In news that is a cruel blow to the deputy Prime Minister, Jeanette Howard, Emperor John Howard has cancelled all non essential travel by government ministers in the lead up to next year's federal election.
Apparently he doesn't want them gallivanting around the planet doing "nothing".
Does that mean that is what they have been doing for the last ten years? Is Howard hinting that everyone, from His Holiness Pope Abbott I to goodtime charlotte Fran Bailey, has been swigging their way around the globe in a grand tour of the world's pleasure spots?
Is all that Alexander Downer has been up to? Rolling around the corner of some foreign field boosting his teddy bear collection?
It would make sense, especially given that this government seems to get it's foreign policy off the fax machine over at the Office Of National Assessments, fresh from Condaleeza - and it's economic policy off the fax at Treasury from the Business Council of Australia.
It's a shame that this new policy is not so thought through. Heaven knows, the country would benefit with the entire cabinet being shipped offshore, and kept there indefinitely.
Yep, old Johnny showed this week what a firm grip he had on the tiller of the good ship SS Australia by declaring WorkChoices such a success he was going to send a team of champions to the defence of his champion team.
Howard has showed that everything is fine by appointing a special taskforce to stop the stream of unconsciousness emanating from Kevin Andrews cakehole.
Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that WorkChoices was as popular and welcome as the Ebola Virus, or the fact that Kevin Andrews couldn't sell beer to a brickie during a bushfire, no.
No, Johnny was jumping up and down telling us all that, because he'd kicked so many people off the dole, WorkChoices was a success.
While changing the definition of unemployment and kneeing the nation's most vulnerable people in the groin may make the numbers go down, it wasn't immediately clear to people why we should be heading off to Argentina, economically speaking, during what is allegedly a boom.
Only in John Howard's Australia could Joe Hockey, the bloke who just tried to starve a kid with leukaemia back into the workforce, be seen as the more caring option.
Nonetheless, the good member for North Sydney was no doubt "promoted" because he did the diligent thing and was playing 'Whisky In the Jar' on the fiddle while HIH was burning down.
Which starts to bring us almost full circle in the life of John Winston Howard; the man who has been driving the four cylinder Australian economy flat out down the freeway while the oil light is glowing red.
A measure of Howard's political judgement is his uncanny ability to put self-interest ahead of the nation.
With the refugee wedge all but exhausted, to the point where even his own backbench refused to play Klu Klux Klan this week, and Phil "the Embalmer" Ruddock turning David Hicks into a hero, it was time for a new wedge.
So the government, inexplicably, tried to turn the recent rise in interest rates to its advantage, thus illustrating what a tenuous grip Dear Leader has on reality.
Rates were 17 percent under Labor crowed Howard in parliament last week, until it was pointed out they were 21 percent under him, back in the eighties, when he almost sent the country broke during a stint as national purchaser of votes for the Liberal Party.
Which brings us to the malfeasance of the HIH debacle.
The whole reason the HIH deck of cards came crashing down was because, when it received it's first license to trade as an insurer - in it's previous incarnation as FAI insurance - it was because the license was granted by one John Winston Howard, then Treasurer, against the advice of any prudential regulator drawing breath in this wide brown land.
And why did Howard do this? Because the father of the bloke whose doing chokey out at Bathurst these days, Adler senior, saved the Liberal Party from bankruptcy by depositing no small sum of cabbage into the Liberal party's dwindling bank accounts.
So the man who has allowed a skills crisis to emerge during an economic boom, not to mention happily watching the floor price of labour head southward faster than a tropical cyclone, while signing us up to a war that has seen the price of petrol go into orbit around Venus, is now passing himself off as the great manager.
And he thinks he can get away with it by putting on his constipated face and saying he feels your pain at the petrol pump, while his wife cries, "let them eat ethanol", and opens another bottle of vintage Mont Blanc to wash down the larks uvulas with.
The good news is this corrupt, crooked, fraudulent, degenerate, tumour of man has decided to put his neck into the guillotine and run as what laughably passes as leadership material at the next election.
Given that he won't emigrate, it's the next best option we have.
The stunning admission came at Senate Estimates, last week, renewing speculation that Independent Contracts Australia is a front for forces that want to remain hidden.
The shadowy organisation has been ultra-secretive about membership and funding, since it emerged five years ago.
