Rail unions say ten workers had faced disciplinary action, including the threat of dismissal, after being accused of leaving work early or arriving late.
They say SRA management used electronic data from internal security keypads and data obtained from automatic station barriers that record the time and date that employees' travel passes are used.
The Australian Services Union and the Rail Bus and Tram Union have both taken up the issue, concerned that the data is being used to collect large amounts of information that could monitor staff as well as the general public.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says while unions could not condone workers leaving shifts early, it was totally inappropriate for management of government entities to be using technology in this way.
A spokesman for NSW industrial relations minister Jeff Shaw says the secret monitoring of electronic data is contrary to the principles contained in the new Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act. However the timing of the commencement of this legislation could make a prosecution difficult.
ASU official Gary Sergeant told Labor Council that five of the workers have been cleared of charges, but the other five are still facing disciplinary proceedings.
He says that when the technology was introduced, workers were assured it would not be used against them in this manner.
More Sick Tactics
Meanwhile, workers at the National Rail Corporation who call in sick for work, are being picked up by a company funded taxi taken to a company funded doctor to check their bona fides.
The practise is one of a range of tactics being used against workers, looked in dispute with the NRC, controlled by the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian Governments.
Members of the Rail Tram and Bus Union have been looked in enterprise bargaining talk for the past 10 months, culminating in a strike on October 22.
RBTU divisional president Bob Hayden says the company has responded to the strike with a series of inflammatory actions including: ceasing payroll deductions, refusing to allow members to commence annual leave, cancelling previously approved trade union leave for delegates and the taxi-ing of sick workers.
The Labor Council has agreed to take the issue up with one of the three shareholding ministers, NSW Transport minister Carl Scully.
Gould met with NSW industrial relations minister Jeff Shaw this week for over an hour, to discuss how NSW established its system and the model that process arrived at.
The meeting raises the prospect that Victoria's new Labor Government may move to reverse the Kennett administration's decision to hand industrial relations powers over to the Commonwealth. Such a move would be a major blow to Peter Reith's dream of a single industrial system.
At the meeting Shaw explained the importance of a consultative process and an open door policy to all stakeholders as key elements to any successful reform of the system.
Shaw says he's heartened that the whole eastern seaboard is now under Labor government and that within three years he's gone from being the soul Labor labour minister in the country, to a member of the majority.
"With the three most populous states under Labor, there is the real prospect of building an alternative vision on industrial relations where the protection of workers is placed at the centre of the process," he says.
Unions Seek Democrat Talks Over Reith's Takeover Plans
Meanwhile, NSW unions will seek a meeting with Democrat Senator Andrew Murray after he indicated he would support Peter Reith's plan to establish a single national industrial relations system.
Reith this week announced he would look at using the corporations power of the constitution to unify all industrial relations system, in a move already dubbed his Third Wave..
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa told this week's executive that while unions welcomed suggestions by Murray that much of the Second Wave was dead in the water, he needed to be briefed on the impact of the unification proposal.
"As a states-rights organisation we don't want to see our system destroyed," Costa said.
"But more importantly, under the current federal system such a move would represent a substantial diminution of workers' rights."
by HT Lee
The timber framed, double skinned pre-fab is 30 meters by 12 meters. It has a central hall which can house up to 400 beds at night.
It has eight separate office spaces for use as offices for aid agencies, health clinics, or for dispensing medical, clothing, food and other aid to the East Timorese people.
The 14 pre-fabs will be erected throughout East Timor in secured compounds within the next three months.
The first pre-fab was built and assembled in Melbourne. The materials were donated by the local construction companies and subbies. The labour was provided by the CFMEU Victorian branch.
The CFMEU in each state in conjunction with local builders and subbies will be building the 14 pre-fabs--six in Victoria, four in NSW, two in Queensland, one in Canberra and one in the Northern Territory.
Twelve national construction companies have agreed to fund the project by providing the on ground cost of labour to erect the buildings in East Timor.
A team of ten construction workers from Australia is now on the way to Dili. They will be erecting the multi purpose pre-fab with the help of local Timorese labour.
CFMEU Victorian Secretary Martin Kingham will be in Dili to help supervise the project. For further information contact Martin on 0418 534 205.
Unions fear up to 25 workers employed by June Anne Manufacturing, a Penrith company that has been supplying linen to the hospital industry for 26 years, will lose their jobs if the deal goes through.
Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union state secretary Barry Tubner says the problem relates to sheets, pillow cases, towels, blanket and laundry bags.
Tubner says SOCOG has entered into a leasing arrangement with the State Contracts Control Board that would see the linen sent to a laundry service for cleaning and then sold to NSW hospitals
"Because of the size of the order, it could take anything up to two years before the hospital industry needed the services of our members again," Tubner says.
Tubner says no-one knows if the Games linen is being made in Australia because SOCOG is refusing to disclose these details.
To the breezy groove of DJ Ajax, workers took in massages, yoga demonstrations and information about the ACTU's reasonable hours campaign.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa worked the barbecue with the help of resident superhero Mark Lennon, his slow grillwork ensuring workers had time to get the latest safety info from safety Watchdog Mary Yaager.
The day was so successful that Labor Council has decided to make the Big Lunch Break an annual event, with similar breaks planned for western Sydney and regional NSW.
Charter Pushes Working Hours
Meanwhile, a group of unionists have released a Working Time Charter in an attempt to put some meat on the ACTU's Work/Time/Life campaign
The document was prepared by officers of a range of unions to assist the discussion around the ACTU's jobs and working time campaigns. Comments are welcome and can be forwarded to Peter Murphy at [email protected]. or phone (02) 9211 4164.
WORKING TIME CHARTER
REASONABLE, RELIABLE AND REGULAR HOURS
JOBS AND JOB SECURITY FOR ALL
We can create jobs and improve the quality of life by the reducing work stress, more fairly distributing working hours, ending excessive working hours and reducing the incidence of casual and contract work, and by better regulating such work.
Job creation also requires Government investment in education, training, and physical and social infrastructure, and an interventionist industry policy.
The following standards can be achieved through a combination of agreements, awards, and legislative change. These standards meet the needs of a modern economy, protect the interests of employees and open up opportunities for individual employees to exercise more control over their own working time arrangements. Implementing these standards will also create more safe and secure jobs.
1. Reasonable, Reliable, Reduced and Regular Hours
· Predictable hours of work for all workers including part time workers. Changes to working hours to be agreed by workers and their unions and properly monitored.
· Guaranteed minimum and maximum hours of work on a daily and weekly basis for all workers including part time workers and on an annual basis for all workers except where engagement for short-term projects or irregular work is essential.
· Establish by legislation and award, daily, monthly and annual limits on overtime and the provision for proper rest breaks. No more than 12 hours per day and 48 hours per week and no more than 160 hours overtime per year. Provision for two hours leave (which must be taken within six months) for every hour worked beyond such limits.
· Abolish unpaid overtime.
· Maintenance and improvement of penalty payments for all workers including part time workers, including for overtime, night, weekend, evening, and irregular work.
· Reduction in the standard hours worked by full time employees by 250 hours per year through increased portability of leave entitlements, improved leave entitlements (e.g. long service, study leave, family leave, an extra weeks annual leave), abolition of excessive overtime, or reduction of standard working week. This will initially be achieved through agreements at enterprise and industry level.
2. Portable and Secure Entitlements for All Workers
· Establishment of award leave entitlements for all workers including casual and part time workers (including: sick leave, family carers leave, annual leave, long service leave, bereavement leave, parental leave, study/training leave, trade union leave, jury service, blood donor leave).
· Establish, by agreement, trust funds for workers' entitlements to ensure that they get the entitlements even if they are short term or if the company goes broke, and support this through legislation.
3. More Jobs - Safe and Secure Employment for All
· Regulation of the use of casuals and contractors through creation of leave entitlements in awards and regulation of their use through agreements.
· Promotion of permanent employment and predictable hours through taxation and social policies. (This includes tax breaks and subsidies for training / apprenticeship and for employees who take career or study breaks, and making permanent employment a factor in letting contracts and tenders).
· Tighter legislative controls to prevent sham contracting arrangements, such as the Prescribed Payments System / PPS).
· Paid training leave for portable industry qualifications and the employment of additional apprentices to equip workers for workplace change through legislation, awards and agreements.
· Improved occupational health and safety - end dangerous hours - improved rights for worker health and safety representatives through legislation.
· Protection through organisation - Delegates' rights and access to union training in awards and agreements.
Adopted by the Future Directions in Labour Movement Politics initiative, July 9, 1999.
NSW unions last night passed a resolution supporting the five Carnivale staff who have quit the organisation in protest over changes to the Carivale board, driven by the Premier's advisers without consultation with migrant communities or NESB artists.
They voiced their support after Carnivale director Lex Marinos outlined why he was quitting the post after three successful years. He said following new appointments by Premier Carr's office Carnivale would no longer be able to operate as an indpendent community organisation.
"This is hands-on interference by a government trying to take control of all the organisations it funds," Marinos says.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says Marinos and general manager Frank Panucci had played a valuable role in creating a genuine grassroots community festival, with activities concentrated in Sydney's west.
