||Issue No. 325||22 September 2006|
A Values Call
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Aussie Values DOA
It’s Not Cricket
Kim’s New Platforms
Reaping What You Sow
Roll Out the Tanks
It’s A Secret: Ballot Boosts ABC Campaign
Where unions could previously organise a strike on the strength of a show of hands they must now hold a secret ballot of members, a strategy designed to undermine union solidarity. In this case, it backfired.
"All credit to John Howard, we've actually been very much empowered by the secret ballot," said Graeme Thomson of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
The CPSU and the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), who cover 2,500 ABC employees between them, each conducted secret ballots through the Australian Electoral Commission as required by new industrial laws.
Unions had to provide details of their memberships to the AEC, to be matched with employment records held by the ABC. Forms were sent to union members' homes, completed in secret and returned.
The results were unequivocal. Both ballots had return rates of over 75 percent, with over 90 percent of returns voting 'yes' to the 24-hour strike.
While the logistics of confirming union members' details - some of which hadn't been updated when members changed job or address - were a headache, the results were brilliant, said MEAA's Mark Ryan.
"With a show of hands arrangement you can always be accused of just attracting union and rabble and intimidating people, but this is a genuine, government-endorsed strike. It gave us the moral high ground."
Thursday's strike attracted a strong level of support around Australia, with very few staff reporting for work and managers going on air to maintain a skeleton news service.
The results provided for some horrendous broadcasting, and would strengthen the hand of unions as they continue to campaign for a new collective enterprise agreement, Thomson said.
Management has offered a sub-inflation pay rise of 3 percent, partly funded by cuts to existing penalties and allowances.
"People are really annoyed, it's a feeling of betrayal, it's a statement that their management don't value them," Thomson said.
"Rates of pay at the ABC have seen a 16 percent reduction in real terms over the past 10 years."
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