Reith told Workers Online that he believes rank and file unionists demanding a direct vote for President would also want to have a say in the head of the union movement
"That would be a hell of a lot better system for the ACTU .. people would have a genuine say," Reith says in the interview - published in full in this issue.
"Now, even Jennie George was complaining about the fact that there was a meeting to settle her succession and she didn't have a say.
"It is a pretty natural instinct for people in a democracy to say "give us a say please" - there's no wonder they are browned off with the ACTU President and Secretary."
In the interview Reith also claims that the battle between capital and labour is over and the two are no longer on opposite sides.
And he called on the ACTU to abandon the organising model and adopt a servicing approach to unionism, claiming it was based on outmoded organisational models.
"The workforce does not want to be organised by people outside of their workplace," Reith says
"What they want is the capacity to manage their own affairs - sure with minimum protections and the like and a fair system in place to allow them to manage their own affairs.
"But they basically want to have the say to manage their own affairs, to be involved and participate in those affairs, which in my view is right at kilter - at odds to the concept of a shop steward who comes into the workplace - or a union secretary - and says: "Well, today I've got good news for you. I'm going to organise you all."
Olympics Minister Michael Knight today launched "Unions 2000", an initiative by the NSW Labor Council, to help union members, their families and friend obtain employment during the Games.
Unions 2000 will create a one-stop clearing house for people wanting to be part of the Games through jobs in catering, security, cleaning, merchandising, spectator services and the Olympic village.
Those who register their applications through Unions 2000 will have their applications referred to major employers who are supporting the project and receive industrial protection for the duration of the Games for as little as $6.00 per week.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says Unions 2000 would provide the easiest way for local workers to sign up for the Games.
"For young unemployed, it's a fantastic opportunity to get training and experience in growth areas of the labour market during a major event. We would hope the federal government encourages the unemployed by allowing them to work at the games without being penalised in subsequent payments," Mr Costa says.
"We expect by giving people who may not be members a positive experience of unionism, that they will be more likely to join a trade union in later jobs."
Olympics Minister Michael Knight says the Unions 2000 initiatives will assist Games employers meet the massive demand for workers over the period.
"This will be a major task and anything that helps maximise the employment opportunities for local workers has my full support," he says.
Mr Knight says he welcomes the Labor Council's involvement, which follows negotiations of the Olympics Award which sets the framework for harmonious labour relations during the event.
To register, call Unions 2000 on 1300 360 404 or click below
The offer from the Public Sector Employment Office involved:
* base rate of pay plus 300 per cent
* period covering 15 hours from 6pm 31 December to 9am January 1.
* a $250 standby bonus
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the offer, that will be considered by individual public sector unions, has merit.
"I welcome the government's recognition of the important role public sector workers will be playing in many areas on New Years Eve to ensure the public enjoys the festivities in safety," Costa says.
"No amount of money can really compensate for the inability of spending this important evening with friends and loved ones - however I am sure the government's recognition will be appreciated by those required to work."
Early indications are that the Police Association, the Public Service Association and HREA - representing health workers and ambulance officers - would accept the offer.
But it's understood that rail workers want to negotiate a different span of hours for the New Years Eve arrangements to apply.
The deal builds on the announcement least month that December 31 would be deemed a half-day public holiday for all workers.
On the eve of the Referendum, Melham addressed Labor Council with the simple message: "let the Preamble be your protest."
He says the Preamble was the result of back-room deals between politicians John Howard, Meg Lees and Aden Ridgeway, whereas the Republican question had been the result of a democratic process that was the Constitutional Convention.
"The only reason the No case has got off the ground is that people are pissed off with politicians," Melham told the Council's weekly meeting.
"They've got the opportunity through the Preamble to have that protest".
Melham warned Direct Electionists that if the Republic was voted down on the weekend, the issue would be off the agenda for at least a generation.
He says the Republican debate is in danger of going down because it has been seized by people who have confused the issue and taken it away from the basic proposition of who the Head of State should be.
"The problem is that we are trying to engage in the detail, not the morality of the case," Melham says.
The cleaners have arranged mass meetings around NSW commencing Tuesday 9 November and plan a 72-hour strike from Friday 12 November 1999.
The cleaners, members of the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU), are calling on the NSW Government to put more money into the cleaning contracts.
"The Carr Government cannot wash their hands of this dispute. They control the cleaning contracts with the private contractors," LHMU Secretary Annie Owens says.
"The Carr Government is out of touch if they think six minutes are enough to clean a classroom which holds 30 children. It's impossible to vacuum, wipe desks and bench tops and mop floors in that time," Owens says.
The cleaners are employed by the private cleaning company Menzies Property Services which has a five-year contract with the State Government to clean Government schools, technical colleges, court houses, police stations and other Government buildings.
NSW cleaners have suffered a series of severe cuts to their working hours since the Greiner Government privatised the Government Cleaning Service in 1993.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa reported on the first meeting of SLAC, announced at State Conference as a forum to address growing unrest by unions about the direction of government policy.
Costa told the weekly Labor Council meeting that the meeting was largely dedicated to procedure for future meetings - which will be held every four to six weeks.
It's been agreed that an agenda will be circulated before each meeting, with Costa, ALP state secretary Eric Roozendaal and Special minister for State John Della Bosca responsible for programming.
Union officials with an expertise in the agenda items to be discussed would be invited to represent Labor Council at each meeting.
But Costa did say there was a general discussion of upcoming public sector pay rounds, particularly the Education Department's handling of teachers' pay.
"We made it clear that it was not acceptable for a Labor government to bypass the unions in any negotiations of this nature," Costa says.
The NSW Teachers Federation says negative questions and comments are not being posted by the chatroom's moderator, fuelling union suspicions the site is a stunt to create the impression of consultation.
Departmental head Ken Boston has been accused of using Reith-style tactics in bypassing the union to make his pay claim directly to teachers after he and Minister John Aquilina refused to meet with the Federation for more than ayear.
Boston this week outraged unions by posting his pay offer directly on the Internet and then referring the award to the Industrial Relations Commission for arbitration without any discussions with the union.
Teachers Federation senior vice-president Barry Sexton told Labor Council's weekly meeting that the award focuses on the lowest common denominator and would do particular damage to casual teachers.
Sexton warned the award could lead to a flood of teachers deserting the profession and moving to other states where conditions are superior.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says he's raised the Education Department's handling of the pay claim with the Premier and reiterated it was unacceptable for a Labor Government to bypass the union.
"I think it's time John Aquilina sat down with (Industrial Relations Minister) Jeff Shaw and got a lesson on how industrial relations is done in this state," Costa says.
To visit the Education Department chat room go:
http://www.det.nsw.gov.au/newaward and follow the links to the forum
For the Teacher Fed's counter forum, visit The Adventures of Cyber-Ken
STOP PRESS More than 500 western Sydney teachers took spontaneuos action this afternoon, walking out of schools and converging on Aqulina's electoral office in Blacktown where they sought to return the Department's proposed award.
The Labor Council this week passed a resolution in support of the students, more than 60 of whom are occupying the Student Centre at UWS's Macarthur Bankstown campus.
UWS student Andrew Viller told Labor Council the action was in protest at deteriorating conditions that students and staff face on the campus.
The Log of Claims includes: capping of tutorial class sizes to 25, a guarantee of no staff cuts over the holidays, a guarantee by the University not to introduce new fees, improved safety and security on campus and improved access to computer rooms.
While the University claims it cannot fund the students' demands, Villers says recent spending has included a $750,000 new senior executive office suite, a new $50,000 four-wheel drive for the financial services director and a substantial advertising and PR budget.
Australian Services Union acting assistant secretary Dawn Lotty says the issue is important to her union, as the cutbacks target welfare and adult education courses.