"If these people leave, there are real concerns that Carnivale will become nothing more than a tokenistic, assimilationist festival wear participants wear colourful cloths and perform interesting dances.
"What Marinos and Panucci have achieved is something for more genuine and relevant to contemporary multicultural Sydney. Their treatment is nothing short of a disgrace."
The Labor Council calls on the Premier to reconsider the recent appointments to the board and make all future appointments in consultation with migrant communities. The two vacant board positions should be filled through this process.
"There are real concerns for the viability of Carnivale if a new board and new staff have to prepare a state wide festival from scratch in 11 months," Costa says.
The application by KU Children's Services has potential ramifications across the child care industry and in other industries where their might be fluctuations in demand over the year, particularly the summer holiday period.
The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers union have been fighting the push in long-running proceedings in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission before Justice Glynn, arguing the contracts would undermine security and eliminate important conditions like long service leave.
The arbitration has been for before JusticeGlynn for over two years - as both sides bring witnesses to support their case. Workers from KU and similar services have testified that without the summer work they have to go into debt.
LHMU state secretary Annie Owens says the case is a major battle for a workforce that is overwhelmingly female, who work in an isolated environment and have little industrial bargaining strength."
"The LHMU has argued that child care workers deserve better conditions because of dramatic changes in the industry over the years, but here we have employers attempting to take what they already have away" Owen says.
The LHMU is running a sepearate action to have child care award rates increased and improved conditions such as child-free crib breaks and paid preparation time.
The Labor Council has intervened in support of the LHMU and have been granted leave to intervene.
by Naomi Steer
As Peter Reith's head was propped up unceremoniously on a nearby wall his alter ego 'Arachnid Man ' prowled amongst the ralliers terrifying and harassing the women workers present.
Speakers urged workers not to get caught in Reith's "web of lies". Debbie Carsens from Asian Women at Work outlined how the proposed laws would in effect legalise the existing exploitation of outworkers. Provisions that will limit union right of entry, drive down award conditions and deny access to federal government award coverage will severely effect those workers who are least able to negotiate fair wages and conditions for themselves.
National Pay Equity (NPEC) spokeswoman Fran Hayes said the federal government seemed intent on making things worse for women. "What women want is pay equity and job security not a worsening of their position through substandard work conditions."
Inside the Inquiry NPEC, WEL and Business and Professional Women(NSW) made a combined submission to the Inquiry. Their submission was endorsed by groups as diverse as the YWCA, Asian Women at Work, the Association on Non English Speaking Background Women of Australia , the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children and the Women's Information and Referral Exchange.
Key concerns set out in the submission included:
· reduction of the award safety net
· increased pressure on women to sign individual contracts
· the failure to ensure predicability, security and regularity of hours for part time workers
· allowing employers to offer different rates of pay to workers doing the same work undermining the long struggle for equal pay for women's groups.
Women's organisations vowed to continue the fight to protect women's working conditions .As Mrs Val Buswell of BPW (NSW) said, "In memory of the BPW women who worked hard and long trying to achieve equal pay for equal work - Jean Arnott, Doris Osborne, Peg Magoffin and many more like them - BPW Australia Division of NSW will fight on to achieve pay equity for all women - women in sweat shops, women on the factory floor and business and professional women."
The decision by Justice Greg Maidment, the second largest ever in the state, followed severe injuries after being struck by a train while walking along railway tracks under a bridge near Erskineville Station.
Maidment found the accident arose from a failure by State Rail to provide adequate warning systems and represented a serious breach of tis obligations under the occupational health and Safety Act.
In setting the high penalty, Maidment was influenced by the SRA's record of 21 prosecutions in the past decade.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union told this week's Labor Council meeting that the prosecution is just the tip of an iceberg that has seen 12 rail fatalities since the accident at the centre of the case occurred in 1996.
These have been concentrated in the track maintenance work now carried out by Rail Services Australia, which separated from the SRA in 1996, the most recent just a few months ago at Sydenham station.
Workers Online understands that Rail Service Australia are being actively investigated over some of these fatalities.
The AIRC rejected an application to register the Suncorp Metway Queensland Enterprise Union (SMQEU) following a joint submission by the Finance Sector Union and the Australian Services Union.
The SMQEU failed to satisfy the Commission that it was an independent union as defined under the Workplace Relations Act.
The Commission cited the failure of the enterprise union to properly conduct its affairs in accordance with its own rules and the requirements of the Workplace Relations Act. as the key reason for the decision to reject registration.
The SMQEU had also failed to give proper notice of meetings, had failed to hold a properly constituted Annual General Meeting and had failed to conduct a ballot of members within its rules.
FSU National Secretary Tony Beck has called the decision a victory for independent trade unionism.
"Peter Reith's agenda for enterprise unions to replace established trade unions has failed its first significant test," Beck says. "The Commission's decision shows they will see through organisations that are not truly democratic."
"Mickey Mouse unions cannot provide employees with the same professional and independent representation and advice as independent trade unions can," said Mr. Beck
Members of The Yes Coalition are throwing open The House, putting on a barbie in the backyard and inviting everyone around to watch the results on the telly. Not a drop of Chardonnay will be spilt but there will be drinks, dancing and the opportunity to make this a night to be remembered.
Watching the results on the telly and tending the sausage sizzle will be a number of well-known Republicans including Roy and HG who will provide a running commentary. The Gadflys will make sure that the evening swings along and there will be fireworks over the harbour.
As Jason Yat-Sen Li from the Yes Coalition says, "This will be one of the parties of the century and its open to anyone who wants to celebrate the making of history. Years of hard work will come down to this night and I'm sure that the atmosphere will be electric as we watch the results come in. But the event is not just for prominent Republicans - it's for everyone who loves Australia, and loves a party!".
Tickets for The Big Yes are $53.00 and are available
from The Sydney Opera House on 02 9250 7777.
'Twas the night before the Referendum and the Queen was shampooing her corgi..........
MIC CONWAY'S NATIONAL JUNK BAND present their Pre-Referendum Extravaganza "DOG SAVE THE QUEEN" with very special Royal guests: CARMEN - The Queen of Kings Cross;
Peter Willey - The King of Suburban Comedy; Smith and Wesson - Tap Dancers
* 8pm, Fri November 5th, 3Weeds, Rozelle (Sydney, that is)
The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance is the National Trade Union and Professional Organisation representing performing artists, musicians, orchestra players, journalists, technicians in film, television and theatre, outdoor workers, professional sports persons and visual artists.
The position will be reviewed at the end of six months.
The successful applicant shall share an interest in our members' industries and the union movement, demonstrate initiative, good communication skills, be computer literate and able to work as part of a team. Duties include: attending to members' general phone enquiries, dispatching information to members and industry organisations, updating our information database, liaison with officials, industrial and membership staff and members as well as undertaking other tasks as required.
Salary in line with skills and experience.
For further information phone Michel Hryce, NSW Secretary on (02) 9333 0963.
Applications close 15 November 1999
Written applications to:
Michel Hryce, NSW Secretary
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
PO Box 723
STRAWBERRY HILLS NSW 2012
Rupert Murdoch [Australian Newspaper of 25/10/99] alleges that Michael Costa thinks Sharon Burrow is too old to become ACTU President and that the Union movement needs a Natasha Stott-Despoja. if this allewgation is true, does this mean we can expect Michael's resignation in the near future allowing a telegenic young turk to take his place?
Tony Mullen & Silvana Tarling
I have just read the article on youth for leadership by Michael Costa. I'm afraid that as I live overseas and have only just started to receive Workers Online I have missed the beginning of the debate and do not know the people that have been suggested for the position. I do though feel compelled to contribute my own thoughts.
The Presidency of the ACTU is a senior position and I think it is a shame if the only criteria for selection is the ability to be a young image maker. The Presidents position has to be more than that - it also has to reflect depth, experience and integrity.
I think we should take careful note of the respect and dignity Jennie George has bought to the position. Her ability and experience has given the ACTU an image that is not just about marketing. Jennie has made people sit up and say 'Hey the ACTU can bring depth and caring to the debate' Her success is due to her genuiness and the obvious commitment she gives to everythng, and the years of experience she has gained along the way. She has also demonstrated that it is a team approach. The Secretary and President must work together and share responsibilities otherwise it doesnt work.
I was recently at a woman's conference in Australia, of all ages; Jennie came to speak and after she had left, I took note of the comments. The younger women see Jennie as a role model, someone to respect - Jennie tells them that they too can move forward not just as President of the ACTU but as women in the trade union movement. They do not see her as irrelevant because of her age - they do not notice the age factor. Young people are not so shallow that the only role models they want are people of their own age.
Life skills and trade union experience play a big part in making a person able to deal objectively and thoughtfully with situations; experience in situations can prevent mistakes and alow for 'wise' decisions. I am an 'older' person and know that my decision making and analytical skills have improved with the years . I can be much more objective, tolerant and am less inclined to rush into things. I have a broader perspective of the world around me. Dare I say that I might be wiser than I was 20 years ago.
It would be sad if young women think that the only way they can make an impact is to be the President. A truer reality is that union structures are still not letting women through nor recognising their ability, this is the frustration making women leave the movement - not the fact that they cannot be the next President.
