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  Issue No 29 Official Organ of LaborNet 03 September 1999  




Labour Review

What's New at the Information Centre

By Neale Towart

Our regular update on papers and articles for union officials and students.

Older Workers and Employment

The Anti-Discrimination Board provides a summary of its submission to the NSW Cabinet Office which is co-ordinating the State Government response to the federal Inquiry into older workers seeking employment. Also a comment on the recent state wage case where, amongst the publicity about wage increases, the NSW IRC determined that an anti-discrimination clause will be present in all state awards automatically.

(Equal Time; no. 41, August 1999)

Unjustifiable Hardship

Employers arguing that they can not employ people with a disability because of the unjustifiable hardshiop imposed upon them (the employers) will have limited success, judging by the HREOC decision in a case involving the Australian Agency for International Development. HREOC found that the Agency discriminated against a job applicant recovering from occupational overuse syndrome when it refused to install "DragonDictate" voice operated computer technology. The Commisioner, in his decision, took into account the benfits to the employee, the organisation and other employees in having the technology installed. Also the fact that the agency was involved in aid work meant that the technology would raise the awareness amongst the agency and clients of disability issues.

(Discrimination Alert; issue 93, August 17, 1999)

Insecticide Exposure

A new insecticide exposure test has been launched by WorkCover that will give employers and employees early warning on inadequate or unsafe work practices relating to organophosphates.

Organophosphates are a widely used group of chemicals and industries most likely to benefit are shearing, pest control, fruit growing, nurseries, gardening, forestry and manufacturing.

(Occupational Health and Safety Update; newsletter 7, 5 August 1999)

A Social Conscience in the Global Marketplace? Labour dimensions of codes of conduct, social labelling and investor initiatives. Janelle Diller

Trade unions and NGOs have been able to gain leverage and publicity from the desire of transnational enterprises to increase exposure and market share by moving in a sociallly desirable direction. Companies like to use the image of endorsement from "worthy causes" in their quest for market share. Diller argues that the labour content of most codes of conduct is limited, with OHS privisions often in, but freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain are usually excluded.

She outlines a multilateral framework which could help private sector initiatives contribute more effectively to the upholding of social standards.

(International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 2, 1999)

Marketing Human Rights

Simon Cooper, in Arena magazine, also addresses this question, from a more critical perspective, pointing out that multinational corporations are effectively being contracted by the UN to monitor human rights. Companies involved here include RioTinto, whose record in this area is appalling. Shell has also been approached, but have yet to sign on.

The UN approach is probably a product of the US refusal to pay $1.6 billion it owes the organisation, thus forcing the UN to seek cost cutting measures and removing any potential it may have to act as a thorn in the side of multinational capital. The UN is seemingly becoming a branch office of the World Trade Organisation, whose agenda is profitability.

(Arena magazine; no. 42, August/September 1999)

Trade Unions and Young Workers: proposing a new pathway

Judith Bessant notes that for unions to survive into the next century they will have to attract young people

� New ideas, future leaders to put pressure on an older generation are necessary. Other organisations like churches have been having the same difficulty in staying relevant.

� Attacks on wages and conditions are focussed on the most vulnerable sectors with the youth wage and work for the dole examples of the way the young are targetted and scapegoated by politicans.

Unions are having trouble attracting young people, but there is a potential to recruit with young workers suffering in precarious jobs with low pay and exploitative conditions.

Bessant notes that one response by young people has been increases in education with part time work alonmg with that study time. Her idea is that unions and their peak bodies should establish close links with educational institutions (as the ACTU has done with Deakin Uni) for the purpose of facilitating employment placements for students and graduates (TAFE and university).

(Arena magazine; no. 42, August/September 1999)

Working Time: Tendencies and emerging issues Gerhard Bosch

Working hours have become more flexible and less classifable over recent years and it is no longer clear that the traditional methods of measurement (daily/weekly working time - the basis of ILO conventions) are reflecting reality.

Bosch lays out the issues involved in flexible working including significant differences by sex. He also discusses educational attainment and economic activity, impact of unequal distribution of household work, incentives from tax and social security systems, changes in work organisation, collective bargaining and the connection between working tome and aggregate employment levels.

(International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 2, 1999)

Substance Abuse at Work Leyla Alyanak

Drug and alcohol abuse is a growing problem in workplaces around the world. A recent conference in Sweden discussed ways of integrating prevention programmes with occupational health and safety plans. From an employer point of view, the problem is highlighted by US estimates that substance abuse costs $77 billion annually in lost productivity ( no mention that the employment practices of US bosses might have something to do with this).

(World of Work; no. 30, July 1999)


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 29 contents

In this issue
*  Activists: Virtually Here - Eric Lee
From the Kibbutz to cyberspace, Andrew Casey profiles the work of an Internet class warrior.
*  Interview: Net Benefits
Sean Kidney has been combining business savvy with social justice for more than a decade. He gives us his take on unions and the Net.
*  International: Dateline Dili
As the United Nations attempts to begin counting the votes from East Timor�s independence referendum, the capital Dili is rapidly spiralling out of control.
*  Unions: Secret Herbs and Spices
Read KFC worker Claire Hamilton's speech to last week's Second Wave Rally.
*  Politics: Loosening Labor�s Links?
Is Labor under Kim Beazley fundamentally changing its social appeal and turning itself into the Australian equivalent of Bill Clinton�s Democrats?
*  Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
Our regular update on papers and articles for union officials and students.
*  History: Immigration, Racism and the Labour Movement
An upcoming conference asks some hard questions about the politics of immigration.
*  Satire: Crime Figures Down: NSW Elections Postponed
The release of statistics showing decreasing crime rates has threatened to delay the next NSW election.
*  Review: Trains of Treasure
A new CD of poems and songs pays tribute to our rich locomotive history.

»  Workers� Savings to Bankroll Vizard Plan
»  Dress Nazis: Undies, Jewellery in Uniform Code
»  Clothing Farce: Only the Smalls are Home Grown
»  Overseas Trip for Organiser of the Year
»  State Transit Lodges Claim on Bus Drivers
»  Compo Stats Don�t Justify Slash and Burn
»  Second Wave on Misos Menu
»  Workers Rally To Protect Disabled Homes
»  Carr Ministers� New Years Eve Betrayal
»  Telstra Execs Doing Quite Well, Thank You
»  Award Breach. Did Nike Just Do It?
»  Unions Back League Class Struggle
»  STOP PRESS: Images of Burma
»  Musos, Authors in Joint Fundraiser

»  Guest Report
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  Is Bevis a Butthead?
»  More Vizard Feedback
»  The Republican Soapbox
»  Pensioners' Plea

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