According to cabinet-in-confidence correspondence from Department of Finance and Admininstration to a Commonwealth Government Agency, dated 28 January 2000, reference is made to cabinet requirements to implement Competitive Tendering and Contracting programmes.
As the controversial and expensive IT outsourcing program has been implemented in many Commonwelath agencies there is now a trend emerging for agencies to 'market test' or contract out Corporate Services Functions.
The Corporate Services functions in scope include payroll, OH&S, accounting, finance, property management, records management, fleet control, and in some cases workplace relations functions.
The most recent example of outsourcing is in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries Australia (AFFA) who are negotiating a contract with Price Waterhouse Coopers to undertake Human Resource functions including payroll, property management and Workplace Relations activities. Staff in AFFA were not given an opportunity to put their case forward and have not been told why they were not competitive.
It is possible that the CPSU will be meeting with Price Waterhouse Coopers to negotiate the next Certified Agreement in AFFA. This situation will be difficult as a contractor will not have the same level of knowledge or commitment to the Department or its staff than Departmental Officer. This is also contrary to Peter Reith's statements about the involvement of third parties.
Many other agencies have commenced reviews of their Corporate Services areas to prepare for market testing. These agencies include but are not limited to Attorney Generals, Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Centrelink, Bureau of Meterology, Environment and Heritage and Education Training and Youth Affairs.
CPSU professional division secretary Matthew Reynolds says the there are a number of concerns about the approach:
Job Loss. At risk is well over 2000 jobs being taken out of the Public Sector. Less jobs will be created in the private sector and these jobs will be precarious. It is feasible that some of these jobs will not only move from their current location but be exported.
Privacy. The private sector is only subject to weak, self regulated privacy provisions, but will have detailed information on the locations, salaries and conditions for a range of public public servants, many in very sensitive or strategic positions.
Corporate Memory. The Australian National Audit Office in their reports and to a Senate inquiry have raised the problem of maintaining corporate memory.
Public Scrutiny. There are many instances of Government hiding behind 'commercial in confidence', and the ANAO have raised concerns that contracts have not allowed them to scrutinise the contract or performance. Public moneys should be spent transparently and be open to public and parliamentary scrutiny.
"The CPSU is also being told that the market testing of these types of functions is unpopular with many senior managers but that they are being driven by DOFA," Reynolds says.
" For example, the CPSU is aware that Centrelink have many organisational issues impacting on them at present and are approaching DOFA in an attempt to delay the market testing of their Corporate Services functions. This also leads to other issues with losing control of how money is spent, and of the work that is performed.
"The work of Public Sector Agencies should be done by Public Sector Agencies."
Unions have accused Employment Advocate Jonathon Hamberger of doing Peter Reith's bidding in encouraging companies to lock unions out of workplaces by adopting contract-based pattern bargaining and denying employees freedom choice.
The special kits are advertised on the Employment Advocate's website, packaged as "a new framework for AWAs ... in Australia's booming call center industry".
"Being a relatively new industry, employment arrangements in call centers tend to be rather undeveloped," the OEA gushes. "The new framework will help develop arrangements without imposing uncompetitive arrangements on the industry."
"The framework developed by the OEA in conjunction with the Australian Teleservices Association provides for a significant degree of flexibility at a local level," the Advocate concludes in its latest newsletter.
Bad Track Record for AWAs
Australian Service Union organizer Sally McManus says call centre workers will be suspicious of individual contracts given the sorry record in the industry to date.
"AWAs have denied employees freedom of choice over what sort of agreement they want; playing workers off against each other and workers off against the unemployed.
"To talk about flexibility is just code for 'flex-ploitation'
"With the extremely high turnover rate ion the call center industry employers are already offering AWAs as a take it or leave it option and this will only worsen the situation.
Employees in then industry are already disgruntled by level of stress and not being listened to by management, this will only make it worse.
Hamberger Out of Control
NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the AWA push was further evidence that the Employment Advocate was out of control.
"This office was set up to meet a commitment by John Howard that no Australian worker would be worse off under a Coalition Government.
"But instead of ensuring workers get a fair go, the Advocate spends its time harassing trade union and encouraging employers to push workers onto individual contracts.
"And as these contracts show, the AWA process is becoming a form of pattern bargaining - something Peter Reith blasts the unions for pursuing."
Costa says the OEA should be working to ensure workers have a right to join unions, particularly in light of stats showing far more workers want to be in unions than are.
While Reith's office routinely circulates transcripts of all press conferences to media outlets, none was forthcoming after this one. Here's why ....
Press Conference, 27 April 2000, Phillip Street offices, Sydney, following joint Commonwealth, State and Territories workplace relations ministers meeting.
Natalie Davidson, AAP The manual is promoting Public Service workers to be dishonest. Is that provided for in any ethical framework?
Reith: Well, it doesn't do that. Thank you for the opportunity to answer the claim. Um, this manual has been around for years.
Brad Norington, SMH: That's not true Mr Reith
Reith: Well, I'm told that it is true Brad, and....
BN: Where's your proof Mr Reith? Let's hear it.
Reith: Well, I have the secretary of my department here, and we'd be very happy to allow you the opportunity to discuss the matter with him, but if you are now claiming publicly that that is not true then you will stand on your reputation...
BN: I'd be happy to.
Reith: Well I would hope the newspaper will do the right thing now Brad and correct the record. Now the fact is this manual...
