It has come to the attention of Woolworth's CEO Roger Corbett that shareholders are being gouged unmercifully by this newly discovered phenomenon called an employee.
It appears that these employees - who work doing all the mundane sorts of things involved in running a store, such as operating a checkout or stacking shelves - are actually expecting to be paid in cash for the work that they perform.
This will not do. The money they are defrauding from Woolworth's could actually be spent on dividends to those powerhouse scions of the economic miracle that is Australia, the shareholder.
Without shareholders it is hard to imagine the sun coming up, or even a reason for existence.
The shareholder is the wisest, most acute of minds. Using that never failing tool, the market, to allocate resources in such a manner that they are distributed efficiently.
It is the shareholders that decided that Roger Corbett is worth $8.4million a year.
This is another amazing miracle of the Australian Economy. The other being the peyote buttons the Reserve Bank must be popping if they think that borrowing $1.50 for every dollar you earn is sane and rational.
This economic miracle is why someone who, as we discovered in Workers Online 260, doesn't even know what a truck is, can earn a seven figure sum while appearing to struggle to understand which direction his arse is pointing in.
What is even more disconcerting is that this guy wants to sign individual contracts with teenagers as young as 15. There's a word for that sort of behaviour, and it's not pleasant.
Meanwhile "Uncle" Roger, when not locking himself away with teenage kiddies, seems to think that his ability to pay people in a rock and a shiny thing will enhance the economy.
This sort of reckless intellectual adventurism is not surprising, coming as it does from someone who affected surprise that rising petrol prices have an affect on the economy.
Then again, as we already know, transport is not Corbett's strong suite. He has many truck drivers. Raking it in at $2000 an hour he can afford to lose a few along the way. So it helps if they're on individual contracts. Well, it makes sense on planet Corbett.
Neither is retail acumen his intellectual specialty by all accounts either. Or, for that matter, remembering to put his pants on before his shoes.
If this keeps up we can expect the sort of mental athleticism that will leave our Tool Of the Week dribbling from both sides of his mouth.
The love that weirdos like Roger Corbett has for John Howard's new workplace terror laws probably goes some way to explaining why it's about as popular as Monday.
But meanwhile, on planet Corbett, life carries on at $2000 an hour, which is why petrol hitting $1.40 a litre doesn't bother him. But for those of us in the real world, it goes some way to explaining why you can't find a piece of fruit in Woolworth's that tastes any different to the box that it came in; or why Einstein's like Roger Corbett are the best argument for regulating the workforce we have - starting with executive salaries.
The Coroner's Court, sitting at Griffith, has been hearing evidence about the 2002 Lake Cargellico water tower collapse that cost the 34-year-old boilermaker his life.
"I know he wasn't happy with the way things were going. On the Friday before the accident, Craig rang home, but he wouldn't tell me too much because he knew I would worry," his mother, Joan, told Workers Online from Griffith.
"He did say he had too much to lose to pack up and come home.
"After he died, the union recovered what he was owed."
The principal contractor accepted a CFMEU claim that McLeod had been dudded $17,000 in his few months at Lake Cargellico. The money has been paid to his estate.
The amount - covering wages, allowances and super - was based on award minimums, rather than enterprise bargaining rates that apply on most unionised sites.
Family lawyer, Ian Latham, said evidence tendered to the inquest showed McLeod had been working at least 50 hours a week for an all-in hourly rate of $25.
A skilled tradesman, he had travelled from his home at Port Pirie, South Australia, to central NSW to get work.
He didn't get overtime, weekend payments, super, leave or expenses in an arrangement remarkably similar to that being promoted by the federal government's Office of the Employment Advocate.
Often, according to evidence, he didn't get paid at all.
"He was concerned that the site was unsafe but he couldn't leave," Latham told Workers Online. "Effectively, he was stuck there until the job finished and his employer paid up but, before that happened, they were both dead.
"From the evidence, it seems, he sold himself into slavery."
CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, described the case as "distressing".
"Our thoughts are with Craig's family," he said. "Money doesn't seem very important when you have a lost a son or a brother.
"The evidence highlights the dangers we face when people are left to their own devices without any support, monitoring or regulation."
The inquest is continuing.
Calbah chief executive, Chester Baker, went to ground when Workers Online tried to seek clarification, this week.
The telephonist at his Hammond Rd, Dandenong, factory was less than forthcoming when we explained we were trying to get at the truth behind Calbah's involvement in the federal government campaign.
"I am not sure I would be able to do that," she said.
She refused to pass on Baker's mobile phone number but promised to ask him to return our call. He never did, despite suggestions on Calbah's website, that he was willing to answer inquiries.
Baker found himself at the centre of a storm over ethics when three former employees blew the whistle on their involvement in the taxpayer-funder advertising campaign to sell radical workplace change.
The three, portrayed as happy, smiling faces in the wall-to-wall television blitz, said they had been misled.
Two former employees told Channel 9 they had been informed they were being filmed for a workplace health and safety video.
A third agreed, in an interview with Melbourne's Age newspaper. He also said Baker's company never paid penal rates to people who worked overtime.
The workers said they had been paid "about" $13 each for being filmed alongside actors. The word, in Dandenong, is that Calbah received around $7000 for allowing the ad to be shot.
