The NSW Department of Fair Trading is reviewing the Employments Agents Act, 1996, in line with federal government competition policy requirements, including the option of deregulating the industry altogether.
But the NSW Labor Council says any move in this direction would strip the unemployed of important protections. The Act specifically prohibits jobseekers being charged a fee to be placed in work.
Industry sources have warned Workers Online that in times of high demand for jobs, there was a real prospect that the unemployed would be slugged by unscrupulous operations.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa has also raised concerns that trade unions have not been invited to sit on a steering committee to oversee the review.
"The review is against the entire thrust of where we believe the government should be going on labour hire", Costa says.
"We have been saying there needs to be more regulation, not less."
The move comes as the Carr Government sits on a Labor Council proposals to increase regulation for labour hire firms to force them to match enterprise agreement standards of the firm a business is placed in. After more than six months, the proposal is still to be taken to Cabinet.
Labor sources are confident the Democrats will signal their opposition to key proposals including secret ballots before industrial action and further paring back awards.
The report, following national hearings by a Senate Committee, will be tabled Monday.
In a further encouraging sign for trade union, the Democrats last week agreed to block the plan to divert industrial matters from the Federal Court to the new jurisdiction.
A group of unionists from Sydney will travel to Canberra to join protests against the Wave.
Unions argue the Second Wave will further weaken the award safety net, undermine the powers of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and make it harder for trade unions to conduct their legitimate activities.
The Democrats have flagged they have major problems with the legislative package, but Labor says it won't be taking anything for granted until the Bill is defeated.
Labor's industrial relations spokesman Arch Bevis says the proposal was a backdoor attempt to punish the Federal Court for delivering Peter Reith a series of humiliating defeats, including the waterfront fiasco last year.
"While Labor supported the creation of a Federal Magistrates Court to assist with a backlog of cases in the Family Court, we would not support judicial forum shopping in industrial relations matters," Bevis says.
"The attempt by the Government to punish the Federal Court is consistent with Mr Reith's attack on the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Clearly Mr Reith doesn't like independent umpires.
"This is just another example of Mr Reith's biased and divisive approach to industrial relations."
With the SOCOG budget under pressure from the ticketing fiasco, the Australian Workers Union has written to SOCOG general manager Jim Sloman seeking guarantees that an agreement on paid-voluntary staff ratios will be honoured.
Under the Sydney 2000 Award unions and SOCOG agreed on the number and use of volunteer staff for deployment at both permanent and temporary venues.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says it's essential that the award agreement is honoured - regardless of outside events. The AWU has asked Labor Council to organise a meeting between unions and SOCOG to clarify the issue.
Unions 2000 Update
Meanwhile, Paul Howes reports: If you were to visit the Unions NSW Organising Centre in recent week you would be forgiven for thinking you have walked into a branch of SOCOG.
The Unions 2000 project is now in full swing over 1500 calls have been received by the centre on the 1300 number and over 550 applications have been received.
Most notably coming from Wollongong where Labor Council's Olympic Guru Chris Chrisodoulou has been whipping up massive public support for the project.
Unions 2000 staff are confident that the target of 5000 applications will be easily meet with an average of 40 forms being received daily. A lot of applicants have been referred to the service by Centrelink staff and even some Centrelink staff have been applying themselves!
The positions available are mainly in catering, cleaning and hospitality but some applicants have been inquiring into the possibility of Michael Knight's position being available, the Unions 2000 staff replied that the were unaware of that position being available but it wouldn't hurt to apply.
by Zoe Reynolds
The lightning strikes are part of the ITF Asia Pacific Week of Action against the growing exploitation of third world seafarers on flag of convenience vessels.
The London based ITF, a federation of the world's transport workers unions, representing more than five million workers in 120 nations, targets the region for action each year.
Co-ordination centres have been set up in Sydney, Tokyo and New Delhi. ITF inspectors throughout the Asia Pacific will be carrying out spot checks on all wage books and contracts on all FOC ships.
Inspectors will ensure crew are being paid a living wage and working fair conditions in accordance with their contracts of employment. They will be looking for evidence of double book keeping or falsified wage records.
"We're ensuring it really is a blitzkrieg this year," said ITF executive board member and MUA National Secretary John Coombs. "We've targeted 150 vessels in 20 Australian ports. "While we only have four full time ITF inspectors in Australia, we've trained up more than 30 rank and file maritime workers to take part in the action.
This strategy has been developed over six weeks in conjunction with MUA branches and inspectors. It marks a significant pro-active change in the campaign against flag of convenience shipping in Australian ports."
"What's happening is ship owners are recruiting crew through manning agents from labour hire countries like Indonesia, the Philippines or Burma, paying them a pittance and using intimidation to have them sign falsified wage records," he said. "Crew are treated like modern day kanaki labour. They are often threatened or bribed not to talk to the ITF. The result? This gross exploitation is undercutting national flag fleet operations and driving them out of business."
ITF co-ordinator Trevor Charles said where cases of fraudulent wage records were uncovered the ITF would, if necessary initiate legal action on behalf of the crew.
Unlike national flag fleets, Flags of Convenience vessels are registered or flagged in one country, owned in another, managed in a third and crewed in a fourth.
Inspectors will be phoning in to Australian ITF HQ each afternoon to update the Sydney headquarters on the day's actions.
For further information:
ITF Co-ordinator Trevor Charles, Sydney tel: (02) 9267 9134, mobile: 0419 413 464; WA ITF inspector Ross Storer, Fremantle: 0418 948105; Queensland ITF inspector Graham Bragg, Townsville: 0419 652 718; Victorian ITF inspector Matt Purcell: 0418 387 966; Media officer Zoe Reynolds, MUA website (Robin Hood and Ships of Shame icons), ITF website http://www.itf.org.uk
Labor Council safety watchdog Mary Yaager says the Department of Health has released an issues paper, questioning the need to maintain the current industry regulatory regime.
The regulations have been in place since 1987 when a report by Industrial Relations Commissioner Cross found myriad safety problems in the industry - including bodies being left in mortuary vehicles for more than 24 hours and corpses being stored in private homes of funeral directors and taking corpses with contagious diseases on public transport.
The Cross Report led to a range of standards including :double body bags for all corpses; burial or cremations within five days, protective clothing requirements and the need to refrigerate bodies as well also strict requirements for embalming.
Yaags says any deregulation could compromise public safety.
"Without the regulations there is nothing to stop workers being exposed to highly infectious and contagious diseases such as tuberculosis - tests show that TB survives in soil 37 years after the body has been exhumed," she says.
The Labor Council is preparing a response to the issues paper. Industry employers and unions with members - the Funeral Industry Association, the Municipal Employees Union, and the Health and Research Employees Association - have all flagged their opposition to the plan.
With classrooms being disrupted this week by a series of two stoppages, following last week's general strike, DP Sams has been given the challenging task of bringing the Teachers Federation and the NSW Education Department together.
The Federation was this weekend preparing documentation in support of its 7.5 per cent per annum pay claim, which it says is needed to give the profession the financial recognition it deserves.
The Education Department has refused to discuss the claim, instead bypassing the Federation to offer an award containing a pay rise of nine per cent over four years, direct to teachers.
The Government's tough stance against the teachers has led to mirror industrial action in Catholic schools, where pay rates are linked to public sector pay scales.
The dispute appears headed for arbitration, likely before a full bench of the IRC.
Senior navy officers have been in discussions with the CFMEU and Labor Council after the crew of thew HMAS Newcastle decided to throw themselves into the reconstruction effort.
They are planning to transport a quantity of building, plumbing and electrical equipment when they sale on the HMAS Newcastle from Garden Island on December 10.
Labor Council's is coordinating union support for this mission, while Phil Davey from the CFMEU is working closely with the Navy. Anyone willing to donate the following supplies can contact Phil on 0414 867188.
TIMOR SUPPLIES Note: All dimensions in Millimetres
Metal supplies (all steel only req'd if generator available) Wood supplies
25 x 74 box section tubing - 45 x 90 Radiata pine
25 x 25 box section tubing - 100 x 100 Posts, softwood/hardwood
50 x 50 box section tubing - 50 x 175 softwood/hardwood
Polycarbonate sheeting (roofing) - Marine Ply, 1800 x 1200 x 12 (walls)
Alsnite sheeting (roofing) - Marine Ply, 2400 x 1200 x 19 (flooring)
Tech screws, various - fibro sheeting, 2400 x 1200 x 4.5
Stirrups for uprights - 25 x 100 softwood/hardwood
25 x25 angle, mild - 50 x 200 softwood/hardwood
50 x 50 angle, mild - Wood Glue
Reinforced iron (Reo for concrete) - No More Nails
Saddles for Reo (10-20 bags) - Silastic, No more Gaps, Caulking
Reo lockwire (plus tools) - Caulking Gun
100 x 75 Angle iron, mild - Doors, external/internal
Nails, various 25, 50, 75, 100mm x 10kg ea - Roof support brackets/Cyclone straps
Clouts - Black steel fencing pickets, 2 metre
Gang nails - Hardiboard
Galvanised Roofing Nails 50 x 2.5mm x 20kg - 60mm x 25 mm hardwood for bracing/boxing cement
Door hinges, various & screws - Coach screws
Plain fencing wire, various gauges
HAND TOOLS REQUIRED
Shovels (regular & long-handled for post holes) Misc Equipment
Spades, picks, mattock - PVC piping, 100, 50, 25
Wood saws, hand - PVC Joiners, Tees, Elbows,caps
Buckets, plastic - PVC glue, PVC valves & taps
Post hole digger - PVC Threaded fittings
Hand boring jig (for digging wells) - Paint, assorted (Mainly exterior, water-based)
Generator (diesel preferred) to power welder - Heat shrink, all sizes
Hand pumps for water from wells/bores - Cable clips, all sizes
Welding equipment - Cable tie gun
Circular saw - PVC reducing joints, 100mm - 50mm
Drills, electric/cordless & hand Copper Pipe
Drill sets, high speed wood/metal/masonry - 10mm x 50m
Straight edges - 20mm x 50m
Squares - Copper pipe compatible taps
String lines - 10mm elbows/10mm saddles
Spirit levels - 20mm elbows/20mm saddles
Tech gun (for tech screws) and driver - Joiners, assorted
Safety Gloves/Glasses - Premix cement
Hand files & Handles - Cement 50kg bags x 40 (1 pallet) with angle metal (foundations)
Hacksaws - Lead Lights
Axes, rakes, picks - Chain Saw
Chisels, wood & metal - Mallets
Nuts & Bolts, 5mm and 10mm - String level
Rope, various - Camel Backs
Acro props - Tape measures
Corrugated iron - Wire Cutters
Seizing wire - Sheet metal cutters
Pliers - Screwdrivers
Tinsnips - Sawhorses
Spanners - Masonry Drill (Hilti)
Sockets - 9" Masonry Discs to fit grinder x 40
Earmuffs - Crow bars
Garden hose (plus fittings) - Plasticiser
Portable Generator (240v) - 50m industrial black plastic
Wheel barrows - 50m 'Spaghetti' for masonry
Extension cords - Teflon tape
Oxy/acetylene Unit - Pipe benders/cutters
Dyna Bolts, 100mm x 10mm & 200mm x 12mm - Self-tapping screws, timber/metal various sizes
Cement Mixer - Sledge hammers
Cement Trails and Corners
Fuel Caddies/Jerry Cans
TIMOR COMMUNICATIONS/TV REQUIRMENTS
4/6/8 core (solid)standard telephone cable (+600M)
4 core FLAT cable (+200M)
20 x standard telephones
Coaxial cable 75 Ohm
Ribbon cable 300 Ohm
Coaxial Cable RG 59/50 Ohm
6 way RG 12 modular connectors
4 way RG 11 modular connectors
12 way terminal blocks, large quantity req'd
Silicon crimp lugs, for solid core cable
"F" type, "Male"
"F" Type "Female"
75 Ohm "Male"
75 Ohm "Female"
BNC "Male" solder type
BNC "Female" solder type
Crimp termination, assorted
RCA, Male & Female
RG 11/12 crimping tool
Rechargeable soldering iron
Mini gas torch and gas
Coax crimp tools/Coax strippers
by Paddy Gorman
The Mt Thorley miners have been in dispute with the company over a new enterprise agreement which has led to a number of stoppages. The arbitrary sackings were announced in the middle of negotiations.