Lotty warns the cutbacks will affect these professions, as well as moving towards a two-tiered education system.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Communications Workers Union (CEPU) will both have representatives at the meeting, scheduled for 1.30pm November 12, who will speak on behalf of staff shareholders.
CPSU official Stephen Jones says because the AGM is held during working hours, many staff will be unable to attend.
"We have a real interest in the important decisions made by this company," Jones says.
"It is a great opportunity to ensure that the voice of shareholders who are union members or concerned citizens is heard at the meeting."
Key issues include:
* Telstra shareholders are being asked to endorse a decision to increase the directors fees by $400,000 per annum at the same time as it is proposing that staff reduce the salaries for classifications in its call centre workforce.
* Telstra management have also made public their support for full privatisation of the company but refuse to guarantee maternity leave and superannuation benefits for its employees covered by Commonwealth Legislation if full privatisation occurs.
The CEPU has also voiced concern about Telstra management's decision to end union payroll deductions.
How to Direct Your Proxy
All you need to do is fill in the Shareholder Proxy Form which you would have received with your notice of meeting.
* To be represented by the CPSU at the meeting fill in the form as follows:
CPSU - PSU Group National Secretary
Level 5, 191 Thomas Street
HAYMARKET NSW 2000.
Make sure you send the original to Telstra by Wednesday 10 November, and a copy to the union at this address.
or email: [email protected]
CEPU members can contact Jim Claven on 039 3492900
by Cath Bowtell
Delegates from across Australia and New Zealand will hear from Marc Belanger, founder of Solinet in Canada, and Eric Lee, author The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism. conduct sessions looking at the role of technology in organising, campaigning and recruiting.
The conference program has been designed to draw on external expertise and marry it with complimentary knowledge and skills from within the union movement. The program will look at technology issues from diverse viewpoints.
Senator Kate Lundy will speak on democracy and ownership of the web, and access to the technology
Jeannie Rae, from VUT will present a case study where workers rights to email were withdrawn, and the consequent campaign to restore those rights
Rob Robertson from the Optimise Group will conduct a workshop with Sally Mc Manus from the ASU looking at employment trends in the IT industry, and opportunities for recruitment that arise from those trends
Meg Morrison, manager of the Reach Out!, site (which won both the 1998 and 1999 Australian Award for Best Community Web Site), will conduct a session looking at union websites.
Other sessions will cover Servicing and Organising, tools, Online communications, Women and IT, Getting the union office ready, Union Education, Union Research and a showcase of the latest bells and whistles.
A summary of proceedings will be posted on the ACTU website each day.
For details contact Cath Bowtell at mailto:[email protected]
MEAA has identified 550 potential members to be working at the studios include performers, technicians, retail, admissions and food and beverage..
They've been invited to the opening parties after helping negotiate a greenfields agreement for the site..
Self-styled "Foxy Ladies" Eve Propper, Caroline Chester and Lisa Newman)armed with "MEAA DOES FOX" introductory cards shall blitz the studios from Friday 4 November 1999.
They'll be letting workers know who their union is and getting a feel for their main areas of concern. With many of the staff on interim contracts, they'll also be around when workers finalise a longer-term agreement.
MEAA state secretary Michel Hryce says the drive is not just about picking up members, but also about getting the different workers to think of themselves as the one workforce.
Hryce says one of the great things about recent New years Eve negotiations at the Opera House has been the way performers, administrative staff and technicians have become unified.
The appointment will initially be for a period of 6 months to begin November 1999.
Duties include the following:
1. To manage APHEDA's programme in the Pacific region working with existing partner organisations (includes responsibility for workplans, budgets, monitoring and evaluation of existing Pacific projects).
2. To report on the projects to the Overseas Programme Officer and through the OPO and the Executive Officer to the APHEDA Board, ACTU, AusAID, trade union sponsors and ACT unions and members.
1. To develop a 5 year APHEDA Pacific programme in the context of APHEDA's International Strategy focussing on labour, human rights and indigenous culture issues in development.
2. To focus the above development on the Melanesian nations of the Pacific (to include Bougainville, Solomon Islands).
3. To research and develop links/alliances with international donor organisations and union bodies to secure funding for the programme.
4. To maintain and develop links with relevant non-government organisations working in the region including networks such as PIANGO, ACFOA Working Groups, SPOCTU.
1. Demonstrated ability and experience in managing overseas development projects in the Pacific region including: design, monitoring, reporting, evaluating and partnership building.
2. Demonstrated ability to work effectively with people in different social, cultural, linguistic, political and economic environments.
3. High level of understanding of international development ideas and processes.
4. Demonstrated experience and understanding of women in development and indigenous peoples issues.
5. Good communication and negotiation skills.
6. Ability to travel and work flexibly in sometimes difficult conditions.
7. Commitment to trade union and international solidarity principles.
8. Computer skills including word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail and internet.
1. Tertiary qualifications in any of: development studies; economics; health; education; agriculture; environment or other relevant area.
2. Professional or volunteer experience in health, education, agriculture, environment, women's or community development projects in indigenous Australia, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu or Kanaky.
3. Experience in working with a variety of donors and familiarity with reporting and funding procedures (AusAID, UN organisations etc)
4. Working knowledge of pidgin.
5. Working knowledge of French.
� 6 month appointment
� one day a week pro rata salary (A$40,042) with full-time monitoring and development visits to the region by negotiation with the Overseas Programme Officer and Executive Officer
� superannuation at 7%
� closing date 11th November 1999
For further information contact: Gilly Robson 02 62627025 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) or Ken Davies 02 9264 9343.
I notice the article by Maguire on competitive unions argues for essential no demarcation barriers. The short term eventualities of such decision would have unions pitted against union. The reality is that like in most other industries unions (acting in self interest or self preservation) would more than likely target the traditional unionised industries. While fighting over an ever decreasing pie, those newer, more challenging industries develop without a culture of unionism being fostered.
Yet the substance of the arguement is correct. Unions clearly need to extend their current reach, but the obvious point for many unions is where, how? And even so in many tradition industries whereby union membership is a tradition there are many who have never been reached by unionism. In agriculture for instance only 7% of the labour is unionised.
On this topic, how do peak organisations like the Labor Council and the ACTU foster developing membership in new industries without running into unions who perceive that this is just an attack on them or their patch?
While globalisation and further integration into the world economy is a fact of life, this provides more opportunity and more scope for unions to play a vital role in workers lives while this adjustment takes place.
Given the current political and idealogical environment is it ironic that the touchstone of change, egalitarianism and a fair go, unions, are perhaps in themselves the most conservative institutions. After all a leader of a union wants more than one term.
Geoff Southern, Yenda.
Can I explain my dilemma? I want a Republic but if I vote 'Yes', then I am voting for a model that I don't want. If I vote 'No', then it may seem that I don't want a Republic.
No-one will know. It is clear that I have no logical choice. I therefore urge all Australians who feel like I do to boycott the Referendum and vote informal on Saturday by writing 'No Dam(n) Choice' on their ballot papers. It helped save the Franklin river and it may help save our collective conscience.
Is any body else in the union movement upset at the Carr Government adopting Mr. Reith's tactics in their dealings with the Teachers Federation.
They are trying to isolate the Federation from its members, reduce working conditions and salaries and divide the membership amongst themselves.
With friends and allies such as this why are the Liberals worried about losing the election, all there policies are being implemented.
Could there be another Labor Government if union supporters didn't man the booths.
I am not quite impressed by the way in which the big unions and ACTU handle workers issues.Its all big talk and false promises.
When it comes to fighting for the rights of the workers,mass strike action doesn't seem to be effective.Its only a big show of strength and nothing else.
