Workers will work off the job from 4am Saturday until 4am Sunday over the Casino management's refusal to enter into meaningful talks on an enterprise agreement to replace the one that expired on March 30.
It is the first strike action ever at the Casino and follows a sustained organizing campaign of the 2800 workers by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. A further 500 members have joined the union this week alone, brining coverage to around 70 per cent.
Casino delegates Sean Dwyer and Stephen Clark told the NSW Labor Council last night that the deadlocked negotiations have occurred against the backdrop of heavy-handed management adopting stalling tactics.
Dwyer cited the socks incident as a sign of the "extremely regimented" manner in which the workforce is treated. This also included authorizing routine security checks of workers' lockers.
At the same time the management was refusing to address the key concerns that workers had put up for negotiation in the enterprise agreement.
- Passive smoking, particularly for croupiers who have smoke blown in their faces.
- Protection against abusive customers
- Security, including installing metal detectors to ensure patrons are not carrying knives or other weapons.
The NSW Labor Council has supported the casino workers and secretary Michael Costa will join them Saturday morning when they walk out the door.
Funeral Industry Union state secretary Aiden Nye says these are the sort of practices that used to occur before the State Government regulated the industry in 1987.
But now, under pressure from National Competition Policy principles, the Department of Health has sent shockwaves through the industry by reviewing the need for ongoing regulation.
Nye says if that happens, we'll see a return to the bad old days where backyard operations, crematoriums that burned more than one body at a time and ignored basic health standards were the norm.
He also warned that a deregulated market would see hospitals competing with funeral homes for the right to dispose of dead bodies.
"If they want a second rate service with no minimum standards, then they're going about it the right way," Nye says.
Unions and the legitimate industry are resisting the push, saying the industry actually needs more regulation - through a statewide registration scheme to be overseen by the Health Department with input from the community, including the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association.
The company established by Steve Vizard has secured more than 20,000 orders and is is currently being valued at more than $360 million, but unions will only get the crumbs from these massive gains, according to NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa.
A series of gushing articles in the finance pages about the growing value of Virtual Communities in recent weeks has only highlighted the bad deal that the ACTU signed up last year.
Packer and Pratt are among a group of speculators who have injected $40 million extra into the VC coffers in return for a share of the company
Along with VC principals, they now stand to be the big winners when the company floats later this year, possibly as early as August.
While union delegates have been acting as workplace sales representatives and union journals have offered free advertising, the union movement stands to secure less than five per cent of the company's total equity.
And still unanswered is how the company will make e-commerce profits from the union membership base, including how personal data will be used.
"What is emerging is the thing we have argued from the start," Costa says, "and that is that the ACTU has seriously undervalued its asset."
"The value is not in the hardware, but in the network of users - and that network of union members is the asset which we have under-valued."
Costa has called on ACTU secretary Greg Combet to re-open negotiations with Virtual Communities and demand a greater share of equity
"The union movement is about to make some very rich people even richer," Costa says.
by Dermott Browne
In a major victory for unionised workers, Telstra Managing Director Rob Cartwright has told the court that the company will not discriminate against award employees in its redundancy process.
He filed the statements in evidence as the Community and Public Sector Union sought an injunction to stop the Telstra redundancies process and penalize Cartwright for the threat he made to members..
But CPSU national secretary Wendy Caird has put Telstra on notice that while Cartwright's retraction is welcomed, his management strategy is now under scrutiny.
"Any further action to single out union members will be vigorously opposed by the
Telstra unions and an application for an interim order would be reissued.'
In light of Cartwright's statement to the Court today, the CPSU says it will not proceed with the injunction application. But it will continue to press for a penalty to be imposed for what it called a 'blatant threat to discriminate against its union employees'.
"It is essential that a penalty be imposed against Telstra. If one of Australia's largest companies is able to make threats of this kind and get away with it then it will be open season on all union members," Caird says.
The CPSU will ask the Court to set a date for the trial as soon as possible under 298K of the Workplace Relations Act - which carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.
"We want to send a clear message to management that they cannot single out and threaten union members," Caird says. "Employers get away with because no-one is prepared to take them on.
by Phil Davey
A capacity crowd of over 450 packed the Harbourside to dance to a frenetic line up of World Music acts and raise funds for the reequiping of "Voice of Hope" -East Timors only community radio station.
Nearly $6000 was raised from the night and over 1000 CDs were donated by the audience for "Voice of Hope"- an eclectic collection of music with everything from current top 40 pop and rock to Carmina Burana and country and western. Even such obscure treasures as the Princess Diana tribute album were donated for shipment to Timor.
Organisers hope to build on the success of this gig to create a regular series of concerts showcasing Australian bands and demonstrating the relevence of Unionism and international solidarity to a young audience.
The same organisers have another gig for the same cause coming up in May.
"The Big Drum Up for East Timor" will feature the finest percussionists in Australia together for one night only at the Basement May 17.
Any assistance with promoting this next gig would be gratefully recieved. Call Aaron Magner at the LHMU 9281 9577 or Phil Davey at the CFMEU 9287 9387 or email: Workers Online.
by Noel Hester
About 2000 workers marched from Town Hall to Sydney Water's Head Office to let management know the depth of feelings over their stalled enterprise agreement.
They had just voted on a 24-hour stoppage to try and break the impasse in talks that management have spun out since October 1998 when the last agreement expired.
John Tierney, Assistant Secretary of the Australian Services Union, said employees have had enough of talking and have vowed to continue industrial action if there is no breakthrough in the next two weeks..
'These employees haven't had a pay increase for over 12 months. Sydney Water management have offered a 7% pay rise in a two year agreement. With the year since the expiry of the last agreement effectively it is a 7% increase over three years. This is half what other workers in the public sector have received,' he said.
Workloads and productivity have also drastically increased with large redundancies at the Corporation. Late last year Sydney Water offered voluntary redundancy to its entire workforce. It was taken up by over 400 employees.
'The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was the Sydney Water and Australian Water Technologies offer was far short of what was needed and what every employee deserved,' John Tierney said.
'Members have set a 12% wage increase in a two year agreement as the bottom line.'
'Sydney Water's employees have been incredibly patient. Finally they have decided industrial action is the only alternative left to them by management to break the impasse.'
Squeezed by a NSW system that has the broad support of both workers and employers, the Opposition makes the call for public support in an Issues Paper called "Future direction in Industrial Relations"
The paper, which reads like a Politics I essay, argues we are entering a "post-industrial economy' where labour costs must be minimized.
The paper also deals with specific issues such as Employee Entitlements, Workers Compensation and Unfair Dismissals and even has footnotes!
Have Your Say
If you want to tell the Libs that "if it aint broke don't fix it", you can send a submission to:
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations,
NSW Parliament House,
Or email him at mailto:[email protected]
by Dermott Browne
The CPSU says the ruling is a significant victory against the federal government's workplace laws.
"When the government closed down the CES in 1998, staff and work were transferred to a new government-owned company, Employment National", said Wendy Caird, National Secretary of the CPSU, the union representing these staff.
"But the government tried to deny that these workers had the same employment rights and pay rates as they had in the CES. The Federal Court has made a very important finding. By its decision, it will slow down the government in its attempts to lower wages and conditions by transferring business from one government organisation to another" Ms Caird said.
The CPSU has now successfully taken a number of similar cases to court and won them. "The government and Telstra are the chief offenders in trying to use organisational re-arrangements to reduce staff entitlements.
"The Courts are consistently finding that these manipulations don't reduce an employer's responsibility to pay their staff fairly. Yet the government is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in fighting these cases", said Ms Caird.
Although the union has won the principle issue, workers won't immediately receive additional benefits. "There are still some issues we are looking at arising from the decision, but at the same time as the work was reorganised, the government also pushed staff onto individual contract arrangements (AWAs) which over-ride their award entitlements. So at this stage it seems they still won't receive fairness from these
laws, despite this finding. A separate Court action is challenging this misuse of AWAs
however, and our view is that using AWAs in this way is duress and is unlawful". Ms
The NSW Teachers Federation came to the brink of agreement with the government, but sticking points over hours of work and pay rates for casual teachers have left the talks deadlocked.
Teachers today voted overwhelmingly to commence strike action to coincide with the astart of Term Two.
NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa today called on the Carr Government and the NSW Teachers Federation to continue discussions over the school holiday period to try and resolve their ongoing dispute prior to the next school term.
"I am disappointed that there is still no agreement - given the significant progress that has been made since negotiations began; but I don't believe the parties are that far apart," Mr Costa said.
But he said he understood why the teachers' leadership had refused to recommend an acceptance of the agreement; as there were assurances being sought by the government that most unions would find difficult to endorse.
"The requirement for unqualified commitments in relation to industrial action, particularly the imposition bans, is something that no union would accept," he said.
"Further, it is unrealistic to expect that a range of pre-existing award applications by the Federation should be discontinued.
Meanwhile, the Independent Education Union has reached agreement on behalf of 12,000 teachers in catholic schools for a 16 per cent increase with no trade-offs.
IEU secretary Dick Shearman has called on the government to match this deal with the public teachers rather than trying to extract productivity offsets.
by HT Lee
Over the last two years the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Electrical Trades Union (ETU), CEPU (Plumbers Union), Metal Workers Union (AMWU) have been campaigning for workers compensation reform. In July last year over 100,000 building workers stopped work in support of reform--tens of thousands marched to the NSW State Parliament in one of the biggest trade union rallies in the last decade.
As a result of the campaign the NSW Government has circulated the construction industry workers compensation proposal for industry consultation. The State Cabinet will be considering submissions from the industry during April and will then decide if there is sufficient support for the proposal.