Once again, the non-Union scabs were at the top of Rio's so-called merit based system and the senior executive Lodge officials and the local check inspector were consigned by the company to the bottom - and all were sacked.
The CFMEU Mining Division is taking the company to court having lodged 84 unfair dismissal claims.
The sacked mineworkers were not only devastated by news of dismissals but
were equally disgusted by the manner of it. When they turned up for day shift at 7am, those condemned for the sack were individually brought into the main office, told they were sacked for Christmas Eve, but they were to finish up on that day (17/11).
Each miner was then frog-marched by two people to clean out his basket in the bathroom. Those who had arrived in cars were marched to them and ordered off the mine like criminals. So too were those who got a lift to work with mates - the company had hired cars with drivers to get them off the mine immediately.
On the same day, Rio announced a bonus for company shareholders!
Union offers to Assist in Mine Disaster Aftermath
Meanwhile, the CFMEU has pledged to help with inquiries into the tragic deaths this week of four mineworkers at the non-union Northparkes gold and copper mine in NSW.
The mine opened in 1994 and it is operated by the notorious anti-Union North Limited. Even though Northparkes is a non-union mine, the CFMEU believes that our moral obligation to assist people in times of tragedy transcends all other considerations.
Mining union rescue teams were among the first on the scene when the tragedy occurred. At this stage, it appears that the four men were killed in a massive air blast. The NSW Mines Department has announced it will commence an immediate investigation into the tragedy. North has also announced a company inquiry into the deaths.
The CFMEU with almost 120 years experience in metalliferous mining at Broken Hill has written to NSW Mines Minister Eddie Obeid offering our assistance.
The President of the Miners Union in Broken Hill Eddie Butcher said: "Our Union has had enormous experience dealing with metalliferous mining accidents and fatalities and we are prepared to use whatever knowledge we have gained to help in any way we can to determine the cause of the tragedy and help prevent it happening again".
The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union is expecting up to 1,000 workers to attend the paid stop work meeting on December 14 at the Sydney Masonic Centre.
Using the theme: 'A rare chance to make a better future' the meeting will be used to launch campaigns on: the great salary rip off; increasing work loads, an Olympics allowance, a Sydney Allowance (basically a pattern wage claim) and contracting out
LHMU organiser Troy Burton says activists from various areas will speak on each issue, and there will be interactive "colour and noise" components to each campaign such as post cards, stickers, petitions and pledge sheets.
"The motivation we are using to encourage people to attend is very much an "it's time" theme," Burton says.
"The labour market for hotels is currently very tight, with virtually all hotels understaffed. This has meant increasing workloads, but at the same time decreasing fear about job security.
"Our message is that there has never been a better chance to improve working conditions in hotels, and coming to the stop work meeting will send a message to the employers. By simply turning up to the paid stop work meeting, people will be able to make sure that the message sent is loud and clear."
The LHMU has been vigorously organising major CBD hotels over the past 12 months.
by Zoe Reynolds
Ports in NSW and WA commenced on Friday, November 19 and affect the ports of Sydney, Port Kembla and Fremantle in the west. The tug action will affect shipping in Port Botany and Sydney Harbour.
What's at issue? MUA tug delegate, Peter Lamond says key safety and industrial issues are the real reasons behind the dispute:
Lamond, works for the Patrick of the tug industry- Adsteam. Not only has the company attempted to have its 350 employees sign individually to an enterprise agreement currently under negotiation, they are pushing for labour cuts that would leave only one crew on deck during heavy seas or an emergency.
This is despite an ITF international survey on towage showing that four person tug crew is the norm, even after the introduction of new technology.
"Some countries have got magnetic hook ups for the lines," Lamond says. "Here we've got the same tired, old tugs we've had since the 80s. Even the new ones they're getting built don't have the new technology.
"They say the engineer can come on deck and assist, but if the alarm goes off he's straight off to the engineer room leaving deckhands like us in a precarious position. It's unworkable and it's unsafe.
"We've had a tanker run aground off Townsville. We were working in very bad conditions. The line snapped and we had to repair it on the job. It involved everyone on the tug but the skipper, with waves coming over the bow and water gushing everywhere. In sloppy, rough weather you've got one man running the break on the hook and the other fellow sending off lines. If you lose the second man, you're in all sorts of trouble. It would be too dangerous to carry on."
Adsteam, Townsville can do up to seven vessels on a day. When in port all crew are employed full time on maintenance - chipping and painting the tug as well as assisting the engineer with the oil change, bilge cleaning, changing filters etc.
"We're tried to convince the company of the stupidity of cutting crew," says Lamond. "But I think they wanted to push us into a blue. Their only motivation is profit. We're just not prepared to jeopardise people's lives for that."
by Les Carr
The New Year Eve ban will hit Sydney Harbour celebrations as NPWS controls most of the islands and lots of foreshore land around the harbour. Also banned is the collection of revenue - the public can visit parks for free.
Visits by the Premier, Minister, Director-General and Members of Parliament are also banned - none of those lovely publicity events will be staged.
The bans have been imposed because of the refusal of the Director-General to fill vacancies with people recommended by selection panels for district manager jobs.
For instance, of five people recommended for regional managers in Sydney, the Director-General Brian Gilligan refused to appoint four. Across the state, nine recommended people were not appointed.
PSA President Maurie O'Sulliva says it appears everybody is out of step except Mr Gilligan.
"The jobs were advertised externally. The interview panels were properly constituted, with senior people from NPWS and independent panellists from other agencies. Their recommendations were properly made', O'Sullivan says.
PSA members in NPWS are furious at Gilligan's rejection of experienced and competent people , says Maurie O'Sullivan.
The public service has strict laws and procedures to protect merit selection, ensure fairness, stop discrimination, and stop the appointment of cronies.
"This is an unusual case in that the union and members are supporting the management - the selections were made by senior managers - against the decisions of the Director General. And we are supporting the Government's merit selection laws and policy," O'Sullivan says.
Gilligan's refusal to appoint - members see it as a purge - comes on top of months of turmoil in NPWS. The department is undergoing a restructure from 26 districts to 19 regions across the state.
The members of the Public Service Association are refusing to issue parking tickets except in no-stopping zones, clearways, bus zones and disabled parking spaces. The bans were imposed at a stopwork meeting on November 16.
Parking patrol officers have been confronted by a recent push by Local Councils to take over parking regulation enforcement and the $60 million it generates.
Maurie O'Sullivan, President of the Public Service Association, says: "Our members are quite concerned about their future employment."
This situation is worsened by the fact that many members are being approached in the street by Council workers who are adamant that a deal has already been done .
Minister for Police, Paul Whelan, has failed to admit or deny approval of such a plan. He admits that consideration is being given to the proposal. This has added to the uncertainty.
The matter is before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission next Tuesday.
The key element in the story is an Auditor General's report which was released on Wednesday, after much speculation about its contents.
The report generally confirms what the PSA has being saying for ages, that PPOs are mismanaged and neglected by the Police Service, that the Police Service's enforcement of street parking is ineffective, and that the Service had erred in allowing Councils to take control of some areas.
The Auditor General offered four options:
* stick to the status quo;
* Police Service to take responsibility and get its management
* Councils to take over - arrangements would have to be made
to protect the state revenue;
* contract out the service.
The last does not appear to a serious consideration. The PSA favours the second option. As well as looking after PSA members, that option protects the Government revenue and ensures it is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, etc, for all citizens. To hand it over to Councils would make a few Councils rich while most would get no net benefit.
And Councils are unlikely to give the discretion to book or not book which the PPOs have. One Council in Sydney's eastern suburbs pays a hefty bonuses to Ordinance Inspectors based on the number of parking tickets issued. That is, forget the traffic and safety issues, just raise the money.
Police Impose Bans
Meanwhile, police in the Endeavour Region are taking industrial action in response to disputes at both the Newtown and Campsie Local Area Commands.
Despite attempts by the Police Association to negotiate a range of issues at region level, Region management has proceeded to implement a number of changes without consultation.
First Response Agreements, despite being strongly reinforced as a Police Service and Government Policy by Deputy Commissioner Jarratt less than two months ago, are being breached on an almost daily basis throughout the Endeavour Region.
The continued commitment to First Response Agreements across NSW was a Government pre-election pledge that it appears is not going to met by Management in this region. The Association says this is reducing services to the public and police at risk by working with insufficient back up.
Thousands of these workers have been deported since the beginning of November 1999.
"In Burma, civilians face forced labour, forced relocation, rapes, extrajudicial killings and torture by SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) troops," Marj O'Callaghan, APHEDA campaigns officer.
"It's not difficult to understand why hundreds of thousands of these people enter Thailand searching for work and for a better life.
"Once they get to Thailand, however, many have no chance to be recognised as refugees and are sent back to Burma by the Thai authorities. In the last few weeks, there have been reports of some of these workers been killed or raped by SPDC troops when they have returned to Burma," she says.
"There is also the possibility that they will be refused reentry to Burma - to their own country - by Burmese government authorities. These people have nowhere to go, being literally caught between the two countries, neither of which will allow their entry. Many are stranded on islands in the Moei river, which separates Thailand and Burma, with no food, water or shelter. There are reports that some of these people have drowned trying to get back to Thailand" she said.
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad appeals to the government of Thailand to delay the process of immediate and forceful repatriation of Burmese migrant workers on humanitarian grounds. The international community needs to offer solutions to the situation facing these hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers for whom no government or international organisation is taking responsibility. We urge Thailand to seek consultation with the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights in order to find solutions to the ongoing crisis facing Burmese migrant workers.
Australian unionists have expressed strong concern for the Burmese people in their struggles. Through APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad, they have been assisting projects for Burmese refugees on the Thai-Burma border since 1996. These projects support medic training and mobile medical clinics, vocational training for refugee and displaced communities as well as information and education-based radio programs for Shan and Karen speaking refugees and migrant workers in Thailand.
To take action on this issue, send a fax with your concerns to the Thai Prime Minister, Chuan Leekpai, Office of the Prime Minister, Government House, Nakhorn Pathom Road, Bangkok 10300, Thailand Fax: +66 2 280 1443
For further information about supporting projects on the Thai-Burma border, please contact APHEDA on (02) 9264 9343 (phone), (02) 9261 1118 (fax) or mailto:email@example.com.
At 26 per cent of the workforce and rising, Australia's 'casual' work rate is booming and is now the second highest amongst developed countries.
But is this the real casualisation rate? The new report, entitled Choice and Coercion: Women's experiences of casual work, finds that many workers are classified by employers as 'casual' who are not employed on a short-term, irregular or seasonal basis.
About 60 per cent of both men and women who currently work full-time and are catergorised as 'casual' have been with the one employer for over a year.
Women who work part-time are particularly disadvantaged, with some 60 per cent of those classified as 'casual' having been with their current employer for over a year.
