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Workers Online
  Issue No 43 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 February 2000  





Mad Monk Misses the Mark

Employment services minister Tony Abbott's kneejerk witchhunt against the innovative deal between the Labor Council of NSW and Job Futures misses one vital point: the deal is good for workers, employers and the taxpayer.

While the media headlines focussed on a success fee to be paid to Job Futures for promoting trade unionism to job seekers, the real story lies in the early intervention with workers whose jobs are at risk.

Under the deal, workers in NSW will be able to turn to their union for help in changing jobs or finding a new job if they face retrenchment.

Job Futures is Australia's top community national not-for-profit employment network. It has about 160 offices around Australia - thirty four of them are in the Greater Sydney region, and another ten in regional and rural NSW.

JOB futures was established as a community employment agency after the Federal Government decided to abolish the CES and replace it with the Job Network. Key members of JOB futures come from migrant resource centres, local government, community organisations and church groups.

"In the last decade we have seen an increasing trend for people to shift between jobs at a much faster rate. The idea of lifetime employment seems to have completely disappeared," Job Futures CEO Fitzgerald told Workers Online.

"Employers are happy to churn their workforce to get new blood, new ideas into the workplace; and employees are eager to move on to seek new opportunities and new work experiences.

"Our agreement with NSW unions will provide a service to help members move quickly, securely and with a minimum of 'pain' between jobs.

"It is a response to market survey work, done by some unions, showing that members want employment advice and help from their union as they look around the increasingly confusing job market," Fitzgerald says

"We want to be able to help casual and part-time workers move into full-time work if that's what they want. Or help people maximise their working hours and pay - by a mix-and-match process - if they are in industries which are now dominated by the demand for a casual workforce.

"The outplacement/retrenchment service we want to offer unions and their members is a service which - from our stance - offers the most socially worthwhile opportunities. Essentially it is 'upstreaming' much of the work we currently do in the Federal Government's Job Network.

"Less than 30 per cent of the Australian workforce gets outplacement help when their employers seek to retrench them - this agreement will spread the right to outplacement to a larger percentage of the workforce.

Under the deal, unions will negotiate with employers, into their EBAs and Awards, appropriate, outplacement clauses which will provide members with the professional help and support to find a new job as they are retrenched.

"All the research about retrenched workers shows that if they are provided quality help, quickly, they have a much better opportunity to get another job, " Fitzgerald says.

"Twelve months or so after you have lost a job it is much harder to get a new job - for one thing your self-confidence has been bashed about a hell of a lot.

"This project - as it succeeds - will save money out of the taxpayer funded social welfare budget."


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 43 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Parting Gestures
Outgoing ACTU president Jennie George looks back on her time at the helm and charts some challenges for young women in the union movement.
*  Unions: While We Were Sleeping
It’s been a long hot summer for Australian workers - from the showdown in the Pilbara to the victorious National Textile workers. We look at the stories Workers Online missed while we were in the banana chair.
*  Media: Freudian Slips
The coverage of Jennie George’s final days as ACTU President were a case study in the art of psycho-tabloid.
*  Legal: Cookies’ Fortune
The breakaway union led by a man personally backed by the Prime Minister has been refused registration in a ruling that raises questions over the whole enterprise.
*  Politics: True Deceivers
In his controversial new book, Andrew Scott argues that Labor's rhetoric has outstripped its achievements.
*  Review: Rebel With a Cause
A new Michael Moore has emerged at the frontline of subversive television. His technique? Combining organising with silly suits.
*  Satire: Victorian ALP shock: "Apparently We're in Power!"
A recent survey conducted by the Victorian State ALP has revealed that the party is in government.
*  International: Right Hand Drive
The rise of the extreme Right in Austria carries some important lessons for our own society.

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