BN: What record, Mr Reith?
Reith: Well the fact of the matter is this manual's been around for some time.
BN: But you don't know that. You don't even know that.
Reith: Oh, well, acting on the advice of my advisers, Mr Norington, ah, I am told that this manual has been around since 19...
BN: But you haven't seen it though, have you?
Reith: Well, I've got a, I have a copy of the manual on my desk
BN: That's the 1999 manual.
Reith: Well, that is your side of the story.
BN: No, it's on the document. You have it.
Reith: No, well, I'm sorry, the fact of the matter is that there has been a manual around for many years. We have been criticised, in my view, very unfairly. Ah, that manual has been around for many years. Ah, any fair reading of it, ah, would lead any reasonable person to conclude, ah, that it simply provides information, it's a training manual as to negotiations. Now, ah, in that sense, in my view, it is a perfectly reasonable response for me to make to you that it has been around for years. The suggestion that we have, you know, that I, or the Government, have somehow, ah, encouraged unethical behaviour is quite unfair and quite unreasonable. I mean, just, just, I mean, it's already been on the public record although it's not made clear, um, in some newspapers. Ah, this was a document, the responsibility of which was within the department, it was never brought to my attention, I never knew anything about this document until February.
BN: So you're only the minister.
Reith: Ah. Well, I am the minister in charge of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. The minister responsible for Public Service matters is David Kemp. Now that is not me walking away from responsibility for anything that happens in my department, but fair is fair, Brad. The fact is that it is a Public Service matter, I have had responsibility for Public Service matters, I do not today.
BN: Your department wrote the document.
Reith: Well, my, there, there's no question that the department was responsible for the document.
BN: They wrote it.
Reith: Well, I don't know who's actually written it, I'm sorry, but, you know...
Stephen Long, AFR: (Inaudible).
Reith: Well, I don't believe that that is what the document does. And I think it's...
SL: Well, I read it. And I read it as suggesting that these were the tactics you can use.
Reith: Well, I beg to differ. I don't think it is a fair, ah, or objective assessment to say, ah, but that's, but that's...
BN: But which tactics should you use and which tactics shouldn't you use?
Reith: Now, I don't think it's a fair assessment, now, you're entitled to your different view but I mean, it's certainly not my view.
SL: What is your personal view, minister, on what is an appropriate tactic invited in that document?
Reith: Well I think people ought to act ethically and that is what the document says.
BN: It doesn't say that Mr Reith - you know that.
Reith: Well... I've read...
BN: It doesn't say that.
Reith: Brad, I'm not, I've, this is a press conference to discuss, I'm happy to discuss any matters but the fact is that you have a personal view about this, and I have a different view, and I've...
BN: No, it's just factual, Mr Reith, purely factual.
Reith: Ha, well, well, what is purely factual is a matter of dispute, obviously, between us, but...
SL: It does suggest, ah, it does suggest using selective figures, and it does raise the notion of one discrediting by raising unsavoury associations.
Reith: Stephen, I can only say this to you. I pulled the manual out myself. I have read the document now. I mean, you know, I spent time reading it last night again. If you ask me, the issue was well and truly over when the matter was raised back in Feburary. Ah, but I've re-read the document again. In my view any reasonable, objective person would not find it the offensive and shocking, ah, you know, document which some people here obviously think it is.
Phillip McDonald, 7.30 Report: Minister, when was it first published?
Reith: Well on my advice it was first published in the early nineties. Ah, and it was certainly in use in seminars in 1994 and we have the dates of those seminars.
PMcD: Exactly the same manual?
Reith: Ah, well, the manual has, it is true, the manual has over the years been updated to reflect changes. So if you read the manual today it says the Workplace Relations Act 1996 says XYZ, so that is true. But I'm also advised by my secretary, and I rely on his advice, obviously, that the offending parts of this document have been a part of this document right from its inception. The document, I'm told was used, for example, ah, in conjunction or in collaboration with the ILO, for example, in the early 1990s, at a seminar in Vanuatu.
BN: The exact same document Mr Reith?
Reith: Well, I've just explained, ah, Brad, the context in which this document was being used. And it is true, there is no argument about it, it is obvious on the face of it, that it had been updated from time to time. But I'm also advised that those parts which you find offensive...
BN: I don't find them offensive.
Reith: Well, um, okay, those parts which are said to be offensive
BN: How do you find them?
Reith: Well, I didn't write the editorial, so I don't know..
SL: Do you find this information ... some people might say, this is just bargaining. This is what happens all the time in bargaining. This is a tactic. What's the problem?
Reith: Well, the document, I mean, a fair reading of the document is trying to impart information to people about what happens in a bargaining process, and how to deal with situations that arise in a bargaining process. Now, to that extent it is descriptive, it is not condoning a particular course of action, and in fact I say to the contrary because there are words which make it clear, in my view, that people should act ethically. In fact, I thought the whole purpose of this manual is to describe to people how they should act, correctly act, in the conduct of negotiations. So, um, it has, the mere fact that it has descriptions of certain behaviour, ah, in our view is not offensive. I mean, how else can you explain to people what may happen in a negotiating process. I mean, how many people have actually read this document? Oh, well, fair enough, you have Stephen, of course, you've done your homework. But, any fair reading of it, I'm happy, it's obviously available to people, I mean, it's, it does seem, ah, that some of the claims made about this document are unreasonable claims, in my view.
