for proposals of ideology (that might not survive the senate intact), while not allowing the opposition to do the same, is wrong and probably unlawful (Supreme court judges recently condemned the Liberal party's spending of Government money on such advertising as a Stalinist style of propaganda but found that the court was not lawfully empowered to make a ruling on the matter). To use the metaphor of road rules again, it would be like allowing luxury cars free fuel and to drive as their owners may wish while strictly enforcing the direction of other vehicles to the letter of the law!
The Liberal party should be allowed to advertise their policies in much the same way that unions, the ACTU and opposition parties are allowed to. The Liberal party should not, however, be allowed to conspire to use public money for their own benefit as a fraudulent result of the authority to manage public spending!
Lawrence McClure, Qld
Thankyou for your informative news letter...it still amazes me that there are so many people in the situation my husband found himself in with his old employer. It appears that the government don't really listen to those that know what is really happening in the work force of Australia. Unfair sackings are still occurring and the employer do know how to get thru the legal side to protect themselves.
The problem is through rural jobs I believe because of lack of information and they are talked into believing they have no rights.
It is through news letters and the push that The Workers Online continue to do that shows there is hope. We let anyone know that asks for info to look at your web page.
Jenny Coleman, NSW
John Howard has argued that workplace reforms are crucial for our economy, to stimulate growth blah, blah. The emphasis, he claims, needs to placed on helping small business survive and thrive.
But is this free enterprise philosophy a mildy innocent type of fraud? Or, is Mr Howard trying to let small business down gently, because any fool can see that the real threat to small business is big business.
In fact, leading U.S Economist, John K. Galbraith argues:
"It is accepted in small business, and particularly in what remains of family agriculture, that toil may be tedious. The owner labors in the enterprise; he or she is responsible for its direction and its success. The small businessman, the small retail and service enterprise, like the family farmer, are still featured in economic instruction and in political oratory. They are the economic system as classically described in the textbooks of centuries past. They are not the modern world; they sanction only a cherished tradition.
For the small retailer, Wal-Mart awaits. For the family farm, there are the massive grain and fruit enterprise and the modern large-scale meat producer. For all, there is the recurrent squeeze from price and cost to loss. The economic and social dominance of big business is, however, accepted. The continued political and social celebration of small business and of family agriculture is a mildly innocent form of fraud. Traditional, romance; not the reality."
John McPhilbin, NSW
From today you have a legal right to access your union's website, receive union emails - including in the middle of industrial action - and even, read Workers Online! And your boss is now required to set out a clear policy on email usage before being able to monitor your web usage - not revolutionary, but a small step forward for privacy.
As interesting as the substance of these advances in workplace cyber rights, is the tortured process of turning an idea into law - something that we have followed first hand through the pages of Workers Online.
The germ of the idea of protecting email privacy was formed in late 1999 in the back offices of Workers Online, after we had begun receiving a series of stories about bosses using the server as a personal domain.
The issue was raised through Unions NSW in 2000 and taken to the then Attorney General, Jeff Shaw, who referred the idea to an ongoing Law Reform Commission inquiry into workplace privacy.
It looked into the issue and recommended laws based around the video surveillance laws that had been enacted a couple of years previously, setting the basic principles for the legislation that became law today.
But there were already warning signs that this would be no quick fix - with the Commission report taking more than a year to be released publicly after reporting to the government.
Importantly, Unions NSW did not simply lobby. The issue became a catalyst for organising workers through the IT Workers Alliance, an experiment in online organising that yielded some positive results.
In 2002 momentum stalled when the NSW government received advice from the Crown Solicitor that it lacked constitutional power to legislate for emails. As the Attorney General Bob Debus noted at the time "the framers of the Constitution did not consider the issue of emails, and, frankly, I envy them".
By 2003 we were getting impatient and used the Big Brother evictions of that year to again highlight the problem of snooping bosses.
After much argy-bargy and a range of legal opinions, centred around whether an email was a broadcast or a narrowcast (that is whether an email is 'telecommunications' as described by the constitution, or something altogether different) the Attorney-General was convinced he had legal legs to stand on.
The legal debate was conducted against this backdrop, with a number of employers, including Channel Seven and Suncorp, using the server as an industrial weapon and cutting off union emails in the middle of a stoush.
By late 2003 the premier was again announcing the policy, but he would never see it become law, with two more long years - punctuated by constant union representations - before the law we celebrate today was finally passed.
Even then, it has been met by the howls of employer groups who have the sense of irony to complain the laws have been bought in hastily and may catch some of their members unawares.
Despite all these hurdles we got there, and the lesson is that with sufficient personal drive and perseverance - notably from former Unions NSW official Michael Gadiel and the hipper elements of the Attorney General's office - a good idea can become law.