The Chairman of Australia's recently Christened Low Pay Commission appeared on our television screens last week with a bunch of flowers in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other.
"C'mon, baby, I've changed!" Ian 'Big Daddy' Harper pleaded, tie slightly askew.
"Forget that stuff about cutting your pay or sending you off to a sweatshop - I didn't mean it. Give me another chance - I promise I'll make it up to you."
On bended knee, Harper said he was ready to take the plunge and actually meet low paid workers - people he had previously only observed in the form of a pie chart in an economics textbook.
Comments he had made in the past, such as saying Australia never really developed to its potential because we never had sweatshop conditions like America had 'em, were of no consequence now.
After all, he is only in charge of the body that will set the legal minimums for the people working in the modern equivalents of the aforementioned sweatshops.
Harper says it's a religious thing - it's his duty as a dedicated Christian to look after those poor unfortunates.
And what better way to do that than to make sure they stay poor unfortunates.
Harper was reluctant to talk about his epiphany to Tony Jones, so we can only speculate it comes from Matthew 19:24.
I guess it must be some consolation Harper believes that their reward for being the shock absorbers of the economy awaits them in the afterlife.
Yea, the poltroon shied away both from religious discussion and preaching the economic benefits of having a percentage of the population going hungry.
Instead Harper pledged to listen.
Presumably he will be listening in the same way a schoolyard bully listens to the yelp of someone they have just given a wedgie to - or maybe the way a duck hunter listens to a quack.
He definitely won't be listening in the same way that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission did.
Unfortunately, when low paid have their own representatives and independent umpires, the snivelling grubs seem to want to be paid more.
That won't do. Harper knows best. Now come over here and sit on Big Daddy's knee.
Employment Advocate, Peter McIlwain, told Senate Estimates he had registered more than 6000 individual contracts, in the first month of WorkChoices, without checking their content.
The confession came in the wake of his Office refusing to register a collective agreement, negotiated by the CFMEU and a Queensland coal company, because it contained time off to attend union health and safety training.
McIlwain told Senators the rules for employer-driven AWAs were different.
He said he did not check AWAs to ensure they met new Fair Pay minimums.
"I stick to the functions I have been given by the parliament," he said.
Once registered, without being checked, he said, AWAs would be "operational" whether they met minimum standards or not.
McIlwain told the Senate Committee his Office had "analysed" 250 of the 6263 individual contracts it had registered.
That analysis showed that not one document included all six "protected award conditions" touted by the federal government in its $55 million WorkChoices advertising blitz.
McIlwain said ...
- 64 percent of AWAs removed leave loadings
- 63 percent did away with penalty rates
- 52 percent removed shift work loadings
- 16 percent excluded all award conditions
The Employment Advocate revealed declared public holidays had disappeared from some AWAs, and others pared back annual holidays to less than two weeks a year.
Protected, apparently, can become unprotected with a stroke of an employer's pen.
McIlwain said a "single clause" was sufficient to remove entitlements to all "protected" award conditions.
The revelations are a serious blow to the Prime Minister's credibility.
Howard personally aligned himself with last year's television, radio and newspaper campaign that assured Australians core conditions would be "protected by law".
The words were stamped in red across the covers of millions of copies of WorkChoices booklets.
The wall-to-wall advertising offensive was launched to counter union claims that workers would lose holidays, penalty rates and other basic award conditions, under Howard's legislation.
Those talks have already stalled as the company, with Waterfront War mastermind Paul Houlihan in charge, attempts a radical overhaul of the tally system which will see workers paid an extra $1 per hour for killing hundreds of extra animals a day.
Meatworkers Union state secretary Charlie Donzow told Workers Online the workers had rejected the agreement - which retains a base rate of pay but requires an extra 40 per cent productivity.
"What the company is proposing is the unification of the two streams of
slaughtering - pigs and cattle." Donzow says. "As they put it, one pig is equal to a unit and cattle, because of their size, are two units.
"So, while in the past the slaughtermen processed 140 cattle in a shift, the
company now wants them to process 315 in the same time. For the pigs the
increase is from 280 to 630. If they agree, their base rate of pay increases
from $764 to $765 per week."
Donzow has revealed that both parties now have a copy of the Office of Workplace Services report into the April sackings - meaning the company has the power to sack workers who refuse to accept the new deal.
Melbourne's 'Age' newspaper this week reported the OWS had ruled the sackings for 'operational reasons' in order to reduce wages complied with WorkChoices.