BN: Mr Reith, do you support making false demands in negotiations?
Reith: Brad, I'd be very happy to have a personal discussion with you about the matter.
BN: It's just a question. Yes or no?
Reith: With great respect, I'm happy to discuss the matter with you - I did try to ring you yesterday to say, to lodge my complaint with you about the story.
BN: And I rang you back.
Reith: Ah, well, um, I'm very happy to continue our personal discussion Brad, but are there any other questions?
Addressing a prayer service in Sydney to mark the International Day of Mourning for Deaths in the Workplace, NSW Industrial relations Minister Jeff Shaw said 25 new WorkCover inspectors would be appointed.
Shaw says this will bring the state's workplace safety inspectorate to 301, the largest in Australia and almost double the number when the Carr Government came to power in 1995.
"We are increasing the size of the inspectorate so that there is a physical presence to advise those in the workplace and where necessary to enforce work safety laws," Shaw says.
More than one million workers worldwide die from work-related injury or illness each year, according to the International Confederation of Trade Unions which coordinated global activities for the day
The service, also heard from Paralympian Heath Francis who lost his had in a farm
"One moment is all it takes to change your life forever," Heath, who will compete in paralympics as a sprinter, said.
CFMEU workers on St Mary's Cathedral unfurled a banner marking the day as workers around the state took time to reflect on the scrouge of workplace accidents.
Father Robinson recited the following prayer, especially written for the day by Rev Ian Lawton:
A Prayer for the Fallen
We remember those we have lost with great fondness.
They gave much to the world; as individuals, family members, friends and work colleagues.
We remember their families in their enormous sadness.
For those who have died at work building a better place for the rest of us.
Those who died while constructing our buildings and expressways, hospitals and schools.
For those who have died young and innocent, victims of avoidable accidents
May we learn from this loss, honour the memory of those lost
And work towards a safer work place for all people
Where the rights and dignity of all workers are upheld above all else
Unions have warned that without an acceptable scheme, further campaigns like those waged by the Oakdale miners and National Textile workers are inevitable.
The warning came after Reith this week ruled out, for the first time, any form of insurance scheme or employer levy that would guarantee workers their full entitlements.
The move was made at a meeting of state and territory labour ministers, where Reith presented as a fait accompli the taxpayer-funded employer entitlement security scheme which has already been rejected as inadequate by the Labor states.
Reith told the meeting the taxpayer scheme would run for three years before being reviewed. But no state or territory has to date signed up to the scheme which the Labor states believe the scheme is inadequate and wrong in principle.
While Reith says the scheme would meet 80 per cent of entitlements, Labor states warn the scheme will in many instances only pay 20 per cent of entitlements and would most adversely effect long-term employees because of the capping of individual categories of entitlement.
NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the failure to develop a decent scheme leaves all Australian workers exposed if their companies' liquidate.
"Until there is a comprehensive scheme, the issue of workers entitlements will keep returning to haunt the Howard Government," Costa says.
The allegations surround the treatment of about a dozen students supporting the 63 workers who have been locked out of Joy Engineering for a month.
When Joy management attempted to move a truck across the picket line, about 16 police officers moved on the students, throwing them against fences and roughing them up, local labour historian Rowan Cahill told Workers Online.
The police, who are believed to have come from out of the area, acted in stark contrast to local police who had been cooperative with the protestors, members of 'Concerned Citizens."
The group was formed after Joy served injunctions against trade unions representing the workers banning them from picketing including the AMWU, AWU and CEPU.
Cahill says trouble at the Moss Vale operation started late last year when new managers with a background in non-union shops moved in.
This culminated in the partial shutdown of the operations, with workers in the engineering division locked out until July. Other sections of the company are still operating.
Unions are building support around the workers, with increased activity expected next week.
Clemens, 23, a scaffolder who has been in the industry for 5 years will be fighting to qualify for a world title bout if he wins tonight's bout.
In a sign of solidarity, Justin will be wearing a CFMEU T-shirt and carrying a sign saying "wage justice for casino workers" when he first enters the ring.
The bout will be watched by thousands at the Casino and many more through Sky TV. We'll give you details of Justin's fortunes next week.
More Strike Action Looms
Meanwhile, Casino workers are preparing for further strike action as talks fail to make significant headway.
A mass meeting of Casino staff last week following the historic strike rejected Star City's offer and directed the LHMU team back into talks.
LHMU organizer Rebecca Riley says management has failed to come up with adequate policies on either passive smoking and patron behaviour, particularly the process for dealing with intoxicated patrons
The issue of patron behaviour has been referred to Casino Control Authority, which has undertaken to inquire into the issue to ensure statutory requirements have not been breached.
More talks are scheduled for next week.
by Noel Hester
Not since the Khmer Rouge turned the clock back to Year Zero has an organisation been so arbitrary about time.
But talks made a breakthrough of sorts this week when Sydney Water HR Head Honcho, Sandra McDiarmid (ex- News Corp) conceded that 'there was a missing year.'
ASU members have been campaigning for pay increases of 4% per year in line with the rest of the public service - 12% for a two year agreement to cover for the lost year. Sydney Water have been offering 7%. This week they upped the offer to 8% after being reminded in a 24-hour stoppage two weeks ago that unilateral decisions from authoritarian management breed resistance.
Sydney Water have been stalling these talks for over 18 months. In that time productivity and workloads have increased dramatically following significant redundancies.