But, under Senate questioning, executive director Ken Phillips, testified the ICA only had "a couple of hundred members".
According to its own propaganda there are more than 1.9 million independent contractors in Australia.
Phillips' evidence means around one in every 9500 contractors has chosen to join an organisation that purports to speak for them.
CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, says the admission raises questions beyond the ICA's political credibility.
"Now they have to come clean on their funding," Noonan said.
"This mob should publish membership figures and accounts so people know who their real masters are. Obviously, they don't run their show on membership fees."
Phillips told Senate Estimates some members pay a $5 token fee on top of a $50 annual website charge.
A best-case scenario would give ICA membership income of around $11,000 a year.
For that, Independent Contractors Australia, employs an economist with strong links to the federal government as its chairman and right wing extremist, Phillips, as executive director.
It has travelled to Geneva for each of the last two years to monitor ILO discussions relating to independent contractors, and it makes long-winded submission to virtually every parliamentary committee or statutory body it thinks might be able to wind back workers rights.
On top of that, it has started to breed front organisations of its own - most recently, Owner Drivers Australia, a paper entity, based at the Independent Contractors website, that also specialises in making submissions to parliamentary committees.
Independent Contractors Australia has been dodgy from the off.
Supposedly established to look after the interests of independent contractors, it was founded in 2001 by one of Australia's largest builders, millionaire political activist Bob Day.
Day was simultaneously chairman of ICA and national president of the peak employer body, HIA (the Housing Industry Association).
He only quit the top position at ICA, last year, but not because of the glaring conflict of interest. The organisation's website confirms he remains on its national committee.
Day has had a number of run-ins with real independent contractors as the owner of a number of building companies.
Workers Online is aware of at least one case when Day's Homestead Homes was taken to the federal court by a disgruntled brikkie sub-contractor, alleging unfair contracts.
Homestead spent plenty on its defence, forcing the brikkie into the High Court before making a settlement.
Workers Online understands Day's company spent in the vicinity of $20,000 to settle that claim, with legal costs on top.
CFMEU SA vice president, Ben Carslake, says the brikkie only got a settlement through union representation.
"Individuals can't pursue these cases by themselves. It's far too expensive and big businessmen, like Bob Day, know that," Carslake says.
"That's why they are determined to stop sub-contractors banding together and to prevent them being represented by unions.
"Bob Day had a very poor reputation down here. Individuals can't get redress against people like him if they are left to their own devices."
Day, Ken Phillips and the only "human" named on the Owner Drivers website, Don D'Cruz, all have longstanding links with the right wing HR Nicholls Society, founded by Peter Costello.
The HR Nicholls Society has been agitating for legislation similar to John Howard's WorkChoices for more than 20 years.
It is a key supporter of Howard's proposed Independent Contractors Act, along with the ICA and Owner Drivers Australia.
Bob Day and his Independent Contractors are lobbying hard for provisions that would deny contractors union representation in unfair contracts disputes.
They are also demanding:
- removal of protections for outworkers
- removal of state protections for NSW and Victorian owner drivers
- removal of small claims access from outworkers
"They would, wouldn't they?" Noonan says. "They represent the interests of big businessmen like Bob Day.
"We don't have a problem with them agitating but we do have a problem with them passing themselves off as independent contractors, without any verification whatsoever."
King's company, Leighton, used John Howard's WorkChoices laws to sack the last remaining health and safety rep on part of the Perth-Mandurah rail project, after he reported five “serious breaches” to WorkSafe, last week.
Leighton cited "operational reasons", after it instantly dismissed Mal Peters, last Monday.
Peters and his wife had just returned from a two-week, annual leave speaking tour of eastern states to raise support for 107 workers facing $28,600 fines for taking industrial action in support of sacked union delegate, Peter Ballard.
"This is victimisation, pure and simple," Peters told Workers Online. "They have targeted safety reps and union delegates since the job started but it got much worse after the new laws gave them a free hand.
"Two years ago we had six elected safety reps, now there are none. The action they are taking us to court for came about because they sacked our union delegate.
"Anyone who put his hand up was targeted for the chop.
"My family has legal costs and $28,000 fines hanging over our heads, and now I have been sacked. If I can't pay their fine, I suppose I will have to go to jail.
"I would like Wal King to come my place and tell my family what this agenda of his is about."