Performers' representative, Louise O'Connor, said their treatment appeared "highly unethical" and the government should pull the ads.
"These people were misled. In all our agreements, people have to be told what they are appearing in and why. That's fundamental.
"People have moral rights because they have contributed to a campaign and become personally identified with it.
"Because of that, we have an agreement with the advertising industry, for a 100 percent loading when people are involved in political campaigns.
"The award base rate, for extras, is $19.30 an hour with a minimum four-hour callout. For most ads, negotiated rates are 10 times that figure, at least.
"It seems these people have been duped in order to get them to perform on the cheap."
Industry sources said the government's advertising agency had paid professionals, including extras who never made the final cut, $6000 a head.
A second attempt to afford Chester the opportunity to explain himself also drew a blank.
"He won't be talking to anyone," a Calbah functionary said.
In response to an inquiry to the hotline, an operator told Workers Online an employer could not make signing an AWA a condition of employment under the Government's proposed changes.
This contradicts the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' own policy of employing all new staff on the condition of signing AWAs.
It also contradicts the Government's WorkChoices booklet, which gives the example of jobseeker "Billy" whose new job is "contingent on signing an AWA".
Instead, the WorkChoices operator said if an employer was trying to make accepting a job conditional on signing an AWA, they should be reported immediately to the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA).
The ability of bosses to force new employees onto AWAs under existing laws was confirmed after a South Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruling in August.
"I accept it is lawful to require a new employee to sign an AWA as a pre-condition of employment irrespective of the fact it this is hardly a matter of real choice from the employee's point of view," Commission Judge JP McCusker said.
There is no indication in the WorkChoices documentation the Federal Government intends to change this arrangement.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' "No AWA No Start" policy was highlighted earlier this year when it was revealed new employees were provided with forms with a 'yes' box already ticked next to the statement, "I acknowledge my commitment to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement".
Unions NSW Secretary John Robertson said it was clear the government was putting its own spin ahead of giving people the facts.
"The fact is these changes are about removing choice - a fact that has already been demonstrated by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations," Robertson said.
The Business Council of Australia board member announced, last week, that 3000 skilled maintenance positions would be shipped offshore if workers didn't give up existing entitlements.
AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, accused the national carrier of "bullying and intimidation", just a fortnight out from the opening of enterprise bargaining negotiations.
"Howard's legislation is designed to deny workers choice," Cameron said.
"Employers will use the hand he is dealing them to stand over Australian families. Qantas is saying to its workforce that this legislation means they have no choice - accept clawbacks or your jobs go overseas.
"This is just the first company that will use these laws to threaten and bully Australians."
Cameron challenged the Prime Minister to stand up to Dixon, one of his chief financial and political backers, or be shown to have lied to the public.
"John Howard claims to be the best friend of Australian workers well now he has the opportunity to put his rhetoric into action on behalf of thousands of families who are looking at losing their incomes."
Dixon has been an outspoken advocate of John Howard's IR regime, that seeks to replace collective bargaining with individual contracts; eliminate unfair dismissal rights; strip awards; and lower minimum conditions, including annual holiday entitlements.
Cameron said the AMWU would discuss business and operational matters with Qantas, "on their merits".
In doing that, he said, it would recognise the company remained one of the world's most profitable airlines and it continued to pay "enormous" executive salaries, including boosting Dixon's multi-million earn by more than 200 percent in three years.
"They are coming after our penal rates, annual leave and conditions, we know that," Cameron said.
"There are legitimate ways to compete that we will explore them in good faith," Cameron said. "But Australian can't compete, on wages, with countries that pay 60 and 80 cents an hour.
"The Prime Minister should recognise that and decide who's side he is on."
ALAEA federal secretary, Tim Heywood, said Australian
engineers had built and maintained the world's best air safety standards, and Qantas has profited from that.
Mr Heywood said engineers and maintenance workers were shocked to learn of Qantas' plans after their unions had initiated talks, a month ago, to discuss future work needs.
"The ALAEA is committed to working towards a solution and wishes to do this in co-operation with Qantas. However, we say to Qantas and, most importantly, to the Australian travelling public, that safety is not for sale," Heywood said.
RMIT lecturer Dr Robert Austin, who was criticised in an article by Bolt for his stance against voluntary unionism in August, is fighting to save his position with the university.
Victorian secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, Mathew McGowan, says that while no clear reason for Austin's potential dismissal has been offered by the RMIT, questions over his future with the university were raised after the article was published.
"He has certainly had the Andrew Bolt article waived in front of him by management," says McGowan.
A RMIT spokeswoman says the university is unable to comment on individual cases.
Austin's decision to reschedule his classes to allow student to attend the Students National Day of Action Against Voluntary Unionism on August 10 was described as "bullying" in Bolt's article.
"If the University is moving to sack Austin because of an Andrew Bolt article it indicates an extraordinary crisis in Australian tertiary education," says McGowan.
He also says Austin's treatment has been far harsher than Sydney based academic Associate Professor Andrew Fraser, whose support for the reintroduction of the White Australia policy just before the student protests, while causing him to be banned from teaching students at Macquarie University, has not meant the loss of his job.