In spite of all the protests Reith got what he wanted and Howard got his GST.
Why not be more realistic and start getting results for what you stand for.
Get real..Reg de Liveria
by Peter Lewis
Thanks for talking to Workers Online. The point of this interview is to get an idea of your ideas, rather than having a debate about the ins and outs of the Second Wave. So, I'd like to start off by asking you: what values actually underlie your approach to industrial relations?
There are some very important values. There are some basic human rights which we think everybody is entitled to. There are some fundamental principles of law which we think are important in the workplace relations area as underpinning principles. There is also a general view that given the right and fair - given a fair regulatory environment - sensible workplace relations reform can produce very good practical outcomes for everybody.
If you were to wrap up all those reforms into your view of life, what would it be?
Fairness and practicality.
What is your view of the competing rights of the collective and the individual?
You see, I don't really have the collective and the individual at odds. All we are trying to do is to give people the choices to exercise as to what best suits their own particular circumstances.
One of my values, which really puts me at odds with many in the trade union movement is to say that whilst unions are important, the days when they should be given a privileged status as instruments of social reform are really well and truly over. Now, that's not to deny the importance of trade unions in the history of this democracy and other democracies, or their importance in other societies, but in Australia the role once undertaken by unions has, in many cases, been overtaken by events whereby the role is largely a statutory one, provided through the parliament. That is not to say they don't have an ongoing role for individuals but there is a fundamental divide here I think between how people of my view and people in the trade union movement who see unions as having a special status.
So what would you think people in the union movement would say their reason for being in the 21 Century is?
They see it as a politico social role and that is that unions have a role the same way as the media have a role, or the judiciary has a role in society. Different, but having an importance in society which marks unions out against the local bowling club or tennis club. Whereas for me I see unions as service providers and standing and falling on the quality of that service provision. That is a very different world outlook which does divide I think.
At what point would you have departed - at what point do you think unions ceased to have that innate role in society?
I think in the 20th Century in Australian society the coming into the parliament of the labor movement through the Australian Labor Party and the adoption by parties of both left and right in Australia of the responsibilities of the society at large - or an acceptance that society at large through the parliament has a responsibility to citizens at work.
So does that mean you believe that the success of Labor in parliament has basically made the work of the unions outmoded?
It's undermined their claim for special standing and privilege yes. Can I just say, it's not just Labor. You know on our own side the Liberal tradition has supported government intervention to provide a safe workplace; occupational health and safety standards; minimum wages; minimum conditions of all sorts. I mean, no one argues against the proposition that the parliament should provide for example, superannuation arrangements, that is a minimum condition. No one argues that the State parliament should not provide minimum long service leave in Australia. You can argue about the details of these things but they are examples of where the parliament is setting terms and conditions to ensure a minimum safety net for everybody.
Let's imagine a 21st Century without trade unions. Would you accept the same premise that in an economy with less than full employment an employer does have greater negotiating powers than an individual worker?
Not necessarily. No. And there are lots of examples today in our society where there is a shortage of skills and where employees do have real value in the marketplace and they are in a stronger negotiating position than the employer. And add to that, employers are a pretty diverse group in our society. Many employers are just individuals themselves. They are small business people. There are a million of them, and they employ in the labour market up to 40 per cent of all employees.
Would you think there are some employees who are in a position of less bargaining power than their employer?
Oh certainly, and we have said that. We've said that. And we acknowledge that there is a role for the parliament to provide a basic safety net of protections for those people. And yes there are some people - and not only have we legislated, but - despite some criticism from some quarters - we have maintained funding for working women's centres for example. And the reason we have done that is because there are some women at work who are not in strong positions and we do need a means of somehow providing them with more than just a legislative framework. You've got to give information to them, education and the like. The Office of the Employment Advocate again has a role to look to the interests of employees as much as employers and in that case that can be providing people with some basic advice about their rights.
Can you understand the scepticism some feel about the Office of the Employment Advocate, in that they haven't actually launched any prosecutions on behalf of workers yet?
Well, they have certainly sued lots of employers, and taken them through the courts and required of them the same standards as they require of other parties, including unions.
Now, you have said in the past that you are not anti-union, that you are just opposed to bad unions? What's your definition of good trade unionism?
Well, I'm opposed to conduct which is outside the law, whatever sort of registered organisation it is.
But what is your definition of a good trade union?
Well, I think there's two questions here. There are some effective trade unions in Australia today because as I see it they focus on providing a service to their members and I think those unions will go on and prosper and thrive and they will do well. And I don't think there is a scenario in which we wont have unions in the next century. We'll obviously have unions at the turn of the century and beyond.
In terms of what standards of behaviour should we expect of unions or employer bodies for that matter, are both of the standards set down by the parliament. That's how we run a democracy. Parliament sets the standards, it sets the framework and if somebody is operating within that framework then, you know, they are acting responsibly.
But again, what is your definition of a good union? Is if just one that provides a good service or could you give me more specifically what you think a good union would do?
Well, I think a good union responds to the demands made upon it by its members, so that it is providing a good service. I don't give to unions a greater role than that. They are entitled to a political role, just as anybody else is entitled to group together and express a point of view and so I accept for them, as I accept for everybody else, freedom of expression and freedom of association and the like. And provided people operate within the law, that's fine.
Do you think that there is a role for government to create the conditions that good unions can do what you say good unions should be doing?
Well, governments don't provide that framework. I mean, you don't start any of this sort of philosophical debate with a blank piece of paper in Australia. We have a long record of responsible trade unionism. And we have a long tradition of encouraging and providing a framework in which people can express their point of view, make their demands upon the system and the like. And that is going to continue.
There is a quote that has been attributed to you before the 1998 election : "Never forget the history of politics, never forget which side you are on - we're on the side of making profits; we're on the side of owning private capital". What did you mean by that?
(Laughs) What I meant by that is that in this society there is nothing wrong with owning capital. And it applies as equally to trade unionists as it does to anybody else. You are entitled to own capital, you are entitled to build up your assets, you are entitled to make the most of your opportunities to buy capital, to build up capital and the like. Now, I'm always bemused by my political opponents seeing this as some revelation of some deep and evil point of view. You know, if we are talking philosophically, Australia is a capitalist society inasmuch as we encourage people to own their own capital. Telstra employees have got capital in Telstra. Now there is nothing wrong with that and what I was saying in that statement is that there is nothing wrong with people making profits.
But who is the other side?
Well, now you see that's a good question because that statement doesn't imply that there is another side. We are on the side of encouraging people to own capital.
I thought you were embracing a Marxist analysis of the world where you have capital and labour in opposing camps?
Er, no. But for those who see this whole debate about the labour market. That's how they see it. But I don't see it that way.
There's only one side?
Well, all I'm saying is that this is a society in which you can own capital and there is nothing wrong with it, and there is nothing wrong with making a profit. There's no more to it. There's no deep, dark, sinister meaning in that statement. You see, people who see a dark side to this, they actually do have that view. That this is all a contest between capital versus labour. But see that is a view of the world that was fine in the last century, but really in the last 20 or 30 years it's an old hat view. It was certainly old hat when the wall fell in Berlin. ...
Given though, that you have used those views to pursue your political agenda can you see why working people would see you as being their enemy? Do you understand them having that view, given the way you came across during the waterfront dispute, and the way you have pushed your industrial relations waves?
I think for people who are just focussed on ideology I understand that reaction. But that is not how most people in Australia think. For people who are today employees, I mean I would say to them, if you want to know what sort of government and what sort of system we are promoting have a look at your wage package. That's a much better demonstration of what our true attitudes are. Have a look at the fact that we are committed to providing an employee entitlement scheme. Something that no Labor Government was prepared to do. Have a look at the freedom of association which we have legislated. Which is a very fair law whatever is your circumstance. I mean, we have provided greater protection for people to join a union than was legislatively provided by our predecessors. Your question might be the question in the minds of some who see all this debate about the labour market as an ideological battleground. But for most people that is well removed from reality.