King, who trousered more than $30 million from Leightons last year, is a big wheel in the Business Council of Australia that aggressively supported Howard's workplace revolution.
The Business Council backed fines and jail sentences for workers and actively promoted sack-at-will laws used to bullet Peters and other elected representatives on the rail project.
The CFMEU has confirmed it will contest Peters' dismissal through the IRC and WA's Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal.
"We can't sit back and let these sort of standover tactics go unchallenged," WA secretary, Kevin Reynolds, said.
"When companies think they can sack elected safety reps who do their jobs and contact health and safety authorities about serious problems, everybody has got a problem.
"We're going to do everything we can to fix it."
AMWU state secretary, Jock Ferguson, says Total Corrosion Control has already stolen around 300 hours from 40 employees at Alcoa's Pinjarra operation.
Ferguson lashed the company's use of penal provisions in the Workplace Relations and Building Industry Improvement Acts as "frivolous, provocative and unhelpful".
TCC became the first company in Australia to use the draconian provisions when it served writs on 40 AMWU members, seeking up to $28,600 in fines.
They will be in court on August 29, the same day as 107 CFMEU members from the troubled Perth-Mandurah rail project.
TCC is also chasing penalties of up to $110,000 against the AMWU, and unspecified damages from individuals and their union.
The dispute began when TCC refused to sign a memorandum of understanding to pay construction rates, at Pinjarra.
All other Alcoa contractors have signed the MOU in recognition of the fact that both maintenance and construction work goes on at the facility.
Union members held a meeting and went home, in protest, two weeks ago.
TCC sought and was granted orders requiring the men to return to work.
AMWU officials visited the site, the following morning, to explain the meaning of the orders and TCC alleges that meeting went 15 minutes beyond the scheduled starting time.
After workers were served with writs, last weekend, union officials again visited Pinjarra and the company claims, this time, the meeting went five minutes too long.
John Howard's new laws allow companies to deduct four hours wages for any meeting that impinges on working hours.
TCC slashed eight hours from everyone's pay in retribution for meetings, they say, ate up 20 minutes of their time.
Ferguson said both meetings were necessary because of TCC provocations.
"They didn't tell anyone they were docking wages. Effectively they have stolen a day's pay off everybody," Ferguson said.
"This employer is prepared to ruthlessly use every weapon the federal government has presented to destroy people's right to collectively bargain.
"It beats me how this sort of attitude is supposed to lead to a better, more co-operative workplace. In the end, it will reduce productivity."
Ferguson said the legal actions were "frivolous in the extreme".
"We will be defending them vigorously because we have done nothing wrong.'
Australia's largest airline is refusing to give engineers time off - despite each being owed an average 10 weeks annual leave.
The refusal comes as Qantas lays off almost 20 staff, who have the skills to cover from staff on holidays, from Sydney maintenance facilities.
Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) President Paul Cousins said Qantas management was putting cost-cutting ahead of its good name as an airline and employer.
"The real issue is the occupational health and safety aspects of this - the guys are continuing to work hard shifts and they're going to become fatigued if they're not getting their correct breaks," Cousins said.
The amount of leave owed to engineers is almost five times that owed to other Australian workers, which is 12 days on average.
The 16 jobs lost from Sydney maintenance were a result of Qantas's decision to close heavy maintenance at Mascot Airport and shift jobs to Brisbane and Avalon in Victoria.
Qantas is currently considering whether to move 450 maintenance jobs from Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport.
Human Services Minister, Joe Hockey, was dropped into the industrial relations scrum, a day after it was revealed a department under his watch, Centrelink, cut disability payments to a seriously ill Perth teenager.
Hockey's appointment as "Minister assisting the Minister for Workplace Relations" is part of a Government shake up, which includes a backbench taskforce, to sell the unpopular laws.
Victorian Liberal MP Phil Barresi, a former human resources manager and vocal WorkChoices supporter, will chair the taskforce.
Other inclusions are: Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett, NSW Senator Fiona Nash, Queensland MP Margaret May, South Australian MP Patrick Secker and West Australian Senator David Johnson.
Prime Minister John Howard said the move did not mean the government was rattled by opposition to the Industrial Relations laws.
"I don't apologise for building up the firepower, if you like, in a very important battle, that's good tactics," Howard said.
Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Mark Lennon said the Government's extra manpower would not change the fact that people knew they are being ripped off under WorkChoices.
Hockey was forced into an embarrassing backdown last week after it was revealed Centrelink ruled Leukeamia sufferer Matthew Pearce, who is so weak he has to be washed and dressed by his mother, was fit to work.
Pearce's mother was sent a letter saying she could not receive a disability support payment, as her son had failed an assessment test.
The Government's welfare policies, which force disabled people into the workforce, have been blamed for the situation arising.
Pearce's mother, Vicki, said she raised her situation with her local Labor MP because she feared other families were in the same situation.
"I can't be the only parent out there with a problem like this," she said.
Andrews has gone into bat for call centre operators with 'independent' legal advice written by the company's own lawyers.
Global Tele Sales (GTS), owned by the German giant, has introduced individual contracts that slash base pay rates by up to 10%, or nearly $50 per week.
The contracts feature performance based pay rises which disadvantage workers financially for use of sick or carer's leave, as previously reported by Workers Online (Issue 314
The Australian Services Union and the ACTU have been active in representing the call centre workers who fear for their jobs if the speak out, according to the union.
With less than 100 employees, staff have no redress to unfair dismissals.
The campaign is drawing global support with union website LabourStart
Workplace Relations Minister Andrews weighed into the debate at a press conference brandishing legal advice he claimed discredited the union campaign.
The advice, later tabled in Parliament, turned out to be a letter written by GTS lawyers Blake Dawson Waldron.
Andrews' intervention followed an investigation by Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate Tony Lawrence which exposed the cuts to pay and conditions of GTS staff who signed up to the individual contracts.
The workplace watchdog voiced "serious concerns about the legality, fairness and appropriateness of parts of the AWA and the circumstances surrounding... the offering of the AWA by GTS."
Lawrence listed a litany of cuts to penalty, shift and holiday rates as well as the reduction in the base pay rate.
The Howard Government has announced it will only fund independent advisory centres for working women that toe its radical IR line.
The policy was revealed when Canberra set out terms of its funding contract to the Queensland Working Womens Service for 2006-07.
To qualify for funding support the Centre has been told to promote new IR laws, conduct seminars for employers and cease promoting union activities on its website.
ACTU president, Sharan Burrow, says the conditions are a direct act on the human rights of working women.
"It is every women's right to be represented by a union. This is a fundamental human right that is recognised internationally," she said.
"No government should make it a condition of a funding contract to ban information about union activities.
"The federal government has made women easier to sack and to pay less, now it is stripping funds from independent services set up to help them."
Mackay Council employees gave the thumbs down to a non-union agreement that stripped existing conditions, with 94 percent of employees voting to take industrial action over a new EBA.
The Australian Services Union has slammed the council, saying the industrial action is a "wake up call".
With senior staff currently receiving five weeks leave, Mackay Council is pushing to reduce that to four and make employees 'buy' their extra week by making a salary sacrifice.
In addition the council is trying to reduce penalty rates, increase the spread of hours and 'cash out' any accrued leave for nearly 200 administration officers, supervisors and professional employees at the Mackay City Council.
"Mackay council has a 30 percent turnover because there's better jobs available in the area," says David Earl from the ASU. "They've got to be paying the going rate, that's why they have staff retention problems."
Earl says the deal on offer from the council is an attack on 'family friendly' conditions, and will see workers spending less time with their families.
The Council's non-union agreement was overwhelmingly rejected, leading to the ASU seeking the ballot to take industrial action.
Workers have voted for overtime bans as well as holding a stop work meeting in conjunction with this Wednesday's council meeting.
Given strong wages growth in the region, the ASU says Mackay Council should be improving pay and conditions, not undercutting them.
ASU members are seeking a five per cent annual pay rise and the maintenance of current award and agreement conditions.
The American chief executive officer's first year at the half-privatised Telco was marked by the worst profit performance since it listed on the Australian stock market nine years ago.
Telstra recorded an end of financial year profit of $3.18 billion, down 26 percent on the previous.
Part of the bonus pocketed by Trujillo came for delivering on a strategic plan, highlighted by his intention to punt more than 12,000 employees.
Around 3800 fulltime positions were shed in his debut sacking season.
Trujillo's effort in tripling his $3million base salary, pales by his efforts at US companies.