Nor is it clear that all casuals are being paid their 'casual loading', which in any event the report says may not adequately compensate them for the uncertainty of their employment and for not having entitlements like holiday, sick and maternity leave.
The report also throws new light on myths about women's high representation among casual workers, including the belief that they prefer casual work to help them balance their family responsibilities.
The report strongly suggests that many women may not be doing short-term, unpredictable work at all, but are classified as 'casuals' by employers who have miscalculated either casual employment costs or their own staffing needs.
The report calls for reassessment of the framework for regulating casual work, and more clarity about types of employment.
The report was produced for the Evatt Foundation by Meg Smith of Labour Market Alternatives, and completes a research project funded by the NSW Department for Women.
It will be launched at 6 pm on Tuesday 30 November, following a Casual Work Seminar at the LHMU Auditorium in Haymarket that commences at 3 pm.
Speakers at the seminar will be Meg Smith, Dr Anne Junor of Canberra University, who will discuss her research on casual work in the banking and finance sectors, Grant Poulton of Australian Business, who will speak about industries and firms using casual workers and provide some employers' perspective, and Naomi Steer from the NSW Labor Council, who will talk on union approaches to casual workers.
CTU President Ross Wilson said working people and trade unions were delighted that New Zealand has a new, Labour-led government.
"Working people throughout the country are very happy today. The CTU wants to thank Helen Clark for her leadership in achieving this victory. We are thrilled that she is New Zealand's first elected woman Prime Minister. The CTU looks forward very much to working with Helen Clark and the new government.
"The election of a Centre-Left government is a victory for New Zealanders from all walks of life. As President of the CTU, I am proud of the part that trade unionists have played in helping to achieve an historic political change."
Ross Wilson congratulated Jim Anderton and the Alliance party on their crucial role in securing a new government.
"There is a very old adage in the Labour movement that unity is strength. The union movement wants to thank Jim Anderton for his determination and success in helping to deliver political unity on the Left."
The Indonesian National Front for Labor Struggle (FNPBI) is a relatively new trade union federation. It includes a range of local worker organizations based in nine cities across Indonesia which have a major manufacturing sector.
The FNPBI was initiated in 1998 after the establishment of KOBAR in Jakarta, DBSU in North Sumatra, SBI in West Java, PPBS in Solo, PBS in Semarang, PPBS in Surabaya (East Java), PPBB in South-Eastern Sulawesi, SPBM in South Sulawesi, PPB-Sultra in North Sulawesi and APSM in Malang (East Java). Together, we are committed to work at the grass roots to improve working people's conditions. We are also part of the democracy movement.
The fact that the FNPBI is regionally based means we can play a major role in organising the labour movement. In this era of increasingly globalized capital, cooperation between worker organisations both here and internationally can only be of benefit to all workers.
At our founding conference, in May 1999, we launched a series of national campaigns including for:
1. 100% wage rise
The minimum wage only covers 60% of the cost of living (about A$2 a day). The last increase of 16% was supposed to cover all workers' needs. Of course, it didn't. Last year, our members in the PT Tyfountex Indonesia (which produces Levis jeans) were laid off because they were planning to hold a month-long strike for a wage rise. The FNPBI also believes that workers should also be able to enjoy a social life outside of work hours, and that their wages should cover this.
2. Lowering of prices
Since the economic crisis hit, prices have doubled. Having signed on to the IMF prescription for economic ``reform'', the government has cut all subsidies, forcing people to pay more for their basic necessities.
3. End all sackings
The economic crisis has forced many companies to close, especially those in the manufacturing sector. There are limited opportunities for semi-skilled workers and most workers have no choice but to seek unskilled work in factories. Workers should not be made to pay for the economic mismanagement of companies.
4. 32-hour week with no loss in pay
Companies wanting to produce more goods should employ more workers. Alternatively, if companies want to maintain the same number of workers, they should be paid overtime. A 32-hour week would also address the need for workers to have some social time at their disposal.
5. End contract labour
Many employers are using the economic crisis to hire and fire workers. The contract system and the fact that workers do not have a strong bargaining position allows companies to do this. Contract labour also allows companies to avoid giving workers their basic rights.
6. Freedom of association
Even though the Indonesian government has enacted many labour laws, including freedom of association, none are really pro-worker. It is still difficult for workers to set up independent unions, even at the plant level. Workers have difficulty registering unions, and in many cases they are still being forced to join a union which is not of their choice.
7. Heavy penalties for offending employers
Some employers manage to avoid being penalised for breaking the laws, instead making workers pay. For instance, many employers have not passed on the 16% wage rise, nor agreed to the freedom of association law.
8. Abolish the dual function of the Indonesian National Army and police (TNI/Polri)
For economic growth, political stability is required. The military still has the power to take part in labour disputes, including in the process of collective bargaining and in strikes, but always to protect employers' economic interests.
9. End violence and oppression in Aceh
Instead of sending material aid to the people of Aceh, Jakarta has been increasing the numbers of troops there. The government calls Aceh a ``Military Operation Area (DOM)''. This is also where the ``dual function'' of TNI/Polri is very visible.
As part of the democracy movement, the FNPBI believes that workers should support an end to all violence and oppression.
The FNPBI is not affiliated to any organisation, either sectorally or regionally. However we are keen to work with all organisations which are also working to improve workers' conditions. To this end, the FNPBI is affiliated to FSU (Solidarity Unions Forum) which also includes the SBSI (Indonesian Prosperity Unions), Sarbumusi (Indonesian Islamic Unions) , PPMI (Indonesian Islamic Workers Association), Fokuba (Banking and Finance Workers Union) and SPSI-Reformasi (the break-way group from the All Indonesian Trade Unions).
We also work with organisations which help create opportunities for the FNPBI to apply its program on the ground. One such organisation is SIGTUR (Southern Initiative on Globalisation Trade Union Rights) which recently gave the FNPBI the opportunity to present a report on the Indonesian trade union movement at its recent conference hosted by COSATU in South Africa.
FNPBI is in the process of collaborating with the ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unionsspell out) and the FNV (spell out) in the Netherlands.
In August, following my release from jail (for the ``crime'' of organising workers), I was able to tour Australia at the invitation Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET). Together with the FNPBI's international officer Romawaty Sinaga, we were able to meet with many trade unions and officials. I also had the opportunity to talk to tens of thousands of rank-and-file unionists when I was invited to speak on the official platform at three mass rallies organised by the ACTU against Peter Reith's new industrial relations laws.
The FNPBI is keen to establish closer links with Australian trade unions, and the ASIET-sponsored tour was a first important step in this process. We would like to initiate the next step and invite you to visit Indonesia to learn more about the challenges facing trade unionists here.
Together with ASIET, we invite you to participate in May Day 2000. The exposure tour, which would last about 10-12 days, is being coordinated by ASIET at the Australian end together with ourselves. We envisage that the costs would be around A$1800 which would include airfares and hotel accommodation.
We would seek to provide you with an intensive exposure experience, which would include participating in May Day rallies, meeting a range of trade unionists in a variety of work places, and attending some discussions and meetings, both with rank-and-file workers and FNPBI officials. We also envisage that you could participate in some of the monthly educationals and training we provide for workers. We are also talking to the ICFTU about other unions joining the exposure tour.
To find out more about the May Day 2000 tour, I urge you to contact your local ASIET committee.
Looking forward to meeting you in Indonesia,
Hi good people,
Just a note regarding references to books or other publications.
Would Workers Online feel or be percieved to be compromised at having an order link where the book or publication is mentioned?
I would personally have ordered a copy of AB Shostak's - Cyber Union if it were available there.
Maybe it could be a commission revenue for your operation, it's just a thought.
Could you point me to where to purchase a copy of this book as I am looking for something to be involved in with the union movement and that field may be it, any other references to the subject of Cyber Union moves or activities would be appreciated.
Yours Rob Clark.
Ed's Reply Art tells us his distributor in Oz is DA Information Services at 648 Whitehorse Road in >Mitcham, Victoria 3132. Phone: (3) 9210-7777. Fax: (3) 9210-7788.
Other works by Eric Lee can be purchased through his Labourstart site - www://www.labourstart.org
More generally, we're planning to incorporate an online bookshop into our Christmas revamp...
For Peetz Sake
I think Jon Shapiro has misunderstood my proposal to advance the republican cause; perhaps I was too brief. My proposal is that, at some stage in the future, there be two referendums, in succession:
(1) a referendum for a republic: to amend the constitution to replace the Queen with an Australian Head of State, along similar lines to the recent one (maybe with some fine tuning to the selection or dismissal processes) - but with the proviso that the second referendum must be held within some defined period (say three years);
(2) a referendum to further amend the constitution to have the Australian Head of State directly elected.
If referendum (1) fails, then referendum (2) would not be held. If referendum (2) fails, we end up with a 'minimalist' model republic. If both pass, we have a republic with direct election of a president. If (1) is passed but (2) is not held, then (1) has no valid effect.
Monarchists will vote no to (1). Minimalists will vote yes to (1) and no to (2). Direct electionists will vote yes to both.
Why not a plebiscite first? Really, it's just an expensive opinion poll that would show what we already know: on the surface, the majority view favours direct election. But when you put the direct election model (or any individual model) to the ballot, the monarchists would just run the same old tactics: join forces with the 'other' republican faction and run a scare campaign. Support for the direct election model (ie for a party political president) is very soft, as shown by the deliberative poll, and would be very vulnerable to another anti-politician campaign coordinated by the monarchists.
Given the method for constitutional change set out in section 128, the people's clear wish for a republic will be eternally frustrated if single referendums, based on variants of either the direct electionist or minimalist models, are all that is put to the vote.
The two stage proposal is the only way I can see of getting both of the republican factions to vote 'yes' to a republic.
If the two stage model is followed, my expectation is that (1) would just succeed but that (2) would not. But at least we would have a republic.
Beer on Wine. Fine
In reply to Declan O'Neill. You lost me Mr O'Neill when you filled your letter with personal invective. You have only reinforced the stereotypical image of a western suburbs worker who's only defence is to shout down their opponents.
BTW, I like beer. But I don't mind a glass of wine with the evening meal :-}
"Union Bosses" as used by Peter Reith in an attempt to divide union members from their leadership. Also used to deride the electyed leaders in the eyes of the public generally.
Shorter Oxford describes "boss" as a master, manager or overseer. Unqualified, "boss" is a negative term. This ply has been used in Canada and the USE for many years. I worked there for 35 years. "Why do you need a third party to act on your behalf?" "My door is always open" are also pro forma devices used by the anti-union bodies in North America.
It's an uphill battle, I know. But good luck.
I read with interest this morning Peter Lewis interview of Marc Belanger the on line pioneer. I recall my participation in 1981 in a technology conference of white collar trade unions organised by FIET which was attended by insurance and bank unions. I had two other trade union colleagues from india with me.
After my return I began to speak about the possibilty of total computerisation of banking and insurance to my large constituency which then was over 1,50,000. Whereever I went I spoke about the rapid technological changes in the pipeline and asked bank employees to take note of the changes that will come to India pretty soon. Leftist unions
went on saying they will resist introduction of new technology.Tthey did resist for a short while. By 1985 it was rammed into their throats.For every change to new technology they did trade off to convince their rank and file that they are getting something in return.
I have been trying to convince trade unionists to quickly join the internet revolution. Managements have taken to it Trade Unions are slow.
In a international discussion on the internet on Labour 2000 I had occasion last week to suggest almost the same thing Marc has suggested. A Labour college not at the international leve alone l but at national levels which will confer recognised degrees and diplomas to trade unionists, Labour education must begin in schools. I think trade unions should begin talking to students in the schools and colleges about labour movement as these constitute future workers.