Given that you say that it is not a battle, is there a point at which you stop your 'reform' process? ?
It's an evolutionary process to try to better manage the relationships between employers and employees and to have a system in which there are incentives for people to better manage, where there are rewards for people to do better and those rewards are basically higher living standards through higher wages.
Is there an end game though?
No, for Australia this is the infinite race if you like to make the most of what we've got as a country and the assets that we enjoy. No, there's no end game this is just a constant demand upon ourselves to try and do better in the way in which we manage our most important asset, and that is our people.
I'll go back a step. You were talking before about your idea of good unionism was providing a good service to your members. That's actually at odds now with the approach that's been adopted by the new ACTU Secretary, Greg Combet, who's pushing an organising approach. What's your view of organising?
Greg sees it as an organisational model. It's right to contrast that with the service model, and I think that was a great model for the 1890s but not for the 1990s. That has much more to it the flavour of a political model. It's a political movement for the Labor movement. There are political goals and objectives to be reached and so you organise the workforce. The workforce does not want to be organised by people outside of their workplace. What they want is the capacity to manage their own affairs - sure with minimum protections and the like and a fair system in place to allow them to manage their own affairs. But they basically want to have the say to manage their own affairs, to be involved and participate in those affairs, which in my view is right at kilter - at odds to the concept of a shop steward who comes into the workplace - or a union secretary - and says: "Well, today I've got good news for you. I'm going to organise you all."
Now, as people have become better educated, their living standards lift, they want arrangements that suit their demands; not the demands that are suggested to them that they should adopt for their particular circumstances. This phenomena of people wanting a greater say, being able to be more independent, being able to control their working environment more and more is akin to developments more generally in society that as people have higher living standards and are better informed and better educated, they want to have a greater say over those things within their ambit of - within the ambit of their lives.
Take a practical example: This whole question of work and family responsibilities. This is a very big issue for a lot of people. How they juggle the work and the family. Now, it has been sort of portrayed as a women's issue because we've seen a lot of women come into the workplace and they've still got the family responsibilities so they juggle. But this is going to be much more an issue for the blokes as time goes on, and for men and women with older family members where there is also a family responsibility to the senior generation. Now, it's very hard to manage those responsibilities in a workplace under a sort of "one size fits all" approach.
You know, the working time arrangements. One of the most important issues to decide in any business - when are you going to work?. Now for many individuals the answer to that question is going to be different, even within an enterprise because they have got different personal circumstances. Now in that situation those people don't want to be organised, they want a system in which what suits them individually - and it may be collectively - but its what suits them personally - you know - can be arrived at in their particular business.
Where does that leave someone like the woman who was working for Steggles and she couldn't - basically she asked for a different time to start work and the employer said no - take the job or leave it?
Well, if you are asking me if there are lots of businesses where people need minimum protections and the like, well of course there are. And that's going to go on being the case, but I mean we have to think beyond just everything on a minimum protection basis. There is always going to be lots of situations where if necessary the system provides protection for people. And we accept that. We've never quibbled over that basic proposition, but you've also got to look beyond where we are today and where we are going to be in 10 years, 20 years and 30 years and 40 years, and hopefully where we'll be as continuing rising living standards; a continuation of high standards of education, etc. etc. Now in that world as we move to it, and there's plenty who haven't got there yet, and there's plenty of people who haven't got a job either, so we've got to work to get them into the system, but as time goes on society is changing and in that sort of society, whilst keeping those minimum protections in place, you've got to have a system which responds to what individuals actually need. And so the service model is much more - is much more in sync with where we are going and we know that just as a bald statement of fact that unions have to struggle to accept this concept and when they don't accept it the rank and file say "Well thanks very much but sorry we are not going to join you."
And Greg says: "Oh you know, we've held our numbers. He hasn't even held his numbers. He's dropped from 2.5 million to 2.1 or whatever the number is and his percentage has dropped like a stone. That's going to continue unless there is a realisation that the organising model was fine when everybody used to be in the union and everything could be organised and all the employers were organised and there was a place for everything and everything in its place but those days have just gone.
If I was to hand you the job of ACTU President, what would be the first thing you'd do?
I would say that we've got to recognise the mistakes of the past and I'd be quite up front and blunt about the mistakes that have been made. The first thing I'd say is the organising concept is not the way ahead. And the fault I'd recognise is that we just don't have structures that allow the rank and file to have a real say and to really involve them in the affairs of the trade union movement generally, let alone in the affairs as they affect the individual workplace. So I'd admit my mistakes. I'd say it's time we had a different view and I'd adopt a real strategy of a real service model and I'd drop a lot of the politics and the ideology. I'd take a much more practical approach to the role of trade unions and I'd make a real point of listening to hear what the rank and file actually want.
On the republic, why do you believe it's important to directly elect a President?
It's very important because, well firstly you are not going to get a Republic in my view unless you offer that and I think finally that most of the commentators are starting to realise that there is sort of a big block there standing in the way of us moving to a Republic. And that block is public sentiment which says, if we are going to have a Republic it will be on our terms thank you very much.
Why would it be a good thing? Why is it important? It's important because I think that with the change in the monarchy and the standing of the monarchy and the relevance of the monarchy to Australia, the truth is that the Head of State in Australia, the effective Head of State. the Governor General, does not have that authority and credibility which I think can only come in a democracy by a vote of the people at large. I believe that if you did have a directly elected President, people would have a real sense of ownership in the Head of State, and they would rightly feel that in a system that where equality of franchise was given effect to, they would rightly feel that their President genuinely was their President - not somebody foisted on them as a result of some political deal but it would reflect their choice and represent therefore the community in the best way that you can be representative - namely if you are elected.
The Irish do have a directly elected President and it is a good system to look at for Australia because it is a Westminster tradition and the like and Mary Robinson was one of the recent Presidents in Ireland. She wasn't bought by a big money campaign. She was, I think an academic before she went in and she really was somebody that everybody could look up to regardless of party political affiliation and say, well she was our President. And she was highly respected internationally. She gave the Irish a presence that I don't think a Governor General can every really provide. And Mary Macalesh continues the tradition.
I think it would be fantastic for Australia if we had a directly elected President. I also like the idea of a Resident for President. I think it would be great if a Reith grandchild could be a President. But it would be a real presidency because they would only ever make it if they actually could win a vote to demonstrate that public support for them holding that office. That would be a good thing for this country.
Presuming the vote goes down on the weekend, how important has the Republic become for you? Is it say, as important to you as industrial relations reform?
I don't compare one issue off against the other in that way. Look, I think the constitutional arrangements are very important. That's the rules of the game for politics. So, I don't deny their importance. I've always been interested in the Constitution and I think it would be a fantastic thing for Australia if we were a bit bolder and a bit more innovative and moved to this system.
So you'll keep working with Cleary and Mack after the vote?
Yeah. Look, I've spent a lot of time talking with them on the phone during this campaign and I think they are basically right. And in terms of employees; people at work; people that are trade unionists - a lot of them are going to vote "no" because they're direct electionists. As one Labor MP said to me: "Reith, you're giving us a lot of hard times 'cause most of our rank and file workers are not prepared to stand on the booths on Saturday, 'cause they agree with you."
And you see, this is a parallel to some of the other issues we are talking about in workplace relations. If you are a rank and file trade unionist - there's a lot of the rank and file trade unionists who look at the Presidency and say: "We're going to have a President - I'm going to have a say!" And when they look at the trade union movement they say to themselves: "Well, I don't have a say".