Sydney Water employees vowed at their last stop work meeting to take further actions including bans on overtime, rigorously follow safety procedures and continue stoppages if they don't get the 4% per annum they are entitled to like everyone else.
There may be a time warp on the penthouse floors of Sydney Water's Corporate Head Office but in the workplace the clock goes tick, tick, tick.
by Dermott Browne
Telstra told the Court. "AWA employees have neither the redundancy rights nor the protections of Award staff,"
The admission was made during the case brought by CPSU and the Telstra unions. The unions are taking action against Telstra for the e-mail sent by 'honest' Rob Cartwright to his managers directing them to discriminate against award staff when handing out termination notices.
In a curious defence of their man, Telstra told the court that Honest Rob was not a discriminator and that he "may be a knave, but he is not a fool ".
Assistant Secretary of the CPSU Communications Section Stephen Jones takes the view that Honest Rob may be both.
'This is not the first time that Honest Rob has been caught being overly frank in his e-mail messages. Two years ago he got the company in all sorts of strife by revealing the details of a confidential discussion he had with a senior member of the Industrial Relations Commission. With this sort of example coming from the most senior level in Telstra it is no surprise that other Managers are having some difficulty in working out just when honesty is the best policy.'
Perhaps the Court will give some guidance in the next week when it finally decides whether Honest Rob is a Fool or a Knave.
Notorious author and political speechwriter Bob Ellis will join Labor Council President Sam Moait and National Textile Worker Dave Evans to give the annual May Day Toast.
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.
The "Big Drum-up for East Timor" will raise more money for new transmitters for "Radio Voz do Esperanza" (Voice of Hope) the only East Timorese controlled radio station in that country.
The East Timorese people consider a comprehensive radio network as one of their priorities in rebuilding their country. Radio Voz do Esperanza currently broadcasts 16 hours a day, and their coverage includes news, feature stories, community service announcements, information on health and agricultural techniques, and of course music.
Almost all the CD's played by Radio Voz do Esperanza were donated after the Radio Free East Timor Concert held in April 13th [Over 1000 CD's were donated - A Big THANKYOU to all those who gave generously!]. More CD's and radio equipment, however, is needed for more stations across East Timor and also to provide a more powerful transmitter for the Dili station - its range at the moment is only about 30 kilometres. The staff at Radio Voz do Esperanza are full of passion and enthusiasm, but are all volunteers who need to eat.
The Big Rum-up for East Timor features an amazing line up of Australia's best drummers including Epizo Bangoura Mahamed Bangoura (West African Drumming) Blair Greenberg (rhythmic vocals) Quarteto Y Su Descarga (featuring Aykho and Fabian Hevia - Afro Cuban), Erik the Dog (as seen on ABC TV) Joel Salom (rhythmic juggling) Womangospeach (body percussion) and Peter Kenard (frame drumming with triggers).
All this for $12!
Old CDs can be donated on the night for the radio station or dropped into the Labor Council Union shop front at 377 Sussex Street.
The Fundraising Concert is organised by the Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) and the Labor Council of NSW.
Tickets are available NOW from Aaron Magner at the LHMU (9281 9577 or 0418 964806) Phil Davey at the CFMEU (9287 9387) or at the door on the night.
What else you can Do!
Further assistance is needed to help these community radio stations in East Timor.
ˇ Make a tax deductible donation to APHEDA - marked East Timor Radio Project.
ˇ Encourage your members to donate old cassette tapes or CDs. Tastes are wide - anything from Mozart to Madonna, and remember, if they haven't listened to it for a year, they will never miss it!!
ˇ Come to the Fundraising Concert at Sydney's Harbourside Brasserie on WEDNSDAY night May 17th to raise money for new transmitters for "Radio Voz do Esperanza".
Following our revelations that less than half of the Labor MPs invited to a briefing by Labor Council officials bothered to show up; we asked you to pick who turned up and who did not.
The offer of a souvenir Howards End T-shirt generated lots of responses, although most of them got it wrong.
MC incorrectly nominated Paul Lynch; while Stepen tried a grab-bag of nominations, but only came up with one out of six - Peter "Blackie" Black as an attendee. Not enough for a T-Shirt, MC. Mike predicted Marie Andrews, MP for Peats would not have attended - but she fronted.
Chrstine got it all wrong, with her confident prediction that Michael Egan didn't turn up, and Alison Megarrity did. You should be sending us a couple of your T-shirts for that effort!
Another zero percenter was Mark: "I'll take an educated guess and say ex-Industrial legal eagle Paul Lynch turned up and that the member for a good time, Joe Tripodi was out at lunch again stacking on the flab." You owe Joe an apology, buster!
There were some shrewder judges through: Terence correctly tipped Bryce Gaudry but dipped out by suggesting Richard Face as a no show.
Nick scored the trifecta with John Mills (MLA Wallsend) , Bryce Gaudry (Newcastle) and Jeff Shaw. Andrew was also spot on, nominating Jeff Shaw as an attendee and Carl Scully as absent.
Sharny was another sharp tipper, correctly picking Meredith Bergman as an attendee andBob Carr as an apology. Daryl correctly predicted a no-show by Bob Debus; Stephen reckoned "the great John Watkins was there". He was right. Anthony was equally as astute with his tip of President Bergman. And Ashley was another one to pick Jeff Shaw.