At 65 I am trying to learn HTML to be able to upload labour matter on the first Labour Web site I am trying to build. I have not succeeded yet.I will before long.
Labour movement itself talks of its own set back -a self fulfilling prophecy. I think labour movement is becoming defeatist. There is hope still. They have to change and accept all the modern tools managements use.
L.V.Subramaniam Editor Labour Herald, Herald Features President Indian Managerial & Professional Employees Centre(IMPEC)
Hit Them Where It Hurts
I wish to suggest an alternative to striking to the federation. I firmally believe that we are not hitting the goverment were it hurts.
I think we need to look at the programs that are already in place in schools such as PSSA and the Year 2000 Olympics and maybe put a ban on these programs. This would not only effect the schools but also organisations like SOCOG who depend on School for so much of their promotion and for helping them by supplying art work etc.
It would be better for us to get the support of parent as at the moment we are only getting them off side. We also need to highlight better that these strikes aren't just over money.
Most of the parents I have spoken to have no idea why we are striking. They need to know how their children will be affected. The strikes are only giving the government more money to aid their fight against us.
Our Own Fault
Why is it that we, the workers, constantly allow the extreme right wing, in the guise of purported labour politicians, to destroy our working conditions and quality of life. The fault is our own.
Why?? Simple. Take the case of the current dispute with the Carr government and the teachers. This government has over three years to run. Every teacher in NSW can join the Labor Party and be entitled to vote during preselection ballots for the candidates (a two year membership requirement).
The anti-union/anti-teacher incumbents can be removed and real, genuine and committed unionists can be elected in their stead. All laws and enforced awards can then be repealed. To follow this up, there is probably no reason why the very same teachers (unionists) cannot join the liberal national parties and do the same thing to them.
I look forward to a reply and perhaps even the beginning of a campaign!!!
Alwynn Jones mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Cherie Burton, the Member for Kogarah, requires as office manager for a job sharing position (two days per week - Monday and Tuesday).
Experience necessary and must have knowledge of Microsoft Windows and a willingness to learn Office Specific Products.
Application in writing to Marryanne Stuart, PO Box 482, Kogarah 1485 or call 9587 9684
by Peter Lewis
The first question is: can you have a master plan for industry in a global economy?
I don't think you can have one master plan for every industry, but you can have a commitment to being active about helping the industries that are doing well to succeed, and supporting the ones that are struggling. You can have a framework of policies that's committed to saying: I think there's a role for manufacturing industry in Australia in the 21st Century, and we want to get the policies in place to make it work.
What criteria do you use for deciding which industries are going to be the ones that you put your effort into?
Well, it's not really for government to choose. I mean, there are some where the mood is that this is opportune for great success and everyone uses information technology and bio-tech as the examples. And for ordinary Australian workers they sound a bit obscure, but there are factories producing - up in Penrith there's a Utilux factory producing really high quality IT products for the whole world. In Ryde there's a company producing medical equipment and exporting it to the world. There are manufacturing jobs and service jobs and quality high wage jobs flowing from those sectors, but we can't take our eye off the ball in areas like cars and TCF. They are where a lot of Australians get their jobs and in 10 years time there'll still be a lot of Australians getting their jobs there, so you need to look at a framework that helps those sectors survive and where they are strong, to thrive.
That seems to be a bit of a departure from the early 90s policy, which seemed to be that the market should be the decider of industry policy. You get rid of tariffs and you see where the market goes. You are saying that that is not the solution in itself?
I don't believe that just allowing the market to determine is sufficient. You can't pretend, if it was ever possible, it's no longer possible to pretend that you can make - can fly in the face of global pressures. What you need to do is help people succeed globally. It creates more opportunities than it creates threats, so you have got to help people take advantage of the opportunities and assist people to meet the threats. You can't build barriers to keep the rest of the world out. They won't work, and they'll be counter productive. But you've got to acknowledge that when you open up to the world - which I support - some people are not in as strong a position as others to compete and they need assistance.
Is there a sense in which there has to be a balance between featherbedding some industries and putting money into growing other ones?
Well the government can't make any industry succeed. There's no policy where a government can make an industry succeed. It's got to be the companies and the workers in the industry make it succeed. All we can do is make it possible.
If you look at the two most controversial areas - the automobile sector and textile, clothing and footwear, there is essentially a bipartisan policy in place until the year 2005 to give them strong support. We think the government is a bit silly in not proposing to have a review of those programmes before they finish in 2005, and if we are elected we will have that review.
But we've got a chance now, because that key tariff argument is essentially settled for five years, to move on to look at some new ways of helping manufacturing to succeed and they are not really big expenditure items. The money isn't there and money won't make it work. It's about helping the development of new products and new companies through venture capital assistance for small businesses. Through research and development to develop new products. Through helping people build better businesses through advisory services. Export assistance. Lifting the quality of design so Australian products are at the cutting edge. Those are the sort of things.
If you pretend that somehow or other - if you rip a billion dollars out of the taxpayers pockets and disburse it to a lot of industries you are going to make failures succeed - you can't. Government can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Success will be driven by workers and companies together, committed to success and being flexible, modern, competitive. But if the government doesn't provide a supportive framework - it doesn't help out in times of crisis - then it's denying it's responsibility.
Let me just give you one example. You've got a crisis in the automobile sector at the moment because of the transition arrangements for the GST. It's leading to a buyers strike. Workers in Victoria are being stood down for up to 12 days in the next three months, costing them hundreds of dollars, and less obviously, workers in smaller factories are also suffering. You know - all the automobile parts and retailing and car detailing and all those areas, and the government's response is to do nothing - and it's just not good enough.
So, where do the fault lines exist between Labor and the Coalition on industry policy?
Well, the principal area in the next few years is going to be about those modern elements of a new policy to make sure we have a manufacturing sector. They are the things I mentioned before about research and development; about research about new products; about better products; better businesses and assisting people to export more effectively to be part of the world market.
It's those sorts of things where the government has cut back and where the future holds the prospect of more jobs for Australian workers in businesses that are growing. A senior union official said to me the other day: You can't have good jobs for your members if they are not working for companies that aren't succeeding. And that's right and there is a growing recognition that those two things have to go together. And you can't have companies succeed without decent jobs for the workers in them . And you can't have decent jobs for the workers without the company succeeding.
We've got to get that message out. We want a more cooperative approach to the future of industry, where workers get a chance to have a say and unions as well as employers and government in where things might go in the future and at the moment I think too many workers feel too locked out of what the future holds for them.
I interviewed Peter Reith a couple of weeks ago where he made the claim that there was no longer any other side between capital and anyone - there's no side between capital and labour any more. It seems like you are almost subscribing to that view as well.
Well, Peter knows there's a side because he's on one side and he is not called "Partisan Pete" for nothing. There are people who try to run their businesses by the old method of just driving down costs and that means cutting back on benefits for the people who work for them. Making their lives worse and their conditions either reduced or less secure.
Now that's not the way of the future. There'll always be conflict because sometimes the interests of employees and employers come into conflict and there needs to be a process - both an organisational process through unions and a structured process through government legislation -- to resolve those conflicts but the industries that succeed will succeed when each recognises that neither one can succeed without the other.
To that extent, there is common interest of course. How can you have a good job in a company that's going broke? I mean, if the company is going to go out the door next week, things can't be too terrific for you. But how can you have a long term successful business if everybody who works in it is angry, frustrated, struggling in the rest of their life because the way that they go about doing their job and what they get paid for it is so bad that they can't enjoy the rest of their life?
So, where that mutual recognition exists and where people look cooperatively in a tripartite way about planning the future for the industry, then there are big prospects for cooperative development of Australian industry - and John Button showed the way for that a bit. I mean it wasn't easy. It wasn't as if when he restructured and saved the steel industry in the 80s there was no arguments, but there was an active role for the government in resolving those arguments and setting some common guidelines and directions. A modern version of that is what is required. You can't go back to the 80s. What you need is lots of 21st Century versions.
How does a 21st Century vision differ from the 80s?
Well in the 80s I think you could do things more within national boundaries - and not have to take so much recognition of the international pressures. Those days are gone. I mean money moves in nanoseconds. Goods, services, products, people move around the world much more quickly, and of course people trade on the internet now. You can buy all sorts of products all around the world, so you can't have the same old mechanisms, but you can have the same framework and the same aspirations and just have modern mechanisms for achieving it.
Of course a lot of Button's work was to ensure that BHP continued to operate in Australia. I guess part of that was to protect a large Australian company. How important in the future will be the nationality of the investment?
I don't think it is so important. Steel is a very good example at the moment. And I think the unions in the centre are approaching it quite intelligently. It's not a question of whether BHP owns those plants. It's a question of whether they are owned and operated in Australia by people who are committed to them. So that they invest in them and create jobs and exports and will create a viable steel industry out of the bits BHP wants to shed. That can be a very exciting and positive element, and if we get too hung up about saying oh well, we'd rather it was owned by what used to be the Big Australian , well we're focussing on the hole and not the doughnut. I mean the substance is we want a steel industry employing Australians, producing products for the rest of Australian industry that are good quality products that are produced by Australians with decent jobs who can succeed in Australia and internationally.
We can do that but you have got to work out what your goal is. At the end of the day in industry policy the goal is to make it a centrepiece of a high wage, high skill strategy for the future of Australia. When you look around the world there are essentially two strategies for increasing employment. There's a high skill high wage strategy and a low skill low wage strategy. the government is essentially pursuing a low skill low wage strategy. All their proposals about jobs are about changing what happens for the way people are employed. Whether they have got a job - the nature of the job - the conditions of the job. Now, you can't ignore that but the country where the government has got a bit of a human face is looking at how you can use education and training and skills and research and design to create high skill high wage niches for Australian companies and Australian products around the world. And that's what we want to do. We don't want to go down that low skill low wage route.
Have you learned any lessons from BHP?
It's been very interesting. The reaction of the workers has been very interesting. I think the impression I have had is that people are more committed to creating a successful industry that they can have a good job in than they are to one particular employer any more. And I think that's wise. I think they are being smart and people see if they can make what used to be this section of BHP into a section of a viable new business that somebody buys or invests in, then they have got prospects for the future. And that's terrific. I mean, whether it's in Whyalla or Newcastle or the existing operation at Port Kembla or out at Rooty Hill, those things are important for the future of those workers. And when you go to other manufacturing plants, their success depends upon getting good products from BHP.
What role do you see industry super funds having as a source of local investment?
They are very important. I've been in a lot of discussions with super funds in general and industry super funds in particular. Now, they have always got to serve their primary purpose, which is to provide retirement income for workers. They can't just spray the money around in good causes. They have got to invest it in a way that creates enough income to pay decent superannuation benefits to workers when they retire. But all the signs are that you can do that in the way that helps new businesses develop, new jobs be created - whether it's the new high tech companies that are employing Australians or whether it's investment in new roads and railways and other sorts of infrastructure. That is the way you can both get a decent return on your investment and create jobs for workers and for their kids. And that's what people want their money to do, so they are very important.
They are not milking cows. We can't just direct them - why don't you go and invest over there. That would be socially a nice thing to do. If it's not going to deliver decent incomes for - retirement incomes for workers.
Isn't there a difficulty when the biggest returns on any analysis come from putting your money into markets and just letting the international global trade of money generate your profits?
The successful funds will always have some percentage of their money in new high tech businesses. They will have some of their money in infrastructure and building new infrastructure from which they can make a dollar as well as help other businesses to succeed. Some in the share market. Some in property. Some invested just in cash management or whatever. There will always be a spread but what we want is to make sure that some of that money is going into decent programmes to create new businesses and new jobs for Australians. You see, Australians have always been good at generating new ideas. What we have to get better at is turning those new ideas into jobs.