The OWS began its investigation after 29 workers at the NSW abattoir were dismissed in March and told they could be rehired on different conditions that included a pay cut. The termination notices were withdrawn after the OWS stepped in.
The South Australian Industrial Relations Court laid the counts, less than a year after an independent inquiry warned the minerals giant its AWA-based strategy impacted on safety standards.
Perth lawyer, Mark Ritter, found BHP's use of individual contracts was a "factor which has impacted and continues to impact on the successful implementation of safety systems".
He was reporting, to the WA government, on the circumstances of three deaths at BHP Pilbarra facilities in the space of a couple of months.
Workers Online understands BHP is also likely to face charges over those deaths.
WA authorities said, last year, they would lay four charges over the death of AMWU member, James Wadley, in a horrific gas explosion.
Subsequently, the fiancé of former union delegate, Corey Bentley, killed at the Nelson Port iron ore refinery, filed papers suing BHP Billiton for negligence.
Last week's, South Australian IRC announcement over the death of 38-year-old, Karl Eibi, provoked a storm of protest from family, unions and politician.
If found guilty, Australia's largest company would face maximum fines of $100,000 on each count.
Eibi's father, Max, told a South Australian newspaper his sone told him, three weeks before his death, he would have been safer in Iraq than working for BHP Billiton.
AWU state secretary Wayne Hanson labelled sentencing options a "joke" and called for an urgent review of the state's Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act.
He said fines were not good enough, when negligence was found to have cost lives.
Independent MLC Nick Xenophon labelled the penalty regime "woefully inadequate". He called for a parliamentary inquiry into how workplace deaths were investigated.
In an interview with Workers Online, AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten, revealed the co-operation that transfixed a nation, last month, was a relatively new phenomenon.
Beaconsfield Gold, operated by Allstate Explorations, had sung off the Minerals Council song sheet, pushing AWAs and endeavouring to remain union-free.
It wasn't until last year that a negotiating team, including rescued miner Brant Webb, nailed the first collective contract in the operation's history.
Beaconsfield entered productive life in 1998 using take-it-or-leave-it AWAs as a condition of employment.
John Howard only invented the individual non-union contracts in 1996 and it was mining companies that first embraced them as a means of de-unionising their sites.
At times, Shorten said, the management-union relationship at Beaconsfield had been "aggressively antagonistic".
"By about 2001, there were all sort of promises being made and men started to join the union," he said.
"It took about three years of our Tasmanian branch, led by Ian Wakefield, turning up in the snow and bad weather and speaking to the blokes.
"Even then, we had to fight in the Industrial Relations Commission to try and get the company to talk to us."
Shorten said it hadn't been until last month's rescue operation was underway that some members of the management team began to change their tunes.
More than 30 underground miners wore Your Rights At Work insignia to last week's reception at federal parliament.
Webb took to the stage wearing an AWU delegate's pin.
Before the reception, miners signed the Beaconsfield declaration, thanking the public for its support and urging the Prime Minister to lift his ban on union occupational health and safety training.
The threat was delivered as the federal court ruled employers could make promotion, and even employment, conditional on signing individual agreements.
A letter from law firm Baker and McKenzie on behalf of the company, Esselte Australia, alleges Mark Cochrane broke industrial relations laws by applying "duress to an employer or an employee in connection with an AWA".
The NUW (National Union of Workers) organiser had spoke to meetings of Esselte employees during lunch breaks about AWAs the company was offering compared to the collective agreement.
Cochrane said workers were getting a glossed-over explanation of the AWA from the employer.
"A lot of them didn't understand what they stood to lose," he said.
Under the AWA, Esselte could dodge overtime loadings by averaging hours over a 12-month period.
The condition would allow the employer to force workers to work extended hours during busy periods without paying overtime.
The AWA also seeks to strip rostered days off, union picnic days, meal allowances, afternoon and paid meal breaks - leaving workers on a base rate of $36,338 a year.
Cochrane said Esselte had pressured workers to sign the AWAs.
"From my understanding no-one has signed the AWA - except one," Cochrane said.
"(Esselte) are actually helping me recruit from the site."
Esselte lawyers also alleged Cochrane had threatened not to represent employees who signed AWAs, and had flagged media attention to the dispute.
They also claimed their had been suggestions Esselte trucks would be held up at other sites.
Cochrane shrugged off the claims, saying they were ridiculous.