"It is an interesting parallel that someone can maintain their employment relationship under [Fraser's] circumstances while someone mentioned in an Andrew Bolt article faces the termination of their employment," says
In July Fraser claimed that "an expanding black population is a sure-fire recipe for increases in crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems" in a letter to a Sydney newspaper. He also wrote that Chinese immigration directly threatened "social, political and economic interests of ordinary Australians and their children" in an email to a Woollahra councillor, David Shoebridge.
The NSW Minister for Industrial Relations, John Della Bosca, has confirmed that Christmas Day 2005, which falls on a Sunday, has been made an additional public holiday and that no general shops will be permitted to trade on that day.
"This ensures emergency service workers and others who do work on Christmas Day will receive compensation in the form of penalty rates contained in their awards," says Della Bosca.
Previously, when Christmas fell on a weekend, the Banks and Bank Holidays Act shifted the day workers are entitled to have off onto a weekday. As such, Christmas Day would have been observed on 26 December 2005 if the law had remained unchanged, throwing a massive shadow over many families' plans.
In addition to no department stores, supermarkets, furniture, electrical, hardware, jewellery and clothing stores being open on Christmas day, trading on Boxing Day and New Year's Day will be restricted.
"Any staff who do work on 26 December or 1 January must do so voluntarily," says Della Bosca.
The changes follow a call from the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employers Association to ensure workers could share Christmas and other key holidays with their loved ones.
The restrictions do not apply to small shops, such as take-away food outlets, chemists, newsagents and video stores.
Rawiri Iti will join 200 other Maori workers to perform the haka outside parliament house in Canberra in November as the politicians inside are debating the new work laws.
Iti, who joined his 21 brothers, sisters and cousins in travelling from the Hokianga Harbour area of New Zealand to Australia in search of work, is an employee of D3 Demolition, who folded owing $150,000 in entitlements.
"It will be an honour to be in the front line leading that haka," says Iti. "The laws they brought in in New Zealand in the 90's have split up families as they have had to leave to find work.
"Let's not have the same thing that happened in New Zealand happen here."
Iti estimates that 90% of the workforce of D3 Demolition is Maori.
Pickets have been set up outside D3 Demolition jobs at the ABC Technology Park at Gore Hill and at Coles Epping; where there are fears the site is contaminated with asbestos.
"New Zealand workers, and in particular Maori workers, were more the victims in the 1990's anti-union legislation very similar to that being proposed by the Howard Government," says NSW secretary of the CFMEU, Andrew Ferguson.
Maori from other unions will join CFMEU members outside parliament house on November 2 for the mass haka.
Maori wanting to join the haka can contact Steve Keenan on 0410 559261.
Despite Utilities Minister Carl Scully announcing tough new water saving measures, maintenance workers have revealed that hundreds of reported leaks remain unfixed.
"This is just one tenth of the problem in Sydney. The ASU has been urging Sydney Water for months to employ at least 80 more maintenance workers to help deal with the massive backlog of leaks but it refuses," says ASU secretary, Sally McManus.
"In Sydney's northern suburbs, there are more than 100 reported but unfixed leaks and problems with pipes and valves.
Sydney Water maintenance workers are being overwhelmed by reports from the public of cracked and leaking pipes and need more resources to meet the demand, she said.
The latest catalogue of leakages have been documented since the Minister promised improvement, a month ago.
Sydney Water spokesperson Colin Judge said an internal investigation would now be conducted about delays in responding to leaks.
"All we can do is apologise and a thorough investigation is being carried out," he said.
However, McManus said Sydney Water has known for months, even years, about the delays and reasons for them.
"More than a million litres of drinking water has been lost from one pipe in the past week. Billions more litres from thousands of ageing pipes will be lost unless Sydney Water employs more staff to fix the problems.
"Sydney Water maintenance workers are frustrated that they continue to report the problems to Sydney Water once the public has alerted them to leaks, but the it continually fails to give them the authority to do the work," Ms McManus said.
Hardie locked out 100 workers at its Meeandah concrete pipe factory for 28 hours in response to a stop work meeting fuelled by the company's plan to break up a cross-site enterprise agreement.
Workers at Hardie's Carole Park site, the other site covered by the current enterprise agreement, went on strike while the lock out took place.
Hardie wants separate agreements for the two sites.
AMWU State Secretary Andrew Dettmer said Hardie's demands were "amazing" as the company originally requested the single agreement a few years ago.
"There is an element of 'what the hell are they on about'," Dettmer said.
"All we can think of, is it's so the company can have a freer hand - they're using the old divide and rule."
Dettmer said Hardie's response to the stop work meetings was "the typical James Hardie approach of using a sledge hammer to crack a nut."
He said workers would continue to hold stop work meetings every Wednesday until workers get what they want.
The dispute came as Labor MLC Ian West levelled serious allegations against senior figures in the company in NSW Parliament.
In an adjournment debate, West asked if there was any truth to suggestions chief executive Louis Gries was sacked from a US company for "falsifying work force safety statistics".
"To this day, the CEO of James Hardie maintains a strange silence, relying on an alleged confidentiality agreement with his former boss to not answer questions about his past professional conduct," West said.
Claims were also raised about chief financial officer Russell Chernu being in the executive of an Indonesian James Hardie asbestos factory which closed, shed 100 staff, and re-opened months later.