Last week, mainstream Australian media leapt on Workers Online revelations that Trujillo had snared a $95 million go-away payment from American telco US West.
The company shelved plans for a $4 billion broadband network after 12 months of wrangling with its majority shareholder, the federal government, and regulators.
Telstra shares dropped to $3.80, last week.
Ajax Fasteners, a Braeside company employing 189 people, is on the verge of liquidation and its products are widely used in Australian vehicle assembly.
AMWU Victorian assistant secretary, Steve Dargavel, says federal government inactivity threatens families across the state.
"We are trying to get a package to keep Ajax Fasteners from going under," Dargavel said.
"Yet again, the federal government is sitting on its hands while manufacturing jobs go down the drain.
"We have just had stand-downs because Huon Corporation went into administration, and this complete lack of support is biting again, with another supplier on the line and widespread stand-downs looming.
"Workers in the vehicle industry face uncertain futures because of government and employer inaction.'
Dargavel said the immediate priority, for unions, was securing the entitlements of Ajax employees. But the specialist nature of the company's production meant there would be immediate flow-on stand-downs if it couldn't continue.
The ACT Government plans to fund a 12 per cent pay increase over three years through closing down 39 schools and job cuts in education.
The move would see one in ten secondary school teachers booted.
"We haven't seen cuts like this to education since Kennett got his comeuppance," ACT Secretary of the Australian Education Union, Clive Haggar, said.
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett closed one third of public schools through the 1990s.
The ACT Government faced outrage from parents and unions when it announced it would close the schools in its budget earlier this year.
Teachers voted to conduct four weeks of rolling strikes across Canberra's schools.
Parramatta Bishop, Kevin Manning, says John Howard's workplace revamp breaches international labour laws and "violates any notion of a fair go".
The Bishop identifies restrictions on collective bargaining as counter to Catholic teaching.
Bishop Manning told a WorkChoices seminar in Sydney, last week, that the "right of workers to act collectively" was fundamental to church doctrine.
"Let us be clear about this - there is no right to collective bargaining under this legislation," Manning said.
"This is manifestly unjust."
He said the legislation was so unbalanced, that any form of collective action was "entirely at the whim of the employer".
Bishop Manning said WorkChoices was designed to target defenceless and disadvantaged groups.
He fears the majority of employees will not have the experience or ability to do themselves justice in AWA negotiations.
Bishop Manning said the government "had failed in its duty to promote the common good".
The tour's aim was to meet with members of regional communities and to encourage them to voice their opinion on the unfair impact that the new legislation will have on country workers.
"The tour has been about reconnecting local communities so that they can mobilise to support local workers," says John Robertson, secretary of Unions NSW.
Mr Robertson said that jobs in country NSW were scarce and the new legislation did nothing but make workers' futures more uneasy.
"Finding another job in most regional towns isn't that easy," Mr Robertson said.
The tour started in 2005 and began setting up regional Your Rights At Work networks. These networks met regularly to highlight WorkChoices issues that occurred in local areas.
Following the succes of the 2005 tour the second bus tour was launched this year, visiting 32 regional centres all over NSW. This year's tour strengthened the Your Rights At Work networks, recognising the problems with the legislation through:
Unions NSW held meetings across the state that informed communities about the new legislation with street stalls, meetings with civic and religious leeders and visits to workplaces. The visits gave local members of the public the chance to raise awareness on topics ranging from Fundraisers to Tourism, from the Public Sector to Young Workers.
The 2006 On The Road tour of regional has been a hands-down success and John Robertson looks forward to coming back next year for a highly anticipated tour in 2007.
"We will continue to assist local communities in their fight for a fairer system," Mr Robertson said.
By Rachitha Seneviratne
In submissions to Federal Government inquiries, the peak union body says a service, modeled on Germany's Frauenhofer institute, needs to be set up to help Aussie business beef up capacity for exports.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the Federal Government needed to work closer with industry and unions to ensure a long-term strategy to secure Australia's economic future against low-wage competition from India and China.
"We all want jobs, we all want exports," Combet said.
"It would be very good if we could get a political consensus, but if we can't, let's have an informed debate around competing proposals, so policies will emerge that have been thought through."
Combet said that Australia had too long been driven by debt-funded household spending and needed investment in skills and industry
The advisory service would cover innovation, research and development, technology and product development geared towards exports.