The CFMEU's proposal has the support of the Master Builders Association (MBA) and major building contractors. However, Gary Brack from the Employers Federation is opposed to it.
A recent delegates meeting of the CFMEU supported the union's campaign. Delegates and organisers will be collecting a minimum of 10,000 signatures from building workers on job sites to present to Premier Carr. Many letters of support from subbies will also be sent to the Premier.
The workers' compo scheme in NSW is in crisis as a direct result of bosses rorting the system, decades of mismanagement and the failure to police compliance--the scheme currently has a $1.6billion deficit.
Union audits on site have uncovered hundreds of shonky bosses:
· paying premiums for only 20% of their workforce
· falsely declaring to their insurance company they are selling ceramic tiles when they are in fact fixing tiles on sites and many other false declarations
· declaring they are importing machinery when in fact they are operating plant etc
What the unions want
Building unions want to pull out of WorkCover and run an industry based scheme which includes:
· industry control and ownership of a special Construction Industry Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Scheme
· a levy on development so the developers contribute (ie 30%) of workers compensation costs
· inspectors to ensure bosses pay their premiums every month, not at the end of the year
· all workers in the industry including sub-contract workers and sole traders to be covered by industry workers compensation
· better rehabilitation opportunities for injured workers
· the surplus from our scheme to be directed to improvements in industry safety
· compliance with workers compensation by all employers so good companies that comply with the law are not undercut by shonky operations
Photo caption: CFMEU delegates launching petition in support of the building industry workers compo
by Greg McLean
The delegation from the Pacific Islands included Mr Albert Evald, the Vice-president of the Trade Union Congress of Papua New Guinea, who is also the President of the PNG Electricity Workers Association, along with Elina Dulakiverata. The General Secretary of the Fiji Nurses Association.
Albert Evald in his address to the Labor Council praised the work of Australia's oldest central Trade Union Body, and congratulated the Secretary, Michael Costa, and Officers of Council for their hard work in the establishing and Agreement with the Olympic Games Sydney Organising Committee and the State Government that outlaws the use of slave labour or bonded labour - Child Labour and also reaffirmed commitments to the International Labor Organisation charters of collective bargaining.
In addressing the Labor Council meeting the visitors referred to a presentation made to a Michael Costa by Albert Ponniah of the Public Services International, of a plaque to commemorate the good work undertaken, he reminded Labor Council delegates that this Agreement was a message to Governments, Countries and employers throughout the world that the use of labour outside of the International Labor Organisation charters was unacceptable.
The address to Labor Council was the culmination of a week-long conference held by the Public Services International, hosted by the Australian Services Union National Office: dealing with issues confronting the Trade Union Movement across the Pacific - issues discussed included privatisation, Workplace Reform, the role of multinationals and challenges that lie ahead for the Trade Union Movement.
Major addresses to the PSI Conference included Greg McLean, Assistant National Secretary, of the Australian Services Union, on the Electricity and Water Reform Privatisation and the role of multinational companies - Greg has been appointed by the Asia Pacific Regional Executive Committee of the Public Services International as the Energy/water Utilities co-ordinator, in order to develop the Regional Network.
Greg in reporting to workers confirmed that the many challenges facing the Australian Trade Union Movement are similar to that of our neighbours across Asia and Pacific, he also acknowledged the many challenges facing the industry least of which is a development of International markets for electricity and related products in the Energy Industry.
New South Wales Public Sector Unions seeking more information on the work of the Public Services International, that represents approximately 20 million public-sector workers worldwide, should contact him at the ASU National Office, Sydney, for more advice.
To workers online it seems ironic that at a time and that the International Labor Organisation has condemned the Australian Prime Minister and his Government for their anti worker attitudes and violation of Trade Union/human rights that the new South Wales Government has received acknowledgement supporting the International Labor Organisation charters.
Premier Bob Carr at a similar presentation spoke of the necessity for International Trade Union co-operation and the need for workers to think globally in the global market. He congratulated the Public Services International on their fine work and the continued efforts for outcomes for workers throughout the Public Services and public-sector's throughout the world.
The Toast will be held on Monday, May 1, at the South Sydney Leagues Club in Redfern from 6.00pm.
The week of May Day celebrations will culminate in the annual May Day march to take place through the Sydney city streets on Sunday May 7 from noon.
Workers will assemble in Bathurst Street between George and Sussex Street then march down George Street to Circular Quay where they'll hear from speakers as well as a band emanating from one of Sydney's Call centers.
More details in upcoming issues.
Now we're not the sort of publication to hold a witch-hunt, but we reckon that this was the sort of event that any politician interested in trade unions would line up to attend.
Those who made it received a thorough briefing on Organising and an overview of new opportunities to work with trade unions.
Rather than running the list of attendees, we're offering you the chance to pick the Labor MPs who came along. And there's a special Unions 2000 cap if you pick an apology.
Simply click the button below and enter the name of a Labor member, specifying whether you think they turned up or didn't attend.
We'll send a special souvenir 'Howards End' T-shirt to those who get it right. Our only clue is that just five of those present were Ministers.
And we'll publish the winners and losers - along with their selections - in the next issue.
by Peter Lewis
How much do you think the movement has changed from the time when you were a union official?
Well, quite considerably. The 80s and 90s - were years of decline because there was a lot of erroneous policy within the union movement, with the concentration on top level wheeling and dealing at the ACTU, when the Labor Party was in power. The forced amalgamations you would have to say now in hindsight in many instances were errors because they took away the right of the rank and file to determine what was happening, and I think we are only getting over that now. And I think unless there is a return to a concentration of rank and file participation as a starting point, we are not going to get very far. I think you can see the decline in living standards has come about partly because the union movement is no longer equipped with the power to fight around issues that it did in the past.
And that's really a question of numbers isn't it? They just don't have the numbers on the ground?
Well, it's partly numbers but it's also ideas. I think the crucial question is "do you involve the rank and file?" And even though it can be slow at times I think it is imperative. All the experience the world over within the trade union movement shows that it is only when the rank and file are actually involved in a high level of decision making that you get the union movement united and fighting.
Not always united by the way. I should withdraw that. Even if the union movement has a difference of opinion, it doesn't matter. At least things are happening. But when you have a situation where social democratic governments are in power and they try and deal with the unions at a top level - sort of social contracts - then most of those have been failures because really they are saying "Well, look, keep the lid on things, don't let the workers spoil the progress we are making with 'our economy' ".
Do you see any parallels between the situation we face now and the situation you faced when your team got elected to run the BLF?
Well, there are similarities. And the main one is one I just spoke about. The builders labourers, even though it's now widely publicised known, was a small union and it came in because of the brutality of the leadership. It was a rotten leadership that worked in collaboration with the employers; drove militants off jobs; smashed rank and file organization. And the union responded by building up a rank and file movement and then taking over the leadership. And I think the richness of the Builders Labourers experience was that when they took over the leadership it retained some of the grass roots feeling, that it wasn't just a change in leadership. So the leadership didn't become the same as other union leaderships with their collar and tie and cars and advantages. It became a leadership that based itself on the workers, received the same wages as the workers on the job, had a rotating leadership, it had limited tenure of office - things that were actually very controversial within the union movement. And I think that they were so important, because it meant that the membership felt that they were part of the leadership. The leadership was not up itself. It was not using its position as a stepping stone to power in government or in the judiciary. They were looking for a real identity with rank and file and leadership as one. And that's a lasting testimony I think of the builders labourers leadership and membership, as was shown in Rocking the Foundations. And when I speak all round the country now - I mean all the young people say "that was great, that's how we'd like unions".
Watching Rocking the Foundations - it seems very similiar to the organising approach that everyone's talking about in the union movement now - moving to a bottom up approach to union organisations. Do you think some of the things you guys did with the BLF should be looked at today?. Stuff like rotating leadership, limited tenure, that sort of thing. Is there a place for that in the modern union movement?
Rotating the present leadership - they probably won't support that. Of course, I think that's part of it, but probably more important than that is involving, genuinely, the rank and file. If you look back through those years when the union movement was shrinking, there were no public meetings, there were no mass meetings. The richness of the union movement in the 60s and the 70s - there was action - there was public action. There were meetings, always meetings. You turned the television on there were meetings of metal workers; meetings of building workers, maritime workers, and so on. And then you go through a situation where that went by the board. And I think you have got to look at the years of the Hawke and Keating, when there was too much reliance on wheeling and dealing with Kelty and Labor Council and other leaders, and not sufficient involvement of rank and file.
Watching that doco, there was also a real heart and soul about the movement. Has that been lost?
I would agree, but one of the reasons was that - it was politically a richer period in the sense of the fight against the Vietnam war, against apartheid, when the South African Rugby Union team came here, support of our aborigines, the women's movement, the gay movement. All of those things were blended in with the industrial struggles as well. So you have to look back on the 60s and 70s and early 80s as a period of a lot of political movement, and I think that helped. So those things were all there and the more progressive elements of the union movement were involved in it. And I think all these different things gave it such an atmosphere where progressive forces could come through.
But I believe it could happen again, and it must be based on community contact. I think that the union movement must have connection with other parts of society that are also suffering. And we are finding now that despite all of the wealth that exists in western society, in all the western countries, partly because of globalisation, privatisation, deregulation, that the gap between rich and poor is widening. The thing that Australia can feel proud about is that from the early part of the 20th century there was a fight by the union movement for egalitarian principles. Sure, some of their policies on White Australia were terribly wrong, but within the workforce, there was a fight for an egalitarian principle that I think was strong and one of the reasons that the living standards in the 20th Century were higher than many other countries was because of that egalitarianism in my belief.