West said Hardie's chairwoman Marian Hellicar was being investigated by ASIC over her role in the withdrawal of funds for asbestos victims in 2003.
He said thousands of members would defy threats issued by construction industry secret policeman, Nigel Hadgkiss, to attend national ACTU protests on November 15.
Hadgkiss, last week, warned building workers he could prosecute them for "unlawful action" if they chose to join nurses, teachers and others at rallies across Australia.
Rank and file members face $22,000 fines if they leave work to protest against the federal government's radical workplace agenda, while officials, and their organisation, can be slugged up to $110,000 each.
Under new building industry laws, they can be charged with "aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring" a contravention of the Act.
The laws, forced through the Senate by Howard using his newly-acquired majority, are so broad that they can also be applied to members of a range of other unions, including the ETU, AWU and AMWU.
"This is too important an issue to be intimidated by someone who is playing politics on behalf of the Liberal Party," Parker said. "Our people will be there.
"Nigel Hadgkiss will be looked after by his political friends but the majority of Australians have to look after one another. Building workers have always done that.
"Is he going to impose $22,000 fines on hundreds of thousands of people or is he just going to discriminate on the basis of union membership?
"Is he going to fine people who are legitimately sick?
"How's he going to carry out these threats without making an ass of himself?" Parker asked.
The ACTU is organising the national day of action. It is expected to unite hundered of thousands of people across Australia, who will be linked in a satellite broadcast.
Hadgkiss said building workers who got written permission from their employers would not be in breach of the Act.
"For a while now, at the higher paid end of the job market, we've seen people working longer hours for more money," says John Danziel, communications director for the Salvation Army, "now, at the unskilled end of the market, we'll see people sacrificing time with their families to stay employed."
As a provider in the Government's Job Network, the Salvation Army is particularly well placed to argue strategies for helping people who have been unemployed for long periods of time. The comments are a considerable challenge to the Howard government claims for reforming of the job market.
"We believe that the Government should be looking at ways of expanding work opportunities for unemployed people rather than making them compete for the jobs that are already available," Mr Danziel said.
"The Government should be developing community assets, roads and community centers. It should be using government capital and spending it on infrastructure," he said.
The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, moved quickly to counter the Salvation Army's criticism by calling unemployment "an evil" that stops people becoming part of the community.
"We agree with the Government," Mr Dalziel says, "it's just that we believe that they should solve the problem of unemployment rather than make people compete for a job."
Mr Dalziel said that the Government's proposed changes will make the job market more competitive for people at the unskilled end of the marketplace and restrict their ability to become part of the community.
In a speech to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Society, the Honorable Paul Munro, said the Howard Government was wrong to call the changes 'reforms' and suggested that the changes are, in fact, "regressive" and "counter-revolutionary in character" because they are "driven by market ideology".
"This is certainly the biggest shakeup in workplace relations since Stanley Melbourne Bruce tried to abolish the industrial relations commission back in 1927," Mr Munro said, "And he lost his seat as a result."
"These changes take us back to a freer labor market that existed at the end of the 19th century when unionists on strike could be - and indeed, were - jailed," he said.
By substituting the Australian Fair Pay Commission for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, along with other measures in the new Workplace Relations System, the Government will effectively eliminate the safety net.
"In the past workers have been able to collectively bargain above the safety net and were unable to go below it," he said, "because these minimum conditions were set by an independent third party."
"Now minimum conditions will be set by the Fair Pay Commission which is a creature of executive government. This commission won't be on the job until late next year when it will probably offer a small increase to save the Government's bacon," he said.
Mr Munro suggested that it won't just be the wages of the unskilled that will be eroded over time as the changes take affect, "there are plenty of skilled trades people whose pay rates are award related."
"It's an appalling scenario, in one sense," Mr Munro said, referring to what he called a "simplistic defensive ploy" made by John Howard who said that "Fairness begins with a job".
"I feel a great sympathy for those who work on plug-in rates on penalties, some throughout the night stacking shelves," he said, "where once they were paid six hours pay for three hours of difficult work now they will only be paid for three hours. It's taking money out of their mouths."
Mr Munro said the changes will also put pressure on employers who want to maintain a stable workforce and look after the good workers they have.
"Many of these will lose contracts as the market gets tighter and they are under pressure against someone who uses labor hire as a rival and underbids," he said.
For some employers, Mr Munro said, maintaining a high quality workforce will be difficult, "it will serve them well to keep a good relationship with their employees."
Howard told the delegation of workers that, while young workers may not have choice over their work conditions, they would have "work opportunities" under his new regime.
The PM refused to give any guarantee that any worker would be better off under his new laws as "there may be a recession", distancing himself from responsibility for economic management by telling workers that "there may be an international recession, and that's not my fault".
Howard also refused to rule out the introduction of contract police officers on AWAs if there was a change of government at a state level.
Howard agreed to meet with the workers after a vocal protest by 500 workers outside a $250-a-head lunch held by the Liberal Party in Wollongong to open the office of Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
The delegation included a community midwife as well as fire brigade and police officers.
The delegation said that Howard is directly involved in formulating the IR policy.
"He is across the brief and following it step by step," says South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris. "It was the sincere belief of the all who met the Prime Minister that the man must be living on another planet."