Builders labourer Omir Majstrovic was sacked in late July because he submitted a hearing claim on to his employer. A migrant worker, Omir was employed by Formbrace on the Hollands project at Parramatta.
To support Omir:
1) Ring and/or email Andrew Doud, the employer who unfairly sacked omir. Phone 02 9772 2755 or email [email protected]
2) Donate to the CFMEU Fighting Fund at the site, corner of George and Charles Street, Parramatta.
3) Enrol to vote and kick the Liberals out of office at the next federal election.
4) Ring or email Glenn Palin, the NSW Manager for the John Holland Group and demand that the owner of this project intervene and ensure justice for Omir and his family. Phone 02 9553 4288 or email [email protected]
New Matilda's Human Rights Launch, Melbourne
New Matilda's Human Rights Act for Australia campaign will be holding its Melbourne launch at 4.30pm on Sunday, 13 August at the Malthouse Theatre.
Australia is the only Western nation without a Human Rights Act or constitutional equivalent. This campaign is designed to change that.
The campaign was launched in response to the appalling treatment of refugees in recent years, particularly children, and the extreme anti-terrorism laws which were hastily passed late last year. So far the campaign has held launches in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Tasmania, Canberra, Darwin and many regional centres. We have attracted support from faith based groups, legal groups, refugee rights groups, civil liberties groups and many others.
The campaign is based around a draft Human Rights Act that was prepared by a team of legal and human rights experts. The Melbourne launch will coincide with the release of the final draft of this bill, which we plan to have introduced into the federal parliament as a private member's bill before the year is out.
Susan Ryan, AO, will be chairing the event and will be joined by an engaging list of speakers including Associate Professor Spencer Zifcak, who led the drafting team, Professor Larissa Behrendt, Sharan Burrow, Julian Burnside QC, Brian Walters SC, Max Gillies and Hilary McPhee, AO.
A copy of the draft bill and more information on the campaign is available at www.humanrightsact.com.au.
Newcastle Politics In The Pub
6.30pm Tuesday August 15th 2006 Hamilton Station Hotel
Ecological or Political Decisions?
Claire Dunn: Coordinator, Newcastle Branch of the Wilderness Society.
Martin Chamberlain (MAqua): Pt. Stephens Oyster and Pearl Farmer.
National Industrial Relations Forum 2006
Ends with cocktail evening
Fair Go From Here?
2nd in the 'Fair Go' conference series
Hosted by the Australian State and Territory Governments, this one-day event provides an opportunity for employers, workers, social commentators and academics to engage in constructive and open debate about the real impact of the federal Work Choices legislation on the Australian workplace.
The forum provides an affordable opportunity to hear a balanced and broad range of views from reputed experts in academia and advocacy and will discuss the implications of the federal government's industrial relations changes examine ways of working under these changes and the implications for IR in practice and explore ways forward in the new IR environment.
Date: Thursday 24th August 2006
Location: Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney
Time: 9.30am - 5.10pm
Conference website: www.iceaustralia.com/ir
Fair Go website: www.fairgo.nsw.gov.au/Conference/index.html
Email: [email protected]
Rally for WA Workers
Sydney rally to support workers on the Mandurah railway project. 107 workers face fines of $28,600 and legal fees under the Howard Government's new work laws for taking industrial action.
Solidarity rally: protest the prosecutions
When: 10am, Tuesday, 29 August, 2006
Where: Trades Hall, 377 Sussex St, Sydney
Make Life Fair Everywhere
September 20, Wednesday,
Union-Aid Abroad APHEDA Annual Dinner
6.30pm for 7pm start
Petersham RSL (7 Regent St)
More info: 02 9264 6343 or [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
Pope Talks IR
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])
The Howard Government lacks vision, commitment and integrity.
And although, as a member of the National Party, the Minister for Transport, Warren Truss, may be Army Green on the outside, he is still Yellow on the inside and has fled the battle to save Australian Shipping.
As a Stevedore I have serious concerns as to why the Howard Government recently rejected key findings by the Productivity Commission. It recommended repealing Part 10 of the Trade Practices Act which gives foreign shipping companies immunity from key parts of Australian trade practices law.
Like pimps, the Howard Government have embarked upon prostituting our Nations Flag and the environment by favouring sub-standard vessels registered in tax-havens and third world nations that employ low-skilled foreign labour to carry our nations imports and exports.