I think the trade union movement is making a big mistake if it discards the people who have developed experience over the years, especially women. When we discard experience we are throwing away something very precious and relevant to a decent future.
At 43 Mike - you still very young, would you really like the movement to discard you for a younger model. If so what a waste.
Jenny Luck, IFBWW Project Coordinator, Papua New Guinea.
Although I do not agree with Mr Lewis's unneccesary cracks about the ARM,
(being both a Unionist AND a Convenor for the ARM I'm a little offended-
we dont all drink Chardonney!) I do agree that without the help of all
people in the Union movement we wont will the 'Yes' vote on Nov.6. we need
to get off our arses on this one. It is now or never!
Blue Mountains Convenor
Australian Republican Movement
You don't get the point Peter......working people want more democracy not less.....more accountability not less.......& so what if the Labor Party is running the booths....they are no longer our party!
Solidarity where we can ....
I feel I must reply to the letter by our comrade who agrees with Howard on education.
The first prime minister to complain about educated people benefitting more financially was Bob Hawke. His response was to facilitate a self-fulfilling prophesy by making the higher-pay purpose of higher education more significant than it should be: apart from the notorious introduction of fees, through merging training (CAE) and education (university) institutions, and welcoming the involvement of private industry.
Even if higher education were merely about job-training I would still be inclined to disagree with him, although I reserve my opinion as I need to consider further argument. For example, one argument against fees in a job-training model of higher education is that we have an effectively privatised senior high school. In other words, why should current financial means be an obstacle to access to quality employment? This explains why current students can "live with" (postponed) HECS at the relatively modest levels it operates at now, because they do get an employment benefit.
However, to see higher education as job-training is too banal. Higher education is one of those institutions, like an independent media, an independent trade union movement, an independent judiciary, public beaches, parks and gardens, and financial assistance to the arts, that are all expensive but expensive as investments.
Before Hawke introduced industry involvement on a massive scale, universities were a major source of independent ideas. To some extent they still are, despite the influence of industry. Universities were also a place where bright young people could develop and discipline their intellects, with positive repercussions on the culture, politics, ideas and creativity of the community as a whole. That is, the more educated individuals there are, the better off we are as a community. Without education, we would be living in a dull, selfish, ignorant, cut-throat, poor, inefficient and antiquated social, political and economic environment.
There are two consequences of the sort of thinking that Hawke, Howard and now our comrade are setting forth.
First, as I have said for the decade since the amalgamations, we should separate education from training. Whilesoever we fuse the two, arguments such as Howard's and Hawke's will always cloud the importance of education as a good unto itself.
Second, although we pay for the education of our bright, we don't make much
use of the investment. Indeed, most of us feel threatened by the intelligent. For examples, (i) it is notorious that intelligent politicians such as Kim Beazley need to "dumb it down" to appeal to the electorate, (ii) I advocated a good idea within the CPSU a few years ago and was ignored, but now the idea has been taken up by the ACTU - shorter working hours, not just to save jobs but to give us time to do other things (I am particularly keen on people having time to be citizens), and (iii) intelligence is the only attribute that it is not socially acceptable to say you have.
The last example is particularly interesting. I wonder if your correspondent is one of the millions transfixed by sportspeople bragging about how good they are, yet treat as arrogance someone saying simply "I'm intelligent"? The irony is that we could do with a lift in the general physical fitness of the community, but we happily spend millions of taxpayers money on sporting elites; instead of local sporting facilitiesand general adult physical education. I don't hear your correspondent complaining about that!
Secretary, NUS NSW Branch 1987-8
Men and women of Australia!
Almost 27 years ago to the day, we gathered in this very place to herald the birth of a new Australia - to usher in a new and more self-confident era in the history of our young nation.
I welcome the presence here today of the man who launched that campaign - Gough Whitlam.
Gough's campaign launch in 1972 sounded the death knell for a conservative colonial timidity which was unworthy of a nation with such great potential.
Gough opened our eyes to the world beyond our shores. Even more importantly, he opened our eyes to the great things we could achieve if only we believed in ourselves and in our country.
It really was time.
Now it's time again.
It's time for confidence and optimism.
It's time for pride in our nation and what we have achieved.
It's time to say to the kids playing in backyards throughout Australia - "You are good enough to become our Head of State".
We in the Australian Labor Party have a special responsibility in this.
Our Party was there when the colonies federated to create this nation nearly a century ago.
It has always been the workers of Australia who have forged our nation's wealth.
At the close of last century it was the workers of Australia who forged a new nation.
I think of the gold miners in Kalgoorlie - men with life expectancies of no more than 40 years - being slowly killed by their dirty, dangerous work.
These were the men who voted for something bigger than themselves - who honoured our past, but were not afraid to embrace a different kind of future.
Labor was there then, and we are there again today.
But remember - the republican cause is not just a Labor cause.
Men and women of all political persuasions have struggled long and hard to bring about an Australian Head of State.
The debate has raged down through this century, exciting the deepest passions and convictions along the way.
But, my friends, the republican debate is over.
In the hearts and minds of the Australian people, the battle for the republic has been won.
We know a substantial majority of Australians now want an Australian as their Head of State.
And yet ... And yet... We also know that the vote on November 6th still hangs in the balance.
It hangs in the balance because those who oppose a Republic have engaged in the oldest tactic of all.
They seek to divide and conquer.
They seek to turn one republican against another.
They seek to persuade those republicans who favour direct election to vote against the proposal before us in the referendum.
They say that that which divides us as republicans is more important than the great cause which unites us.
Make no mistake. We who believe in an Australian Head of State have been set a trap.
How else can you describe it, when the monarchists suddenly discover within themselves a long dormant passion for direct election?
Make no mistake. What this is, is a trap. If we republicans fall into it, if we divide, and if the referendum fails, we will have done it to ourselves.
Let's ask ourselves - if the referendum fails on November the 6th, do you think the Prime Minister and all those who have worked so hard to prevent a Republic will proclaim this as a victory for direct election?
The Prime Minister and those who support him will have that for which they have schemed and plotted all along - a defeat for our great cause.
They will say that we republicans were conned, and that they did us over.
And they will be right.
For those of you who think that it's only a passing phase - and that there will be another referendum soon down the track - let me say this:
Since Federation, the story of our nation has been one of gradual, steady, incremental development of our system, of our Constitution, and of our relationship with the British Crown.
That story will not end on November 6.
We who are here today cannot simply write "The End".
The story will go on, and none of us can know how it will continue, how it will read to future generations.
Will there be another referendum?
What we do know is that this Prime Minister certainly won't be putting up a model for direct election, and it is going to be very tough for anyone else - myself included - to justify the time and expense of another referendum so soon after one failure.
If there is another referendum, when will it be?
What we do know is that a 'no' vote will set the republican cause back years, but more probably, decades.
Will we have a vote on a directly-elected President?
What we do know is the real danger that the two-thirds of Australians who support a republic will split into two camps and end up effectively vetoing each other's positions for a generation or more, pleasing no-one but the monarchists.
My friends, you do not initiate change by rejecting it.
We cannot build on failure.
But we can build on success.
Once we have made the decision for an Australian Head of State, then we can move on to a new Constitutional Convention, and the debate so many Australians clearly want on the method of election, and all the associated issues.
We will have a chance to continue to write the republican story, having begun with a safe, workable and important new chapter.
Whatever your views of the model on offer - it is in every respect an improvement on our current arrangements; while in no way being worse.
But we cannot write a new republican story if we slam the book shut on November 6.
On November 6, we will be remembered as having written either:
that we so believed in ourselves and in our future that we chose to have an Australian as our Head of State; or
that we were so lacking in self-confidence that we chose to have as our Head of State a foreign monarch who, whatever her admirable qualities, rightly gives her first loyalty to another country.
So this generation faces its test: away to elitism, away to self-doubt.
Let us walk into the next century confident that our institutions are ours.
That our Head of State is not decided within one family, in which men are preferred over women, and where only one religion will do.
That we have a Head of State who can be any man or woman, of any ethnic or religious background; just as long as he or she is one of us.
There is nothing hereditary about this, but it is our inheritance.
We don't look for our most important national symbol to a distant monarchy - however ancient and admirable - but at those around our kitchen table, and the warmth, compassion, creativity, and can-do spirit that have defined our nation for nearly a century.
I can promise Australians that if they vote yes on November 6, they will never forget the day they did it.
They will be part of history. They will be able to tell their children and grandchildren that they played their part.
I ask you this: who in the 1920s would have stood up and said that they were proud to have voted against Federation?
There are times when a sense of history in the making is in the air. This is one such time.
It is nowhere better described than in a letter written at he time of last year's Constitutional Convention.
It's a typical Australian's letter, written by an old digger.
It has that special blend of toughness and tenderness that is all our own.
The tenderness is incredibly moving. With the permission of the author, I'd like you to hear some extracts from it today.
"Probably due to my age, I am a monarchist. Unquestionably my military service encouraged this state of mind. A consequence of this service was that I
was at the local celebration of the ceremony celebrating the 75th anniversary of Anzac. I was passed a flame symbolically passing on the spirit of Anzac. It may sound naive, but it was serious and seriously emotional. I shed tears and, ashamed, hid them from contemporaries.