Pacific National has held off for a month on closing the rail network while state and federal governments conduct a study into demands by PNT for over $100 million to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
Both governments, which claimed ignorance over threats to the system faced by poor rolling stock and infrastructure, were embarrassed when a leaked AusLink application showed that the Tasmanian Government had asked for $215million last year. AusLink is the federal governments transport funding model.
Over 50 rail workers were joined by local bus drivers and other residents at PNT's Launceston maintenance depot, all expressing anger at the threat and dismayed at the effect that the loss would have on the Tasmanian community.
"Not only does this threaten the livelihoods of almost 200 Tasmanian rail workers and their families, it would also see an extra 2000 trucks a week on the State's roads, which will be a disaster for road safety," said Rail Tram and Bus Union National Organiser Greg Harvey.
"On top of that thousands of other jobs across the state will be hanging by a thread if rail is closed."
The viability of Norska Skogg paper mill and the Zinifex zinc smelter, who between them employ thousands of Tasmanians, has been called into question if the mill shuts down.
"Tasmanian rail workers and their families deserve better than being used as a bargaining chip in a dispute over who is going to pay for much needed infrastructure investment.
"This rally shows the deep level of concern in the community over the threat to shut rail in Tasmania."
The rally marked the beginning of a community campaign against Pacific National's move to close its rail freight operation.
"We are speaking with a wide range of community groups who will be affected if this hair-brained idea goes through," said Harvey.
"Pacific National and State and Federal governments need to come up with a solution that meets the needs of the Tasmanian community.
Following the rally Harvey told a forum in Hobart on the future of Tasmanian rail in Hobart that rail workers were disappointed the Federal Government was not more actively involved.
"We recognise that the State government takes this issue seriously. But we need Pacific National and state and federal governments to fix this problem.
"We don't care who fixes it, just fix it."
Media outlets were stunned this week when the government informed them that promised statements on the sale of Telstra and industrial relations changes had been labelled top secret.
The Prime Minister announced the family impact statements in the lead-up to last year's federal election, picking up an initiative of Family First spokesman, Steve Fielding.
The status of the assessments was revealed when Sydney's Daily Telegraph applied for them under freedom of association provisions.
The formal application was rejected on the grounds that they were classified Cabinet documents.
Senator Fielding said Australians had been deceived and called for the documents to be released.
Fielding said if the Prime Minister had informed voters that family impact statements would be restricted to cabinet members they would have questioned their worth.
The rationale for the statements was to provide an assessment on how proposed legislation, or initiatives, would impact on families.
"Australian families would prefer to get the information and judge for themselves," Fielding said.
Unfair dismissal and the overhaul to the award system are two of subjects that will be out of bounds.
Other taboo subjects include secret ballots, suspension and termination of a bargaining period, pattern bargaining, cooling off periods, remedies for unprotected industrial action, strike pay, reform of unfair dismissal arrangements, right of entry, award simplification, freedom of association and civil penalties for officers of organisations regarding breaches.
The inquiry kicks off on November 14 and will report to the Senate on November 22.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow said the inquiry would be one of the shortest on record.
"It is an insult to those people and the millions of Australian workers and families whose basic rights will be affected by the laws that the best the Government can do is a slap-dash six day Senate Inquiry," President Sharan Burrow said.
Bernard Carney in the Gong.
Forget John Howard's visit to the Gong. A far more important, sane and entertaining person is coming this weekend.
One of the Union Movements finest singer songwriters will be making a one off visit to Wollongong on Saturday 22nd October as a guest of the Labour Council and Illawarra Folk Club. He will be performing at Theatre 313 at Miller Street, Coniston (diagonally opposite the Coniston Public School) and will be supported by Johnny Spillane's newest Celtic Group, Rioch. With Parodies like 'Bye, Bye Awards' and 'Part of the Union' along with some traditional songs like 'Solidarity Forever', Bernard has made a name for himself in Western Australia's fight against industrial relations changes.
A Bernard Carney concert is packed with a wealth of original songs of depth, substance and emotional power. The guitar accompaniment is grounded in a passion for blues ragtime and swing and the sets are jovially woven together with observations, stories and lies told with easy humour by a great performer with 30 years experience behind him.
Bernard has four CD's currently available, was Port Fairy's Artist of the year in 2003, also winning the Lawson Patterson Songwriting award that year, he is based in Western Australia regularly tours nationally and internationally and all his wisdom teeth have been removed.
Tickets are limited to 110 so it is wise to ring and make a booking. Ring 1300 887 034. Tickets are $12 (union members and folk club members) and $15 others.
Union Postcard from America
Amanda Tattersall is currently in North America doing research on community unionism. She will be back in Australia soon for a brief visit and is keen to share what she has learned and observed in the last few months visiting many different organisations doing very interesting work.
Unions NSW is pleased to host a seminar with Amanda between 3.30pm and 5pm on Friday, 4th November, in the Ground Floor Training Room, 377 Sussex St, Sydney.
This will be a very timely discussion as the Australian Union Movement gears up for the second phase of its campaign opposing the Federal Government's workplace changes. We need to develop sustainable opposition in workplaces and the community that build real power for ordinary working people and their families. Amanda will talk about different union and community based campaigns she has observed, what worked, what didn't and the implications for the current Australian context.