So we'll be sending out T-shirts to Terence, Mike, Nick, Andre, Sharny, Daryl. Anthony, Ashley and Stephen.
Wel done punters. The comp was so much fun we'll run anther one soon!
I have just heard the ABC News item about SOCOG's ban on families taking food and drink into Olympic venues (and have fired off emails to SOCOG and the Department of Fair Trading that promotes a "Fair Go Games").
What do the workers' representatives feel about this restriction? We have already seen two ticketing fiascoes where the ACCC stepped in because of restrictive practices promoted by SOCOG. We know that members of the "Olympic Family" (who don't receive gifts anymore if you believe Juan Antonio Samaranch et al) shall be accommodated, transported and fed free of charge.
I doubt if politicians shall be lining up for overpriced pluto pups and other such nutritious food. Is it too much to ask that my wife and I can take some sandwiches and fruit for ourselves and our two children when we get involved in the Olympic spirit as we have been urged to? Come on Mssrs Knight, Coates, Gosper et al - how about a fair go for the average Australian who is supporting your show.
I'm just wondering if there is anyone in the union movement who would be interested in forming a band. More, a blues band.
I feel this would be a great way to involve members i campaigns etc, and have some real input to a campaign, union function or anything else that has a union flavour where some music could help!!
I have been a musician for the past 15 years and have performed both live and recorded.
If this could placed in the next news letter, I would be very grateful.
I have been a union member for past 8 years in the ASU and LHMU and am a delegate in both unions.
My email is mailto:[email protected] and my phone number is wk(03) 9241 7313 and at home on (03) 9528 5770
Thank you for your time,
I read with interest your article on Ken Livingstone.
Whilst I love the embarrassment it will cause the Blairite Labour Party, I can't help but wonder if his main concern is the less than healthy prospect of his political career considering he was quite prepared to compromise his views in order to become the official Labour Party candidate.
by Peter Lewis
What is the lot of a public servant in the early stages of the 21st Century?
Public servants are working longer hours, they feel less secure and they are working under much greater stress. The concept of a permanent job that people used to believe existed in the public service has long gone. People tend to be more confined to one department because of the way bargaining and employment arrangements exist. So, even the capacity to move around and have a career in the public service has changed quite dramatically.
What do we lose in our public servants by losing that mobility around the various departments?
You lose the investment in people. The government traditionally trained its staff well, but nowadays it is basically training them for the private sector rather than retaining them. Because more people are spending more time in the one area the logical move for them is often out of the public service. And that's a big problem because you tend to lose a lot of good people.
So where does the talent come in if it's all going out of the public sector?
The massive cuts in the public sector mean they are not bringing in young people - not in anything like the numbers they used to. The Commonwealth is no longer providing the training. For example, the Commonwealth used to employ very large numbers of apprentices, particularly engineering apprentices, and those people were often the people who formed the basis of whole sectors of the Australian economy. Without the Commonwealth providing that support and training for people we are losing much needed talent across the board.
The fact that it's a smaller public service shouldn't be a surprise, given that governments of both political colours have such an obsession with cutting budgets and cutting government spending. But what's the other side of that? We get the good news on the budget. What are the tangible things we are losing by cutting the numbers of public servants we have?
We lose a whole lot of service, scrutiny and accountability when jobs are cut or outsourced. There are two kinds of cuts being made in the public service. The first are arbitrary budget cuts. That is getting a smaller number of people to do the same amount of work. This inevitably leads to corners getting cut and integrity compromised. In an agency like Centrelink for example this means you wait longer to get your phone call answered and longer in a queue.
The other side of job cuts in the public service is outsourcing of work. There is an absolute fetish in this government about outsourcing. They are really working on a Kennet model, that is to get the public service down to simply a core policy body and have all service delivery, corporate services etc delivered through other organisations.
When you are looking at the role of Government, most people agree it should be focussed on health, education, welfare, and on working in partnership to provide infrastructure and support for the private sector. However, the sad truth is that the Howard government is choosing to vacate all these areas. Over time it means that society is not getting the service and underpinning that Australians have always expected.
How much of that trend do you blame on the former Labor Government?
I'm told that at the time the Labor Government was one of the biggest outsourcers amongst the OECD countries. But what they got up to was nothing compared with what's going on now.
We fought against outsourcing then and we are fighting against it now because we are yet to be convinced that it benefits anyone other than huge corporations.
At the moment several Government agencies are outsourcing all of their human resource management. So their payroll, their industrial relations, their internal management functions will be handled by a bunch of private sector chartered accountants.
What's an example of that?
AFFA, which is responsible for forestry and fisheries, is currently negotiating with Price Waterhouse to have all of its human resource management done through that company. Now this demonstrates just how misleading Peter Reith's talk about direct employer / employees bargaining is.... all he's trying to exclude is the union. If unions are a 'third party,' what does that make Price Waterhouse? The irony is that in the future those workers will be bargaining one step removed from the employer.
What can unions do about the Government's outsourcing fetish?
The tide is starting to turn. I think the community is starting to really question the value of Governments automatically selling off all of its assets.
Secondly, we are starting to accumulate important legal wins in the area of 'transmission of business'.
The biggest cost saving in outsourcing is in reducing job numbers and employment conditions. However, several Federal Court cases we have run recently demonstrate that when work is outsourced from one organisation to another, the same pay and conditions should 'transmit' to the new organisation. Which means the savings from lower wages and conditions will not be there.