Esselte is owned by the US-based JW Childs Corporation, which has an annual turnover of $US1.5 billion.
The federal court, meanwhile, has ruled that the object of the Howard government's Workchoices legislation was not to prevent "pressure being exerted on an employee'.
Justice Madgwick said, for illegitimate pressure to arise, an offer of employment contingent on signing an AWA was insufficient.
He found a landscaping company did not apply "duress" although a worker claimed he had been denied a promotion, and increased earnings, because he would not sign an AWA.
In essence, Justice Madgwick ruled the groundsman had been offered a choice.
"In short," he said, "the proposal equated to presenting a choice between the applicant having the promotion if he signed the AWA, or not getting that promotion if he did not."
Justice Madgwick explained why denying someone employment if they wouldn't sign an AWA was not duress, like this:
"While pressure was being applied, it was not necessarily the employer who was applying it. Therefore, it would not be possible in such cases to sue the employer for duress.
"In such a case the employee is under pressure in connection with the AWA, but it is not the employer who has applied it."
Just days after Sydney's Newington College backed down from plans to have staff re-apply for their jobs, the peak body admitted it has been doling out advice on how schools could enforce non-union workplace agreements.
Workers Online understands non-union agreements will be given to teachers in some schools as early as July.
Independent Education Union General Secretary Dick Shearman said the union was concerned the WorkChoices-inspired agreements would be determined solely by committees of employers and teachers would have no opportunity to seek union advice.
"This is a big mistake...This will create a situation where every independent school will have to identify themselves as (whether or not they are) a WorkChoices school," Shearman said.
The IEU will go to the Industrial Relations Commission to flesh out the intentions of independent schools.
Meanwhile, the Principal of Newington College, David Scott, has been given a lesson in collective action, with the IEU forcing him to back down over plans to cut teachers' conditions.
Scott had asked 40 senior staff at the exclusive school to reapply for positions that stripped pay and increased workloads.
He said the school's plans had nothing to do with WorkChoices, rather they were about increasing efficiency.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show that the application for the new store was lodged in October 2005, three days before the WorkChoices legislation was even announced
Mr Howard this week used the Mt Druitt opening to defend the Spotlight AWAs that cash in penalty rates, public holidays, overtime, rest breaks, shift allowances, sick leave, rostered days off, uniform allowances, meal allowances and first aid for the princely increase of two cents and hour.
But the documents show the applications for the new store was made by Porgetto Design on September 27 and lodged with Blacktown City Council on October 6.
The WorkChoices package was not announced until October 9, was introduced into Parliament on November 2 and did not become active until March this year,
SDA state secretary Gerard Dwyer says the Prime Minister has been caught out. "The claim that new jobs were created at Spotlight Mount Druitt because of WorkChoices is false," Dwyer says.
"Being able to reduce employees' take home pay under WorkChoices was a simply a windfall that allows the Company to increase profits.
Meanwhile, the Coffs Harbour woman who blew the whistle on Spotlight, Annette Harris, has retuned to work secure on her award conditions - but the company is continuing to peddle the AWAs to new and existing employees.
The Immigration Department is investigating claims Chinese guest workers were undertaking unskilled work at Tey's Bros Abattoir at Naracoorte in South Australia.
The Meat Industry Union says local workers have lost hours at the abattoir in favour of the guest workers.
"The Australian workers have their mortgages to pay and everything else, they rely on their wages and they see this as a completely unfair situation where people doing the same job now get to go in and get paid when the Australians get stood down," the AMIEU's Graham Smith said.
But Howard refuted the claims when questioned in Parliament, saying the boss had acted fairly.
"I'm advised this fair treatment may amount to a technical breach of the visa requirement because the foreign workers are only required to work in a skilled position that they're sponsored to undertake, and DIMIA (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) officials are now talking to the company about that," he said.
Guest worker visas are only supposed to be granted when a skill shortage exists in that industry and local workers cannot be found.
CFMEU Construction secretary John Sutton says the explosion in workers entering Australia on short term visas - up from 100,000 in 1996 to more than 700,000 today - had created a growing and largely unregulated industry.
Sutton says the inquiry needed to look at the following issues:
- reports that agents were charging fees of up to $15,000 to recruit foreign workers, with these fees being passed directly onto the workers. This is a form of indentured labour not seen in this country for more than 100 years.