Each year the Howard Government issues approximately one thousand single voyage and continuous voyage permits (svp-cvp). A recipe for an environmental disaster and a policy that has left our ports open to the threat of terrorist acts-as the Howard Government turns a blind-eye to security checks and balances upon foreign workers and corporations.
The foul stench of the Howard Government's hypocrisy and anti-Australian shipping policies would make an onion cry.
Recently a Flag of Convenience vessel the Alexandros that was inspected by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Port Hedland, March 2005 broke apart and sank off the coast of South Africa on the 3rd May 2006.
What is needed is to implement a National Dry-Dock policy that would inspect all vessels that enter Australian waters and on a mandatory three to four year basis, rather than the rubber stamp approvals of the Howard Government.
Such policy would ensure the resurrection of Australia's Merchant Ship building capabilities and provide skills and employment opportunities for future generations.
We also need a commitment that would see Australian crew aboard all vessels trading our waters, such policy would ensure the security of our ports and waterways, protect our environment and support Australian business such as PAN shipping who are not ashamed to fly the Australian flag.
The Howard Government has a problem with all boat people not just refugees!
Sean "Governor" Ambrose, NSW
My daughter, who is an apprentice hairdresser, was sacked through a missed call on her phone. She rang the number back and her boss told her not to come in any more. When she asked why she was told that she had not shown motivation over the last fortnight. Welcome kiddo to the wonderful world of workplace reform!
Suzanne Aaltonen-Stroud, Vic
It's never easy to question my party - my way of life - the ALP, and it's not easy now.
Can we win? Hard hat lunch sheds around my daily run say no!
Gee why? What if they are right? How can we get them to understand the results of failure?
It's OK to say: 'Solidarity Belly, stick to the movement', but is there something we can do to get our message across?
Long before the last election, a very long time before it was clear to thinking party members we had no chance - that the landslide was coming, say nothing, stay solid was the party's answer.
Can the ALP and union movement together put out a poll asking workers what they want from the party?
No ,not a farmed opinion poll answer given at the start - a sealed envelope post-paid poll.
We must listen and learn from that one in three who do not vote for us. Just maybe we can use it to turn more around. We must do that at least.
Allan "Belly" Bell, NSW
Even if they brush unions, they still won't get their coin unless they start running seminars to promote the federal government's new industrial relations policies.
While, over in the West, the reality of those policies will be on display on August 29 when 147 rank and file workers are dragged before the federal court.
Howard supporters at the Building Industry Commission, and amongst employers, are seeking fines of up to $28,600 from each person and, in at least 40 cases, unlimited damages.
Back when this jihad was launched with Tony Abbott's discredited Cole Royal Commission, a disbelieving journalist, from the Financial Review no less, hit the nail on the head.
It's about criminalising union activity, he said, and he was right.
We expect John Howard and Peter Costello to back business against workers, as a matter of course. Quite likely it's why they decided to join the Liberal Party.
What few expected was the extraordinary lengths, and the levels of repression they would use, to try and impose their will on a clearly resistant electorate.
The Australian workplace has become a mirror for a world in which a new breed of power-wielder is driven by a take-no-prisoners ideology.
The born-to-rule attitude of 'we're right and you can go to hell' is turning our world into a very dangerous place.
It is driven by a certitude that sees no room for debate, compromise or, even, commonsense.
George Bush is, perhaps, its foremost practitioner. He follows a line in which the world is, essentially, broken into two mutually exclusive camps - good and evil.
Millions of American workers, unionised and unionised, know what that means for their families but, for most, the evidence is starkest in his foreign policy.
Christians are good, Muslims are bad.
The US is pure, the UN is peurile.
Oil is great, global warming is rubbish.
Free trade, on our terms.
Nukes are terrific, but not for you buddy.
The upshot is a Middle East in turmoil; generations of new recruits to carry the terrorist flame; global warming out of control; an upsurge in rogue nuclear states; cripping Third World debt. And that's just for starters.
Hopefully, for all our sakes, Bush's successor will accept that dialogue, discussion and a level, at least, of respect are preconditions for a successful foreign policy.
Those virtues wouldn't go astray, as starting points, for a new-look Australian workplace regime, either.
- Jim Marr