Just on the States. It seems that every State Premier these days is running a bid against the other States to attract business into their jurisdiction. Does that cut across the objectives of a national industry policy?
Well, you would always wish that there wasn't money wasted bidding one State against another and I think we would want to have a dialogue with the States about how we could minimise that, but Premiers are ambitious for their States and they are elected to do things for the people in those States and you can never stop them trying to do better for their State. That's why they get elected.
I don't just mean that cynically. I mean, that is - in a Democracy - that's what people want you to do. They elect you and that's your job. They say, we want you to get some jobs here. And if you say, oh I'm sorry, I won't try, people feel you are neglecting your duty. So it is a difficult balance to strike, but we would want, through the Premier's Conference or the Council of Australian Government, to get the States together and see if we could get agreement to limit the amount of money that sometimes just gets wasted, where there's no new jobs created, they are just transferred from one part of Australia to another.
Finally, where do you see the growth areas being over the next 10 to 20 years? Where are the jobs for young Australians going to be down the track?
Well, we'll be actually putting out some documents about where we think the jobs of the future are going to be early in the new year. But the key thing is the jobs are going to be... What you are going to have to do to get those jobs is to be well trained. That doesn't mean you have got to have PhD. It might mean you have a diploma from the TAFE or an apprenticeship, but you have got to have training, skill and accept that probably the future isn't in lifelong commitment to one particular firm. It is clear that there is a lot of growth opportunities in some of the new industries, but the new technologies are creating new opportunities in traditional industries. You see, you look at what's happening in the car industry with Australia's capacity with new metals and new technologies to be part of the global car market.
I think there are a lot of jobs. I think when you look at what we call "industries of the future" which is what industries are going to be creating new jobs and new investment in 10 years time, in 2010, you can see that of course IT and biotech and those things will be creating a lot of jobs. There will be a lot of jobs in the services sector, but there will still be more than a million Australians working in manufacturing and it's their future that a government can perhaps do most to help.
Gillian Davies - NSW Nurses Association
"You could sell ice blocks to Eskimos"! A saying I have become used to hearing in my seven years as an organiser with the New South Wales Nurses' Association. However, nothing could have prepared me for the scope and intensity of the Craft of Organising and Recruitment course I undertook in 1999. Along with the subsequent realisation that whilst I was selling some ice blocks I was spending more time showing the Eskimos how to keep them frozen.
I have enjoyed a broad education and a varied employment history that I believe has given me an extensive knowledge of employee and work related issues.
On completion of my nursing degree in 1987 I was employed in a variety of nursing positions in the public and private sectors. I gained extensive personal insight into the particular issues experienced by nurses.
In 1993 I was appointed to the position of Organiser in the NSWNA. Comprehension soon dawned on what a major career leap I had taken. The learning 'curve' would be better illustrated by comparing my first year as an organiser with climbing Everest. I soaked up information and developed skills over a period of 6 years until I was confident in my ability to perform as an organiser.
I have organised in the metropolitan private health area, a combined public/private area in the rural sector and am currently in the Illawarra region. I have a commitment to ensuring the rights of nurses and natural justice. A proven record of resolution of workplace and individual issues had the effect of increasing financial membership and workplace representation in all areas.
I considered my transfer to the Illawarra in 1998 to be both a challenge and a compliment. A challenge in that the Illawarra had a known 'difficult' industrial history and a compliment in that my General Secretary had confidence in my ability to meet that challenge.
The Illawarra has a strong trade union movement identity and membership. The private health sector however appeared to actively discourage union membership and I knew that recruitment in this sector could be my nemesis. One of my strategies in tapping into this market was participation in the Craft of Organising and Recruitment course.
PUTTING THEORY INTO PRACTICE
Using the public sector initially, I mapped a large health facility and arranged smaller, easy to manage, meetings. I identified activists who, by putting them in touch with the branch executive, were able to divide the workload so no one person felt 'put upon' by union activities. Despite the perception that a particular hospital had 100% membership, the new, 'on the ground' activists were able to sign up new members, and continue to be seen as a union resource person on their individual wards and units.
Nursing homes, where our greatest membership potential lies in the Assistant in Nursing classification are more difficult to 'map'. Identifying a 'good time' to arrange visits can be frustrating and time consuming. The visits may prove to be unsuccessful in the low number of nurses attending. I realised that I had to arrange visits in an 'employer acceptable' way. I knew that the larger employer groups employed nurse educators. I contacted one of them by telephone to advise her that I was able to visit the workplace and present inservice sessions on a number of nursing and professional, as well as, of course, industrial topics and we were able to agree on a date there and then. After the first session there was a 'snowball' effect to other nursing homes throughout the region.
Not surprisingly, the private sector likes to have 'free training'. I request that the sessions have at least ten nurses and the educators ensure nurses attend from other facilities to have maximum attendees. The nurses return to their respective nursing homes talking about the visit and taking Association information back. Managers of those facilities then contact me to arrange a visit rather than the other way around. As the word spread, relationships with employers and managers were established. The union presence was seen in a positive way which potential members quickly realised. I was able to fully utilise skills learnt to wrap up with the recruitment message and finalise the transaction with completed application forms. Within a few short months the Illawarra Area had 10 new branches and 209 new members.
My modus operandi, like many organisers, was 'it'll be alright on the night'. During the course I learnt the very important lessons of listening, preparing, focus and agendas. I was able to see my place in the bigger picture in a bigger world. It is not just about being an organiser but recognising my place within the Nurses' Association and the wider union movement. It is about effectively utilising my influence in the collective whilst recognising the individual.
Through the past few weeks of industrial unrest in the Illawarra I believe I have remained objective and focused. I have been able to set agendas and time frames with confidence. I have realised that I cannot and must not 'service' in this instance. The members had already identified their issue and I was able to facilitate without interfering. They all contributed individual skills in order to plan strategies and move forward. Most importantly however, at the end of the meetings I realised that I did not have any tasks to complete. I thought it would be difficult to 'let go' but it has proved extremely satisfying for me and I believe a worthwhile learning experience for the members.
Australia is experiencing a turbulent industrial period that will continue, I believe, for some time. There is an absolute need to reinvent the union movement to make it relevant and appealing. Learning skills in the art and craft of organising has opened my eyes to the huge potential market and the place I have in the revitalising process both in nursing and the general population.
I would relish this opportunity to network with my international colleagues to learn first hand how the union movement is meeting the challenge head on in other countries. Meeting dedicated unionists and sharing organising experiences will encourage me to bring the dedication and commitment back to Australia to share with my nursing and trade union colleagues.
NOMINATE NOW! - Nominations for Organiser of the year close on Wednesday, December 8. Winner announced at the Labor Council's Annual Executive Dinner on Wednesday, December 15
by Ray Markey
Wollongong, 2-4 October 1999 - This conference attracted 137 delegates from throughout Australia to the Wollongong Town Hall and Community Centre over the Labour Day long weekend, with the conference theme of Labour and Community.
The conference, which was the first to be held outside a capital city, was hosted by the Illawarra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, in which members of the University play a major role.
The president of the Illawarra branch of the society, Associate Professor Ray Markey of the Department of Economics at the University of Wollongong, was the conference organiser. Other members of the organising committee from the University of Wollongong included Mr Rob Hood of the Department of Economics (secretary of the Illawarra branch of the society), Ms Frances Laneyrie (Department of Management) and Ms. Shirley Nixon a member of the university council (and the vice president of the Illawarra branch of the society). The organising committee also included a number of community representatives: Neville Arrowsmith (a former university employee), Margaret Bronneberg, Val Dolan and Bronwyn James (all graduates or current students of the University of Wollongong).
The vice chancellor of the University of Wollongong, Professor Gerard Sutton, generously supported the conference with a Challenge Grant enabling the employment of Ms Robyn Troughton as an administrative assistant. The Department of Economics, and the Labour and Human Resource Program of the International Business Research Institute at the University of Wollongong also provided substantial assistance. Further sponsorship was provided by the Amalgamated Manufacturing Workers Union, Australian Education Union, Croatian Democratic Union, Grand United Order of Oddfellows, Illawarra Arab Sports Association, Labor Council of NSW, NSW Joint Coal Board, NSW Nurses' Association, and Public Service Association of NSW.
The broad level of support indicated by this list of sponsors emphasised the community aspect of the conference. Mary Davis welcomed delegates on behalf of the indigenous community of the Illawarra. The Illawarra Arab Sports Association organised a performance of Arabian dancing by young girls at the dinner, as part of its sponsorship. A special exhibition of Labour and Community art works was curated by the Wollongong City Gallery and opened during the conference by Gregor Cullen of the School of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. The City Library displayed an exhibition of Labour Heritage collected by Illawarra Branch treasurer, Neville Arrowsmith, a number of unions provided banners for the conference, the Illawarra Folk Club organised a special show the evening before the conference to introduce delegates to the mood with Songs of Struggle , and Jeff Kevin and his students in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong gave a special performance for delegates of Strike Me Lucky, especially developed around the conference theme. The mixture of university and community input, and the site for the conference at the Wollongong Town Hall and Community Centre, confirmed the marriage of Town and Gown in this major national venture.
Professor Markey stated that the Community theme of the conference was evident in the subject matter, activities and participants of the conference in ways which represented a new departure for conferences of this kind. He said that "we mean community in its broadest sense, to include the notions of workplace community, regional and civic community, racial and ethnic community, republicanism and a national community, and the international community of labour - from 'workers of the world unite!' to 'globalisation'. Whilst we recognise the importance of unions and political parties as an expression of the labour movement, we also wish to broaden the focus to other community organisations such as cooperatives, friendly societies, church groups, and the business community. The conference was intended to be a festival - a historic and cultural event in its own right", claimed Professor Markey, "and we hope that it will be part of a healing process for the divisions which occur in the labour movement and the community".
The mix between academic and more community inspired papers, also confirmed this theme, with a total of over 50 papers (31 refereed and 22 general stream), most published beforehand in the official Conference Proceedings. Sessions included: Labour & Other Classes, The Creation of Tradition, Working Class Community, Gender & Labour, Trade Union History, The Cold War, Race & Labour, Towards a Global Labour History, Free & Unfree Immigrant Labour, The Role of Labour Historians, Labour Councils, Labour Intellectuals, The 1930s Depression, The Labour Community as an Alternative Public Sphere, Labour Disputes, Public Space/Public Sphere - the Geography of Labour Communities, and Secret Societies and the Labour Movement. The final session of the conference on the Monday morning departed from the norm in that it finished on a particularly high note as a result of the inspiring papers organised by Bob James in a session on ÔSecret SocietiesÕ, and those by Janis Bailey and Kurt Iveson on Public Space and Protest. In addition, Ms. Jo Kowalczyk, who is majoring in Industrial Relations for her M.Com. at the University of Wollongong, was awarded the Perth branch Paddy Troy Memorial Essay Prize (worth $500) at the conference dinner, for her essay comparing the maritime disputes of 1998 and 1890, originally written as part of her work for ECON 953 'Political Economy of Australian Wage Determination', taught by Professor Markey. Four Certificates of Recognition from the Illawarra Branch of the society were also awarded for contributions to labour history as participant and recorder, to Irene and Neville Arrowsmith, Shirley Nixon and George Peterson.
The Federal ALP Shadow Minister for Finance, Mr Lindsay Tanner, delivered the opening keynote address on 'Learning from History: New Challenges to the Labour Movement'. Professor Markey said that the organisers were thrilled to have Mr Tanner as a keynote speaker, because "he has played a major part in rethinking the program of the ALP for the 21st century. This is consistent with our intentions that the conference should not only celebrate the past, but also contemplate the role of Labour and the Community beyond 2000".