- the prevalence of former Department of Immigration officials working as immigration agents. While former public servants should be entitled to earn a living, there should be clear and transparent processes in place to ensure they do not abuse information gained in their public employment.
- whether legal requirements that Australian workers are not available for a job are actually being met before workers are bought in from overseas.
- the responsibility of immigration agents to ensure that workers bought into the country are employed on legal wages and conditions and not some of the exploitative arrangements that have come to public attention in recent months.
Mr Sutton says that the federal government, having opened the floodgates to guest workers, had a responsibility that the system is not corrupted.
"Where there is a legitimate skills shortage in some sections of the economy we need to have a fair and transparent system in place," Sutton says.
"Proper controls would make it harder for employers to set up 'sham' shortages merely to bring in temporary foreign workers who are having the effect of undercutting local wages and conditions."
Last week's policy backflip denies apprentices and unskilled labourers the protections of industrial relations law by allowing employers to use them as contractors.
"The ATO has broken a cast iron promise to stop the inappropriate issue of ABNs to apprentices and labourers - the treatment of these young apprentices is particularly outrageous," CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said.
Mr Sutton said the move would allow employers to duck costs such as holiday pay, sick leave and superannuation.
"How can an apprentice be an independent business when they have to be connected to an employer to work through their apprenticeship?" Sutton asked.
Mr Sutton said that it was obvious that the Federal Government was pressuring the ATO to allow this arrangement to continue.
"This is a scam and the Federal Government is clearly interfering with the tax office and preventing it from doing its required statutory duty," Sutton said.
The back down occured as NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, flagged a possible High Court challenge to federal Independent Contractors legislation.
A spokesman for the Minister said the challenge would be based on a successful 1995 High Court action against attempts to regulate contracts relating to constitutional corporations.
Following hot on the heels of last year's controversial WorkChoices campaign, Canberra has earmarked another $250 million for advertising in the lead to next year's federal election.
Officials from the Prime Minister's Department revealed the record figures, last week.
More than $52 million has been tagged to sell Medicare changes, against the backdrop of widespread concern over struggling health systems.
And another $15 million will be tipped into the assault on working people through an Independent Contractors (AWA) campaign.
Shadow Public Accountability Minister, Kelvin Thomson, labelled the scale of the spend "breathtaking".
"The public should brace themselves for successive waves of propaganda, on the scale of last year's IR campaign," he warned.
"Hundreds of millions will be torched on Government spin in an attempt to get the Coalition re-elected.'
Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, last week, refused to rule the majority of the advertising blitz being spent in the lead-up to the election.
"The country has got to be governed," he said.
The Accelerated Chef's Apprenticeship Scheme comes with a Code of Best Employment Practice that focuses on training, health and safety, increased wages, and guarantees union involvement.
The Apprenticeship scheme provides a more accessible path to rattling the pans and aims to keep apprentice chefs working in the local industry.
Working with the ACT Government, employer networks, tourism bodies and the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), the LHMU has delivered a shorter apprenticeship program that does not sacrifice quality.
Apprenticeships now run over two years rather than four, with a compressed theory component that focuses on practical experience with the return of a trade test at the end of the course.
Union organiser David Bibo hopes the new code addresses the industry's reputation of poor working conditions for apprentices. Examples of apprentices working 14 to 16 hours per day, seven days a week are not uncommon, he says.
Guest workers also stand to gain as standards are gradually improved. "By exposing a new generation of chefs to better conditions and standards of treatment, we can break the cycle of abuse" he said.
Canberra's diners were shocked when rumours of abuse and exploitation in the kitchens of the capital surfaced. There were particularly unsavoury allegations over the treatment of Filipino guest workers.
These included the case of one worker who was racially abused and threatened with deportation unless he did not eat food scraps from a rubbish bin.
The Code of Practice has received strong support from industry groups including Australian Hotels Association, Restaurant & Caterer's Association and Chef's Network. Bibo maintains "this ensures the legitimacy of the code from an industry perspective and discourages rogue employers seeking to avoid it"
The civil conflict in East Timor has caused people from many areas of the capital, Dili, to flee their homes. People remember the trauma of the occupation and also the terrible destruction wrought by the pro-Indonesian militia in the wake of the independence referendum in 1999.
Although troops from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal have answered the invitation of the elected government to assist in restoring order, many homes have been burned, and 50,000 people have taken shelter in churches and schools and central infrastructure buildings in Dili, and 50,000 have moved to districts outside the capital. Thousands of people therefore need clean water, temporary shelter, food and health care. The government and international NGOs have been meeting to coordinate support to these camps.