When the government closed the CES down and the set up Job Network / Employment National they tried to employ staff in the government owned employment service provider on lesser conditions than the CES staff had. They argued then that public service awards only covered people while they were employed under the public service Act. They were wrong. The Employment National decision rejects that view.
So it takes out one of the incentives to outsource?
Absolutely. Yes. If the cost incentive is removed, then you are left with an ideological position that isn't backed up by the dollar amounts. We believe that this decision we will allow us to dramatically slow down this push to outsourcing.
This week we saw Mr Reith's book of bad bargaining tricks and almost every week we are getting horror stories out of the CPSU about attacks on union rights. What are some of the worst you have come across over the last few years?
Well, the Department of Finance is probably the worst offender. It's now got the lowest base rates of pay of any public service department. It had an initial collective agreement with staff which enabled enormous management discretion and virtually all pay movement based on individual performance measurement. We were very concerned about that agreement, but what subsequently happened is even worse.
The Dept now refuse to bargain collectively at all. Despite support for collective agreements, the only way for Finance staff to bargain over wages and conditions is through an AWA. Now that's the worst example of a trend in the public service, where workers are consistently denied their choice of bargaining.
We have agencies where 90% of the staff cast a vote in favour of a union negotiated LJ collective agreement but the employer will still insist on having a LK staff agreement. We find that when we go to the Commission to talk about that that there's actually no power for workers to have the sort of agreement that they choose.
There is no doubt the government's driving that agenda. They constantly measure what percentage of workers are covered by what sort of agreement. But this sort of analysis ignores the fact that in most cases, LK 'staff 'agreements have been won by a union team, elected as staff reps on a union ticket, to negotiate around a union log of claims. Yet the agreement is registered as a non-union LK agreement. Now, that gives you a taste of the ideological drive in the government's industrial agenda.
The good news is that despite the Government's best attempts the vast majority of the Australian public service staff are covered by union agreements - something like 70 per cent.
So how are you guys bearing up? Is membership going through the floor or are there signs of encouragement in some of the departments?
As far as our membership is concerned, we've certainly got a significant membership loss, but the Government have cut 100,000 jobs in our sector, so a very large proportion of the membership loss is directly attributable to that.
The support we get from workers - unionised or not - is encouraging. In agencies where our membership would be 40 per cent we are delivering an 80 per cent vote of workers in favour of having union negotiated agreements. So people really understand our role and support us. The challenge for us is to keep turning this support into membership growth.
The other side of it is, that whenever we run a 'NO' campaign against a sub-standard agreement, we almost always succeed in getting the bad agreement turfed out and a better one put in place. I think more and more staff are becoming empowered by this sort of process. They are learning that they don't have to put up with a second rate deal and that if they work collectively they will get a better outcome.
One of the things that Peter Reith likes to characterise in the entire union movement, but in particular the CPSU, is that you are just anti-change, you just want to keep things the way they are. Do you, as a union leadership, have a vision as to how you would like to see a public sector evolving into the 21st Century?
We've have a proud history negotiating positive change. One of the most significant changes was the second tier wage process where we broke down all the demarcations in the public service. Over 100 different classifications were reduced to about 8. We said we can't have a typing pool any more - it's no longer a production line. From the clients point of view it this was a major improvement. It meant that if you are going into an agency like Centrelink, then the person you are dealing with will be the same person who follows your case right through.
Now, that was a really tough call for the union. We played a major leadership role with our members at that time. So I think our history is pretty good about being involved in positive change.
The difficulty we have now is that what this Government is proposing aren't reforms, they are simply cost cutting exercises. You get a budget decision that says we'll cut 2% out of the staffing budget of an agency, but its not accompanied by a plan about a new way of working, or a new vision for providing service - it's just trying to do the same with less. And I don't think there's a lot of scope to negotiate positive change in that environment.
The other problem of course is that the government is trying to dismantle all of the consultative processes that we had in place. The government, through a very centralist role, severely limits each department's ability to include consultative arrangements with the union in their agreements. Even if there is a good working relationship and a high level of union membership, they refuse to allow clauses in certified agreements that set up regular consultative forums or give delegates time consult with their members.
Does that send your organising off site and underground?
It does really. And it means that it's more likely that we will end up in conflict than we would have done in the past.
What's your take on the ideas of Mark Latham who says that in the long term you have got to get public servants out of the big offices and back out into the communities so there is much more flatter public sector structures?
We have always said that there should be a community role in determining what level of services people want. We would support forums where the community has a real say about what sort of services they want, where they want them, and how they want to get them. We certainly support the actual physical presence of people in the areas where their users are.
So with all these changes is there any room for optimism for somebody in your position?
Always, because we are very determined. And we know that fashions come and go with things like public services. There are constant moves to centralise, then decentralise then centralise again. However we think there is a growing community awareness about the role of the public sector.
Much of the debate about regional services really is a debate about public services and we have a role to play in promoting that community debate. Obviously the Government's polling shows that they have got a bit of a problem on this issue. This is because the community is starting to understand what they are losing.