She will briefly share her experiences of the fracturing of the American labor movement (she attended both the AFL-CIO Convention and the Change to Win Conventions). She will also address the issue of union recognition ballots and how that election system for union recognition operates in America.
There will be plenty of time for discussion and for those interested we can continue that discussion over a drink at a nearby hotel.
Please RSVP by the 2nd November to Alison Peters at Unions NSW on 0425 231 814 or by email [email protected]
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
Sheil Be Right
Kings Cross film festival is screening "Democracy II Sheil Be Right." A very funny 6 minute doco by Yvette Andrews about Pat Sheil's attempt to win the seat of Wentworth as the Independent Idiot Candidate. Starring Pat Sheil, Meredith Burgmann, Bob Carr, Andrew Peacock and Harry M Miller among others. 8pm, 22 October, Fitzroy Gardens (Allamein Fountain) Kings Cross, (byo picnic rug etc)
Big or small (Business) it will become easier to terminate employees more easily - the PM wants flexibility.
I would like to bet that the following methods will be quickly incorporated into management practices once IR reforms are passed. In fact, they are already being used quite widely.
However, the reforms will simply make it much easier by removing the protections that allow employees to challenge management's decision to terminate.
The following can be used individually or in combination:
a. The said employee was terminated as a result of corporate restructure;
b. The said employee was terminated within their probationary period, therefore, we are not required to 'show cause';
c. The said employee made claims of harassment and/or discrimination, however, our own internal investigation concluded that that the allegations were unsubstantiated by evidence. We have offered said employee a termination package as part of our good will and said employee has accepted.
Special note, when attempting to convince employees of the merit of AWA's please list those employees who refuse to sign as we can organise a corporate restructure for those who oppose the move, which will allow us finalise agreements with those who are willing to participate - remember, however, AWA's cannot be forced.
John McPhilbin, NSW
I always have a good laugh at the Tools put up in the tool shed. However I did read Ken Phillips' article in the Sydney Morning Herald the other day and if what he says is true then, maybe, perhaps, the unions are..um...a bit out of line.
For an unfortunate workplace death to be held in an industrial relations court..is um...a bit weird. Frankly I worry about the intellengence of the tool shed writer to hide behind the emotional issues.
Perhaps attacking Phillips with emotionally loaded repetoire while ignoring the fact that there has been a case of Law held in a different Court of Law that what it should be....and....to have the unions derive money from the fines...is...in my opinion "removing the gold rings off the victim"
Maybe, jut maybe Ken was right!
James Griffin, Vic
Just spoke to my friend in the union cafeteria (that seems like an Americanism but I dunno an Australian term for it) here and she had some pretty bad news ... just yesterday all the casual staff of the usyd union received a letter stating that due to 'organisation restructuring' they aren't guaranteed jobs after the end of this year .. it's pretty blunt and pretty devastating and they had little to no pre-warning and there was certainly no meeting letting them know what was happening and how it would affect them.
it's a ramification of VSU legislation that I personally hadn't spent much time thinking about...
the university union is also cutting the union recorder the monthly campus magazine and other programs - the first hammer fall of VSU???
An open letter to Hugh Morgan, AC, President, Business Council of Australia.
Dear Mr Morgan,
I am writing I regards to your interview on John Faine‚s program, on 774 ABC Melbourne this morning. Please excuse my ignorance of economic theory, but I understand your argument to be as follows: The Federal Government‚s Industrial Relations agenda is necessary for the health of the Australian economy, and must be implemented straight away. And also, in order for Australia to be competitive internationally, we need to lower taxes for business, and for higher income earners as well.
I have a number of concerns with your position. The proposed Industrial Relations reforms are justified by yourself and the government, among others, on the grounds that we need to „tighten our belts‰ to ensure the long term prosperity of the economy. For decades, perhaps even since politics began, we have been told that we need to „tighten our belts‰ for this reason. The argument goes that we need to sacrifice wages and conditions, to bring about prosperity in the future (there are other forms of the argument, but they say much the same thing). It seems to me that this future has arrived. We have record economic growth, and enormous budget surpluses, yet still we are asked to tighten our belts further. And it is only some of us who are being asked to do so ˆ those of us with the least wealth to begin with. This brighter economic future, for which we are making these sacrifices, is beginning to look like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But not for some. The people!
who you represent ˆ the C.E.O.s, senior management and so on, are experiencing unprecedented levels of wealth.
This brings me to the second part of your position ˆ tax cuts for business and the wealthy. You argue that we need to do this to be internationally competitive. But to what ends? If being internationally competitive means I have to get poorer while the rich get richer, then what benefit is this to me? And what will the wealthy do with this extra money? Buy themselves a third or fourth car, while I struggle to put petrol in my twenty year old Sigma? By their children a replacement mobile phone or a trip to Europe, while I struggle to feed my children? I understand that these points that I am making are emotive, but these are the direct consequences of your proposals, and as such, you need to address these issues.
The reality of the proposed Industrial Relations reforms is that they will push a great many working people below the poverty line. And you support this, and at the same time argue for even greater tax concessions for the rich. We have had a relatively peaceful and prosperous society in recent decades, and this peace and prosperity is due in large part to the egalitarian nature of our workplace laws, and wealth distribution systems. But the seeds are now being sewn for the kinds of class divisions that have been mostly absent from Australia for the better part of fifty years. And with all due respect, you seem to be in favour of this.