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has had an office in Dili since 1999, and though our Australian volunteers have been temporarily withdrawn, our local staff are assisting in the relief efforts in Dili, for example, in one of the nearby shelters where hundreds of women and children have taken shelter in a convent
Over the coming weeks we will consult with our local partner organisations in community radio, in the trade unions, in the skills-training community groups, in the university library, in print media, in the Nurses' Association, on restoring any physical infrastructures that have sustained damage, and assist them in peace-building strategies.
This conflict has been very traumatic for East Timorese people, and rebuilding confidence for people to participate in democratic civil society will be a long-term process. Central to this is building strong democratic and representative organisations, such as trade unions, and the continued development of an independent mass media, that can keep people informed of decision-making by elected representatives.
Situations of civil conflict, such as East Timor or Solomon Islands, arise not just because of governance concerns, but because of the terrible suffering and alienation caused by mass unemployment. Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has prioritized skills training so young women and men can get jobs or establish production cooperatives.
We ask that organisations and individuals that may wish to assist, to donate funds we can use so our staff in Dili can provide relief to displaced people in the coming weeks, and to assist local organisations in rebuilding a peaceful, free and productive society in East Timor over the coming months.
If you wish to make a contribution, you can donate to Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA by:
Telephone: 1800 888 674 (in Australia, 8.00 to 18.00 Eastern Standard Time M-F) can donate to Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA by:
Online: Please go to our secure donation form and select Once off donation - East Timor from the drop down menu in section C. ONE OFF DONATIONS and APPEALS
Inner West IR forum to fight WorkChoices
Greens MP and industrial relations spokesperson Lee Rhiannon says an upcoming public forum in Annandale, with high profile speakers like environmentalist and unionist Jack Mundey, is designed to help overturn Howard's WorkChoices laws.
"The Greens will be using our local community networks to bolster the ongoing campaign against WorkChoices, with the aim of winning back the working and living conditions that unions have established over the past century," Ms Rhiannon said.
"Following on from our major forum last June, before WorkChoices became law, we have organised speakers from a broad range of areas including the church, academia and the union movement.
Greens Ban leader Jack Mundey said John Howard has with one fell swoop destroyed every person's right to fight for better working conditions and the environment.
"The movement against WorkChoices is far from over. We need to keep mobilising support in the community for unions' right to represent workers," Mr Mundey said.
Greens Councillor for Leichhardt and candidate for Balmain in the 2007 NSW elections, Rochelle Porteous, said the Greens were committed to working with unions and the community to oppose the Liberal's attack on wages and conditions.
"We are inviting the community to come to our forum and help build a broad based movement to defeat these regressive WorkChoices laws," Cr Porteous said.
Community and Unions: Defeating Howard's WorkChoices Forum
2-5pm, Saturday 3 June 2006, Annandale Neighbourhood Centre, 79 Johnston St.
Speakers include: Jack Mundey, Rev Dr Ann Wansbrough Uniting Church; Professor Frank Stilwell; Adam Kerslake Unions NSW, Brett Holmes General Secretary NSW Nurses' Association, Rochelle Porteous Greens Councillor Leichhardt and others from transport, building, hospitality and cleaners unions.
Pre-forum photo opportunity: Lee Rhiannon, Jack Mundey and Rochelle Porteous handing out forum leaflets to Inner West residents.
Work, Industrial Relations and Popular Culture Conference
Monday 25 September 2006.
Brisbane Work and Industry Futures QUT, and the Department of Industrial Relations Griffith University are convening a one-day conference that explores Work, Industrial Relations and Popular Culture.
David Pope, the cartoonist behind the Heinrich Hinze cartoons will be Keynote Speaker with his presentation - "Is the pen mightier than s356? Cartoons and Work" (www.scratch.com.au)
We welcome any paper that explores the manner in which popular culture is used by unions, management or policy makers or alternatively, how work and industrial relations is represented within popular culture.
Sub-themes for the conference include: - Policy, Influence and Modern Mediums - Which is Reality, Work or TV? - Popular Music: Is it the End of the Working Class Man? - Working in the Movies: What do we see? - Popular Culture as a Teaching Tool. Call for Papers. Abstracts are due 14 July 2006 Full papers are due 11 September 2006 Location; Southbank, Brisbane.