John Howard's recent trip around NSW talking about services was very interesting. Wherever he went people would confront him with stories about things they had already lost. So that showed a growing understanding from Australians about the things that government should provide for them. We have a 100-year history of proper public services that people have taken for granted. People are only just starting to realise this because they are losing them.
by 'Tales from the New Shop Floor' by Peter Lewis (Pluto Press)
There's a battle going on as the Australian workplace changes; a battle for everyone to move on or perish. The organisations that represent the interests of workers is facing the same challenge as everything else. Things aren't going well; but there's glimmers of hope, if 'hope 'is the word to suggest that workers in the Information Age will need to work together to promote their common interests. The snapshots of working life presented here shows how, across a diverse gulf of occupations, there are communities of interest and mutual support networks. The questions is whether trade unions, can adapt the structures that it built to support workers for the past 150 years to fulfil these new demands.
Sally's at the frontline; a trade union organiser implementing the new techniques for survival, by going into totally non-unionised workplaces and helping workers develop new ways of to pursue their collective interests. Her office is strewn with posters and files, a megaphone lies on the floor, still there from the last time she made a noise outside a workplace. It's all about activity; moving as fast as a dynamic labour market which has steam rolled organised labour in the past decade. "Battle of Bridge 1998 - for leadership and strategic deployment of troops under heavy enemy cross fire - pain is temporary, glory is forever," the sign from appreciative members refers to her finest victory, a bunch of techs who were getting screwed. It hangs next to a photo of Xena.
"All I think of in the morning is how will I get some more members," Sally says. She's part of the resistance as unions attempt to adapt to arrest a seemingly fatal decline. In the past decade union membership has dropped from more than 50 per cent of the workforce, to around 28 per cent - and it's falling. Many reasons have been offered for this plunge - a decline of the unionised blue-collar areas, the rise in casual employment, the end of closed shops, the impact of the Accord between the ACTU and Labor Governments in compromising unions in the eyes of may members. At the same time the leadership structures of unions have seemed incapable of adapting to smaller, more fragmented workplaces and the demands of more skilled, service industry workers. As the previous case chapters have shown, few young workers see the need to join unions, creating the real risk that the movement could soon become an historical footnote from the Industrial Age.
So is Sally an endangered species? "Definitely not," she says. Organising, she believes, is the way out. Over the past six years more than 300 young workers and graduates have been recruited into the movement and trained in this new strategy which aims to send the power of the union out of the head offices and back into the workplaces. As Sally explains it, organising is about empowering workers to look after themselves rather than merely recruiting them and providing them with a service. "The strength of a union is not its officials - it's got to be the workers." Her job is not to service members but to activate workplaces so the union exists through its members. "The basic rule is that if a job can be done by someone else, you give it to them - it's not about doing less work; it's about developing skills and confidence amongst your members. This is how people will become committed union members and move on to become union activists."
Sally's target are the big call centres where unions have struggled for members despite a massive growth in jobs. The reasons for this are many - as Tony's example shows. Many firms employ a team structure, which deny the natural opportunities for third party involvement. The industry is unregulated, so there is no industry award and no role for a trade union there. But more telling is the failure of unions to make an effort to understand the industry and the issues that could mobilise the workers. And the issues are there - electronic surveillance, irregular hours, massive staff turnover all point to opportunities for the unions.
She starts each day working through her emails. It's how she communicates with most of her delegates. They use private Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, so management can't scrutinise them; in workplaces where surveillance of telephone calls and emails is commonplace, it's a real concern. The email has been a fantastic tool for organising - allowing them to communicate with their members on a daily basis without the need for physical meetings. For the delegates, it allows for instant feedback rather than drawn-out processes over meetings, minutes and resolutions. Things move faster than that these days. She scrolls down the screen; looking at some now, saving others for later. A student wants to talk to her about organising; a member reports on more interest in joining the union from people at one of her target workplaces; some gossip about management from another member; and several responses from the union magazine that goes out to existing members; seeking email lists so they can build better communication chains. Like this one.
The call centre industry is diverse. :"You go into an airline call centre and the workers love their job, they have good work conditions, rostered days off - and cheap air fares!," Sally says. The finance sector is also goof, promoting best practice - the nature of their information is so important they need skilled and motivated staff. But it's the cowboy end of the market that Sally's interested in - telemarketers, small country call centres, and new players trying to get into the booming market by pushing down costs so they can win contracts over the existing centres. Many employ students and backpackers who just want the money and won't stick their head up to complain. Because they are new, there are no established ground rules.
Sally has developed a long-term approach to organising the call centres based on getting a foothold in the large operations first and then using the high turnover of staff to get leads into other operations. It involves systematic planning - over the past 18 months she has read everything she could on the industry, it's structure, its pay rates, the issues. She's mapped the industry; setting priorities for getting into the big players. She's surveyed workers about the issues that concern them - without ever even mentioning them joining the union. In the early days this is irrelevant. "The union will never have any influence until it reaches a critical mass of 50 per cent," Sally says. "My job is to find the issue that will motivate the workers to make that decision to join." For call centres, where the workforce are typically educated and confident, it involves a major culture change
She's also raises the profile of the union - issuing media releases that are sometimes picked up, commenting on the issues that have been identified in the surveys - like keystroke monitoring and long-working hours. She soon discovered there was no one else talking about the issues in the industry so she's quickly become an 'expert'. The media work is important in making call centre workers aware that there is a body that can represent them - if they want more info, they now know where to go. Today she's giving an interview for community radio and lining up another for a TV current affairs show tomorrow.