So you'd advocate a directly elected President of the ACTU?
Well, I tell you what (laughs) - that would be a hell of a lot better system for the ACTU. Well it would be. People would have a genuine say. Now, even Jennie George was complaining about the fact that there was a meeting to settle her succession and she didn't have a say. It is a pretty natural instinct for people in a democracy to say "give us a say please". There's no wonder they are browned off with the ACTU President and Secretary.
by Sue Simpson
Instead he kept out of the public gaze even though he was present at briefings the Department gave primary and secondary principals, district superintendents and institute managers just before the offer was posted on the Department of Education and Training's website.
The "offer" must be rejected because it does nothing to enhance the salaries and status of the teaching profession. The profession will be no more attractive to young graduates to join or for older teachers to stay. It does not eliminate the gap in salaries between teachers in public schools and teachers in the 300 or so schools covered by the Association of Independent Schools Award and Christian Brothers schools, all of whom receive Government funding. For casual teachers, the rates in private schools are still superior.
Teachers, like all workers, want to have decent salaries, superannuation and security in employment. On salaries, the offer is in effect a cut, given the projected inflation figures for the next 12 months of between two and three per cent. Other states are fast surpassing NSW. Salary increases for Northern Territory teachers and negotiations proceeding in Queensland will have their teachers become the highest paid Government teachers in Australia.
The offer is reminiscent of Kennett's Victoria. It stamps the practices of the business world on public education. It means doing away with regulations built up over years to protect the innocent and less powerful from exploitation -- so, no prescription of period loads in secondary schools and no regulation of the school day in primary schools.
Career paths are thrown away in favour of flat structures and the boss' s largesse in distributing positions of responsibility. Hence the executive teacher position is abolished in favour of an allowance to be allocated by the principal. In the business world of competition, job insecurity in the form of limited contracts is the norm -- hence five year contracts for secondary principals. Pay is determined by supervisor-conducted performance appraisals.
The "offer" is about fulfilling a Government's obsession with doing more with less. "Flexibility" is to suit the employer and not the employee. Integrating the schools and TAFE awards is not so much about the new vocational education agenda as the means to reduce TAFE teachers' salaries to those of school teachers and to introduce a wider span of hours into schools. It is about getting the lowest common denominator in the two sectors.
It's also about taking the "teacher" out of education. Principals are encouraged to be more the managerial class with fewer holidays. Careers advisers, school counsellors and home school liaison officers are no longer classified as teachers in a system that no longer prescribes agreed qualifications. This makes their services far more vulnerable to privatisation and outsourcing.
For TAFE teachers it is all about saying you must accept the inferior conditions of Kennett's Victoria if you are to survive. The Government is seeking to absolve itself of responsibility for properly funding and supporting a quality public education system.
The "offer" is hardly surprising given the Premier's keenness to distance himself from the union movement and his statement that there is no "heritage order" on the public sector. With no money being allocated for public sector salary increases in the State Budget, restructuring was always going to take prominence over salary in the Government's mind. This does not make it acceptable.
The manner in which the "offer" was presented is further proof that the Carr Government treats unions and public sector workers with contempt. The Government's excuse that Federation had to finalise new teacher efficiency procedures and school reviews as a pre-condition for the commencement of salary negotiations has been exposed as simply an excuse to delay the commencement of negotiations. Winning the morning's media is more important than good manners or any openness and transparency in dealings, so the "offer" is announced by media release. Ken Boston gets first grab at the media comments with his script well prepared. Then the Minister and the Director-General attempt to get the interest groups onside -- make them feel special. So the night before the offer was announced, members of the Primary and Secondary Principals Councils get summoned to meetings in Bridge Street.
These organisations were briefed even before Federation had been able to download its copy from the website. The P&C are also called to a meeting. There was no openness and transparency with Federation. It's all part of modern union busting.
But modern managers still do not win the hearts and minds. Kennett was defeated. This "offer" has outraged every group in teaching because its philosophy of business is so alien.
For teachers, being "modern" means insisting on job security, opposing employer definitions of "flexibility" in favour of policies that genuinely recognise the need to balance work, family and community life. At times of increasing casualisation with employers appealing to global competition, it is in the interests of teachers to be maintaining regulation of workload limits.
Teachers reject this offer and the business view of teachers' work that underpins it. Demonstrate your opposition by attending the Sky Channel meeting in your area.
by Neal Towart
The Federal Government's disregard for ILO principles and ruling is clear from the attacks it carries out, and helps employers carry out, on trade unions. A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures in comparison with the US, European and Japanese economies. The Federal Government's push for further workplace change is clearly driven by an ideological commitment to smashing unions, rather than by some supposed need to make workplaces more competitive.
For example, productivity comparisons show a surging rise in the value added per employee in Australia which compares more than favourably with other European, "major non-European" (read Japan, USA, Canada) and Asia-Pacific nations. Value added per hour worked is at 129 units compared with the USA 120.3, the labour market system that Peter Reith's favourite economist Des Moore and the like are constantly lauding.
Labour cost figures also show the dramatic change pre the Workplace Relations Act and its attacks on labour rights. Per unit of output labour costs in Australia have shifted from 0.50 in 1980 (base year = 1990; figures on a US dollar basis) to 0.69 in 1996. In the USA the shift has been from 0.45 to 0.78 in 1996. Costs here per unit were effectively lower than in the USA in 1996 ie pre Peter Reith. Japan in the same period went from 0.52 to 1.22. Australia ranks about the middle in hourly compensation costs, below the USA, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Scandinavian countries and level pegs with the UK.
The government has also been attacking non wage conditions, especially by its award simplification system. When we look at the proportion of non-wage costs to total compensation costs Australia these are at about 16-17%. In the USA they are at about 20%.
This data is contained in a major new comparative statistical tool that has been released by the ILO. It represents part of the ILO response to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. At that summit 117 participating governments adopted the Declaration and Program of Action, which represented a new consensus on the need to place people at the centre of development (yeah, right, we won't hold our breath on that one). A commitment to support full employment was part of this, as well as equity between men and women and across countries.
The 1998 ILO conference adopted the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work, which marked a renewed commitment to freedom of association and collective bargaining, elimination of forced labour, abolition of child labour, and elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.
This guide from the ILO is an easy to follow collection of data on such matters as:
� Labour force participation rates
� Employment-to-population ratios
� Employment by sector
� Part-time workers
� Hours of work
� Informal sector employment
� Youth unemployment
� Long term unemployment
� Unemployment and educational attainment
� Real wage indices
� Labour productivity and unit costs
� Poverty and income distribution
Other broad comparisons show the similarities between industrialised countries in employment by sector. The shift in economies to even stronger employment in the services sector is marked by general increases between 1980 and 1996 from around 60% of all employees to over 70% in Australia, UK, Canada, the USA and Scandinavia. Growth in female employment in this sector is marked with 85.4% of all female employment in Australia in the services.
The female share of part-time employment is tracked, with 37.8% of all females in the workforce engaged in part-time work, compared with 13.8% of males. 24.2% of all work was on a part-time basis in 1996.
Figures on working hours show that 44.3% of all employees worked more than 40 hours per week in 1996.
by Heather Paterson
Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes, 30, who was the Jakarta correspondent for the London Financial Times was shot on September 21, only hours after arriving in East Timor. The following day, Indonesian journalist and documentary maker Agus Muliawan, 26, was among a group of nine church workers who were killed on the road between Los Palos and Bacau, east of Dili.
The murders highlight the dangers journalists in East Timor are facing. The region became infamous in 1975, when six Australian-based journalists working there were killed after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony. In an effort to make sure history did not repeat itself the IFJ's safety fund sponsored the development and establishment of SOMET.