A lot of that egalitarianism was linked in with protection of the economy. If we accept that the world has moved on from a world where there was defined nations with high walls around and that we do have a more global world, how can we possibly get a structure in place that can allow that in the modern context?
I think the way that you posed the question was wrong. Nobody believes now there should be "high walls around" a la Jack McEwan. But I do believe that if governments are going to have a role to play, they have got to make judgemental values about the economy and about certain industries and about certain work. I don't believe any country can just say "open slather" and let the multinationals use the world like a chess board and move it around.
I mean there are some classic examples. Korea is one. When the Korean union movement stood up and fought hard for improvement to wages and conditions, what did they find? They found the multinationals then moved to Burma or Thailand or Indonesia. And so the picture's the same. At the present time because the union movement is not strong enough the world over to counter this there has got to be a real insistence within each of the countries to trying to build an international connection. Because the only way to confront the wrong doings of globalisation is for the union movement of the various countries to link up together. It's not a question of high walls and protectionism, It's a question of concern, as Seattle showed... It gave a glimpse of what could happen when people who are really concerned about grass roots issues - environmentalists, unionists, other people in society that are not tied in - came together - are concerned about ordinary citizens and not about share markets and big business.
One of the areas of the workforce that we as a movement have struggled to win over is the emerging white collar service sector. Do you have ideas on what we can do to get those people into the union movement and do you think that the tactics that you used with building workers in the 60s and 70s can translate into those other industries?
Well, I think it's obvious that in recent times that the so-called difference between those new industries and old industries are going to change. The bubble has already burst in many instances. I think we must realise that whether workers work in blue collar or white collar industries, they have got many of the same problems. There's really not a new world, there are changes occurring but there's not a new world. And there are still problems there. There are low paid white collar workers too. And it's not as though there is a rich segment that is breaking off and starting up a new go. I think the problems are much the same really, they are just changing from one sector to another.
How much confidence do you have that the union movement is going to survive in the long run?
Well, I think if the union movement is to survive, it has to change very much and particularly in its contact with other movements in society that have got similar issues to come to terms with. In my life, the most exciting thing that happened to me was the environment movement and the union movement. And I think they are two movements that are crucial for the future. On the one hand humankind cannot ravage the planet in the way that we have in the 20th Century. There is no way that we are going to do the same thing in the 21st Century and get away with it. Already signs are showing - like the global warming is now a reality. 99% of scientists say that it is so. So there is not a question of whether it is or whether it isn't.
The same thing goes with countries like Australia about what the population will carry. Carr, a right wing Premier, I think raised some very good issues about what is the carrying capacity of the country. A fragile country, ecologically very, very fragile. And when you get people saying we could carry a 100 million or more - how could they carry them. So I think the question of population, the question of what resources we use and how we use them are really burning issues. And of course the workers' movement have got to be concerned about which products they make. For example, we all pay homage to ecologically sustainable development. Every country in the world has agreed with the United Nations on that thing - ESD. But really it is nothing but a cliché in the interests of most people. Particularly the present Howard Government. And so I think that there has got to be a change in the thinking - and I think that those sorts of people - environmentalists, trade unionists, are natural allies. They can build bridges and come together.
Finally, if you could cast your mind back to the highs of the Green Bans, when the BLF was inventing a new sort of unionism: do you remember how you felt then? Has the world turned out the way you though it would?
No, nobody ever has a world that turns out the way he or she thinks it will be, including you. It never turns out that way. For a shorthand answer, I rest content with the fact that I was one that was pessimistic about the ability of growth, growth, growth. And I think that that's been borne out. We cannot continue that way. But we can continue to have ample food and clothing and shelter and a decent life for all if we think about all people. But unfortunately, we are now getting locked into a society where the gap is widening and that is a frightening thing, where the rich is living enormously well. We all know the figures. The gaps are widening alarmingly, and I think a part of why it's widening alarmingly is because the union movement has lost a lot of its punch. I think the union movement has to come to terms with that and build a base to say that we want an egalitarian society again. That's when the union movement will start to win a lot more people to its side.
by Mikael Kjaerbye
They are producing a four-page newsletter which is written, illustrated and designed completely by casino workers. Its punchy style has proven a hit with both members and non-members at the casino.
The delegates have now published three editions of Star News which has quickly become a talking point at the casino.
Each edition is printed in around 2,500 copies. It's distributed by the delegates at the casino. The stories are also posted on LHMU's website.
Gaming delegate Mary Ann Apolinario said the newsletter is all about workers communitcating directly with other workers.
"We inform workers about the Union's activities. It is another way to increase communication and education for members," Mary Ann said. "This is especially important for the many young people who has recently started work at the casino."
The articles are written by delegates during their regular Union training course. A small editorial group of five delegates then designs the black and white newsletter using a basic Word template on the Union office's computers.
The delegates learnt about news writing and lay-out at a Union course run by LHMU's national media officer Mikael Kjaerbye.
The latest edition of the Star News newsletter - published this week - focuses on the ongoing enterprise agreement talks between the Union and Star City.
One story called 'Too high to see, too rich to care' details how the casino boss earned $1.24 million last year. This amount is then compared with the 'paltry' pay deal offered to workers by the Casino management.
Another story called 'Let's Strike a bargain' encourages Star City workers to take industrial action in support of a better pay offer.
Other articles in past newsletters have detailed management backflips and union action in areas such as overtime, sexual harassment, pay rises and part-timers' rights.
The regular coloumn "Act on your rights" explains basic worker rights such as the right to strike, grievance procedures and overtime rates.
Casino worker Dolores Amarille, who is on the editorial committee, said: "People from cleaners up to managers are asking about the newsletter."
"Management seems to be concerned about the Star News. Some supervisors have even started throwing the publication in the bin when it's distributed."
"I think management feels threatened because delegates are now communicating directly with other workers about workplace issues. We are also exposing unfair management practices in our newsletter," Dolores said.
Gaming delegate Shane Hall of the editorial group said "Everyone at Star City is talking about the publication the week it comes out."
Management copies newsletter
The Star City management has even copied the Star News format. Recently, they produced their own Enterprise Agreement newsletter which looked remarkably similar to Star News.
"They say that imitation is a form of flattery," Shane said. "So it just goes to show that we are hitting the mark with our newsletter."
LHMU's NSW Branch plans to expand the newsletter idea to other industry groups. A course next month will teach home care delegates how to produce their own publications.
To circle into Dili Airport in a small plane is to appreciate the fundamental beauty of the East Timor island. Dili has a large harbour surrounded by tropically-forested mountains.
To venture into the city is to experience the devastation of its buildings and infrastructure, perpetrated in an inexplicable act of vengeance following the vote for independence on 8 August, 1999.
No newspaper or television account can give adequate preparation for seeing building after building destroyed by the removal of roofs and walls and the burning of public and private structures.
But the people battle on valiantly. Children wave cheerfully at the United Nations vehicles travelling the roads. In circumstances of poverty and high unemployment, morale is remarkably high. The guerrilla/resistance leadership is in strong co-operation with the United Nations Transitional Administration.
Free elections are scheduled near the end of 2001. Preliminary work is being done on a constitution which should allow democracy to flourish.
An embryonic court system is being established with eight East Timorese law graduates appointed to the Dili District Court. Some may think it strange that the UN has applied Indonesian law (subject to some significant deletions based on conflict with international human rights standards), but this is the system that the young judges have learnt, and in a language (Bahasa) with which the people are now familiar.
It's impressive to see idealistic Australians working in the UN administration, including some New South Wales public servants. One officer seconded from the Premier's Department is there now. Another public servant, from the NSW Legal Aid Commission, fluent in Bahasa Indonesian, will arrive soon.
Huge hours and energy are going into the revival of this island community. To visit a major camp of Australian soldiers is to see a genuinely humanitarian project amidst the heat and potential for mosquito-borne disease. Our soldiers are rebuilding roads and other infrastructure as well as playing sport with the locals, and giving tangible support to the nearby schools. Those living in the hot tents adjacent to Dili harbour are rightly proud of the role they are playing.
Schools have been re-opened, but getting the University up and running is, unfortunately, a long way off. I asked a young man working in my modest hotel whether he liked the job. "Yes, but it's not an important job - I'd like to study law as I did for a time in Indonesia," he replied.
He and others should be given a chance. Let's open up some scholarships at Australian Universities for talented young people from East Timor.
Australia is already making available some hospital beds for seriously ill people from this unfortunate island. And the Australian soldiers are enormously respected for their role, demeanour and sensitivity. But we can do more to combat the poverty, disease and deprivation that now afflict our newly independent near neighbour.
Labor relations in Timor
At present, there are really no labour standards laws in place in East Timor.
This is understandable in the context that it was only on 30 August, 1999 that the popular vote in favour of a process of transition to independence under the authority of the United Nations took place. And it was only on 27 November, 1999 that the legislative and executive authority with respect to East Timor was vested in the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).
Most of the people of East Timor live a subsistence existence, obtaining a living from growing rice, goats, poultry or fishing. The unemployed rate is something like 80%. Urban employment, particularly in Dili, is picking up with the need for building works and other infrastructure programs.
But the potential for exploitation is rife. Wage rates are frequently about $1A per hour, with employers working 12 hour shifts with no sick pay or leave.
UNTAET is working on some basic labour law standards. International Labour Organisation representatives have been brought in to advise about setting up fair labour standards in a poor, indeed, devastated environment.