The convenors would welcome participants to submit proposed titles earlier to assist in preparations. For further information please contact Keith Townsend ([email protected]) or David Peetz ([email protected])
Rekindling the Flames of Discontent: How the Labour and Folk Movements Work Together
A Conference - Dinner - Concert
The Brisbane Labour History Association is holding a Conference/Dinner/Concert on Saturday 23 September. This event will explore the historical relationship between the labour movement and the folk movement in Australia with a particular emphasis on Queensland.
Why? To celebrate the history of the interaction between the Folk and Labour movements, and promote its longevity.
When? Saturday 23 September. Conference from 1pm. Concert from 7pm.
Where? East Brisbane Bowls Club, Lytton Rd, East Brisbane, Next to Mowbray Park
It is still in the formative stages, but to date the following are confirmed:
1-5pm CONFERENCE (will include music with the presentations):
Doug Eaton on John Manifold & the Communist Arts Group in Brisbane, Brisbane Realists
Bob & Margaret Fagan on Sydney Realist Writers
Mark Gregory on trade union & labour songs/music, nationally/internationally
Lachlan & Sue on international perspectives
5 - 7pm Drinks followed by DINNER
7 - 11pm CONCERT
Combined Unions Choir
Bob and Margaret Fagan
Greg Combet speaking on 'The social responsibility of economists'
Tuesday 6 June, 630-830pm
Herman's Bar, Wentworth Building (off the courtyard)
Cnr City Rd and Butlin Ave, Sydney University
Greg Combet, ACTU Secretary and graduate of Sydney University Political Economy.
Greg will be speaking on 'The social responsibility of economists'. At a time when many economists are willing to lend their support to unjust and unjustifiable government policies - whether on industrial relations or on international trade - it is worth asking the question: Should economists and other social scientists seek to provide 'value-neutral' analysis and advice? Or should they explicitly take ethical or moral considerations into account? If so, how?
Eleanor Hall, Journalist, broadcaster and presenter of ABC Radio's News and the World Today, and graduate of Sydney University Political Economy
Professor Frank Stilwell, one of the founding academics of Political Economy at Sydney University
Organised by the Political Economy Alumni Society - a network that meets socially and works to promote and support the study of political economy in universities and the community. Alumni Society events are open to everyone who is interested in exploring economic issues in their social and political context.
Please pass this invitation on to friends and colleagues who may be interested. Entry by donation.
How can you say NO to HOT, HOME MADE SOUP in the name of WORKERS RIGHTS!
Inner West Your Rights at Work is hosting a DVD screening and Soup Kitchen.
When: Sunday 4 June 2006 4pm - 7pm
Where: Gaelic Club Devonshire Street
TIM (ex Big Brother) will be the MC for the evening.
We are also having some SPEAKERS: Andrew Fergurson (CFMEU) and Lee Rhiannon (Greens).
At the fundraiser, we will be SCREENING the following DVDs:
* "WAL-MART - THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE" - this is the Wal-Mart doco which lifts the lid on corporate greed & anti union tactics in the workplace.
* "A WALK IN OUR BOOTS" - terrific CFMEU doco for those of you who haven't seen it!
* "36 WAYS TO GET THE SACK" - some of you may have viewed this on the Your Rights At Work website
For those of you who prefer AMBER LIQUID, please note that the BAR WILL BE OPEN!
MUM'S & DAD'S - you will be happy to know that CHILDREN ARE MOST WELCOME!
We would LOVE your HELP in PROMOTING our fundraiser amongst your union comrades, friends, family & rank & file members!
Please post our flyer on your website, email to comrades, rank & file, family & friends & most importantly - come along on the night with as many people as possible!
Get Connected in the West
Your Rights at Work Family and Friends Community Day
Penrith Lakes 12 June, 12.30pm
Contact Mary Yaager from Unions NSW for more information on 9286 1699
Coast Goes Online
Check out the brand new Central Coast Your Rights at Work Website www.centralcoastrightsatwork.com.au
Public Protest and the Law
UTS:Community Law Centre hosts Public Protest & the Law Workshop with Environmental Defenders Office & Legal Aid - 14 June 2006:
6pm - 7.30pm.
This is a free practical workshop about legal issues confronting people involved in public protest. Hosted by the UTS Community Law Centre in conjunction with the Environmental Defender's Office and NSW Legal Aid Commission.
This workshop is of particular relevance for those wanting to be informed about the rights and obligations concerning public protests.