The cynic in me would suggest that what is really going on, is that given the coalition‚s control of both houses of parliament, the rich and powerful have seen their chance to grab as much wealth for themselves as possible. And it falls on you in your role, to provide the justification for this.
I challenge you to show me that I'm wrong.
I cannot remember voting in last year‚s Federal election for a dictatorship. The actions of the Howard government threaten the very foundations of our democracy. They treat voters and the states with arrogance as they abuse their power. Their proposed Industrial Relations (IR) changes and associated measures are flawed for many reasons.
There is no evidence or examples from anywhere in the world to support their theory that the proposed changes will protect the economy. Some modelling from conservative economists shows that the changes could actually damage the economy.
Every major survey shows that the vast majority of voters are against the proposed changes, yet Howard continues to ignore them. It is a mockery for this Government to assert that they represent the people.
Prior to the election, the Liberal Party never promoted or mentioned these extreme IR changes like they did for the GST and therefore cannot claim a mandate for them.
If the arguments for IR change are so persuasive, then let the Federal Government negotiate with the states to reach a consensus. Acting like a bully or thug at the moment does not convince anyone.
The current advertising campaign should be illegal for the Government as the proposed Bill has not even been presented to parliament and the exact form of it may change if approved. The Liberal Party should fund any advertising prior to it becoming law.
The saturation advertising by the Federal Government is manifestly excessive. It is a great waste of taxpayers‚ money. Advertising should be to communicate facts, not political propaganda.
The Senate is meant to be a House of Review. If the experience of the Telstra legislation is repeated, it will be a House for Rubberstamping.
Mark Witcomb, SA
As I may be changing workplaces I decided to ring the Workers Choice Hotline to see if I was employed by a new employer would I be covered by the current award currently in place. After explaining this to the so called Hotline Advisor the answer was ummm well ummmm yes ummmm could you repeat the question please so I did very slowly the answer was ...ummm you better check with your new boss. Great service. Thankyou Mr Howard.
Michael Dooley, NSW
Opposition governments and unions may save us but we can help by helping ourselves, using our power as consumers. We don't HAVE to be dross to be gobbled up and spat out by big business.
Some simple suggestions:
Move your money to CREDIT UNIONS who pay workers award rates and penalties, where members have a say in how it is run and the money stays in the community as opposed to banks who cut staff, use AWAS, move jobs offshore and have to satisfy shareholders and overpaid (by MILLIONS of dollars) executives.
If we buy at INDEPENDENT GREENGROCERS, BUTCHERS, PHARMACIES and NEWSAGENCIES instead of at supermarkets we can not only check that the goods are being made in Australia (because there IS someone to ask), we can exercise discretion in where we shop and what we buy, according to how workers are treated and paid (I won't be buying Imperial Mushrooms any time soon), we will ensure future choice (not just between giant conglomerates who occasionally! have been known to stitch up secret deals and price fix) and again we are not feeding profits to large, often overseas, corporations, executives and shareholders.
If we REFUSE to buy GENERIC/IMPORTED goods when we buy our other stuff at the supermarket we can ensure more jobs stay here and that our food meets Australian standards and ditto, ditto, ditto above.
If we get OUT of the SHAREMARKET and stay out of the sharemarket, we ourselves are not contributing to the global forces which are now pushing Australian workers to the wall. That unearned income on shares usually comes from someone's job loss (not the executive's) or pay reduction. Who needs unearned income if we have decent jobs and reasonable relaxation time?
None of the above is difficult to do or very expensive but the expense of not doing it - well, you know.
Pat Francis, NSW
Anyone with any sense will be heavily investing in labour - intensive Australian stocks as they will soon go gangbusters- pending the passing of Prime Minister John Howard's industrial relations bill through the Australian parliament.
Australian workers will be reduced to "coolie" conditions ensuring unprecedented profits for industry.
Chief plank will be the removal of holiday pay & sick pay by way of the bills attack on unfair dismissal laws- eg you ask for holiday pay- you're fired- no reason given, just fired.
This will out manoeuvre even the Yankee labour market.
Interesting that, while the government's propaganda on proposed new industrial relations "reforms" continually highlights the need for a fairer IR system, at no time does it actually explain what is so unfair about the current system.
Kaye Felgate, WA
Dear Fellow Australians
There are no simple answers the the problems we face, no matter how much we yearn for straighforward answers. We do, however, have an obligation for the greater good of our nation to accept the policy directions of the Hon. John Howard. You do, however, have choices.
Why Work Choices, and Why Now?
We face threats that we have never faced before and in order to preserve our way of life certain sacrifices need to be made.
In order to survive and thrive on the world stage we need to 1) built, maintain and sustain robust economic outputs, and 2) we also have to strengthen our homeland defenses and military capabilities.
Unfortunately, there is only one political party (the other has got no ticker) that can help us realise that goal, guess who? In reality Work Choices is also crucial if we are to move forward and remain a member (even senior member) of the 'coalition of the willing', and thereby prosper along with our allies (just look at the U.S economy and quality of life).