These international experts are examining the possibility of:
· minimum wage and conditions standards;
· union recognition
· a mediation/arbitration system.
In the last week, a conference has been held with worker activists and ILO specialists to examine these options.
One activist group, based upon former East Timorese students who were studying in Indonesia has taken up the workers' cause and has been accepted as bargaining agent by various employers. They have, for example, negotiated a better wages/hours deal for workers employed by the company operating the Olympia Hotel (the large vessel in Dili Harbour accommodating UN personnel). And they have had negotiations and correspondence with Multiplex about safety issues on building jobs.
The formation of a number of trade unions is about to be announced as part of May Day celebrations.
In extraordinarily difficult circumstances, progress is being made.
by 'Green Bans, Red Bans' by Meredith and Verity Burgman
Following Robert Michels and other elite theorists, who insist that large organisations will inevitably be controlled by a tiny minority, most academic commentators have emphasised the many constraints which thwart democratic aspirations within trade union structures. However, it is important not to loose sight also of those features which enable democratic aspirations to be realised: the way in which, as Alvin Gouldner has observed, an 'iron law of democracy' operates as effectively as Michels' ''iron law of oligarchy'. Trade unions are among the most democratic organisations in our society, certainly more democratic in general than corporations, parliamentary parties and government.
However, the democratically elected leadership of the NSWBLF was nonetheless unusual in its determination to expand and enhance internal union democracy, and to reduce the distinction between leaders and led, effectively transferring power away from itself and back to the rank and file who had elected it. When in power the NSWBLF leadership practised the democratic principles normally only preached in opposition. In its organisaitonal principles and practices it anticipated the social-movement unionism of the 1990s, which also emphasises internal democracy and rank-and-file participation in reaction to the increasingly hierarchical forms of traditional unions. An anarcho-syndicalist bricklayer and member of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians in Britain, was so intrigued by the innovative style of the NSWBLF he wrote about it in order to publicise its organisational achievements among British trade unionists, because the contrast with British unions was so striking: compared with his union, 'it sounds like a dream'.
The major structural changes initiated by the NSWBLF were: the introduction of limited tenure of office for union officials; the use of temporary organisers; the emphasis on job-site autonomy; the opening of executive meetings to all members; the frequent use of mass stop-work meetings; the tying of officials' wages to the BLF award; and the non-payment of officials during industry strikes. In the country, area committees were established to improve links between members in these more remote areas and the organisers.
In recognition that it was often not formal constraints which most inhibited participation and democracy, the union leadership encouraged members to 'drop in' to the union's office at Room 28 at Sydney's Trades Hall and to participate in informal discussion on union matters with officials. This increased the leadership's accessibility, and rank-and-file perceptions of its accessibility: the ordinary member felt able to criticise and advise the leadership in a way unusual in Australian trade unionism. The leadership also facilitated rank-and-file participation by reducing the formality of the large meetings (while nonetheless retaining enough to avoid the problems identified around this time as 'the tyranny of structurelessness'). For instance, non-English speaking immigrants were encouraged to participate by alteration of the traditional format for meetings. Accordingly, these immigrants, much less intimidated than before, often spoke at union meetings, sometimes with interpreters and sometimes without. The difficulty most members, not just those with language problems, had previously experienced speaking in a large meeting was reduced by a simple change in mass meeting procedure, whereby members queued at microphones and spoke in turn rather than having to depend on catching the chairman's eye.
The spoken rather than the written word was the medium of NSWBLF democracy. Its members were unskilled workers, mostly uneducated, occasionally illiterate and often unable to read or speak English. The written word was simply an inappropriate tool in the circumstances. Not only were the members unaccustomed to the written word but the leaders themselves felt uncomfortable expressing themselves in print. The union operated nonetheless on the principle that all organising work, including the production of pamphlets and the editing of the sporadic union journal, be carried out by builders labourers and not appointed research officers as in most unions. (This brought about a situation where written work was largely neglected.) However, in a membership of 11,000, concentrated predominantly in the CBD, the lack of written material was not a serious failing. Rather it contributed to the internal democracy of the union in that it created less differentiation between leaders and the led: it was easier for a rank-and-file member to refute an official's argument at a job-site meeting than to write a criticism of it.
The NSWBLF was moving against the trend of increasing bureaucratic and oligarchic practices in trade unions throughout the industrialised world. Moreover, this was a tendency being exacerbated in the Australian situation by the arbitration system, which as many commentators have suggested promoted centralism in unions and a tendency to rely on specialist advocates or outside experts to negotiate wage agreements. Thus, in sharp contrast to most union bureaucracies in Australia in the 1970s, the NSWBLF leadership encouraged rank-and-file initiative and expressed faith in the membership's ability to make 'correct' decisions. This trust was reciprocated: the leadership was highly regarded by the rank and file for its hard work on wages and working conditions, its honesty, its accessibility, and its solidarity. The unusual consensus-style decision making was widely known about and commented upon among the members. Viri Pries noted: 'The media always talked about Jack Mundey deciding this or saying that but we knew that it had been a collective decision'.
By tying officials' pay to BLF award rates, the leadership avoided the isolating effect of higher salaries, for as union leaders secure higher financial rewards for their jobs their sense of identification with the workers and the urgency of their problems inevitably suffers. Nor did they seek the higher social status that is an integral part of the incorporation of union leaders. The officials of the NSWBLF believed that any deviation from their previous lifestyle would be frowned upon by the rank and file and, as union president Bob Pringle put it, they would be quickly 'pulled into line'. The leadership continued to conform to working-class norms. Their response to their own position was unstated but nevertheless definite: their lifestyle changed not at all. They remained drinking in the same places, with the same people. They did not change addresses, nor their eating and dressing habits. Unlike other trade union officials who rarely started work before 8.30a.m., they kept normal working-class hours by starting work at 7.00 or 7.30a.m., which encouraged continuing interaction with rank-and-file members. The caretaker of Trades Hall complained to Pringle: 'Not only do I have to open the joint an hour earlier now that you're here but nine out of ten blokes that come through the door are headed for Room 28'.
Most of the officials had worked in the industry for long periods, and relatively recently, by comparison with union officials generally. Not only were the habits and practices of the industry still second-nature to them, they were also well known among the members. The union's policy on such matters was firm: all officials, even industrial officers and publications editors, had to come from the shop floor. Only one NSWBLF official, Bill Holley, had more than an elementary education-a situation which again distinguished the leadership from those of other unions in the building industry, and from the federal and Victorian bodies of their own union.
The distance between membership and leadership was decreased even further by the way in which the central core of full-time elected officials was supplemented by temporary organisers brought on to service specific areas such as Newcastle and Wollongong for particular events. The practice of appointing temporary organisers, whose appointment had to be endorsed at branch meetings, was formally adopted as branch policy at the August 1970 branch meeting. During 1970, Bob Pringle, Joe Owens, Brian Hogan, Tom Hogan, Don Forskitt and Bud Cook were all appointed as temporary organisers; and Owens and Tom Hogan in particular went back into labouring work for long periods between terms as organisers. Between 1973 and 1974, 39 organisers 'have come on and gone back to the job'.
However, the most startling innovation was the move towards a limited tenure of office: the insistence that officials, after six years at the most, return to the job. By the time of the 1973 branch elections, the New South Wales branch had embraced limited tenure as a matter of principle. It was a structural negation of the 'iron law of oligarchy', and it received a cool reception within the wider union movement of the time. The idea for this departure from traditional union practice developed out of the fertile mind of Jack Mundey. "the driving force that made me suggest limited tenure', Mundey explains, 'was my own experience of seeing modern, contemporary unionism and seeing the need for some inbuilt guarantee for limiting power and having inbuilt renewal'. During a television interview in September 1971, he suggested such a practice would be a beneficial one for the entire union movement: 'To avoid development of union bureaucrats (and unfortunately not all are right-wing either) ... there needed to be greater movement of people between leadership and rank and file'. The barb at 'left bureaucrats', the intimation that this phenomenon ought to be a political contradiction in terms, positioned the NSWBLF apart from other left unions. Union officials watching the programme were probably as appalled by this section of the interview as the executive members of the MBA (who had hired a television set to watch it during a meeting) were by Mundey's comments about the need for workers to undertake militant industrial action.
Nor did Mundey fail to apply the principle to himself. Indeed he chose to apply the limited tenure rule retrospectively by announcing that his six years were already up. Described by many as 'the most foolish move Mundey ever made', he did not seek re-election in 1973 and, at the beginning of 1974, he returned to the building industry to work as a pick-and-shovel labourer. (Bert McGill and Dick Prendergast also stepped down after six years as organisers and returned to work as labourers.) Maintaining he was 'just another builders' labourer', Mundey commenced work on the new annex to St Vincent's Hospital, which he was fortunately able to describe as 'socially beneficial'. The daily papers featured photos of Mundey busy shovelling, wheeling and jackhammering. Though he was frequently absent from this job to fulfil the many speaking engagements attendant upon his notoriety, his standing as a CPA candidate in the 1974 Senate election, his appointment to the Whitlam Government's Cities Commission and his election to the executive of the ACF, he was still employed on this site when Gallagher, in the course of Intervention, urged the manager to sack him. The loss of his union ticket after Intervention made further employment as a labourer impossible to find. Besides, by then he was in his forties and without a classified skill, an unusual predicament for a union official, for most labourers who had been in the industry long enough to become officials had classified skills of some sort. With a formidable reputation as well, Mundey was virtually unemployable. He worked in manual jobs after Intervention, but never again as a builders labourer. Mundey always replied to critics that the limited tenure rule was designed to benefit the institution, not the individual.