I have been viewing the people's convention on ABC television. I am impressed enormously, not by the 'big end of town', but by the sincerity, intellect and lucidity of the young speakers. I remember less of what they espoused than of their images. I recall a beautiful young woman who appeared to be Eurasian in background. I recall an earnest, bespectacled young man, a lady with outrageous hair and so many others.
I don't really agree with any of them, but they are young, they are beautiful, and they are Australian. They are exactly the reason, indeed, the core of the rationale, that impelled me to forsake hearth and home and bear arms to distant lands in the name of 'democracy'.
I wish to pass the flame to them. I have absolute confidence that they will get it right. Anyway, the flame is burning my fingers."
"Go for it, young Australia. I'll explain it to the boys who died for king and country when I have my annual chat at first light on April 25."
Men and women of Australia, there are times when the flame must be passed.
This is one of them.
After all, it's time.
Presented at Blacktown Civic Centre, Sunday October 24.
by Peter Lewis
You have been critical of the model that has been put up by the Australian Republican Movement for minimal change to the Constitution. Why are you voting 'Yes' anyway?
Well, the fundamental issue is about Australians governing Australians. It really is, do we need to have a Republic? And my answer to that is 'yes", we must have a Republic.
Presently we have a Constitutional Monarch. That means that sovereignty is exercised by the Queen, that is, total control basically over our lives is exercised by the Queen. Now that is no longer the situation in fact, but it is the situation in law. If we value our independence; if we value our self respect; if we no longer want to be subjected to a foreign power, which is the present legal situation - then all Australians must vote Yes for a Republic in the upcoming referendum. That's really the fundamental issue.
That sounds like a pretty simple message. Why do you think supporters of a Republic are having such difficulty convincing other people that this is a useful thing to be doing at this time?
I think they recognise that if we are to move to become a democratic republic of Australia then we also have to change our Constitution to ensure that we have a manual, if you like - a handbook - a blueprint for our Government of ourselves. That will mean that we have to change the Constitution very substantially.
Now there is a line of thought amongst many Republicans that changing our Constitution is a very difficult thing to do. Under the present system it certainly is. But our Constitution presently is in fact a description of an Act of a Parliament of a foreign power. It is no different a situation than if say, China or Mongolia or South Africa or Peru decided that they would legislate to give Australia a Constitution. That is what the situation is, it is that ludicrous. And it is that which those campaigning for the "no" vote are really asking us to accept. And I can't imagine that any self respecting independent-minded Australian would tolerate that situation any longer.
Now, it is true that the processes of doing that will engage us in a lot of discussion over a long, long time. To actually get the details out is going to take us a lot of thinking; a lot of hard work; obviously a lot of time; and therefore a lot of money. There are many, many people in Australia who do not want to make that effort and they don't want to put that kind of money into the situation. And you would have to ask why? If we believe ourselves to be in an egalitarian society and if we really believe we are a democratic society, which are our enduring myths, then we have to say we want very substantial changes to our Constitution and it is that which is the law part of our campaign.
Yes we want a Republic, but we want more. We want to change the Constitution and we want to put in place those instruments which will help us to develop a democratic republic of Australia.
A perception of the 'Yes and More' group is that you are basically a bunch of direct electionists who are saying we'll vote for the Republic because it's the best chance of getting our agenda up. Are there other issues you would also like to see addressed if the Republic cleared the first hurdle?
Well first of all I think that any Constitution of any country should really spell out our aims and our values. Secondly, our Constitution must spell out what are our duties and our rights and responsibilities as citizens. Thirdly, it must spell out our rights and responsibilities as voters and explain what is the value of our vote.
Our Constitution must spell out what are the powers and the responsibilities of the Prime Minister vis-a-vis the Head of State and vice versa. What are the powers and responsibilities of the Head of State vis-a-vis the Prime Minister and Government. I think it is important because we do cherish the principle of responsible Government. It is important for our Constitution to enshrine that principle. We have moved away from that principle in practice in the State and at the Federal level over the last 20 years in particular, and that is a serious erosion of democracy in this country. And I think we then have to set out in the Constitution - or enshrine in our Constitution some very fundamental human rights.
In any event I would say that those should be spelled out in terms of what are our rights and responsibilities as citizens of the country. That, in my view, is the kind of Constitution that any decent Australian, any self-respecting, independent minded, democratic Australian would want in our Constitution. And that is what we should be striving for in the next millennium. .
First of all, let's get the Constitution right. Let's spell out those fundamental principles. Sure, we are going to have to talk about it for a long time. Sure, it's going to take some teasing out. Well, you know, we are not going to get the perfect formulation but we should at least start ourselves on the process. And the only way to start ourselves on that process really is to vote yes for the Republic to start with but then to say, but we want more than that - we have to go down this path of more basic reform.
By promoting a minimalist model, the Yes case is saying that the Constitution isn't really broken, there's no need to fix it, we are only changing the little things. But it's hard to capture the public's imagination when they are denying the need for any substantial change. Do you see that as being one of the traps that this debate has fallen into?
Absolutely. I see that as a major problem. First of all it really sells short our fellow Australians. Second of all, it is misleading and obfuscates the issue, so that people are uncertain about what it is that's being proposed. And in fact I think it is quite disgusting that those particularly in the ARM who support a yes vote are not prepared to say to their fellow Australians, as I am saying, Yes, let's have a Republic but let's go further than that. Let's now take this opportunity to re-cast our Constitution in democratic terms that suit us as Australians. The Constitution as it is at present was formulated not by Australians; not by the founding fathers so called, but in fact by the British government at the beginning of this Century. And in those circumstances how could it possibly suit Australians. It can't. And why the ARM is afraid to put those kind of issues on the line is quite beyond my understanding.
What's your general view of how the Yes case has been handled in the lead up to the referendum?
Poorly. I think that Australians are prepared to make changes when necessary. And I think a lot of people recognise that it is necessary to make a changes now, but because of the proposals being put before them they are not quite sure. There is a mood in the community that they are being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They are floundering because nothing specific has been again put to them.
What about the preamble? It's almost as if the Preamble is being promoted as yes, we'll accept that because that's the best we can do for now whereas with the Republic the opposite argument seems to be applying?
Well the Preamble as proposed is rubbish. It doesn't mean anything in law. The words don't mean anything in fact. It's just a waste of space. And any intelligent Australian, and I believe all of my fellow Australians are intelligent, and have plenty of common sense - will vote it into the trash bin. It's not worth the paper it's written on.
So, if you were to wake up on November 7 and the Republic has gone down, do you think you will be living in a different country?
Well, we'll be living in yesterday - small people with small minds going nowhere in a hurry and that's a very depressing prospect. A lot of people say you shouldn't have change for the sake of change. It is not having change for the sake of change - it is for the sake of our self respect and independence.
It has been said by people on both the No side and on the Yes side that we already, in fact, have independence. If that's a fact, what is their concern about changing the Constitution to enshrine it in law? If we don't have it in law, then we can be sure that one day it will turn around and bite us. We've had that experience before today and we will have it again.
by James Arvanitakis
On Wednesday, 27 October 1999, AID/WATCH and the Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) held a workshop, chaired by Ann Symonds, to raise awareness about the Australia's export credit agency (ECA), the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC). This is a brief overview of ECAs, EFIC and the issues discussed at the workshop.
ECAs are publicly funded government agencies that provide lending and insurance to help companies compete overseas. As aid and development become increasingly commercialised, ECAs have been taking an increasingly prominent role in large-scale infrastructure development projects. Internationally, lending by ECAs increased over the eight years from 1988 to 1996 by 400%, from $US26 billion to $US105 billion. This is part of ECAs support of around $US430 billion of overseas investment overall. Around 56% of official low income country debt is owed to ECAs, more than is owed to the World Bank and the IMF. It's corporate welfare on a global scale.
And what they are involved in is not a pretty story. Without even the social and environmental guidelines that the development banks have adopted in recent years, most ECAs are able to step in and fund projects development banks have rejected.
EFIC is a statutory corporation that has existed under predecessor statutes since 1956 and its record is not good. In recent years EFIC has made loans to the Indonesian government to buy Australian weapons, to a bank in China to buy Australian nuclear technology for the expansion a nuclear power plant. EFIC also made loans for the Ok Tedi mine in PNG and provided risk guarantees for commercial banks backing the Bougainville copper mine.
About 40 guests attended the workshop. It was agreed that there is nothing wrong with government supporting exports, but the support should be aimed at small to medium sized business, it should be transparent and it should be governed by ethical and environmental standards. The way EFIC currently operates is anti-democratic, anti-environment and like the WTO, risks workers rights internationally.
The workshop was the third in the Globalisation series of four. The fourth workshop 'Challenging Globalisation' is scheduled for 27 November.
For more information, contact AID/WATCH on
mailto: [email protected], ph: 9387 5210, fax: 9386 1497,.
by Paul Maquire
Contrary to popular myth, the union movementís power in Australia has never been derived from the rate of participation of the workforce in unions. Membership has generally flowed as a result of the exercise of union power that has derived from the combination of four basic planks rapidly disappearing from Australian political and economic life: the centralised wage fixing system, control over policy direction in the Australian Labor Party, exclusive rights of representation in award matters, and strategic influence within key areas of the industrialised economy.