The other keynote speakers were Professor Eileen Yeo from the University of Sussex, speaking on 'Labour and Community, Past and Future: Or Why Merrie (White, Male) England and Mateship Are Not Enough', and Dr Pat O'Shane, Chancellor of the University of New England and Magistrate of NSW, who spoke on 'For the People? Australian Democracy in Crisis - A Layperson's Viewpoint'.
Meeting immediately after the conference conclusion, the National Executive of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History congratulated the organisers, with a number of its members declaring the conference 'the best ever held by the Society'.
Copies of the conference Proceedings, including refereed and general stream papers, are available from the Department of Economics at the University of Wollongong for $20.
by Brett Solomon
At the Parliament, activists from around the world will meet and exchange ideas on how to address local and universal challenges for the new millennium. The Parliament is planned to coincide with the Sydney Paralympics, in Sydney Australia, October 2000.
The Parliament is an international youth declaration of the need to act together to effect positive social change. The Parliament is a vehicle for the world's youth to develop the specific actions needed to implement improvements and set directions for the new millennium. Delegates will have a unique opportunity to put forward their ideas for building a diverse and sustainable human society and to seek youthful solutions to global problems. The Parliament will discuss the creation and maintenance of employment opportunities for all young people, regardless of gender or social class. It will also discuss the provision of acceptable working conditions, employment-related resources and training, and highlight the value of the paid and unpaid work of young people. The Parliament has been selected as an official preparatory meeting for the Youth Employment Summit 2001, to be held in conjunction with the UN and the World Bank.
The Parliament expresses alternative perspectives to the current official agenda, offering ideas which challenge the status quo, existing power structures and thinking of the old millennium. It provides support, encouragement and a high-profile stage on which young people can express themselves and exchange strategies for addressing local and universal challenges. The Parliament is also dedicated to teaching delegates new skills which will enable them to better pursue their local objectives. It gives a youthful and vibrant impetus to the conceptualization and realization of purposeful change. This is an opportunity for young people from all over the world to meet and understand their similarities and different realities. The Parliament will be held in three languages, including English.
Together delegates, aged 15 to 28, will create a diverse representation of the world's youth. They will speak as advocates for significant issues, rather than as ambassadors for their own countries. The Parliament consciously incorporates young people of all backgrounds, regardless of level of activism, accomplishment or formal education. It involves delegates who campaign for a wide variety of causes, such as anti-youth suicide activists from regional Australia; environmental campaigners working for a cleaner Ganges in India; adolescents protesting against the conscription of teenage soldiers in Sierra Leone; graffiti artists in New York promoting the rights of teenagers; and Pakistani street sweepers who deal with racism and class inequities.
The Parliament's initial agenda focuses on three areas of importance to young people, and will progressively be established through a collaborative process between organisers and delegates. At the Parliament, delegates will participate in workshops and plenary sessions and as a result, will make specific proposals related to the issues of:
· Breaking the Poverty Cycle - considers the necessity of providing basic education, access to new technology and employment opportunities for youth. Youth employment will be discussed in its own right and to contribute to the proposed Youth Employment Summit 2001.
· Youth in Conflict - addresses the needs of young people in violent situations, the promotion of violence, and the means by which young people may learn to peaceably resolve conflict.
· Cultural Activism - explores the importance of the recognised cultural expression of young people. It looks at the relationships between artistic vision and the affirmation of indigenous, ethnic and cultural identities.
In order to further the goals of the International Youth Parliament 2000, each delegate will return home as a Youth Ambassador for the Parliament. Delegates will provide documentation of the Parliament's resolutions and plans for action to their governments, opposition parties and other significant local and national bodies.
There will be opportunities for delegates to reconvene the Parliament and to establish similar regional forums. The design of the Parliament ensures that effective action will result from the discussion of each agenda item. An International Youth Parliament network will record specific progress on achieving the Parliament's resolutions.
The Parliament is a global event attracting world media. There will be an international press gallery and the decisions and resolutions of the Parliament will be publicised. Parliament information will also be available to the global community through the Parliament website http://www.caa.org.au/parliament
For more information or to express interest in being a delegate, check out the website on www.caa.org.au/parliament or mailto:email@example.com.
by Bernadette Keefe
Since 1988 1st December has been a day bringing messages of compassion, hope, solidarity and understanding about AIDS to every country in the world, North and South, East and West.
World AIDS Day emerged from the call by the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention in January 1988 to open channels of communication, strengthen the exchange of information and experience, and forge a spirit of social tolerance.
Since then, World AIDS Day has received the support of the World Health Assembly, the United Nations system, and governments, communities and individuals around the world. Each year, it is the only international day of coordinated action against AIDS.
Facts and figures about HIV/AIDS in Australia.
* The number of reported cases of newly acquired HIV infection in 1993 - 1998 has remained stable at 150-200 infections per year.
*· It is estimated that 450 cases of newly acquired HIV infection occur in Australia each year.
* The number of people living with HIV infection (including AIDS) in Australia is estimated to be 11,800. There are now more people than ever living with HIV/AIDS.
* Over 1000 fewer AIDS cases have occurred than would have been predicted had there been no improvements in therapy for HIV infection.
* Median survival has increased following an AIDS diagnosis from 19.7 months in 1995 to 27.7 months.
* The annual number of AIDS diagnosis in Australia has dropped from a peak of 950 cases in 1994 to an estimated 348 cases in 1998.
* The annual number of diagnosis of HIV infection has also continued to decline to around 660 in 1998.
Statistics from the Annual Surveillance Report 1999 National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research Editors
The AIDS Council of NSW is desperately seeking volunteers to sell Red Ribbons to raise funds that provide education, care and support for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
ACON's main fundraising activity for the year is Red Ribbon selling.
Our selling days are Friday November 26, Saturday November 27 and on World AIDS Day Wednesday December 1.
ACON can also supply you with counter boxes you can put in your reception area for donations.
For more information on Red Ribbon phone 9206 2058 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
by Andrew Casey
There is widespread speculation around the capital about what effect these corruption charges will have on a fractured Indonesian union movement. There are now said to be some 20 different union federations, and 47 political parties trying to form unions in Indonesia.
The spread of organised labour in Indonesia reflects in part a huge growth in the manufacturing sector, as foreign investors have moved in to take advantage of cheap labour.
Probably the most infamous of the foreign investors has been Reebok who recently admitted that their Indonesian workplaces had mistreated their employees.
The top unionist reportedly about to be charged with corruption is Bomer Pasaribu.
Bomer Pasaribu, now the Minister for Manpower in the new Indonesian Government of President Abdurrahman Wahid, was the former President of the pro-Government FSPSI national trade union centre.
The FSPSI, of which Bomer Pasaribu is still an executive member, was the only officially recognised labor union during the 32 year rule of President Soeharto.
The respected English-language Jakarta Post has over the last fortnight reported the corruption rumours a number of times in their news pages.
According to the Jakarta Post the Minister allegedly misused funds from the state-owned PT Jamsostek, which ran social security programs for workers. The official FSPSI was housed in buildings owned by PT Jamsostek.
During the last year, in the lead up to the collapse of the Soeharto regime, the FSPSI split into two factions.
The old guard faction was led by Bomer Pasaribu. The Reformasi FSPSI faction were ejected from the PT Jamsostek owned official trade union HQ, and starved of funds when they set up their new national trade union centre.
The official FSPSI was never a monolithic grouping. For the last decade there has been tensions within FSPSI between those who wanted the group to act as a legitimate workers organisation, and those who only wanted to toe the Golkar line.
The Jakarta Post has also reported a number of workers occupations and protests against President Wahid's appointment of Bomer Pasaribu. The protesters demand the Minister be immediately dismissed.
The workers occupying the Government buildings are affiliated to the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI), which for some years has vigorously opposed all groups within the official FSPSI federation.
Significantly these SBSI occupations went for nearly a week and passed peacefully without any police or military intervention. In the past the military especially would have been quick to put down SBSI demonstrations.
The Jakarta Post reports SBSI spokesmen as saying Bomer did nothing to improve workers' rights and welfare during his term as a union official, and that he continually sided with management and major firms against the workers.
However it is important to note that the leader of the SBSI trade union federation - Mochtar Pakpahan, who spent some time in jail under Soeharto, and also leads a small regionally-based 'Labour' political party - is said to be manoeuvring to be made the next Minister for Manpower in the Wahid Government, once Bomer is sacked.
In recent times some elements of the official FSPSI and the SBSI, as well as other union groupings such as the National Front for Workers' Struggle, Indonesia (FNPBI), have been co-operating, organising workplaces and demonstrations in defence of workers interests.
The FNPBI is led by Dita Sari, a well regarded dissident union activist who was imprisoned by the Soeharto regime for three years. She has visited Australia and been feted by the ICFTU at their Brussels HQ.
The confusion in the trade union movement in Indonesia replicates almost exactly what happened with the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe. Many of the official Stalinist trade unions splintered into Old Guard and Reform factions, and oppositionist trade unions mushroomed.
In the lead up to the collapse of the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe foreign funding streamed in as overseas interests tried to influence the creation of new trade unions.
In Hungary, for example, American interests actively supported one oppositionist trade union federation, the Scandinavians tended to back the Reform faction of the official trade union movement, the Western Europeans backed a third grouping and still others tried to foster a Catholic Christian Democratic trade union grouping, along the lines of the Polish Solidarnosc.
There are already reports of foreign funding streaming in to back different Indonesian trade union groupings, as they try to mould Indonesia unions into their own image of what a working class organisation should look like.
An organisation called the American Center for International Labor Solidarity is backing Mochtar Pakpahan's SBSI. The British TUC, in co-operation with the ILO, is providing aid which helps both the Old Gaurd FSPSI and the Reformasi FSPSI.
Overseas interests and influence peddlers rarely understand the real needs and nuances of local working class communities, who quite rightly resent foreign models of working class organisation being imposed on them.
Probably the best thing would be for the influence peddlers to butt-out .. and to allow home-grown democratic union organisations to grow naturally.
In Eastern Europe the ICFTU tried to negotiate a butt-out policy.
All sides said: yes- yes they backed the butt-out policy, and promised to stop backing their particular favourites.
At the same time all sides knew their opponents were secretly continuing to send funds, and provide other support, to the favoured federation.
Although the White House is calling the deal "historic," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says "the truly historic turn of events will take place in the streets of that wonderful working-class city, Seattle."
" The attempt to bring China into the WTO is "less likely to reform China, as its advocates claim, than it is to further deform the WTO," he says.
In addition to the November 30 march and rally, US labor activists will participate in the 50th anniversary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; an ICFTU conference on globalisation and workers rights; a Steelworkers Rapid Response conference; an interfaith gathering, procession and a "human chain"; a USWA benefit for locked-out Kaiser Aluminum workers; a forum on workers rights, trade, development and the WTO ; and a USWA march and rally to the Seattle docks.
A new poll by the University of Marylands Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 93 per cent of Americans agree with this statement: "Countries that are part of international trade agreements should be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions."
The city of Seattle is changing the name of Pine Street, one of the key legs of the march route through downtown, to Union Way on November 30 in honour of the WTO event.
Dozens of rally captains and marshals completed training to make sure our march and rally are orderly and secure. More that 800 Machinists will serve as marshals.
The media have featured warnings from businesses that WTO protests might be dangerous, bogus cautions that threaten to dampen participation by working families. The training session was open to the press in an effort to counteract misinformation.