But SOMET was forced to close the doors of its Dili office on Sunday, September 5 when the militias in East Timor went berserk, the day after it was announced that almost 80 per cent of the East Timorese people voted against autonomy within Indonesia.
On that Sunday, more than 150 journalists from the major remaining media organisations, such as Reuters, APTN, EBU, AFP and CNN, chartered flights out of Dili. My SOMET colleague, Indonesian journalist Ezki Suyanto, was evacuated on a plane chartered by APTN and EBU. About 30 others stayed behind in the headquarters of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
Journalists have been returning to East Timor since UN-backed international forces (Interfet) landed on the island on September 20.
The deaths of journalists so soon after Interfet's arrival emphasised the need for SOMET to reestablish itself in Dili.
A witness to the attack on Sander Thoenes says the journalist was killed by Indonesian soldiers. Driver Florindo da Conceicao Araujo, told reporters he had taken Thoenes from the Hotel Turismo to the suburb of Becora, a known militia hotspot, about 4.30pm on September 21.
"Two hundred metres away on three motorcycles there were six guys in TNI (army) uniform with automatic guns," he told AAP.
"They motioned me to stop. I tried to turn (the bike) around. Then there were bullets all around us. There were 10 to 20 shots."
Araujo sped off, leaving Thoenes lying on the ground. He did not know if the journalist was dead or alive at that point.
Australian soldiers recovered the body the following morning.
Journalists returning to Dili with the Australian Defence Force have had the protection of Interfet, but independent journalists, who have returned on UN flights out of Darwin or by charters from Jakarta, have been on their own. These journalists had to take their own food and water into Dili. The IFJ has received reports of many falling ill after drinking water which has been treated only with purification tablets. There are no shops open and most of the commercial area has been torched.
Indonesian journalists, who have returned to East Timor, have been staying with the military at the Korem headquarters. However, some Indonesian journalists have reported they were being forced to sign a document relieving the military of any responsibility for their safety.
SOMET, financed by donations to the IFJ safety fund, first opened its doors to the media in July, when Ezki Suyanto from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and I arrived in East Timor. Domingos dos Santos was employed locally. He spoke English, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and Tetum, and used his extensive contact network to inform journalists of the security situation in East Timor and to advise them on how to protect themselves.
The SOMET office, at the New Resende Inn, is across the road from the main government complex, and at the half way point between the Turismo Hotel (formerly the home to many Australian journalists) and the Mahkota Hotel (which was booked out by big media organisations like Reuters, APTN and EBU). The hotel restaurant was also the usual morning coffee meeting place for many journalists.
The SOMET office is still standing but it has been ransacked and there is no sign of any equipment.
SOMET was a raging success in East Timor. By the time the metal shutter was pulled down over the front door 246 journalists from 21 nations had registered. The biggest contingents came from Indonesia (81 journalists), Australia (43), Britain (20), Portugal (15) and East Timor (15). Other big groups came from Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands and the USA. Many of those who signed up were freelance journalists who had no big organisation to back them up, so they depended on the information coming out of the SOMET office.
SOMET was contacted a number of times by the official Indonesian task force for a list of all journalists in East Timor. It was our policy not to reveal any information about journalists, and we did not keep any documentation about the media in the office. Most was faxed or emailed to the IFJ. Similar requests from the police and military were also refused.
The first project completed, the Media Guide to East Timor, was posted on the IFJ website. It contained logistical information, health advice and information about what was and wasn't available in East Timor. This guide will be updated when the project is relaunched in Dili.
The main role of the office was to be a centre for safety and security information. This was achieved by developing a network of contacts throughout East Timor. We spoke regularly to the security office at UNAMET, people at the Australian Consulate, Civpol officers, UN political analysts and military officers, observer groups, leaders of the pro-autonomy and pro-independence camps, and journalists who had travelled outside Dili. We also had an open channel of communication with the Indonesian police and military.
For their own safety, journalists registered their intent to travel outside of Dili and gave the office details of when they expected to leave and be back. Depending on the region and the security information about any given day, the staff at SOMET would give the journalists a couple of hours after their expected time of arrival back in Dili to call in. More and more people did this as tension increased just before and after the August 30 referendum.
The media remained the enemy of pro-autonomy militias throughout the campaign. When riots broke out, the militias often chanted "kill Australian journalists". There were only four groups of journalists in East Timor according to the militia: Portuguese, Japanese, Indonesian and the rest were Australian. One Norwegian journalist had to produce his passport to convince militias he was not Australian. Only then did they let him go. A Japanese journalist had a similar experience at a road block near Liquica.
Journalists documented the collusion between the police, military and militia. Many reported accounts where they witnessed police handing militia weapons and some identified soldiers out of their uniforms taking part in militia rallies and attacks. This was a major problem as the police maintained they were responsible for security under the May 5 Agreement, signed by Indonesia, Portugal and the UN. Journalists were advised by the UN to use police posts as safe havens when trouble broke out, especially outside of Dili.
But two journalists were refused police protection while in a town in the Viqueque region of East Timor. Sean Steele and Minka Nijhuis were shot at, and had to hide in a river to escape the militia. When Nijhuis approached the joint police and military post to ask for help she was scared off and took shelter with locals. SBS cameraman David O'Shea was refused a police escort to Dili's open market the day after a riot. The police commander, who had just arrived from Bali, told O'Shea he was too afraid to go near the market.
Indonesian journalists were walking on a double-edged knife. Not only were the authorities and militias harassing them, the pro-independence camp was also threatening them. CNRT leaders told SOMET the Indonesian media was seen as part of the regime which had suppressed the Timorese for 24 years. SOMET met with CNRT leader Leandro Issacs in an attempt to remedy the situation. He was sympathetic to the journalists' plight and said he would take action against his members found to be hindering or harassing journalists.
A few days before the referendum, the Indonesian military started to offer Indonesian journalists seats on military planes, which would be in Dili on the days immediately after the vote. They advised all journalists to leave East Timor. Most Indonesian journalists took up the offer and returned to Jakarta. Many East Timorese journalists are now in hiding there, have no income and are unsure about their futures.
Reports of intimidation and violence against the media were sporadic in the lead-up to the referendum campaigning period. SOMET documented 57 incidents against journalists in two months, but believe there were many others.
Heather Paterson has been one of the IFJ's media safety officers based in Dili. She is returning to Dili with Indonesian journalist Ging Ginanjar to re-establish the IFJ media safety service. To date the service has been funded through donations to the IFJ's Journalist Safety Fund. You can make your donation by A/C 611-0122022-66, Credit Lyonnais Belgium, Ave Marnix 17, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Too often in the past, significant campaigns in the history of the labour movement have passed without any systematic attempt to preserve the contemporary record of the events. We are determined that it will not be the case in this instance. Accordingly, we have set up a project whereby the ASSLH network will join ACTU affiliates in searching out all relevant records and preserving them for serious research when the dispute is finally over.
If you have any material relating to the dispute, or know the location of any, we are keen to hear from you so we can discuss what should be done to identify, describe and preserve those records. Some people may wish to retain records. If so, we'd like to have a record, for historical research purposes, of who's got what. If you are happy to have them put in the archive at the ACTU, we'd be keen to hear form you.
Please contact: Greg Patmore, Labour History , Institute Building H03, University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Tel: 02 9351 4264 - or mailto:[email protected]
Peter Love, ASSLH - Vic Branch, 51 Blanche St, St Kilda Vic 3182 Tel: 03 9534 2445 or mailto:[email protected]
Museum answers critics with exhibit on bloody 1919 strike
The Canadian Museum of Civilization, criticized for ignoring some of Canada's unpleasant historic events, has opened an exhibit dealing with one of the ugliest confrontations in the country's history.