The combination of the exclusive rights over award matters and employee representation, and strategic influence within key industries in Australiaís industrial-age closed economy, allowed unions to build influence and membership. It enabled them to extract benefits such as closed shop arrangements from employers, delivering large numbers of members to them.
But globalisation and technological change have blown away the strategic leverage the unions once enjoyed. It is not coincidental that the rate of membership of unions has rapidly declined. It is obvious- even to the most disinterested of observers that the unionsí best chance of regaining strategic influence in Australiaís economy is to recruit new members from the emerging Information Age industries.
Existing union monopolies are incapable of gaining a foothold in these growth industries. The new, post-industrial-age industries employ younger people who are better educated and are entirely unimpressed with the union movementís industrial age rhetoric. Information technology, the newer players in financial services, and the hospitality industries are virtually union-free zones.
The solutions to the declining interest in unions lie in structural reform of the unions and the legislative structures that support them.
The European model of industry based monopoly unionism adopted by the ACTU and implemented through the Industrial Relations Act 1988 should be laid to rest. Integral to this reform should be the dismantling of the exclusive right of representation of employees in a particular industry or occupation.
There would be no other area in Australian society that would tolerate as it does the right of an organisation to retain exclusive control and access over an entire industry when it boasts of less than 40 per cent of the actual market. When it comes to the industry of Employee Representation, employees have only two choices. They can stay in the monopoly union or resign.
The current monopoly structure of exclusive rights promotes laziness, discourages new ideas and perpetuates mediocrity among its officials. Introduction of even limited competitive unionism would allow new players into the field and might stimulate some innovation to encourage people to join a union. The arguments against competitive unionism no longer hold up in the post-industrial economy.
Unions should also be more accountable to their members. It is almost impossible for a person with new or different ideas to participate in a union. Imagine the public outcry if the Australian Securities & Investments Commission turned a blind eye to insider trading, or collusion to freeze out new competitors was ignored or even officially sanctioned. This is analogous to what occurs in the lack of supervision of registered unions.
Instead of mindlessly crippling union capacity to represent employees through anti-strike laws, the Federal Government ought to properly empower and resource the Industrial Registrar to exercise real supervision of the financial and other related activities of all registered unions.
Many of us who worked in the union movement and left in frustration would welcome a mature debate on union structures. But political partisanship and self interest are likely to prevent it. More is the pity as strong and responsible unionism is still our best chance to humanise modern capitalism.
First published in WorkSite
Paul Maguire, a former union of official with the Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association and the State Public Services Federation, is an industrial relations adviser with Jobs Australia Ltd. The views expressed in this article are entirely his own.
by Marian Baird
The proposed changes control unions and workers even more tightly than at present and there is less freedom to organise and act collectively. One of the areas where this is most obvious is the 'right to strike', if it can be called that.
The freedom, or right, to strike is regarded internationally as an essential tool of labour movements, and without it their power to bargain successfully to protect and improve wages and conditions is significantly reduced. In Australia there is no absolute 'right to strike' and the government proposes to hem workers in still more.
For the last twenty years the number of strikes and the number of workers taking strike action in Australia has been declining, reaching an all time low this year. This fact hasnít stopped the federal government trying to clamp down on workersí rights still further.
The Workplace Relations Act 1996 did contain a limited right to strike when bargaining over wages and conditions for a certified agreement. But there is no lawful right to strike over issues that arise during the life of the agreement, usually a period of two years. So, for example, strikes about the allocation of overtime or the interpretation of rosters are unlawful.
Under the changes proposed in the Bill, the existing 'right to strike' is to be further restricted. To lawfully take any industrial action, including strike action, a number of procedures must be followed. The industrial action is then called ìprotected actionî.
Let's look at these procedures. The union (or a group of workers) has to ask permission to take action at least five days before they plan to take the action and a secret ballot of the members must be taken. In order to obtain the permission to hold the ballot the union must apply to the Workplace Relations Commission. The application must include the questions that are to be put to the voters, the precise nature of the intended industrial action and the day or days on which the action is to take place.
If approved the Commission will make an order for the secret ballot to be held. The ballot will be run by the Electoral Commission, or an approved balloting agent. The cost of the ballot is to be met by the applicant (ie usually the union) and 80% of it will then be refunded. For strike action to actually proceed, 50% of the eligible people must vote, and 50% must then vote in favour of the industrial action.
Even if the strike action is approved by the majority, there is no requirement for all of the voters to participate in the action (an open invitation to scabbery?). The process is time-consuming and costly, and it doesnít stop there. Assuming that a lawful strike can be organised, the unionís hands are still tied because the strike, or period of protected action, cannot last longer than 14 days. If it does, the Commission must terminate the action. So much for a right to strike!
The irony is that making it difficult to go on strike doesn't mean all's well in the workplace.
Workers can and will express their dissatisfaction in other ways. Workers may not come to work for the day, take a sickie and engage in absenteeism. They might just choose to leave their jobs, to quit, or if they canít find another job, they might just work slowly and unproductively, or as a last resort, consider sabotage. Who can blame them if they cannot express dissatisfaction in a collective and organised manner?
It is quite clearly the case that unions and their members may not want to strike at the drop of a hat. They may prefer to settle their differences with employers by bargaining, but sometimes there is no alternative. Restricting the right to strike further, as the current amendments propose, is an absolute and unnecessary attack on the rights of all workers.
This article was first published in WorkSite
by SBSI International Department
The Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI) is abundantly hopeful that Indonesia's new government, led President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and Vice-president Megawati Sukarnoputri, will end Indonesia's 34 years of corrupt and authoritarian rule. Indeed, both leaders possess excellent democratic credentials and wide popular approbation.
Yet President Wahid's recently appointed cabinet, though an enormous advance over previous governments, includes many compromise appointments that imperil thepresidents promised reform agenda. The president and vice-president represent the first successful democratic coalition in national history.
The June 7, 1999 general election was a genuinely fair and free but failed to produce an outright winner. The popular vote was distributed across six major competing parties.
Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) gained the largest single shareof the vote, 34 per cent but was unable to translate that strong democratic sentiment into a coalition to win the presidency in the senate (MPR) on October 20. Abdurrahman Wahid, by contrast, founded the numerically smallerNational Awakening Party (PKB), but was able to form a wide coalition of support from the numerous Islamic parties and at the final moment from the former ruling party Golkar, when its candidate President B.J. Habibie failed to win a crucial confidence vote in the MPR.
President Wahid's triumph, however, did not come without appreciable concessions to the old power brokers. His hand-picked, 35-member cabinet, announced on October 26, is heavily biased towards the military (TNI),Golkar and regional representatives all of whom were key to securing his victory in the MPR on October 20. Indeed, most Indonesian democrats are disappointed with the composition of the cabinet.
President Wahids choices conflict with his earlier promises of a smaller (25 member), professional and uncorrupt team of ministers. None of those aspirations are evident in the ministerial appointments. The group includes six ministers from TNI and six from Golkar. PDI-P, the largest political party in parliament, secured only two positions, both in the economic ministries and only two out of the 35 positions were given to women. Moreover, few of the new ministers appear to have practical, applicable experience. The new Minister for the Environment, Soni Karef, for instance,was reportedly so shaken by a battery of questions from environmentalg roups on his first day at the job, that he lost composure and said would considerr esigning from the post.
Disappointments aside, many of the new ministerial appointments are an enormous advance on the crony politics of the last era. President Wahid deserves commendation for his choice of foreign minister, his economic team,attorney general and the creation of a much-needed minister for human rights.
Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab appears to be an excellent choice. Mr. Shihabis an Islamic scholar, graduate of Philadelphias Temple University, founding member of PKB and until last year, he taught at Harvard University. He has promised to run the department as openly as possible and has the potential to cultivate positive relations with the US and Europe, as well as the Arab nations and Asia. He has already suggested that he will seek to establish diplomatic relations with Israel reversing the Suharto-era trend of hostility initially through trade and travel.
The economic team, led by Coordinating Minister Kwik Kian Gie, a respected economist and deputy chairperson of PDI-P, merits praise. Kwik Kian Gie was instrumental in exposing the Bank Bali scandal and has earned a deserved reputation for uncompromising opposition to corruption. He is known as a proponent of free-market economics and erudite economic analyst. He is also one of two Chinese-Indonesians in the cabinet. He will be assisted by Laksamana Sukardi, minister for investment and state enterprises, also a member of PDI-P, putting PDI-P in effective control of the economic team.
State Minister for Human Rights Hasballah M. Saad is relatively unknown but comes from the highly conflicted region of Aceh in North Sumatra, wher ehuman rights abuses have been extant. This newly created ministry is of paramount importance and it is hoped that he will become a vocal and constant proponent of human rights.
