||Issue No. 330||27 October 2006|
Fair Weather Friends
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Boeing Clause Flies
Delegates at the triennial ACTU Congress want workers to be able to access a “majority rules” trigger in a bid to prevent bitter stand-offs like the one Boeing provoked at Newcastle, last year.
The American multinational ignored a vote by Williamtown engineers for a collective agreement and, rather than negotiate, locked them out for nine months.
ACTU delegates felt respect for a majority vote would be a circuit breaker in similar situations.
The ACTU is pressing the Labor Party to adopt its program - centred on collective bargaining, good faith negotiations and union recognition - in the run-up to next year's federal election.
It is also calling on affiliates to give until it hurts so it can ramp up its publicity campaign against Canberra's WorkChoices regime, based on individual contracts and the stripping of unfair dismissal rights.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, told delegates they needed to intensify their advertising campaign and maximise marginal seats activities.
Combet said he was "increasingly confident" unions could win their fight but more resources, on top of the $10 million already pledged, would be needed.
Surveys, from a variety of national polling organisations, have confirmed the ACTU's WorkChoices campaign is biting in the electorate.
The program, endorsed this week, is designed to take the campaign one step further by offering a concrete alternative.
Key elements include:
- the right of workers to determine the industrial instrument they are employed under by majority vote
- the scrapping of AWAs and employer greenfields agreements both of which allow employers to unilaterally undercut negotiated wages and conditions
- a requirement for good faith bargaining to be overseen by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission
- the removal of "prohibited content" which forbids employers and unions from including anything in an agreement that the Workplace Relations Minister disallows
- increased recognitions and support for elected union delegates
- the scrapping of contentious building industry-specific laws and the scrapping of the proposed Independent Contractors Act
- a jump-up clause that would stop labour hire workers being used as cheap labour on sites covered by existing awards or agreements
Meanwhile, the ACTU has launched a one-stop joining service that will allow Aussies to join unions by phone.
It has also unveiled a "supporters" category for retired people and those ineligible to join unions.
People can join the union movement, or register as supporters in the battle against WorkChoices, by ringing the ACTU call centre on 1300 486 466.
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