With the help of $50,000 from the Canadian Labour Congress, the museum launched two "social progress" exhibits yesterday -- recreation of Meeting Room No. 10, used by unions during the bloody Winnipeg general strike of 1919, and a companion Web site devoted to Canadian labour history.
Labour Net Canada - http://www.labournet.ca
Canada Labour News:
Alberta Labour NewsPage: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5202/alberta.html
Alberta Union Links - http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5202/ablabour.html
Alberta Strike Solidarity Page -
Alberta Living Wage Campaign
Alberta Anti-Scab Legislation Campaign
CLAC Attack, Time For Labour To Fight Back
by Lee Rhiannon
WMCL, a Western Australia based company, was granted a massive 99,387 hectares under the 1995 Mining Act passed during the President Ramos's controversial reign. Foreign transnational corporations are granted 100% ownership under this Act.
Using satellite imagery WMCL found what they argue is a viable ore body of copper, gold and silver in the Tampakan areas, which is the indigenous tribal land of the B'laan tribe.
Joy Balazo of the Uniting Church in Australia, one of a number of groups that are supporting the indigenous people campaigning to stop the Western Mining take over, reports that on September 23 soldiers in the Philippine army were involved in a two hour shoot out with villagers opposing WMCL mining plans.
Western Mining have denied that the shootout incident is linked with the B'laan's strong opposition to the entry of company operators into their lands. Two tribal people were wounded and a number of houses raided during the army raids.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the military operation was launched after members of some communities refused to support Western Mining.
About 200 B'laan men, women and children fled into the jungle to escape from the soldiers. About ten men remained to protect their village from the members of the Special Unit Forces and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unity of the 601st Brigade of the Philippines Army.
The military raid came at a critical time for the company, which is about to commence on the ground exploring. WMCL have won support from a few indigenous leaders, but the B'laan community have been united in total opposition.
The B'laan Australia Solidarity Group have stated that they are concerned that the militarisation of parts of the mountains of Mindano will force local people to leave their land. If this occurred WMCL would benefit as there would be no active local opposition and no people left to be relocated.
Members of the BASG, Moses Havini, spokesperson in Australia for the Bougainville Interim Government, and Joy Balazo, from the International Mission of the Unity Church, can be contacted on (02) 9804 7632 and (02) 8267 4230 respectively.
by The Chaser
The controversial research may end the long running debate about the cause of Christianity.
"Our research suggests that Christians may not actually be able to help themselves," said one scientist. The theory casts doubt on the traditional belief that Christianity can be blamed on a child's upbringing.
The parents of one Christian have welcomed the news with relief. "We always worried that if we'd done something different our child would not have ended up a Christian."
But converting the research into a commercial cure may take years. The wait leaves many families frustrated. "We have sent our children to camps to cure them, but no matter how many times we play them Pet Shop Boys they just come back talking about Jesus," said one gay parent.
Part of the delay is because the scientists need approval from ethics boards to further their study. "Obviously there are those who'll say genetic modification is just playing God," said one researcher, "but now we can at least cure them of this argument."
by Neal Towart
In the Firing Line over Hiring
In the USA, employers have been held liable if they have not investigated the employee's background for a history of a tendency toward violence. This concept is referred to as negligent hiring. This can apply to off duty employees as well. The law in the USA has emerged from the old master-servant relationship, part of which holds that an employer has a duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in employment and selection of its employees.
Australian courts may well be prepared to extend the employers duty of care to cover such circumstances.
(Employment Law Update; newsletter 150, 15 October 1999)
Human Rights Decisions now Enforceable
Federal Parliament has finally passed the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act. This was necessary after the Brandy case of 1995, when the High Court found that the Human Rights Commission did not have the constitutional authority to make enforceable decisions. This means that HREOC no longer has the power to conduct unconciliated complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. That power is now vested in the Federal Court. This is an improvement because previously people would have had to take proceedings to the Federal Court after getting a ruling from HREOC on damages (thus extra costs). Cost of bringing human rights cases to the federal Court will be limited to a one off charge of $50.00.
(Employment Law Update; newsletter 150, 15 October 1999)
Bullying in the Workplace
Paul McCarthy of Griffith University estimates that 350,000 Australians are systematically being bullied at work. The hidden cost to Australian industry could be as high as $3 billion.
He looks at what bullying is, showing that it goes beyond discrimination and includes physical and psychological abuse. Action is needed because of costs to those being bullied as well as the cost to economic performance. Suggestions for action are included.
(Work Alert; no. 17/1999, 22 October 1999)
Bullying: it's an OHS Liability
Employers can be held liable for employee bullying of co-workers. Peninsula Prestige Cars was fined $45,000.00. Company people, when faced with such situation are oftern shocked to discover what bullying has taken place, but ignorance is not a defence in these cases.
(Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin; vol. 8, no. 181, 27 October 1999)
Victimisation on the Rise in NSW
Victimisation complaints have doubled in NSW in the past twelve months, which is indicative of serious management failure, according to Chris Puplick, Anti Discrimination Board president.
(Discrimination Alert; issue 98, 26 October 1999)
All out at 50 for Australian Executives
Ageism is endemic across all levels of the workforce, with no senior executives employing over 50 year olds in executive or management positions, according to a survey by Drake Management Consulting. Banking and finance were the worst examples in the private sector with 81.5% of executives favouring 30-40 year olds. In government hiring, 90% favoured 30 somethings. Only in education was maturity valued over youth, with almost 95% favouring 41-50 year olds.
(Discrimination Alert; issue 98, 26 October 1999)
The Waterfront Dispute and the Economic Analysis of Law
During the interlocutory stage of the waterfront dispute, the MUA sought an injunction to stop Lang Corp moving its assets away from Patrick companies. The case went before North J. and in his final summary, John Middleton QC for Patrick argued, that regardless of whether a conspiracy existed, the appropriate penalty for such actions would be a claim to damages, which in this case amounted to a redundancy payout and full payment of superannuation entitlements. North J. replied that such a position was tantamount to allowing the company to pay its way out of a breach of law. "if the rich and powerful can 'buy their way out of the law' then where does that leave the legal system".
(Alternative Law Journal; vol. 24, no. 4, August 1999)
Troubleshooter/Odco case reappears: Fox v Kangan Batman TAFE
The Full Bench of the AIRC has overturned Cmr Simmonds decision and found that the TAFE had the right to dismiss Ms Fox, and she could not claim unfair dismissal against the TAFE, because she had been engaged by a labour hire company, Advanced Australian Workplace Solutions (AAWS). By overturning Cmr Simmonds decision the AIRC has confirmed that companies who use the services of workers from Labour hire companies have no responsibility for those employees, even though they set the workers duties, hours of work and daily directions. The ACTU will appeal the decision.
(Industrial Relations and Management Letter; vol. 16, no 10, November 1999
The result of 13 years of Labor capitulation is that the organised left is in disarray. It is now little more than a cheer squad for capital.
The most important political event this year in Australia has been East Timor. The Left has capitulated.
It has ditched generations of principled opposition to Australian militarism in an instant. It has embraced US imperialism overnight. It has supported more arms spending. And in the stampede to the right the left has embraced the league of robber nations, the UN.
Not one major left-wing figure in Australia today who has expressed any concern about sending troops into East Timor. Not one leftist of any authority has queried the official line that we are in East Timor to save the people.
Where are the doubters, those who might have the courage to stand against the tide and suggest we are in East Timor to show the ruling classes of other countries in South East Asia that we are the power in the region? Perhaps, the imaginary leftist might muse, this is our elite's chance to overcome their own Vietnam syndrome.
Where are the voices querying the figures on the slaughter in East Timor, suggesting that the Australian media and Government may have exaggerated the numbers to create a pro-intervention climate in Australia?