Within the union itself both the SPA group and the Maoists opposed limited tenure. The SPA ideal of union leadership was embodied in the desk-bound and grey-suited figure of Pat Clancy, and this group criticised Mundey for not remaining in office: 'Anarchistic opposition of union leadership in general led to imposition of a rigid rule automatically removing union leaders from office just as they were becoming experienced and capable representatives of the union and the working class'.
Writing with the benefit of hindsight, after Intervention had eliminated the New South Wales branch, Owens conceded that both he and Jack agreed with the criticism of limited tenure of office in that particular instance, yet insisted nonetheless: 'But that isn't a criticism of the idea. I also agree with Jack when he says "I should have knocked back some of the almost daily speaking invitations and spent more time on the job, but the important thing was the release of power".
by Peter Murphy
Morgan Tsvangirai, the President of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, only recently stepped down from his position as General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Likewise Gibson Sibanda, MDC Vice-President, was President of the ZCTU. Tsvangirai has a background in the mining industry, Sibanda is still a train driver working on the Bulawayo - Harare run.
Both Tsvangirai and Sibanda are hugely popular, and now represent the best chance for Zimbabwe to change from a corrupt, poverty-stricken, autocratic shambles toward the liberation that the people thought they had won 20 years ago.
MDC was launched last September and had its founding Congress at the end of January this year. It already has over 1.1 million members, in a country of about 12 million people. By contrast, the ruling party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF, claimed 2.2 million members in the past, but this has been rapidly falling since the democratic movement got underway in 1998, at a National Working People's Convention.
The people's rejection of President Mugabe's new constitution at a referendum on February 12-13 stung Mugabe. This was his first-ever political defeat. He immediately launched the occupation of white-owned commercial farms by ZANU-PF members and local criminal gangs, claiming to be liberation war veterans.
Mugabe has been promising land to the veterans for 20 years, without delivering. But in March this year it was revealed in parliament by independent MP Margaret Dongo that senior ZANU-PF figures had received the bulk of lands distributed so far.
MDC completely rejects Mugabe's fascist politics of picking on the white minority, and despite the heavy atmosphere of intimidation and threats of violence, opinion polls indicate a growing majority want Mugabe to go.
MDC insists on political change through democratic processes; Mugabe's standard tactic is to create havoc and use violence to suppress any opposition. In the last two months, MDC has stuck to peaceful methods and now Mugabe's strategy, at least the phase around attacking white farmers, is unravelling.
Under the old constitution, still in force, there are 120 elected MPs and a further 30 appointed by the President. MDC is confident that they can win over 75 if the process is fair.
MDC has called on the international community to come to Zimbabwe to monitor the electoral process to ensure that it is fair and credible. There are 5,000 voting places, and so 10,000 - 15,000 monitors are required. Many are being mobilised in Zimbabwe by the grassroots-based National Constitutional Assembly. Elections could take place in May or June, but must be held by August.
An MDC Executive member, Mrs Sekai Holland, led the solidarity work for the liberation of Zimbabwe in Australia in the late 1960s and 1970s. She returned last year to call for a new solidarity movement. She was able to meet a wide range of trade union, women's movement, student, left and ALP organisations and individuals. As a result, the Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc was set up last July.
On April 3, ZIC called on the Australian Government and the UN to make a high priority of the Zimbabwean elections, and to start mobilising the monitoring effort now. ZIC reminded both of the UN failure to take action prior to the Rwanda genocide in 1994, and warned of the danger of a bloodbath in Zimbabwe.
I represented ZIC at the MDC Congress in January, where the 6,700 delegates came from every part of the country and from all social classes and tribal groups, including whites. The majority was young. About half were women.
The statistics about Zimbabwe today are terrifying, and more than enough reason for the passionate desire to wipe away the government: unemployment - 50%; interest rates - 60%; inflation - 70%; deaths - 90% Aids-related; agricultural wages - $A60 per month; factory wages - $A80 per month; public service wages - $A160 per month.
Power charges have been escalating 20% per quarter. Due to lack of foreign exchange, diesel and petrol supplies are being drastically rationed, and Harare public bus services have been cut by 50%.
In particular, the MDC promised towithdraw the 11,000 armed forces from the Congo; distribute unused agricultural lands to subsistence farmers; declare a National Emergency over AIDS; and to create jobs.
In concluding the Congress, Morgan Tsvangirai said: "We are showing that frustration and anger can turn into constructive action. We can have peaceful change through a democratic process. Those who deny peaceful change will make violence inevitable.
"We must expand the basic organisations of the MDC through information and action. Don't forget where we come from. Our base is the workers, peasants and the poor - 75% of the people of Zimbabwe."
Peter Murphy; Zimbabwe Information Centre Inc
In an article on the issue of an Australian republic for the first Gravity of 1999, I predicted that the referendum would be defeated. I argued that this would be because the majority of Australians who supported a republic with a directly elected president would not change their minds between January and November 1999, and further because a decisive minority of them would feel so strongly about the principle of direct election that they would join monarchists in voting "NO" to the model on offer.
As we now know, I was right. In fact the only thing I was wrong about was that I did not expect the referendum to be defeated as decisively as it eventually was. I had expected a majority "YES" vote in Victoria and New South Wales, at least, but then I did not expect the official "YES" campaign to be the comedy of errors it turned out to be.
In this article I want to offer some thoughts by way of a post mortem on the referendum result, and to suggest a way forward for the republican cause.
Firstly, John Howard has been severely criticised for putting the issue to referendum in the form of a proposal for a specific republican model, rather than letting the people vote on the general principle of the republic separately from the specific question of how to appoint the president. This criticism is valid, as putting the question in that way was both undemocratic and clearly intended to maximise the potential for splitting the republican majority in the general population. I made precisely this criticism in both of my Gravity articles last year on the issue. But the Australian Republican Movement and other "minimalist" republicans were only too happy to accede to Mr. Howard's approach at the 1998 Constitutional Convention. During the course of 1999 it was realised that this was to the great disadvantage of the republican cause, and the Prime Minister was denounced for rigging the question. Why wasn't this obvious to the ARM (as it was to me) at the time of the ConCon, and why didn't they hold out for a more democratic method of putting the issue to the people? In a very real sense, the referendum was lost at the Convention.
However, the situation could have been retrieved in the intervening two years, and in various media I offered a range of suggestions as to how this could have been achieved. The common thread of all these suggestions was the need to persuade direct-election supporters to vote for the model on offer as a "second-best" option, and to also persuade them that a "YES" vote would create a better chance for further progress towards direct election than would a "NO" vote. I wrote, and saved my soul, but failed to save the "YES" camp from itself.
For a start, the Constitutional Convention had resolved that, if the republic referendum was carried, a further Convention should be held to review the form of the republic (including the method of choosing the Head of State) and to consider other proposals for Constitutional reform. If this point had been emphasised during the referendum campaign, and especially if the pro-republic members of Federal Parliament had amended the referendum proposal to incorporate the commitment to a review (as I argued in Gravity), it could have brought many more direct election republicans into the "YES" camp, as they would have been assured of a fair hearing for, and a future referendum on, their preferred model. Whilst Federal ALP leader Kim Beazley did allude to the review in some of his republic campaign speeches, and whilst the "Yes And More" group tried to raise the issue, it was generally neglected by the mainstream "YES" campaign. The failure to emphasise the possibility of such a review, and to incorporate it in the referendum proposal, played into the hands of the monarchists and the "Real Republic" direct election hardliners, who were able to argue plausibly that only a "NO" vote would enable the direct election option to be considered further down the track
Further, I persistently argued that it would be a mistake for the ARM and its allies to assume either that supporters of direct election were "soft" in this commitment and could easily be persuaded to the minimalist line, or that it was necessary to win them over to that line to secure their vote in the referendum. If it had been accepted that their support for direct election was an informed and considered position based on democratic principle, it would have been possible to persuade them that those reasons of democratic principle were also good reasons to regard the republic on offer, with a non-discriminatory (albeit imperfectly democratic) method of appointing an Australian head of state, as preferable to a status quo in which our head of state is an English citizen selected by a combination of biological accident and religious and gender-based discrimination. Labor MP Lindsay Tanner (himself a direct electionist) put forward a very good case along these lines, but these arguments were generally absent from the "YES" campaign.
I also pointed out that many of the most prominent direct-election republicans in Australian politics were not aligned with the "Real Republic"/monarchist "NO" axis, and were advocating a "YES", or, more accurately, a "Yes . . . And More" vote. As well as Lindsay Tanner, they included Peter Beattie, Jim Bacon, Mike Rann, Geoff Gallop, Senator Bob Brown, Pat O'Shane and Natasha Stott-Despoja. The "Real Republic" alliance of Ted Mack, Phil Cleary, Clem Jones et al, who advocated a "NO" vote, were very much the direct election "B team". It was clear a long way from home that the votes of the pro-direct election majority of the general public would decide the outcome of the referendum. The monarchists realised this, and accordingly stood back to let the "B team" make the running under slogans such as "Vote NO to This Republic" and "Let the people have their say", to telling effect. Given the array of talent in the direct-electionist "A team", they could surely have outgunned the "B team" and the monarchists had they been allowed to do so, and might have swung enough direct election voters to a "Yes and More" stance to win the referendum. Yet the official "YES" campaign, by and large, kept the "A team" under wraps, and generally prevented their arguments from reaching a wide audience.