Minister of Home Affairs Surjadi Soedirja is a former general and Jakarta governor who is known to have been a close associate of President Wahid. Minister of Manpower Bomer Pasaribu, from a trade union point-of-view, is President Wahid's most disappointing choice. Pasaribu, before becoming minister of manpower, led the government-controlled official trade union (SPSI), and was a Suharto appointee. He was opposed to the SBSI from the beginning and is known to have been partly responsible for Muchtar Pakapahans imprisonment. He is a definitive New Order (Suharto) crony bureaucrat. Before being chosen by Suharto to head SPSI, he headed the national youth organisation KNPI, and had no background in labour affairs. His appointment is a disappointment to many reform activists and will no doubt be considered to be in basic conflict with the notion of a corruption-free government. Nevertheless, the SBSI is optimistic that Pasaribu will leave his sectarian past behind in government and play a non-partial role in labour affairs. The SBSI will keep close watch on his actions in government.
The many echoes of New Order politics in the new cabinet has led disappointed student activists to call for a student strike in opposition to the appointments, starting next week. It remains to be seen whether sufficient support exists for such strident actions. On balance, the strong reform convictions the president, vice-president and the parliament will make it difficult for the compromise ministers to throw the reform agenda off track altogether. President Wahid, in just one week in office, has promised to release 80 remaining political prisoners including PRD Chairman Budiman Sudjamiko and publicly clear their names. He has spoken out for the need for higher wages for workers in the midst of the economic crisis. Moreover, President Wahid has demonstrated an earnest concern for redressing the centralisation of power and wealth of Jakarta over the regions, and appears sympathetic to calls for some form of federalism to achieve a more equitable national government.
by Dr Lucy Taksa
While we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the struggle for equal pay, we need to also recognise earlier efforts by women during the 1950s. In struggling for equal pay for work of equal value, such activists used the air waves as well as the print media. The following two articles appeared in The Lamp in June and September 1957. Both were originally broadcast from Station 2KY. In reminding us of the women who came before us, they inspire us in the continuing struggle.
EQUAL PAY for EQUAL WORK
By MISS A. AUGUSTE, Assistant Secretary, N.S.W. Nurses' Association - Broadcast delivered over 2KY on April 30, 1957
It is my privilege tonight to contribute some reasons as to why women should receive justice in respect of them sharing equally, remuneration, for equal work. I am certain that I do not have to emphasise and stress to you my listeners, the justice of my plea, as I am surethat you will agree that equal rates for equal work done, is not onlyjustifiable but it is essential to our democratic way Of life and thinking. I have no doubt that many of you could place your arguments in favour of equal rates better than I, so I humbly seek, not your attention to agree with me on a matter upon which we already agree, but rather asking for your assistance in bringing this vital matter to fruition.
For many years too few have attempted to do too much for the general benefit of all, and many bare paid the penalty by way of break down in health, nevertheless, the fight must go on and Iappeal to you, to assist our campaign and not just sit back placidlyand say that so and so is doing a good job, you can help in a constructiveway by becoming part of our organisation, and the more assistance we getthe better chance we have of success.
In my position as Assistant General Secretary of theN.S.W. Nurses Association, I can tell you that it has been along established policy of our organisation, to achieve equal rates. Ican assure you that nurses generally, are incensed at the comparatively lowrates of pay offered them. I can assure you that it is a professionthat has been exploited over period of years ... consequently we have torely on you for our assistance, we have to rely on you to attainjustice.
Nurses are told daily by grateful patients thatassistance will be given them on request, but are nurses not self seekers,they aim to serve and you will agree they do this successfully, buttonight on their behalf I seek your support on this matter that consequently willhave the result of giving them some measure of self reliance, of selfdignity, and of self dependance when they are too old to nurse any longer.
There are male nurses in hospitals, those in general hospitals are comparative new comers, but in our mental hospitalsthey have been established since such hospitals were regarded asconvenient to lock up securely, insane persons, where they would be out ofsight and out of mind - forgotten. Many of the improvements apparent inour Mental Hospitals today are the direct result f moves initiatedin the first instance by the Mental Nurses themselves.
The rates paid to male general and mental nurses are inkeeping with general principles adopted, i.e., they are much higher than those paid to their female counterparts. In addition wherethey live in hospitals the rate of board and lodging paid by both is identical,this I suggest to you is a blatant example of inequality -- Yet here wehave the undeniable situation of equal work being performed with a depressedfemale rate. This did not and does not deter the female nurses fromfighting with the male nurses for better conditions for their patients andwhatever the outcome in our campaign they will continue their fightto improve such conditions.
If time permitted I could tell you of many things thatnurses do and have done for their patients, if you have been inhospitals you probably have knowledge of some of them, if you have notI can assure you that such is fact --done always in a quiet andunassuming fashion.In conclusion and at the risk of boring you withrepetitive statements I appeal again to you for assistance not onlyfor nurses to receive equal pay but for women generally.
EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL VALUEBy Miss BESSIE IRVINE, S.R.N. (Industrial). Broadcast front Station 2KY, on June 18th, for theCombined Equal Pay CampaignCommittee
AGAIN I am here to speak on behalf of nurses in thisfight for equal pay for work of equal value. And again I would stress thatwe have not only the interest of our own profession at heart. Nurses arethe people who see others suffer from disabilities, physical, mentaland financial. We also see how the physical and mental ailments of members ofthe community are influenced and worsened by financial stress.
One only of the recent cases to come to my notice I will mention--that of a young woman wrestling with problems of herown, and living in a room with her mother. The mother was a deserted wifewho had been unable to secure maintenance and who had brought up herdaughter without assistance. She is now ill and unable to workfor a few weeks. The daughter on her small wage is trying to pay for rentand food for both, and has been forced to spend her small savings of20 pounds. She fainted at work one morning, and on treating her I learned that she had not been able to buy dinner the night before, nor breakfast that morning. She was not in a fit condition to work but had tocontinue, and her small wage is not enough to provide necessities.
Upkeep for single women whether they haveresponsibilities or not, is the same as for single men in similar circumstances, and there are few these days without responsibilities.Yet, recently we have heard of women in some categoriesof work, where they had equal pay with men in the same jobs, having-had their wages reduced to a "female rate."
One instance is in some sections of the clothing trade. Unbelievable as it may sound this act of"Democracy in Reverse", came about only in May this year. Anotherexample was in some sections of the Shop Assistants' Union in November,1955.The arguments we hear against the institution of equalpay seem to spring from fear--the age old fear of change andprogress. Arguments that women will lose femininity and dignity,that they will not obtain employment at higher wages, that men's wages willbe reduced to meet a level in the economy, have no support in fact.
Women can lose nothing by receiving remunerations whichare in keeping with the jobs they do, whatever, that job be.Indeed, they would gain status by being able to live in accordancewith the position, rather than, as at present, having to struggle to keepup appearances.As for the fear that women will not obtain employment,we already hear the great outcry for more women in teachingand nursing professions.
We see men being absorbed more quickly intothese professions--at male rates. Why not make the work moreattractive to women by paying equal rates?I contend that there will always be full employmentwhile there is work to be done--and there will always be need forwomen in the nursing and teaching fields.
As I have been asked to speak mainly from a nurse'spoint of view, I would reiterate that the cost of training or of post-graduate work is the same. for men and women. They each pay the same amount for text and reference books, they each pay the same for board andlodging while in residence in hospital quarters and for hospitalisationand treatment if they become ill, and therefore should receive the sameremuneration for the work they do.Nursing was primarily a women's profession, and therewill always be places, in this profession particularly, wherethe woman's touch and understanding are vitally necessary. It is not the entry of more men into the profession which causes resentment - because there are places where they also are undeniably necessary. It isunfair discrimination that we resent, and we know that largelymen are with us in our fight for fairness.
by The Chaser
Olympics Minister Michael Knight defended the plan, pointing out that the Tattersall's members have agreed to pay three times as much as other athletes.
The decision comes after it was revealed that Tattersall's and other exclusive clubs had been given the opportunity to purchase tickets to popular events at inflated prices without entering the public ballot.
Mr Knight justified the arrangement by saying the arrangement was in keeping with SOCOG's commitment to having a lottery for the allocation of the tickets. "Our premium seat allocation plan is a lottery: some people are born with rich fathers who are members of Tattersalls, others aren't. It's completely random," he said. "It's also a way of "milking the rich".
Asked why such a presumably popular position was hidden from the public, Mr Knight said that it was done to ensure that rich people didn't cotton onto the plan. "Rich people aren't stupid, you know. If they had found out that we were trying to force them into the best seats at the most popular events they would never have agreed to it."
The Olympics Minister's comments were warmly endorsed by Olympic Village Mayor Graham Richardson. SOCOG chief Sandy Hollway has responded quickly to claims that the sale of premium tickets devalues the Games sponsorship packages. "Sponsors clearly get more value," said Hollway. "Sure, any old millionaire can bribe us for seats, but that doesn't mean you get the publicity that comes from being associated with the Games," said Hollway.
"Only those that pay enough get the privilege of being associated with Games events like the bribery in the bid process and Phil Coles.
When the terrorists strike and the Games degenerate into an orgy of steroids, it will be our sponsors, not the likes of the Tattersall's Club that benefit from the reflected glow.
by Ian Syson
The article written and accepted in mid August by the Age's opinion page editor Paul Austin -- having been in the 'pipeline' for eight weeks! -- was excised from the already-set opinion page in a last-minute change of editorial heart.
Gawenda reportedly felt that the article had a fundamental flaw and rejected it because it didn't accurately represent Robert Manne's public statements in relation to Manning Clark.