For more information on unions campaign to make the WTO work for working families, check out the Washington State Labor Councils website at www.wslc.org and the AFL-CIO website at http://www.aflcio.org.
by The Chaser
The report claims that the existing arrangement only allowed the industry to be dominated by two players.
Launching the report, the head of the Productivity Commission, Mr Richard Snape, argued there would be major gains in efficiency if the industry was owned by one proprietor.
"Currently the government is in an absurd position where it is forced to pander to two major media proprietors," he said.
"This creates an awful policy headache every time Packer wants one thing and Murdoch wants something else. It occasionally leads to confusing divergences of media opinion, especially at election time."
Under the Commission's proposals, ownership rules would be relaxed, allowing for a complete, rather than virtual monopoly of the media.
The report also urges a relaxation of existing foreign ownership rules. "We think it's only fair that the New York Times should be allowed to own the Sydney Morning Herald, rather than just writing most of their articles," Mr Snape said.
Mr Snape said he thought changes to media laws were inevitable, especially in light of the fallout from the cash-for-comments scandal. Without changes to existing regulations, the banking industry may be forced to divest its shares in John Laws. Currently businesses are restricted to owning John Laws in only one medium. "It would be much more efficient if the banks were allowed to own John Laws' opinions across radio, television and print," Snape suggested. "Then we really would have been told the whole story."
A spokesperson for Federal Communications Minister Richard Alston said that the government would release its position on the report after the Cabinet members had recovered from the Packer wedding.
But critics of the plan claim that any changes to foreign ownership rules will see an "unbearable concentration of media ownership." One insider at Channel Ten, who refused to be named for fear of retribution, predicted the moves would eventually see our television stations filled with re-runs of old American sitcoms and repackaged American news.
"It won't be like it is at the moment, where you have all that fresh Australian content, like E! News and Entertainment Tonight," he said.
by Peter Lewis
In your biography of Sydney, unions emerge as both the good guys and the bad guys at stages in the book. How did they weave their way into the story?
Well, what happened of course is the industrialisation of Sydney and the development of manufacturing industries and also other industries happened before unions turned up, and so right up until about the 1860s/1870s the idea of working people organising to get better results for themselves was - it wasn't just unheard of it was actually thought to be blasphemous - like the social order with the land owning elite at the top and everybody else basically under their boots, was basically thought to be God given. That was right up until about the 1840s/1850s.
And the working people began to organise around about that time. There was working men's associations, and at first they were just to increase their trade skills and provide some education that perhaps the State or the private school systems weren't providing. But eventually they began to sense that there was a certain amount of power in acting together, and one of the earlier things that they operated in. One of the earlier areas that they operated in was on the question of migration.
There were a lot of British migrants being brought out in the 1860s and 1870s and local workers thought that they were basically flooding the market with their labour, and so I think there was something called the Working Man's Defence Association set up, basically to agitate against migration from the Home Country.
This then morphed into anti Chinese movements in the late 1870s, but the unions were by no means by themselves in opposing Asian immigration at that stage. Basically it was a movement which had support from the top to the bottom of society, and about the only people who were in favour of Chinese immigration in the, say, the late 1870s when all of the riots broke out - a big strike broke out on the waterfront - were the ship owners who wanted to use Chinese seamen as super exploitable labour on their steamers and the Herald, which was an intensely conservative paper and generally sided with business interests against those of the workers.
That campaign was successful. They got the Chinese knocked off that ship and it actually laid the grounds for the White Australia Policy of later on. So, I guess you could say that that was an instance when they didn't cover themselves with glory, but they genuinely were acting in what they considered to be their members' interests and given the way that those Chinese people would have been super exploited they probably were operating in both their interests and in the Chinese.
The next period I looked at was the 1920s or 1930s and that of course was a period - the 1930s in particular - of great social dislocation and it was interesting because that social system I was talking about before, which was thought to be ordained by God, where the elite had their money and their property and it was inherited and it was basically handed down by divine right, that had sort of ... People didn't believe that anymore, but they invented new mythologies for explaining why a few people were very, very wealthy and most people very, very poor, and it had all grown out of the idea of social Darwinism - the fact that some people were just better suited to competition and so the riches went to them. When a lot of the time of course they just inherited the bloody stuff, or stole it or appropriated it or whatever.
Um, the 1930s rolled up and of course with the Depression there was massive, massive social dislocation and the unions once again became a focal point for organising. And this time the thing I was specifically looking at was the anti-eviction organisations of the 1930s. Back then of course, most people - most middle class people as well as most working people didn't own their homes. That was beyond them. They couldn't get the money together so they rented and people might rent the same place for 20 or 30 years. What happened of course was the Depression cracks down, they can't pay their rent no more and they start being evicted.
Actually the city was full of thousands, probably tens of thousands of homeless people and these weren't bums or alcoholics or anything like that, these were working families who because of the Depression couldn't work no more, so they were literally just tossed out onto the streets and they were living in parks and under bridges and in shanty towns out near Botany on golf courses and stuff like that.
The Communist Party and a number of unions - The Australian Labor Army, I think they called them - basically this Left Wing Coalition got together and organised an anti-eviction movement where they would basically squat in the houses and refuse to move and this was successful for about five or six weeks until the real estate agents realised what a threat it was to it - and I guess the State realised what a threat it was to existing power and property relationships and they then detailed the police to crack down on them and they did it quite viciously. There was a battle in Union Street in Newtown in about 1931 which was known as Black Friday, where maybe, I think 18 or 19 workers were sitting inside a house occupying it because the people were going to be evicted, and in the street outside they had about 4 or 5 thousand supporter who were milling around and the police rolled up in a bus and a couple of cars and basically jumped out with their revolvers pulled and started shooting the shit out of the house and charged in and basically beat everybody down into a bloody pulp and that - that didn't destroy the movement, it probably would have increased its strength because the reaction against it was so great, but the Lang Government then brought in some tenancy laws which basically pricked that particular balloon.
The next period of union activism I looked at was almost like a mirror image of that period. This was obviously the Green Bans of the 1960s - and here you weren't looking at residential property issues but massive demolitions in the city core and exploitation of the old architecture and so on, and this time it was the members of the BLF - but there was other unions involved as well because I think at that stage the BLF had some internal problems within the union movement and they weren't actually on the Trades & Labor Council in Sydney at that point, but they had other allies and other unions there who pushed through the Green Bans - first obviously against Kellys Bush in the North Shore and then later spreading to encompass billions of dollars worth of development all over the city.
It was quite a phenomenal time because that was the first time in the history of the city that common people had actually stood against the most powerful interests in the city and had won and the fairly bitter and savage reactions of those interests can be seen from the fact that eventually in Victoria Street in Potts Point at the Teaman Development, people were murdered for standing against it, and there was incredible violence brought to bear, both against the union - the BLF - and I think the Seamen's Union was involved because one of their members was in one of those houses as well - and also the violence obviously which was brought to bear against their supporters in the public.
So, through those different threads in the union history, do you get any clues of how the union movement can survive into the future?
It's a terrible cliche but it has to make itself relevant to the membership. It has to go back to the membership. Like, membership of a union should be something that people aspire to, because they know that it is in their interest to join up because singly they are just completely and utterly powerless.
I'm constantly amazed that workers did not join unions, because as a freelance journalist I know just how completely and utterly bloody powerless you are when it comes time to negotiate with an organisation like News Limited or Fairfax. They will crush you like a bug and this has always been the story all the way through the city's history. So, people have to understand that their strength lies in getting together with other workers, but of course the problems with the unions is that I guess the politics of unionism has become sort of remote and inwardly focussed and an awful lot of the energy which unions could be devoting towards their rank and file membership is actually devoted towards manoeuvring at Council and maintaining and manoeuvring relationships with the ALP when it's the State Government, when it's an Opposition and determining policy and stuff like that.
That's an important role of what unions do, but the very, very core of their existence, what they must go back to, is ensuring that the working lives of their members are improved as the productivity and the profits of the business that they work for are improved. It's not as though the bosses will hand it over voluntarily.
But it's not totally clear cut.Of you look in your book, the period where you could say they were standing up for the interest of their members was in the anti-immigration protests.Where they were looking beyond the interest of their movement to the broader society, with the Green Bans, and arguably that's where they have lost the links with their membership?
I was thinking about this when the Labor Party lost office federally. Why it was that its working class vote went across - or part of its working class vote - went across to Howard, and it was because ... I mean, if you look at, say, you look at forestry which is a perfect example of the problem that the Labor Party got itself into. Not so much the unions in this case, but if we use the Labor Party as an example of an organisation which should be looking after the interests of working people...
Forestry is an industry which employs lots and lots of working class people. There are not many middle class people in it. So it is a core constituency of the ALP and of course of the union movement. But another constituency of the ALP developed over the 80s, after the Franklin Dam, which is the Green constituency - and that's like a very much an urban, middle class and upper middle class vote. And it's arguable that the interest of those two groups are actually incompatible. I mean, maybe it is possible to develop managed forest policies - I honestly don't know because it's not an area I have any expertise in, but on the face of it the interests of working people in say, the forestry industry, and the middle class urban vote which the ALP went after - the Green vote as such - on the face of it they seem to be incompatible, so if the ALP ends up supporting its members in those industries it will then end up obviously alienating its vote in the urban core. That may well be an insoluble problem for them. I don't know. But the conundrum you raise is a very serious one. A very real one.
Finally, this book seems to me to be a bit more than just a history and probably it's going to stand there as more a read about Sydney. What message do you want people who live in Sydney to take away from reading it?
I suppose there are two messages that I have. One for the present and one for the future. There are two Sydneys. Most of the money and most of the power of Sydney is concentrated in the East and the North and the people who live there tend to see their part of Sydney and they think that is Sydney. They look at the harbour and it's beautiful, and they look at the city and it's beautiful and they look at the amazing wealth and just comfort that they have and they think - this city's fantastic. In fact, the vast majority of people who live in this city don't live like that. They live pretty hard and they live tough and they live out on the western and south western reaches and their lives are slightly more comfortable than the lives of poorer and working people in the 19th century, but the gap between rich and poor is growing enormously quickly and it would be good if people would think about that and think about the implications of that 20 or 30 years down the track, because the implications are really bloody grim.
And the other thing that I'd like them to think about is the fact that the resources we have here, like our soil and our water and our air are finite and they will be used up and they will be irreparably damaged if we don't think about what we are doing with them. Once again the city tends to dump an awful lot of its problems out in the west and the south west. There are incredible environmental problems with toxic poisoning and so on out there, but because they are beyond the sidelines of the people who make policy and set agendas in the middle of the city they just tend to forget about them.
'Leviathan - the unauthorised biograpohy of Sydney' by John Birminham is published by Random House and is available in all good bookshops
As the Senate this week prepares to pass judgment on his Second Wave of proposals to further cut back the award safety net and make it harder for unions to conduct their legitimate operations, we offer you the chance to enter the debate.
He couldn;t be too confident -- after all the Australian Democrats have flagged they have serious problems with the laws, particularly after the evidence of its impact presented to Senate Inquiry around the coutnry.
But Democrats being Democrats, you can never be confident they won't cut a deal - and given the last week maybe we shouldn't be cutting the ALP out of the action either!
While unions will be taking actions to urge the Democrats to "Just Say No", Workers Online is here to provide an altogether more futile, but possibly more satisfying, course of action.
Send the message straight to Reith by having your way with this laidback image, snapped at a recent fireside chat with Workers Online (we mean the ciggies he was furiously puffing on).
Use the tools at your disposal to transform him into the caring sharing guy, he'd have you believe lurks behind the political hardman. Or go crazy and turn him into the devil you know.
He's defaced the industrial relations system, now it's your turn for payback.