By contrast, much faith was invested in Andrew Robb's Conservatives for an Australian Head of State, and in Coalition republicans such as Peter Costello, to shift a decisive number of conservative voters to the "YES" camp. This was consistent with the "minimalist" strategy's original assumption that, as Australians are constitutionally conservative, a referendum on the republic could only be won with the support of moderately conservative voters, who, it was assumed, would only vote for a republic which involved minimal constitutional change. As I argued in January 1999, the decisive shift in conservative public opinion on the republic had already occurred in the mid-1990s when conservative political and intellectual figures such as John Fahey, Nick Greiner, John Hirst and Robert Manne announced their support for a republic. I wrote that those Australians (some 30+ per cent) indicating continuing support for the monarchy in the polls were "rusted-on" monarchists whose attachment had nothing to do with constitutional reasoning and everything to do with tradition and emotion, and who were therefore not likely to be convinced by the pragmatic conservative logic of the Robbs and Costellos. They voted exactly as I had predicted. If the conservative republicans and their co-thinkers in the business community had any impact whatsoever on the outcome, it would most likely have been to confirm suspicions that the minimalist republic was all a plot by the elites and the "top end of town".
In a way, of course, that is exactly what it was. Australia's political, business, bureaucratic and media elites have, over the past twenty years, turned politics into the art of insulating public policy making from scrutiny, substantive debate and democratic control by the public on whose behalf the policy is made. A necessary aspect of this is opposition to any proposals for constitutional change which could substantially democratise our political system. The question of an Australian republic does not, by itself, entail consideration of such change. However, it is a symbolically and ideologically significant issue which could be utilised as a vehicle for opening up debate of democratic political reform. An unstated aim of the minimalist republican strategy was to quarantine the change in Constitutional symbolism (monarchy to republic) from any risk of contamination by changes in Constitutional substance. Herein lies, I think, part of the reason for the ARM and Robb Mob intransigence in the face of direct election. Directly electing the president would mean that our Constitutional symbolism, as well as being Australianised and de-Anglicised, would also be democratised. A democratic symbolism would not necessarily translate into democratic substance, but it could start people thinking "Why not?". Hence the conservative elites' anxiety to "lock out" the direct election option.
However, such purely rational, self-interested motivations can't explain some of the pathologies of the official "YES" campaign's denigration of direct electionists. I can understand, and respect, the reasons why people of good will might prefer a republic with an appointed head of state. I can appreciate their concerns about introducing a directly elected president without codifying and limiting their reserve powers. But I can't fathom how seemingly intelligent people could argue that direct election of our Head of State would cause our entire political system to unravel. And I would be mystified at the way in which direct electionists became the "hated other" for minimalist republicans - potential and former allies demonised as mortal enemies - if I had not seen, in other times and contexts, a similar mentality grip other political movements in respect of "bloody feminists", "bloody Zionists", "bloody greenies", etc.
I am amazed that ARM supporters can still argue that direct election support is "fundamentally soft" and will dissipate if enough voters can be "educated" before the next referendum. I was saddened by a Semper front cover suggesting that Australians would elect Skippy the kangaroo if allowed to vote for our head of state, and flummoxed by Professor Jayasuriya's claim that direct election republicanism has "deep historical associations with fascism". In the week before the referendum I regularly checked the ABC's republic chat site, to find it dominated by ARM groupies congratulating each other on their intellectual superiority, and speculating on how much better the country would be governed if the franchise was limited to clever people like themselves. The disturbing thing was that they didn't seem to be joking. And to cap it all off, there was the ARM's choice of slogan, which was both unfortunate and unintentionally revealing: "Vote Yes to Our Republic" (emphasis mine). This sort of thing has a name: groupthink.
So, how to salvage the Australian republican cause from the wreckage? Two things appear to me essential: one is a genuinely democratic process to allow the Australian public to debate and decide all the key questions in logical order. The other is to reorganise Australian political republicanism in a way which transcends the tendency of Australian political activism to be an "insider" affair.
To take the latter point first, the ARM has, to its credit, begun reorganising on a democratic basis with a revised Constitution and charter which will hopefully enable it to conjure with direct electionists. However, "insiderism" is a general malaise of Australian politics (as Lindsay Tanner discusses in Open Australia in relation to the ALP) which will take a special effort, and a struggle with old habits, to overcome.
As to the former, Kim Beazley is basically right in calling for a three-stage process in which a plebiscite on the general question of the republic is followed by another on the specifics of how to appoint the head of state, and a final referendum to ratify the outcomes of the plebiscites. Indeed, this was how it should have been done in the first place. What I would argue, though, is that such a democratic process needs to be accompanied and supported by the creation of a range of "discursive spaces" in which the wider public can take part in ongoing discussion of proposals for Constitutional reform, and effective programs for public education and public participation regarding constitutional and democratic issues. One of the crosses I bear, as an educator and as a politically active citizen, is constantly discovering how badly our schools and our media have failed to equip Australian citizens with either basic knowledge of our political system, or with the basic skills required for constructive political participation and the resolution of differences across cultural boundaries. I had many such experiences at meetings and discussions in the lead-up to the referendum. If the outcome of the republic referendum has created some momentum for redressing these failures, it may well be viewed by historians as, on balance, the right result at the right time.
Apart from a whole new vocabulary associated with work, some aspects of working life have changed considerably, others surprisingly less so. The central concern of workers at the turn of the 21st century seems to be time: hours of work, not enough family or personal time and the blurring of the distinction between time spent at work and time at home.
In the 21st century, life in the fast lane of work demands that we know our dot.coms from our e-business, that we know that IT stands for information technology (and $$), that in the modern office people are likely to 'hot desk' (that is not 'own' their own desk, but turn up for work and use any spare desk), that you can apply for jobs over the internet, that because your hours of work are long and open ended you need to order your dinner from work. At least you can conduct your meal-time conversation with your partner via e-mail. Really, who needs to leave their work station? Australian workers are spending more and more leisure time at their desks it seems, with recent research suggesting that it costs Australian business $1 billion per year for the time workers spend surfing the net. This has raised an ethical problem for employers - should they be able to check into people's private [email protected]? From an employee's point of view it demonstrates once more that the barriers between our work and home, our public and private lives, are dissolving.
So, what does working life in Australia look like at the end of one century and the beginning of another? At Federation, Australia's workforce numbered just over 1.5 million; we now have a workforce approaching 9 million. According to our historical statistics, at the turn of the 20th century most people either worked on the land, in trade and transport or in manufacturing. It's hard to say these days which industry or industries most Australians work in. The statistical truth is that Australians now work in a wide variety of industries, and it is not one industry that dominates. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that in November 1999 15% of the workforce were in the retail trade, 12% worked in manufacturing, 11% in property and business services and 9% in health and community services. Perhaps most surprising was that despite all the rhetoric about tourism and changing life styles, just 5% of Australians worked in accommodation, restaurants and cafes, and this was closely followed by 4.8% who worked in agriculture.
Compared with the range of industries we work in, our occupational spread is more concentrated. Nearly 30% of Australians are professionals or associate professionals and another 7% are managers. Just over 20% work in clerical, sales or service work and 13.5% are tradespersons. But what's in a name? Of this last group called tradepersons women only represent 1.4%! On the other hand, women represent half of all professionals but they also dominate the mid and lower level sales, clerical and service work.
The number of [email protected] has increased, but not as dramatically as we might think. At the turn of the 20th century, women constituted 20% of the paid workforce. At the turn of the 21st century, women constitute 43% of the paid workforce. Women's work at the turn of the 20th century was irregular, seasonal, casual and temporary. For some women not that much has changed. Child care and sexual harassment were and still remain troublesome work issues, and today, discrimination against pregnant women is a worrying trend.
Changing jobs, or job mobility, is apparently another feature of e-century work. In the last years of the 20th century, 14% of Australians changed their jobs every year. Not surprisingly, but it's nice to have statistics to confirm this, the 20-25 year olds are the most mobile with one-quarter of them changing their jobs every year. The 55-59 year olds are least likely to change their jobs, and married people are less mobile that non-married people.
So, where to from here? For many, working life is already running at fever pitch and projections are for labour shortages and skill shortages. People are working longer hours but over a shorter period of their life, changing jobs more frequently and just coping with the work and family imbalance. In the 1800s the union movement's struggle to distinguish work from play led to the movement for the 8 hour day. However, the shorter working week largely benefited skilled men, and didn't resolve the problems for women and the semi skilled. It seems that even with computers, e-business and smart cards, (or perhaps because of?) we still haven't properly resolved the work/time/life balance. The family/work imbalance is being reflected in many parts of life, and one socially important consequence is in declining birth rates in Australia. Current birth rates are below the population replacement rate, and we might speculate that this represents a major disjuncture between the last century and this century.
What do we want from work? What do we want from life? What do we want from work-life in the 21st century? Take some time to think - when you can.
Marian Baird is a Lecturer, Work & Organisational Studies, University of Sydney
by Peter Lewis
Because as this compelling story unfolds, what emerges is that the BLF experiment of the 1960s and early 1970s was a successful attempt to shift the power in a union from the top down to the bottom up.
As unions struggle to let go of the levers of power and genuinely empower the grassroots; the simple convictions that drove the transformation of the BLF should provide a case study.
The film charts the rise and fall of the BLF, as a group of rank and filers took control of a workforce riding the cusp of the development boom of the 1960s; developers were making massive profits on the backs of builders labourers risking their lives for a pittance.
Fiske seamlessly weaves archival footage with interviews with the key players: Mick McNamara, who led the rank and filers to power in 1961 at the tender age of 22, Joe Owens, Tommy Hogan and, of course, Jack Mundey.