Where are the voices asking why Falantil did not defend its people against the militia and why the Australian Government's strategy has not been to supply arms to the freedom fighters since the Indonesian invasion almost 25 years ago?
Instead of raising these questions the pro-war left has been John Howard's most active supporter and cheerleader. The consequence of the left's surrender is that those millions of decent Australians who felt anger and outrage at the events in East Timor after the vote for independence have not been fully armed with all the arguments about intervention.
The result? Over 80 per cent of Australians support the participation of Australian troops in East Timor.
Clearly East Timor has been a domestic political success for John Howard. By allowing this, and supporting it, the pro-war left has demonstrated its bankruptcy.
And yet something else is happening in Australia. Despite Howard's supremacy on the East Timor issue, the polls haven't shown a major swing to the Coalition.
Rumours are beginning to emerge that Howard maybe considering a post-Olympics election. This is a high risk strategy because the backlash to the GST will be in full swing at that time.
It is even more high risk when you take into account the fact that despite the massive support Howard presently has because of his actions over East Timor, the ALP is within striking distance of the Government. If East Timor couldn't produce a swing to the Government, what will?
The only certainty in Australian politics these days is uncertainty. Voters are rejecting economic rationalism. Since both major parties have adopted variations of economic rationalism, voters end up changing from one to the other, or looking for alternatives like One Nation with its proto-fascist arguments.
In this sort of environment, there may be an audience for left-wing ideas.
In regional Victoria and working class Melbourne rejected Kennett's crass rationalism. Labor, written off by the pundits, is forming a minority Government.
The vote for Bracks is not a real swing to the left because the ALP is the human face of economic rationalism and in Government it will deliver Kennettism without Kennett.
That is not the point. Whatever illusions people may have in Labor, many were voting against economic rationalism, against the loss of hospitals and schools and for something better.
While the milksops in the ALP may have benefited, the result shows a volatility that a mass left-wing organisation (if it existed) could have taken advantage of.
Then there was Dr Kemp's attempt to "reform" higher education by privatising it. Tens of thousands of students mobilised immediately.
Working people saw the proposal for what it was- education for the rich. Their anger forced Howard to choose some careful words which gave the impression he would not attack higher education in the way Kemp suggested. At least not at present.
If there had been a serious political and industrial left in Australia of sufficient size and authority its members could have built on the outpouring of anger over education to link the economic rationalism of our rulers with their adventures in East Timor.
There is no such organisation. The task for the anti-war left is to try to build it and, just as we did over Vietnam, patiently explain our truths.
John Passant is an anti-war socialist
Not that too many of us have been around long enough to watch one hundred years of the Melbourne Cup, but we can assume.
Twenty-one of the 24 horses to start in the race that stops a nation were mentioned in the steward's report.
Regarded by many as Australia's best jockey, Damian Oliver described it as the roughest Cup he has ever ridden in.
"He (Sky Heights) hit the rail about five times and by the time I asked him to come into the race he'd had enough," Oliver said after the race.
Sky Height's trainer Colin Alderson described his talented stayer as stiff and sore the day after the Cup.
The brothers Cassidy also had there say after the race with Jimmy being the second most affected rider in the race behind Grant Cooksley who came to grief at the 1400 metres mark when thrown from Able Master.
"The first 200 metres I was lucky to stay up and the last 200 metres I nearly fell," Jim Cassidy was quoted in the Daily Telegraph.
"It's as rough a race as I've ever ridden in," he said.
His younger brother Larry, Sydney's premier jockey said that the Melbourne Cup made the Golden Slipper interference look like a Sunday walk.
So from start to finish there seemed to something happening out on the track.
Chairman of Stewards Des Gleeson blamed the slow early pace for the trouble.
Although punters who backed horses which seemed to have no chance because of the interference were left feeling sorry for them selves, Gleeson can lay claim to be the most disappointed man on the track.
New Zealand jockey Garry Grylls was the only jockey to be suspended out of the race.
Stewards could not lay any blame with any other jockeys and carpeted Grylls for causing interference down the famous Flemington straight on the first occasion.
The "rough cup" in summery goes like this.
Twenty-four horses faced the starter, 23 finished.
One jockey suspended, 21 of them looking white, one in hospital and one winner - John Marshall.
But I have not yet made mention of Australia's "national treasure" the great Bart Cummings who for the eleventh time tasted Melbourne Cup success -or 12 if you count the time he was strapper for his Dad Jim when Comic Court won the Cup in 1950.
This time it was with a seven-year-old gelding from Perth called Rogan Josh and as rough as that Cup might have been the big story of the day was left for the man known as "Bart" or the "Cups King"
He has created a record of eleven Melbourne Cup victories that can only ever be beaten by Bart himself.
And believe me he started eyeing number twelve as of Wednesday.
Greg Radley presents the 2KY morning sports show every weekday
In the past few years these costs have soured and the areas which have seen significant increases are in rehabilitation ,injury and investigative treatment
The cost of rehab has gone from $10million to $50 million over the last few years.
I recently invited Professor Nik Bogduk, from the University of Newcastle's Bone and Joint Institute and Professor Cousins from the Pain Management Research Centre, University of Sydney to address the Workers Advisory Council. These Doctors treat patients at the end of the line when everything has failed and they are on the scrap heap.
According to Professor Nik Bogduk the reason for the blow out in these costs and the poor return to work and recovery rates of injured workers is due to the lack of control that the GP has in the process and the only way to overcome this problem is to empower the GPs.
Nik stated that the scientific based evidence shows that confidence by doctors and patients improves recovery and reduces chronic problems and that doctors and patients are often afraid that back pain is a sign of serious disease however this is extremely rare Also bed rest is a real no no and that activity is the key -, workers need to go back to work as soon as possible.
Nik said give the GPs the tools to better equip them to deal with work related issues and this will not only reduce costs but more importantly will get workers back to work.
Nik said return to work is not only desirable but proven to be beneficial- keeping patients off work is deleterious. The provision of proper modified duties and dealing with patients fears such as going back to an unsafe work place is far more beneficial than ''restricted' or "light duties" which are usually bullshit
Nik says workers are afraid of the accident which caused the pain and often won't return to work for fear of it happening again. However, they will overcome this fear if they are reassured that measures have been taken to avoid such accidents. It is imperative to improve the workplace to make it safer and comfortable enabling and encouraging a prompt return to work Often the measures to modify the workplace are not great and of more significance maintains the dignity of the worker.
Nik further stated the GP together with the patient and employer should be able to come to an agreement to provide a welcoming place at work while the patients recovers from any acute episode.
Nik said the latest research has shown by and large that specialist intervention may not be necessary a well trained GP can provide can provide most of the care that an injured worker needs.
The Workers Compensation Advisory Council has asked Professors Bogduk, Harris and Cousins to assist them in developing a tool kit for GPs and it is expected that it will be rolled out in Feb 2000.
Thanks to the latest developments from Social Change Online, we are now in the position to give you the opportunity to deface your favourite political figures from the comfort of your keyboard.
How would Piers look with facial hair; spots, perhaps you want to airbrush the jowels. With our new "Deface a Face" program anything is possible.
This week's effort with Piers is a prototype and we'll be improving the graphics and useability over the coming weeks.
But give it a go and see how it works. The best defacement that is sent to us on fax 9261 3505 will receive one of the few remaining Pierswatch T-shirts.
Next week the Deface A Face will move to the front page and we want you to tell is who you want to take the pen to.
It could be Reith or Howard, maybe Bob Carr, even Michael Costa, perhaps one of the atrocious Monarchists - Bronnie, Kerry or Sophie Panopolous - who are sure to be smugly skiting come Monday.. Or do you have another favourite who you would love to deface.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005