The Howard Government has taken a calculated decision for electoral reasons to play to our darkest fears and create the myth of a boat people crisis. Taking their lead from the Government's beat-up, others now talk of an invasion.
There is no crisis. There is no invasion. So far this year only a couple of thousand boat people have arrived in Australia. Even if the inflammatory comment of Immigration Minister Ruddock that up to ten thousand are preparing to come turns out to be true, so what?
The boat people are human beings. We should be welcoming them, not sending them to concentration camps in places like Port Hedland or detaining them in inhospitable conditions.
Minister Ruddock argues: "If we're seen to be a soft target in relation to the entry of people clandestinely, more and more people will try to ply this very, very gruesome trade in human beings."
However for the would-be boat people an orderly immigration program set up by Australia at or near their places of departure would end the trade in human beings. This would involve expanding our immigration program, not cutting it back.
The Howard Government has used its regulation making power to only allow refugees into Australia for three years, denying them the ability to gain permanent status. This is the programme Pauline Hanson announced in July 1998. Pauline Hanson now seems to be setting the Howard Government's immigration policy.
Ruddock's tough line on refugees is designed to appeal to those sections of Australian society which fear the new and the different. The Government knows that the backlash against the GST will see voters swing to Labor. It wants to counterbalance that by a crude appeal to the xenophobes.
It looks as if sections of the ALP support the Government's attacks on refugees and the boat people. The fact that no major Labor Party figure has condemned the Government for its inhuman approach means that the ideas of Hanson now dominate the debate.
Many of the boat people are from the Middle East. One of the reasons for the increase in desperate people fleeing that region is the Western blockade of Iraq. This is a blockade Australia supports and has participated in. The West's criminal action has killed hundreds of thousands of children and impoverished the Iraqi people.
It's no wonder people in Iraq want to flee to a better life. Wouldn't you in those circumstances?
Our hysterical and irrational reaction to a couple of thousand Asian and Middle Eastern people attempting to enter Australia comes out of our past.
Racism has been the handmaiden of our history. Our rulers developed concepts of white superiority to weld the lower orders to the capitalist system. We working people might be rubbish, but at least we were white rubbish.
British leaders used these ideas of superiority to justify driving the original inhabitants of Australia off their land. White capital and white labour later used the same arguments to exclude Asians.
Yet what have the boat people done that is wrong? Nothing.
These people are fleeing repressive regimes, only to end up being repressed in Australia. They are fleeing poverty, only to end up in a country replete with moral emptiness.
Nothing draconian happens to the thousands of white visa overstayers who arrive by plane. Jet people good, boat people bad. What hypocrisy!
Some might argue that allowing the boat people into Australia will take Australian jobs. Yet study after study shows that immigration creates jobs.
Then there are the environmental arguments. Won't the boat people only worsen our environment?
The fact is Australia has the lowest population density in the world. Even in our most populated areas, it is only one seventh that of Holland. Adding a few thousand boat people a year to our vast continent is not going to destroy it.
Unfortunately the environmental arguments seem driven more by a fear of foreigners than an internationalist approach to humanity.
Then there is the argument that the boat people are jumping the queue. Why do we have a queue in the first place? Successive cutbacks to immigration have forced desperate people to risk their lives coming to Australia. Increasing immigration, accepting the boat people and setting up an orderly immigration programme would abolish the queue.
Can we not show some humanity? Let the boat people stay.
The other team in the group is Portugal. The idea is that the three teams play each other to see who goes into the seed pool (decided after this years World Cup) for the next world cup. They play home and away so six games in all.
Halfway through the first half the Spanish prop forward Iganez was sent off for stamping on the Romanian fly half Corin Abrazu. The Romanian was taken off the field for treatment to two wounds, a head wound and a leg wound. After the physio had tried to staunch the flow of blood to the head wound, (and failed) he called for an ambulance to get Abrazu into hospital. At the hospital, a broken knife blade was removed from Abrazu's leg. He was allowed home from hospital at flew home a few days later. Iganez was arrested for attempted murder by the Spanish Police in Pamplona. Iganez has continually denied any wrong doing (and video evidence supports this).
Last week Abrazu withdrew from the Rumanian team to play Portugal, complaining of headaches. It was thought he had banged his head in a club match the previous weekend. He collapsed at his home, and was rushed to hospital. X-Rays showed a .22 calibre bullet lodged in his brain.
The entrance wound had been stitched by a Spanish doctor in the belief that it had been caused by a boot stud.
Iganez was then questioned by Spanish police about the bullet....
The truth is always so much more surreal. Apparently, Abrazu had received death threats before the Spanish game via post (the letter was sent from Cadiz). He laughed them off until fifteen minutes into the game he felt what he thought was a bee sting on the back of his head.
He felt the wound and found that he was bleeding. Not knowing what had happened, he continued until four minutes later when the incident with Iganez occurred.
Iganez plays for Bilbao in the Basque country. He had received a letter before the match saying that unless he helped with the murder of Abrazu, his family would be murdered. He was told that someone on the pitch would kill the Romanian. All he had to do was to "rough up" the Romanian to allow a doctor on to the pitch. This is what he was attempting to do when he was called aside by the ref. Only, he had done nothing up to that point.
Spanish authorities, investigating the incidents found that:
1. Abrazu was targeted because he had been "seeing" (euphemism) Inja Felipe de Compostilla ... (the ETA bosses daughter (ETA being the Basque extremists), the year before while he played for Santander in Spain. She was up the duff.
2. The knife wound was administered by a stretcher assistant, the knife used is an ETA speciality called a "Juanez", where the blade is intended to break inside the wound.
3. The bullet was fired from the crowd by a hired assassin ... hired by Inja Felipe de Campostilla because she was up the duff....
Complicated or what....
All of the suspects have now been rounded up. Spanish Authorities also want to extradite Abrazu, since the young "lady" in question is just 14 years old.
Ed's Note: This story comes from an anonymous email - we have no way of verifying its truth. Either way, it's a good yarn
Traineeships too, an initiative of the Labor Party, whilst in office federally, and supported by the union movement, have been highly successful in boosting youth employment by extending an apprenticeship style relationship into a broader range of industries beyond the traditional trades. But with the advent of National Training Packages, de-regulation of training arrangements in other states and the emergence of AWAs our traditional mechanisms for the regulation and protection of employment in training are coming under increasing pressure.
A traineeship or apprenticeship is regulated in three key ways: 1) the qualification or outcome; 2) the training plan; and 3) the industrial instrument. In recent times all three of these areas have undergone significant change. Unions have been key players in the regulation of vocational training because we have had almost exclusive control over the industrial arrangements.
In NSW the qualifications and training plan are governed by the Industrial and Commercial Training Act. The Act provides for an "Indenture" between the employee and employer, usually four years for an apprenticeship or one year for a traineeship. The Indenture will set out the training that the apprentice or Trainee will receive and the qualification they will receive at the conclusion of the agreement. However, the National Training Agenda provides that NSW, along with the other States will hand over responsibility for qualifications to the National Training Authority - ANTA. The NSW Government is in the process of re-aligning the recognised qualifications to match those identified in National Training Packages. The benefits arising from this are that qualifications will portable between states and that work done in developing competencies and pathways is not duplicated state by state, the negative for unions is that NSW has been caught of the trend towards deregulation driven by the Federal Government some of the other States.
The employment side of Traineeships and apprenticeships are traditionally regulated by State and Federal awards, the Industrial and Commercial Training Act requires that the Indenture refers to industrial instrument under which the person is employed. Awards frequently contain provisions regulating apprenticeships and setting out apprenticeship rates of pay for particular industries - despite the removal of a number of these provisions as a result of the award stripping process. Traineeships are generally governed by the provisions of the National Training Wage Award, or other awards reflecting the provisions of the NTWA into various industries or jurisdictions. The rates of pay for a traineeship are almost universally in line with those set out in the NTWA.
From the 35 endorsed National Training Packages contain 180 AQF III (trade level) qualifications and around 125 related AQF II (traineeship) qualifications. These qualifications map to competencies alone - there is no time-based requirement. The philosophy of the National Training Package is that if a person is properly assessed as competent by an appropriate authority then they are able to gain the qualification. The NSW level regulation picks up the difference because Vocational Training Orders issued by the State Government pursuant to the Industrial and Commercial Training Act still specify nominal duration's for traineeships and apprenticeships.
The problem for unions is that modes and pathways are becoming more complex with the advent of the National Training Packages. Trainees may work part-time, training can occur either fully on the job, or partially on and off the job. Privately offered pre-apprenticeship courses may shorten the duration of an indenture or traineeships may be completed as part of a Higher School Certificate program. The industrial instruments in place do not accommodate these new pathways. Most NSW Training Wage Awards have no part-time or school based arrangements. Apprenticeship rates of awards provide for time-based progression, when the training establishment is shifting towards a competency-based framework.
In the past the training authorities and governments have worked with unions to establish appropriate industrial arrangements to accommodate training programs - no more. With the advent of AWAs employers may write whatever industrial arrangements they want into individual contracts with trainees - the only requirement of the Act is that a legal industrial instrument is in place.
The Federal Government, through DEETYA, has distributed how to do an AWA for a trainee pro-forma to all the new apprenticeship centres. The Federal Government is using training as a successful area for the promotion of its industrial agenda. The danger for unions is that, if this strategy proves successful, then the union movement may face a generation of young people who have experienced an AWA as their first employment contract.
We are on the threshold of a radical shift in the way vocational training is delivered and we are no longer in control of the agenda as we were in the past. For unions to ensure that AWAs stay out the training sector we must be prepared to commit resources to putting in place awards and agreements that properly protect the interest of young people, to accommodate the changing training market furthermore we need to pressure governments to accept responsibility for ensuring that trainees and apprentices are not exploited through their employment conditions.
Sure our hero's been more than happy to smear himself with the brown matter when crawling up to the Boss, but when it comes to self-serving dalliances with the truth, he has nothing on the talkback boys.
It must have been embarrassing for our hero to find that while he was smooching up to developers for a couple of bottles of mid-vintage wines; his more erudite colleagues were making hay while the sun shone.
To learn that through his column he had become a research assistant for the very well resourced Alan Jones Inc could only have added insult to injury.
A nice long lunch, a batting of the eyelids, is all our hero needs to wax lyrical. It's enough to make Harry M give up the game in disgust.
He has tried to turn it this into a virtue, claiming his failure to stitch up a Laws-size deal was a sign of his own ethics. But to our mind the only question to ponder is whether Piers is clean or just cheap?
All this high-rolling payola leaves our hero looking somewhat jaded and flaccid, the most rotund lightweight in the industry.
Look at his efforts this week: he's so predictable, he's fading away- sniping at Knight and his embattled offsider, Sandy Hollaway, as if attacking the SOCOG hierarchy is cutting edge commentary rather than the national past-time it's become.
Our free advice to Pier is if wants to regain his bite (and let's face it, its' all that he's got going for him), the time has come to take some serious action, Lawsy-style.
ONE: take lunch with some union-busters and get in there behind Reith's Second Wave. Law firm Baker & MacKenzie would be a good first port of call. Otherwise just call Paul Hoolihan.
TWO: make up with Howard. Since you've fallen out, there's been none of those crawling tributes and rewriting of Prime Ministerial press releases. Surely digital TV isn't that important.
THREE: sign up with the tobacco lobby and let's get some more of that suss "there's no causal link with cancer" research back into the public domain.
Whatever he decides, it's obvious he needs to do something. The experienced hands of talkback radio have shown the way - if you're in the media and don't have an agent, you're not really serious about milking your trade. So get on the gravy train, Piers. Give us something to shoot at, or we might just have to go looking for another object of our derision.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005