From the takeover of the union to its historic alliance with other community groups through the Green Bans placed on a series of unpopular developments, the BLF showed what's possible when a union genuinely reflects its constituency.
Listen to Jack Mundey describe the ideas behind the BLF and you could be listening to Michael Cosby presenting a TUTA lecture:
"We tried to give strength to the rank and file and say: you are the union. While of course you can use the officials, in the main you can do the work at bargaining from the grass roots level. In this way we started to bring out worker control of the union itself ... it stood us in good stead when later the union was challenged by the joint force of the state and big employers."
Of course, the fall of the BLF rank-and-filers is just as compelling as their rise and Fiske chronicles the Gallagher takeover and its tragic implications to the BLF.
As the film so skillfully brings out, this was not just about union power; it was about building an organization that reflected the principled dignity, humility and - from 21st century eyes - innocence, of its members.
'Rocking the Foundations' is more than a doco, it is a piece of industrial art. Watch it when you can.
Your union can borrow Rocking the Foundations from the Labor Council Information Centre - Just Ask Neale to organize a loan!
Parrish Meat Supplies Pty Ltd was an abattoir located at Yallah in my electorate and established in the 1950s by Mr Sid Parrish Sr. Last August, the firm became insolvent. Some 120 workers who had made a fortune for the directors of Parrish Meat Supplies were left high and dry by the directors, particularly Mr Colin Stanley Lord and Mr Sidney Kenneth Parrish. Parrish Meat Supplies established a transport and administrative arm of its operations through another company called South Coast Bulk Carriers Pty ltd. The current directors include Mr Ken Parrish and previously included Mr Colin Lord, with the latter retaining a substantial shareholding.
South Coast Bulk Carriers Pty Ltd is located at the Parrish Meat Supplies site at Yallah and, very interestingly, shared its employees with the related firm. South Coast Bulk Carriers employed a dozen people, mostly transport and some administrative workers. South Coast Bulk Carriers is a firm that is hollow in every sense: it has no assets and went into liquidation at the very time that Parrish Meat Supplies also went down the tube. Naturally enough, in this murky, putrid world of corporate set-ups, another company was established under the name of Obnora Pty ltd. This company shares the same registered address as both Parrish Meat Supplies and South Coast Bulk Carriers, again at Yallah.
Now the directors list becomes more interesting because it includes director Mr David Daley and others from Daley & Co. They are accountants with a presence at Port Kembla and Wollongong. Daley & Co provided accountancy services and previously audited accounts for both Parrish Meat Supplies and South Coast Bulk Carriers.
Another director ob Ebnora is one Mrs Janice Marree Paton, whose additional responsibility was company secretary for Parrish Meat Supplies. Obnora Pty ltd was a secured creditor of Parrish Meat Supplies at the time of insolvency. It claimed around $1.8 million. Obnora Pty Ltd assumed the role of secured creditor following the very clever and timely departure of the Westpac Bank. Obnora's directors, including the Daley & Co accountants, claim to have shovelled into the ailing Parrish Meat Supplies $1.8 million following the departure of the bank. A Mr John Star acted as a receiver for Obnora at the time of Parrish Meat Supplies' liquidation. This man was the chief architect of the deed of company agreement presented to the workers at the end of 1999 proposing that the workers accept as little as 30 cents in the dollar for their statutory entitlements.
Mr John Star, coincidentally, also acted as administrator for National Textiles in Maitland. These 30 cents in the dollar deed of company agreements appear to be his specialty. Parrish Meat Supplies, South Coast Bulk Carriers and Obnora Pty ltd are indeed a cosy family business in every sense of the word. The directors of Parrish Meat Supplies, Mr Colin Lord and Mr Ken Parrish, son of Sidney Parrish, are cousins. Ms Janice Maree Paton, the company secretary and slavish director of Obnora, is the sister of Mr Colin Lord. Mr Lord's and Mr Parrish's offspring are also involved in the family's wider corporate interests, including positions in the trusty family trust arrangements.
The Lord and Parrish corporate empire is quite extensive, including publishing with ownership of the South Coast Register, the Bay Advocate, the Yass Tribune and the Leader. Other interests include Direct Acceptance and Direct Credits. There is also involvement in car dealerships: Frank Bode Motors and Kinghorn Motors of Nowra. There is also an interest in manufacturing firms Southern Kitchens and High Sierra.
In 1993 the Australian Securities and Investment Commission successfully prosecuted the directors of two Lord companies, Direct Acceptance Corporation Limited and Drum Reconditioners Pty Ltd. The prosecution resulted from the misuse of position by the directors seeking advantage from a firm under liquidation, which was Drum Reconditioners. Mr Raymond Lord, Colin Lord's brother, was jailed as a result of this prosecution. In addition, the Direct Acceptance Corporation Ltd also went bust, owing more than $50 million. Another director of DAC was one Mr Terry Scanlon.
The plain picture that builds up from an assessment of the Parrish Meat Supplies' corporate structure and directorships that are held clearly indicate so much conflict of interest, so much paper shuffling, so many hollow, worthless companies and proven past illegal activities. The story now gets even worse, as there is clear evidence that a number of government agencies have refused to dig deep into the corporate sham and expose these murky and putrid dealings which I remind you have left 120 workers and their families with just a pathetic portion of their statutory entitlements.
I start with the Australian Taxation Office. I formally wrote to the ATO seeking an investigation into the whereabouts of superannuation entitlements of the Parrish Meat Supplies workers. On 15 November I received a reply which was worthless. More troubling is that recently the ATO received correspondence from the liquidator of South Coast Bulk Carriers demanding that the $43,000 that had been paid to the ATO immediately prior to the wind-up be returned to the workers in accordance with the Corporations Act's preferential payments clause. In effect, this $43,000 held today by the ATO should be returned to the workers who under the law have the preference of this payment before the ATO. The ATO, in its usual sensitivity, has stated that the commissioner must first be satisfied that the workers are entitled to this $43,000, but in addition that the workers must initiate legal proceedings against the ATO to obtain a court order to secure the $43,000. This is an outrageous demand by the ATO. That money is the property of the workers and must be handed back to them immediately.
The ASIC, despite its success in the past, is at present indicating unwillingness to further investigate the circumstances prior to the liquidation of Parrish Meat Supplies and its associated companies. Previous companies directed by Mr Colin Lord and Mr Ken Parrish have a habit of collapsing, leaving a trail of debt behind them, but the ASIC indicates that it does not intend to investigate these events further and that there is no further role for the agency in this particular case. The ASIC need only examine its own records on the current extracts for organisations and the historical personal name extract and it will find a list of companies as long as the Hume Highway with references such as 'externally administered' and 'de-registered'. How the ASIC, a corporate watchdog, can allow Mr Colin Lord in particular, a serial cracker of corporate structures, to get away with this type of corporate tyranny is imply beyond my understanding. It truly defies logic.
Now there are questions for the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business to account for. The minister will remember the Parrish meatworkers. After all, he gave them a whole two minutes of his time while at a cabinet meeting in Nowra recently. However, what the minister must explain is a letter forwarded to each of the Parrish Meat Supplies workers by his department dated 13 October 1999. The department correspondence, signed by the director of the department's Employment Assistance Monitoring Unit, asked the employees about a traineeship or apprenticeship under the New Apprenticeships program. In part, the correspondence states:
This traineeship or apprenticeship was partly funded by the department... We would like to know if the traineeship has worked for you and whether you now have a job, are studying or are doing something else. This is not to check up on you personally but to see whether the assistance you received helped you.
It was an easy survey for the workers to complete. They need only answer in the negative to each question. I want to read part of a statutory declaration into the record because this traineeship program was a fraud. This declaration is provided by one of the workers and reads:
During the month of March 1999 my employer advised me that I was required to sign a form relating to a training program. I was told that unless I signed the form I would not have a job here. I was not told by my employer that by signing this or any other form I would no longer be employed by either Parrish Meats Supplies or South Coast Bulk Carriers. I was unaware that by signing this form I would be employed by FSO Group Employment and Training. I was not aware that I was signing an application for a traineeship as a 'new labour market entrant'.
The workers declaration goes on:
A few weeks before the termination of my employment at the Parrish site I was again required to sign a form relating to training but was not advised by my employer that this was another Traineeship Application which would change my employer from FSO Group back to my original employer. A few weeks later Parrish Meats Supplies and SCBCC went into liquidation.
What happened to this funding by the department? How much funding was provided? Has there been a certification from the company that received this funding that the requirements of the funding have been met? If not, why not?
Foods Safety Operation Pty Ltd is a group training and employment company which presented a proposal to the Parrish companies that would effectively shift their entire workforce into a traineeship scheme. The traineeship scheme that the workers signed up for was one specifically intended for new labour market entrants-that is, employees who have worked for their current employer for fewer than six months. As I have already indicated, many of the Parrish workers have worked there for over a decade. Therefore, the only way that the traineeship and other subsidies could be accessed was by shifting the existing workers to the FSO group.
From March 1999 to the close of June 1999, workers received pay slips and group certificates indicating very clearly their employer to be FSO - not Parrish Meat Supplies or South Coast Bulk Carriers. As the declaration I have just read into the record indicates, workers were then shifted back into the Parrish Meat Supplies operation by the FSO by the signing of a second form. Here we have a clear case of fraud against the Commonwealth. We have correspondence received by employees seeking an evaluation of their training. On the other hand, we have employees signing and swearing that they received no training and that they were threatened with the sack if they did not sign these forms - not once, but twice. We have a case of half-smart shifting of workers from Parrish Meat Supplies into the Foods Safety Operation and from the FSO back into Parrish Meat Supplies.
by Peter Moss
Workers Online has been besieged by reports of sporting, cultural and political events in which Indian bookmakers played a hitherto undisclosed role.