All participants will receive a free advance copy of the EDO publication "Community Protest and the Law: A Handbook for Campaigners in NSW" (forthcoming).
Fact sheets by the UTS:CLC will also be available.
The workshop will include discussion of:
* Common criminal charges
* Police powers and responsibilities
* Arrest, detention and bail
* Getting legal advice and preparing for court
* Civil liability for defamation and interfering with business activities
Light refreshments will be provided following the workshop.
Building 5 Level 1
University of Technology Sydney.
About the Organisers:
The UTS CLC provides a free legal service for all UTS Staff and Students and is committed to community based legal research, law reform and policy development.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.
The NSW Legal Aid Commission (LAC) is the state government agency responsible for providing legal aid and assistance to disadvantaged people in New South Wales.
To register, or for more information, please contact: Tisha Dejamanee, EDO Education Assistant, on 02 9262 6989 or email [email protected]
I was quizzed by an economics student on the labor movement at a party recently, having just in the last few months become a Union wookie. Why, she asked, was I supporting an organisation that would bring economic collapse, political ruin and general smelly armpit leftyism to our good nation?
Having had a few, my arguments were perhaps a little lacking and her jargonistic doomsdaying muddled my brain with sensationalist crap. To get the conversation back on my terms I introduced the question of safety, union access to worksites and general OH&S in the context of the recent Beaconsfield hoohah and the fact that two people die in work related accidents in NSW each week.
"Well perhaps two people have to die in NSW each week," she explained, "maybe that's just what you have to trade off".
At 21 years of age this young woman had decided her conscience was ok with two people dying. I would like to put it on the record now that if I, Secret Squirrel, ever become so cynical and jaded that I think preventable deaths are an ok 'trade off' - kick me.
Secret Squirrel, NSW
No, there's been no outbreak of truth by the Howard Government, just the combined contributions of bureaucrats before a Senate committee, a newly appointed commissioner before Tony Jones and the Office of Workplace Services before the Cowra abattoir gets on with laying into its workforce.
Strike One: Senate Estimates Committee, late Tuesday night, the Employment Advocate Peter McIlwaine - under oath - conceded that AWAs were stripping away at basic work rights. Of a sample of 250 AWAs - the OEA doesn't bother looking at them all - 64 percent removed leave loadings, 63 percent removed penalty rates, 52 percent removed shiftwork loadings and 16 percent excluded all of those conditions. These are the same conditions that the government spent millions telling us would be 'protected by law'. If so, this law is truly an ass.
Strike Two: New Fair Pay Commissioner Ian Harper fronts Lateline. Harper's problem is that he is all together too honest for a Howard Government crony. Under heavy questioning, the man who has previously written that sweatshop wages were good for the American economy because they created a culture of competition, conceded that the minimum wage could be reduced in real terms, something the government has been at pains to reassure us would never be the case.
Strike Three: The leaked report from the Office of Workplace Services finds that the infamous sacking of the Cowra Abattoir workers for 'operational reasons' - namely to rehire them for $200 per week less - is entirely within the new laws. Despite the hand-wringing from Minister Andrews when the case shot to national attention in the first week of WorkChoices, the OWS has given the tactics the legal tick-off.
As Workers Online reveals this week, the Cowra abattoir workers are now back at the negotiating table as the employer tries to extract another pay cut - through a collective agreement at this stage- but with the OWS report sitting in the corner like an elephant, the workers knowing that when push comes to shove, they can be legally sacked for 'operational reasons. The dynamics of bargaining are irrevocably changed.
And where is the government? Continuing to dissemble in Federal Parliament, where the Prime Minister this week reverted to attacks on comments made by Kim Beazley in 1993 to justify his attack on low pay. This is the Parliamentary equivalent to waving the white flag.
Officially, the government response case for WorkChoices is being warehoused - more than five million glossy pamphlets in cold storage - after the government realised that a $55 million advertising spin only succeeded in making the laws even less popular.
The IR debate is dead, the government case buried - hoisted on its own petard - their only hope is to shift national attention away from the workplace and hope the punters lose interest - hence tax cuts, nuclear energy and any other moral panic that comes to hand.
For the Australian workforce and the union movement, in particular, vindication is cold comfort - now that we know how nasty these laws are going to be the hard work of protecting workers rights in a system so tilted towards the bosses begins. Now.
We've said it before. This has never been a scare campaign. It's a truth campaign. It's just the truth is scary.