Whether we like it or not, Work Choices is in all our best interests - our word is our record'. But we have to act, and what is best for our country is not always seen as fair.
Why Work Choices?
Well, the workplace revolution is part of the big picture for two reasons:
1) Current and future cost of labour is not viable. In order to compete in the global marketplace we need to control costs, especially the cost of labour - note: OHS legislation is another costly distraction, that to needs to be culled to a more acceptable level.
2) Reality bite -we are at war, like it or not. Cost savings from the Work Choices will allow Australian businesses to prosper as well as encourage greater foreign investment, which in turn will aid governmental efforts to strengthen homeland security and military capabilities - this is expensive.
In essence, we need to focus on wealth creation, not public welfare issues - when we are in a position to think more altruistically, funds will be made available - on a needs basis only.
'No more waste', is an essential ingredient to ensure future prosperity.
What are the long term benefits?
Well, there are a number of benefits that are not immediately visible, and they are:
1) We have had it too good for too long - we are fat, we have too much obesity - by lowering wages we teach our children some important lessons - you can't always eat what you want, and you should work hard for your money. This is also a major health issue which costs money.
2) In addition to point 1, we don't want our children being brought up as anti-war protesters, we can't defend our great nation if our kids become fat and lazy pacifists. Poverty creates a fire in the belly - the military offers some great opportunities where many of our children will be able to support themselves whilst defending the rights and privileges we hold dearly as a nation.
Abolish compulsory voting - this is a waste of time because too many people vote with their eyes closed. This is neither good for the economy and our plans for the future.
Thank you for your support and understanding.
From the office of workplace relations
Reverend Kev Andrews, NSW
Your Workers on Line editorial makes me feel it‚s way past time for the great majority of Australian citizens to wake up and stop behaving like pre schoolers waiting at a pedestrian crossing. What law are you writing about Peter? Are you a bit previous or perhaps the Labor party is realising they are too late? I understand most approaches to the heavily advertised (with our federal tax dollars) advice line, will result in a full stop response „I don‚t know‰ when enquiries are pursued up to the supervisors on the Howard governments Work Choice 1800 number. There is no surprise that 50 workers at Artarmon have already been given a taste of the future. I believe phone enquiries were answered with a reading from what is believed to be the proposed legislation, and based on key words within the enquiry. Because there is in fact no legislation gazetted. I hope people are beginning to share my perception of government‚s which may be identified as „gatherings of apparently IR!
responsible empty headed individuals with very little moral fibre and not much of a political compass. Who when pressured by their angry constituents tend to reveal themselves to be political chameleons.‰ All the political parties are involved in the accommodation of this offensive interference with what the people had perceived as workable government. None of them are acting „in the best interest of their constituents while their time on the public stage continues to be spent jockeying for positions with eyes focused on the next election. These men and women are allowing millions in tax payers dollars to be squandered. Listening to Senator Eric Abetz respond to Maxine Mckew‚s question about the confusion evident on talkback programmes during the preceding week. I felt the Senator was happy to have his government in the centre of all this public confusion. Listening to political debate like the interview of Smith and Abetz on Friday nights Lateline, I suspect I am!
Can you hear the fiddles playing?
Edward James, NSW
After all, this has to be one of the most shameless power plays in recent political history: a legislative assault on workers rights, backed by $100 million in wall to wall political advertising funded by the very taxpayers who are about to be duded.
But when hundreds of Wollongong workers rallied outside the business lunch, the PM agreed to a rare meeting and invited a union delegation including a local police officer, a midwife and a fire fighter to probe him on the impact of his changes.
Later they said, what struck them most was the sense of inevitably about what is about to happen - that the PM will talk but there is no room for debate.
Yes, frontline police could end up on contracts; yes, workers could be worse off if a recession hits; yes, there are bad bosses who will abuse the unfair dismissal laws and no - he would not guarantee no worse would be worse off - he would not even guarantee that majority of workers would not be worse off.
Why should he? As those who got a chance to eye ball Howard said afterwards: this guy knows he has the numbers and he's going to do what he wants to do, come hell or high water.
The so-called softening of his laws has already been exposed as mere spin to give the pegs for the dishonest advertising campaign; now he's moving in for the kill.
This is a critical moment for the union campaign. Like never before we need to change the way we approach campaigns and disputes.
Unions are a product of a system of conciliation and arbitration based on the principle that the parties go in hard to prosecute their case; then reach a deal to accommodate the relative merits of their arguments.
These rules no longer exist - indeed, the laws are designed to end this sort of thinking forever. In its place we have a series of laws to prevent and punish industrial action by employees, while actively encouraging militant employers.
It means unions need to rethink everything about the way they campaign; their tactics, their timelines, their definitions of success.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the unions can only win this debate in the community, convincing the electorate that decides who will govern that this issue; not interest rates or terrorism or some moral panic plucked out of left field is THE issue to determine their vote at the next election.
Of course, there's another challenge too; create the spec that a political party, preferably Labor, will read the public mood and have the courage to put forward policies on workers rights that will undo this looming damage.
There is no doubt the first phase of the union campaign - the raising of awareness and concerns about the changes has been successful; but there is now even more important work to do - actually hold the government accountable for the impact of their changes on the Australian way of life.
That process started this week in Wollongong; its up to all of us to keep the ball rolling.