Here are a few samples from our files.
The 1998 NRL Grand Final
Telephone transcripts supplied to this column allegedly record a conversation on the eve of the game between St.George Illawarra and Melbourne Storm. Voice 1 is alleged to be an Indian bookmaker, Voice 2 Dragons star Anthony Mundine.
V1: You are the man, Mr Mundine.
V2: I don't need you to tell me that brother.
V1: You have a bad day, the team has a bad day.
V2: So what?
V1: I hear you're planning to have a bad day this Saturday?
V2: Might do. I can't excited about playing for a club that celebrates British imperialism. And against a team that celebrates Murdoch.
V1: Can I bet on that?
The 1998 NSW election
Faxed through from Macquarie Street was this extract, claimed to record a conversation between an Indian bookmaker and NSW Liberal kingpin Remo Nagarotto in mid-1997.
V1: OK, so it's even money with Collins?
V2: Yeah, that's what our polling says.
V1: And without Collins?
V2: We can't dump Collo. There's no-one else credible enough to put up this close to an election.
V1: What about Chika?
V2: Turn it up. She's still in diapers. Collo might be a bit wet, but people seem to like him.
V1: This could set you up for life my friend.
V2: Yeah right. But I'll be out of a job.
V1: Don't worry. You like the soccer?
V2: Where is this leading Sanjit?
V1: We'll get you on the board of the Northern Spirit club. From there my friend it is happy sailing.
V2: I don't know. Let me sleep on it.
Dogs Head Bay
A source at the ABC supplied the following alleged extract from a mobile phone conversation between an Indian bookmaker and playwright David Williamson.
V1: In our country Mr Williamson, you would live like a god.
V2: Well I am a minor deity in certain circles here.
V1: Yes, but you are underpaid.
V1: And the critics ...
V2: Are foul wannabes.
V1: I understand you are developing a television series for the ABC Mr Williamson.
V2: Uh huh. It's going to be winner too.
V1: Perhaps. But I could offer you untold wealth if this series turns out to be a flop.
V2: No chance. I'm going to report you to the Australian Society of Authors.
The 1998 waterfront dispute
Our Canberra correspondent has unearthed a tape allegedly recording conversations between Federal Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith and an Indian bookmaker. Here is an extract.
V1: I want to place a bet.
V2: You've called the right place Mr ...?
V1: Can I use a code name?
V2: Certainly, what would you like to be called?
V1: Ummm, how about Big Pete? No that's too obvious. Just call me the Enforcer.
V2: As you wish Mr Enforcer. Now, your wager.
V1: OK. What odds will you give me on smashing the Maritime Union of Australia?
V2: I have heard of this MUA. They are a very determined outfit.
V1: Nah, they're a bunch of pansies.
V2: But you are just one man Mr Enforcer.
V1: Au contraire, you jumped up little Shylock. They are but one union. I have the army, the employer, the government and the law.
V2: My odds on you winning this battle are 100 to one.
V1: That's very generous. I'll take it.
V2: I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to lodge your stake upfront.
Workers' Compensation, Secondary Disabilities and Workplace Safety Incentives
Financial incentives are assumed by many Australian Workers Comp Authorities to promote improvements in workplace health and safety. This article outlines the main features of the South Australian bonus and penalty scheme and examines the significance of excluding secondary disability claims costs from the operation of the scheme. It is argued that the exclusion of these costs has resulted in widespread manipulation of claims costs and serious distortions in the allocation of bonuses and penalties.
(Journal of Occupational Health and Safety Australia and New Zealand; vol. 16, no. 1, February 2000)
Measuring Performance in OHS: an investigation into the use of positive performance indicators
A Costigan and D Gardner
An examination of whether positive performance indicators (PPIs) are effective when used to measure the performance of selected areas of the occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). A study was carried out at two Sydney based manufacturing companies.
(Journal of Occupational Health and Safety Australia and New Zealand; vol. 16, no. 1, February 2000)
Tax Deduction for Agreement Costs
Some costs incurred by employers and employees in preparing and administering employment agreements are now tax deductible. The Australian Tax Office has issued Draft Taxation Ruling TR 1999/D15 on the deductability of these costs.
(Australian Industrial Law; newsletter 3/2000, March 2000)
Multiple Business Agreements
The multiple business agreement negotiated in the independent supermarket business in Victoria, and approved by the AIRC last year was significant as it was approved on public interest grounds and it covered more than one employer. Employers claimed it was too expensive for individual employers to have to handle all the IR and bargain effectively. The construction and road transport industries have been concerned with the same issue and a recent multiple business agreement in the construction industry in the ACT has been registered between an alliance of employers and the Building Trades Group of Unions.
(Australian Industrial Law; newsletter 3/2000, March 2000)
Statistics on AWAs from the Office of the Employment Advocate
There were 94,990 AWAs approved as at 29 February 2000
· 1899 employers have successfully used the AWA provisions of the Workplace Relations Act
· 1416 AWAs have been refused.
· The retail industry has 16% of all AWAs; property and business services have 10%
· 15% of AWAs cover casual employees
· 75% cover private businesses, 16% cover the public service and 9% cover not for profit organisations
AWAs by size of workplace
· 6% of AWAs were from workplaces of less than 20 employees
· workplaces of between 20 and 99 employees had 15% of AWAs
· Workplaces of between 100-499 emplyees had 42%
· workplaces of over 500 employees had 37%.
A significant proportion of AWAs cover more than one employee at a workplace. 26% of AWAs cover between 2 and 5 employees while 30% cover between 6 and 20 employees. Only 19% cover one employee.
(Australian Industrial Law; newsletter 3/2000, March 2000; ADAM Report; no. 24, March 2000)
Casual and Part-Time Employment - Innovative Clauses
Some agreements are showing new methods of dealing with the increase in casual and part-time employment. In the hospitality area, casual employment is being phased out in one CBD agreement for flexible part-time workers, which allows the organisation to retain employees and provide security of employment. In the food manufacturing industry, an agreement annualises hours for part-time workers, allowing very flexible rostering arrangements. In the transport industry, a new agreement provides casual employees with sick leave and annual leave entitlements.
(ADAM Report; no. 24, March 2000)
[email protected] a Loss: members and earnings
The [email protected] paper from the ACTU focuses on the problems unions have in confronting the shrinking employment levels in traditionally organised areas and the need to organise, organise, organise in the growing areas of employment.
One way of doing this is emphasising the superior wages of union members, which of course creates a tension as employers may see it as an opportunity to cut costs by avoiding union negotiations.
The focus is on part-time and casual work in service industries. There has been a relative decline in membership rates amongst part-time and casual workers since 1992 (also the period of rapid decline in overall membership levels).
Larger workplaces are also more likely to be union bases, indicating some employer support for unions, which can be useful for negotiation and change. With the Workplace relations Act and the generally hostile attitude of the federal Government, larger employers are also increasingly resistant to unions.
This last point illustrates the difficulties faced by unions when large institutional forces are hostile to their role. Much effort needs to go to organising but if employers and governments are antithetical to unions, it a tough struggle.
(Australian Bulletin of Labour; vol. 26, no. 1, March 2000)
Indeed, Hamburger personifies the term - having made the journey from Peter Reith's personal staff where he drove the first wave of union-bashing laws to the hallowed office of the anti-union police.
The Employment Advocate was the body set up when Howard came to power, ostensibly to keep good his promise that "no Australian worker would be worse off" under the Tories.
What it quickly became was a goon squad of bureaucrats running rampage across the industrial landscape and harassing officials for breaching the so-called Freedom of Association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act.
At the same time Hamburger made it his personal mission to get the Australian workforce onto individual contracts and out of the clutches of the trade unions.
This has included promoting model AWAs for employers (that smack of the sort of pattern bargaining he attempts to outlaw) with such 'innovative' clauses as giving building employers the right to direct workers to use RDOs to make up for time lost to bad weather.
And he's done this with such uncontained zeal that the number of contracts seems to have now become his key performance indicator - as evidenced by his crowing media release this week.
"The number of AWAs has virtually doubled in the past year," he sings. "One in twelve businesses with more than a hundred employees nowhave AWAs, and one in three of the top thirty Australian companies now have AWAs!"
"As the pressure of modern life increases, employees are becoming more conscious of the need to balance their working lives with their family and social lives," Hamburger rhapsodises in the release.
"AWAs are a simple and effective way to pursue this balance and the OEA over the next twelve months intends to focus on promoting the benefits of AWAs to small businesses as well as encouraging family friendly agreements," he warns.
Which is al very nice - although it leaves us wondering what's happened to what should be the Employment Advocate's key competency - advocating on behalf of workers.
No mention was made in the release about the fact that for all his bluster, Hamberger has launched just three prosecutions -- two unsuccessful actions against trade unions and one against an employer who discriminated against an employee for contacting the Advocate, itself.
And he's failed to launch a single prosecution on behalf of a union member despite the promises that he would become the new champion for ordinary workers.
This is at a time when Labor Council's own polling shows that nearly double the number of people who are in unions would be if they felt had the freedom to do so.
Hamberger may be proud of the inroads he is making into deunionising Australia - but as he sits in the Tool Shed this week we ask him to think about the good he could do if he was fulfilling his original brief.
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005