Syson is worried that he might have been censored to protect an Age columnist's reputation. There is also the issue of certain viewpoints not getting a run in the mainstream media. Ironically, this is an issue explored by the expurgated article:
What is going on?
Not long ago all it took was for Les Murray to see a trinket on Manning Clark's lapel and there you had it: The Courier Mail's Chris Mitchell frothing at the mouth and a fully-blown theory that Clark was a Soviet 'agent of influence'.
More recently, Clark's publisher Peter Ryan is revealed by Overland magazine to have given information to ASIO about Melbourne University lecturer, Max Crawford. He denies this but confesses in this newspaper to having informed on someone else. What sort of media frenzy does this produce? Zip. No froth, no response, no nothing. A story without legs, as they say.
The more you think about this the more the good old double standard flutters into view. Why the bash Clark campaign; why the conspiracy of silence on Ryan?
The posthumous harassment of Manning Clark is probably one of the more intellectually gutless movements of our time. A number of influential publishers and editors have facilitated it by either allowing loose argument and unsubstantiated gossip to flourish in their domains or subscribing to the (admittedly less cowardly) go-for-the-throat school of political journalism. Over the past five years endless letters, reviews and articles about Clark's supposed treachery have been published around Australia.
Funnily enough, this campaign was launched by our ASIO informer himself. In 1993, Robert Manne's Quadrant published an article by Ryan which took Clark's moral and intellectual capacities to task. The stories of Clark's agency of influence were to follow at regular intervals, most notably via The Courier Mail. Despite his criticisms of some of the extremists in the anti-Clark crowd, Robert Manne has been a general in this campaign.
In a review of Mark Davis's Gangland, published in Overland in 1997, I called Robert Manne an "agent of influence of American right-wing fundamentalism". I was trying to do two things: lampoon the very phrase used to describe Clark and make a serious point about Robert Manne's role in establishing the American right-wing fundamentalist anti-PC brigade in Australia.
Whatever his recent recantations, Manne shoulders some of the responsibility for giving two slightly hysterical and nonsensical campaigns a deal of intellectual credibility.
Yet it has become a bit of a habit in Australian intellectual circles to refer Manne's 'shift to the left'. He has made reasoned interventions in many of the important contemporary debates. He says nothing that is grotesquely right-wing, even if his overt politics tend towards moral and economic conservatism. His recently adopted arguments on the Stolen Generations and reconciliation are sometimes seen as exemplary. Perhaps they are. But they are also ignorant of what came before.
It seems strange that someone who writes and teaches on Australian history and politics should have been so ignorant about Australian racism and its manifestations. Our history seeps with them.
Then again, maybe it's not that strange. After all, Manne was sincerely baffled and surprised by the racism revealed during the Demidenko saga. And I remember listening to Manne on the radio shortly after John Howard's election in 1996 (of which he was an advocate) saying without a touch of irony that he was surprised how insensitive, aggressive and economically rationalist the Liberals were. Whatever politics he teaches at La Trobe University it is not realpolitik.
One of the reasons Manne knew nothing of the Stolen Generations seems to be that in his ideological myopia he has failed until very recently to look at the writings of the left in Australia as sources of positive and useful information. His every review of books related to communism involves insistent negation of all Australian communists and all their works. His visits to communist and left wing writings have been as ransacker and headkicker; whereas Katharine Prichard, Frank Hardy, Fred Hollows, Dorothy Hewett, magazines like Arena, Hecate, Labour History, even Communist Review, could have revealed to him decades ago something of the history of our national disgrace.
While Manne has become something of a darling of the left and a progenitor of sweetness and light, it only took a recent review of Cassandra Pybus's The Devil in James McAuley in Australian Book Review both to reveal his true colours and show that those claws sharpened in the Cold War can still scratch and tear when the occasion demands. He takes the book to task because it doesn't refer enough to Stalin, didn't bash enough commos and didn't point out the supreme justice and decency of Australian anticommunists.
For those under the illusion that Robert is a new Manne, this is a repeated pattern in his writings and those of his cohort. For example, Peter Coleman, Paddy McGuinness and Gerard Henderson have been making similar noises recently, repelling in advance unspecified attacks on their anticommunist buddies and CIA toadies and reminding everybody again just how evil Stalin was.
Having made a few criticisms of the Cold War right in Overland over the past two years and having foreshadowed our recent revelations of ASIO informing, I am paranoid enough to see my own actions (along with Pybus's then forthcoming book) as the main targets for these attacks. One effect of these attacks is to have smoothed the way for Ryan not to have to defend himself at all.
I don't enjoy saying this because what I'm admitting is that the left is making almost no impact in mainstream intellectual debate in this country. Every time the Australian or The Courier Mail publishes a criticism of Clark or an attack on a Pybus or an Overland there seems to be no response allowed. Indeed, when I requested equal space in the Australian for a reply to a Frank Devine column in which he criticised an Overland editorial, I received this gobbledegook response from the opinion page editor: "I'm not interested in the issue. Some people are interested in things; and other people are interested in things that other people aren't."
It is in this context (or is it vacuum?) that Robert Manne is able to seize the middle ground of broadsheet intellectual debate. We are foolish if we accept this kind of distortion. When such a right-wing thinker can appear to be the voice of moderate reason in Australia then we are living in bizarre times. Now, can someone ask Peter Ryan what the hell he was doing talking to ASIO?
Ian Syson is the editor of Overland magazine and teaches professional writing and literature at Victoria University.
In Britain, Tony Blair's 'New Labour' has cut off Trade Union influence in his Party while upholding Thatcherite policies. The Schroeder government in Germany is ruthlessly undermining the living standards of wage-earners. In Australia, the Labor opposition recently helped pass anti-wage-earner youth wage legislation in flagrant breach of Trade Union policy. Thus, wage-earners and Trade Unionists are beginning to ask the salient question, is there a need for a new political organisation to defend and promote our interests in the next century?
The New South Wales Trades and Labour Council publication Workers Online recently ran an article in reference to this problem, stating " ...The Left and the Trade Unions must fight this abomination, or seriously begin to consider setting up a political party giving expression to their ideas."
The self-appointed role of Labor and Social-Democratic Parties around the world as the political representatives of wage-earners has been confirmed by the voting patterns of electorates in the developed countries throughout the twentieth century. Recently however, with their significant shift away from Trade Unions and wage-earner interests, many Labor and Social-Democratic adherents are seriously questioning their continued support.
The central issue here is democracy. Firstly, wage-earners need a political organisation with a structure that ensures the collective rule of its membership, not a self-serving elite at the top. Secondly, this organisation's policies must be derived from the common interests of wage-earners, with the purpose of promoting those interests - not just the ambitions of a few political careerists. In short, wage-earners of the twenty-first century will demand their own democratic organisation and representation.
Democracy International (DI) is a new wage-earner organisation with a global constituency, whose aims correspond precisely to this need. DI's Constitution, Program and Policy Statement have been developed to provide a democratic " ...mass political organisation for the promotion of the interests of the wage-earning section of society" (International Program of Democracy International, 1999).
I. Party Democracy
As any rank and file member will know, the membership is always robbed of its influence over Party policy by the formidable means of 'branch stacking'. The Constitution of DI has been written explicitly to prevent such corruption, on pain of immediate disqualification. Bydefinition, a DI member is a participating member.
The Constitution, Program and Policies of a democratic organisation must be the result of an extensive process of discussion, consultation and collective decision making. Any Party in which the executive wields control over this process cannot claim to be a mass democratic organisation reflecting the views of its membership. Such is the case in Labour and Social-Democratic Parties today, as well as the dictatorial Parties of the ultra-left. In contrast, DI eliminates the executive prerogative,all policies are determined by democratic vote. and the executive must abide by the decisions of the majority 'to the letter', or face recall.
Thus, DI represents a new direction in democratic decision making for wage-earners in the coming century. As stated in the Constitution: "DI sees the strengthening of democracy as essential to the well-being and political strength of the wage-earning section of society. Hence, as an underlying principle of this Constitution, we... strive to continuously improve and greater democratiseour organisation."
Many trade unionists are increasingly frustrated by the growing lack of concern for the welfare and living standards of wage-earners by their supposed political representatives. The bottom line for any political influence on behalf of Trade Unions is the defence of wages and working conditions. As the Australian Labor Party (ALP) youth wage deal illustrates, Labor Parties have "...moved the boundaries of policy debate even further to the Right and shifted the balance in the ALP in favour of those who would de-class the Party" (Workers Online, August, 1999).
In other words, Labour and Social-Democracy can no longer represent themselves as a political force with the intention of attempting to redress the balance of power in favour of wage-earners. The reason for this shift lies at the heart of contemporary economic development - globalisation and the increased casualisation of the workforce.
The tripartite agreements that formed the backbone of twentieth century social contracts between nationally based employers and trade unions are being undercut by the expansion of the global investment and labour markets. Furthermore, decreasing stability of employment as it moves from the traditional industrial model to increasingly 'flexible' arrangements is making inroads into the traditional strength and stability of the trade unions' core membership. Hence, wage-earner organisation will become weaker as long as it clutches inflexibly onto its old nationally based frameworks.
It is time for wage-earners and the Trade Union movement to move beyond its reliance on its former political ally, which stood for the localised interests of national sections of the wage-earning class. As that national basis declines, the Labour and Social-Democratic Parties are deserting their alliance with wage-earners. Thus, the twenty-first century is a watershed for wage-earners, it marks the beginning of their independence as an autonomous international political force.
This broadening political context calls for more inclusive policies. Now, as never before, wage-earners' policies can no longer remain a mere accessory to limited national interests if they are to promote common needs of wage-earners. Democracy International attempts to reflect this transformation in its policies; departing from the localised and limited view to an incorporation of the common democratic needs of all wage-earners, irrespective of nationality.
III. Wage-earners' power
Winning democratic freedoms enshrined in law is not synonymous with having an influence on government. As the Social-Democratic parties desert any semblance of alliance with wage-earners and Trade Unions, and while there is no alternative wage-earner political organisation, the universal franchise, freedom of association and speech are of no practical use in regard to increasing the power of wage-earners.
Wage-earners will remain passive victims who regard democratic government with cynicism as long as they have no experience of their own strength and organisation. Similarly, they will remain ignorant of their political potential. Politics is about power - and wage-earners need their own organisation in order to attain power, and to understand the long-term objectives of this power.
"Whether votes are a power or not depends upon the type of people who cast them. If the voters are shiftless persons who live only by the favour of the rich, or wage earners whose mentality is such that they regard the capitalists as 'bread givers', such workers will certainly not capture power through the votes they cast. So far as they possess the vote at all, they will rather be inclined to sell the political power which it represents to the highest bidder.
"When the workers form a [politically organised] majority and are conscious of their importance to society, their voting for a Socialist party signifies that they have recognised their strength and are determined to make use of it. Of course the vote is only a power within a democracy..." (Kautsky, K.)
A Democratic Path
The growth of Social-Democracy has been an important advance for wage-earners in the twentieth century.
Without it, important advances in living conditions and the influence of Trade Unions could not have been achieved. In so much as such Parties continue to reflect the needs of wage-earners, especially in contrast to their more reactionary counterparts, they should be supported. It is becoming increasingly clear that these parties are decreasingly able and willing to advance the most elementary economic interests of wage-earners. It's time for wage-earners to become an independent political force - on a global scale.
A Democratic Organization for the twenty first century?
Democracy International offers itself as just such an organisation. Our aim is not merely to limit the power of employers, but to replace it with the majority power - a democratic organisation of wage-earners.
The favourite has been scratched, an American import withdrawn, a controversial overseas jockey is left out in the cold and a huge tip doing the rounds for one of the overseas combatants - they are just some of the Melbourne Cup stories to make headlines in the last few days.
The most dramatic news of the week was the withdrawal of Sheik Mohammed's champion stayer Kayf Tara due to leg problems.
The equal favourite with Tie The Knot at 3/1 was officially withdrawn on Thursday and left many bookmakers with huge smiles.
Kayf Tara had been heavily baked in Cups doubles with Caulfield Cup winner Sky Heights.
Col Herbert representing Sydney's leading double's bookmaker Bill Hurley said that it was a huge relief for their books to have the equal favourite of the race.
"He's was taking out quite a bit of money with us, but having said that so are eleven other horses who are still in the race,'
"It's eased the pain in one area," he added.
A day later it was revealed that United States import Amerique will not take his place in the feature.
Connections lost a battle of time to clear the galloper from injury and we had our second defection in two days - interestingly, they were two overseas runners.
In jockey news, last year's Caulfield Cup winning jockey Ray Cochran will not be allowed to ride Travelmate in the Cup.
The Englishman was recently suspended in his home country for careless riding and the suspension will not finish until after the Melbourne Cup.
A stay of proceedings to allow Cochran to ride in the race was denied by Victoria Racing Club chief steward Des Gleeson and connections have had to look elsewhere for a replacement.
Ron Dufficy released the news this morning on the Big Sports Breakfast that Hong Kong based English jockey David Harrison will partner Travelmate.
"He's a good rider and believe me this horse will win the Melbourne Cup," Dufficy declared to 2KY listeners.
"Expect him to be heavily backed on race day, in fact several people in England have sent money across to me to back him on their behalf,"
"He has the right credentials and he looked great this morning at trackwork,"
"I think he'll win,"
Greg Radley presents the big Sports Breakfast with Ian Trent, weekday mornings on 2KY
Nine thirty Wednesday morning and the prospects for the Big Lunch Break (BLB) aren't looking good. The barbecue is a non-starter, the bread is still dough and the drinks are yet to be chilled. It looks like raw sausages are going to be the days highlight.
Despite the mini crisis the atmosphere at Labor Council is reasonably calm. Our casual gear - the result of an inspired decision of the secretary to declare the occasion a mufti day -has us at least feeling relaxed.
There is a call to arms. A few phone calls, a borrowed ute, a visit to the supermarket, a raid on the Trades Hall's furniture store and the BLB might at least make it to medium size.
Two hours later and the drama has moved on. The scene - Hyde Park. Weather- perfect. Barbecue- materialised. Stalls-erected. Music- pumping. Cast (aka Labor Council staff)- at the ready. BLB is go.
Midday and those searching for their stress free nirvana have arrived. The queue at the barbecue indicates that, for most, the way to a stress free life is first via the stomach. The secretary has taken control of the cooking as the queue continues to grow, quantity over quality is the cry, and half cooked snags start to roll off the barbie.
Meanwhile, others take the opportunity to find relief through a yoga class or, a massage or even some transcendental meditation. Some unkind individuals suggest the latter a necessity to cope with the digestion of the snags.
At another table, those in the union movement find their relief in squeezing the stress ball decorated with the face of the Workplace Relations Minister.
The Fourth Estate arrive.Their appears to be no story -but wait- the secretary at the barbecue dressed in his trademark black is great visuals. The camera snaps away.
An hour has passed and still they keep coming, the queues for massage and yoga grow. The food - almost exhausted - is miraculously replenished. (Was it the secretary)?
Two o'clock and its over. The workers have returned to their stations relaxed, comfortable but still to be convinced about the fare.
Four thirty and back at the Labor Council the team is exhausted and a little stressed. Some yoga perhaps, or massage? No, just get me a drink!
One of the cliques that Davis exposed was the aging coterie of newspaper columnists who dispense their homogenised versions of the conventional wisdom to that mediums aging readership.
Some of those who Davis singles out in Gangland were at it again this week, stomping on Michael Costa for having the audacity to advocate a generational change in the ACTU leadership. While the rhetoric was framed as an attack on Costa for being anti-older woman, the subtext was clear: a young woman would not be up to the job.
Take this offering from the Australian's Susan Mitchell in an opinion piece sub-headed "youth won't save the union movement" :- "Preferably blonde, sexy someone who'd go to all the first-night parties, someone the gossip columns talked about, someone who smiled sweetly for the cameras, someone Sam Newman might find attractive, someone who had her finger on the pulse. Now that's a role model! Emphasis on the model., It doesn't matter if she hasn't had much experience in the union movement."
Mitchell's piece continues in the vein; openly sneering that the idea of a young face having anything to offer the ailing movement; instead advocating a business as usual approach of paying back the Baby Boomer leaders for services rendered - even if those services have left unions on the brink of extinction.
Combined with her overtly racist comments about Costa "someone who looks like a bouncer from the Godfather'; the column dismisses any attempt at a generational analysis with the trite quoter "Beauty fades; dumb is forever".
Mitchell has been running these sorts of arguments for years. As Davis chronicles in Gangland, Mitchell was a member of the Helen Garner cheer squad after she released 'The First Stone', a bitter attack on a new generation of feminists. Davis observes how Mitchell whinges about youth having 'absorbed the culture of complaint along with the Big Macs, KFC and wearing a baseball cap backwards'(!?). No wonder she doesn;t like Costa!
How does all this relate to our hero? Well, Piers was at it too - dedicating his Sunday column to attacking Costa - which was more difficult than usual given that Costa was criticising another of Piers' favourite targets, the ACTU hierarchy.
What to do? Piers decided to attack both the ACTU for promoting a woman; and Costa for suggesting the merit of youth. More intriguing for a warrior against 'political correctness', was Piers' use of the ageism and sexism tags; proof that Piers accepts the PC line as the rhetorical tool it has always been.
Piers fans will be keen to learn the Ak-man also gets a guernsey in Gangland for his work on the late and lamentable TV show "The Last Shout". And so he should, there's always room in the gang for one who dispenses the truth with such certainty
While Akerman and Mitchell would be horrified to think of themselves as kindred spirits, their treatment of the generational debate and their failure to even engage with the substantive issue raised mark them as such.
That's the thing with the Boomers' gang; even when they come from seemingly different orientations, they end up saying much the same thing - we are the arbiters of taste and sense; we are the ones who know best.
Pierswatch fans may have seen a photo of Michael Costa in a Pierswatch T-shirt on page two of Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald. Interestingly, the words "Piers the Hutt" had been blacked out of the photo. We are still trying to fathom the reasons for this censorship!
A second edition of 'Gangland - Cultural Elites and the New Generationalism' by Mark Davis has just been published by Allen and Unwin
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005