Sally drives across the Bridge to the northern suburbs, where hi-tech businesses and call centres nestle along the highway. The target is an internet service provider that employers technicians, sales and administration staff who answer queries online or through a call centre. Management doesn't want the union involved, Sally's challenge is to secure a foothold from a base of zero members. She's researched the workplace and isolated the issue: the workers are employed on contracts - there is no general award setting wages and conditions for the industry. They mean's their not entitled to a standard condition: five weeks annual leave if they work are rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays. If Sally wanted to she could go to the Industrial Relations Commission immediately and get an order for the five weeks leave. But no-one would know it was the union, the boss would claim the credit for being generous and it would remain a better-paid but still non-union workplace.
Instead, Sally has drawn up a simple flier informing people that they are entitled to this extra week's leave and telling them that management is refusing to discuss the issue. There's a contact with Sally's email contact at the bottom. Simple as that. Whenever she's on the north side, she drops into the office for half and hour or so and hands the fliers out to any workers who come out of the building for a smoke or a lunch break. The last time she tried it, management told her to leave the premises and threatened to call the police. This provided a show for the workers, who at least became aware of her existence.
As she drives into the industrial estate, past the office boxes with their blacked glass facades, she feels a combination of nerves and exhilaration. She's laying it on the line; walking into a potential conflict situation. She pulls up and goes and sits at a bench on the small square of lawn where the workers hang in their break. She wanders up to them nonchalantly - "You guys work here? have a look at this." One of the workers reads it and screws it up; another folds it and places it in his pocket - "at least people will read this pamphlet properly," he says to her. Sally doesn't push the point, simply moves onto the next workers who lights up a cigarette. Her plan at this stage is just to publicise the issue, the idea of joining the union doesn't even come into it.
She wanders from working to worker, handing out the flier. On one level its cold call selling; it's just that the product is one that she believes in. "They don't want to talk to me here - they know that management is watching them from up there," she says, pointing up at the reflective windows. What she hopes will happen is that some of them will email her later. A handful already have; when she has enough (the target ratio is one to ten workers) she'll call an off-site meeting at a café or pub where they can plan a broader campaign. That's when she'll move on the holiday entitlements; any earlier and it would kill off the impetus to organise.
A better dressed worker, obviously a team leader comes outside and looks Sally up and down. "They'll be calling a meeting about me before you know it," she says. One person, causing this much stress. The thing is Sally is convinced the management is vulnerable: while it appears a good job, the high turnover of technicians imple4s that all is not well. A bunch of new tech trainees work past on their way from induction training, all take the flier. "The crazy thing about it is that it's in management's interests to work with the union," Sally says. "If they improved the conditions, it would reduce the turnover rate, which would increase their productivity." She's estimated for each worker that must be trained, it costs the company $10,000. Keeping the staff happy does pay.
Over the 30 minutes she wouldn't hand out more than 20 fliers, but it's time well spent. Maybe just one person will place it on a notice board; maybe someone will start talking about it as Christmas approaches; maybe the seed has been sown. She leaves as unobtrusively as she's come; mission accomplished - for now.
It's six years since Sally joined the unions, one of the first of 300 young graduates and rank and file activists to be trained in the organising philosophy which a delegation of senior union officials had brought back from the US, where the movement was trying to claw its way out of a similar crisis of falling membership and decreasing relevance. "I was in my final year of my arts degree, lying in bed reading the job ads wondering what the hell I would do," Sally remembers. "I saw this advertisement from the ACTU, seeking trainees for their Organising Works program. I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do."
Sally had never been party political, although she had been president of the student union at university with a green platform based on recycling. "I thought the union movement was the pinnacle of progressive thought," she says, "the first six months sorted that one out." Under the program, the trainees were attached to a union four days each week, and spent each Friday as a group being trained. The training included campaigning skills, mapping, developing delegate as well as the history and political economy of the union movement.
Originally the focus was on university graduates - but the thinking has now switched to workplace activists - if you have been to Uni. you need to have been involved in campaigning, though not necessarily political: one successful graduate had been a campus Christian activist. The idea to match organisers with their membership; likes with likes - as a BA grad, Sally's a good fit for the call centre workers. "You need to be a strategic thinker," she says, " you need good interpersonal skills , you have got to be able to build relationships with people, be an educator, a negotiator, a listener. Most of all you need to love your job - if you don't you, won't last."
Sally is one of the few survivors; those in her intake have either moved into the more prestigious industrial officer positions or moved on to work for politicians. The burn-outs came within two years, and it's easy to get burnt. "If I wanted to I could do the work of five people," Sally admits. "There are' 100,000 potential members in this city alone and the numbers are increasing every week." In her early days she would be working 60 hours each week, nights and weekends plus trying to do extra-curricula events like organising concerts. "You watch the good people fall by the wayside through stress and burn-out - you need to draw limits on yourself in the same way you try to get workers to set limits." She still does out of hours work, but only on her terms. Flexible hours help, so that if she's meeting people late she's not expected in at work first thing in the morning.
Another of the problems was that many unions were skeptical and more simply thought it was enough to leave this new organising business to the newcomers, while they kept going about business as usual. Most were still expected to keep up with a normal quota of 'servicing' as well, solving problems for individual members, who treated their membership as insurance. "They hired us, told us we were the saviors of the unions - but the rest of the movement hadn't changed."
She's meeting Mark for coffee during his lunch break. He's her key contact in a centre that has been operating since the 1970s without an active membership. There's more than 100 potential members to be won and enough issues for a dozen campaigns. Mark gets just 30 minutes off so it's got to be quick. He's wearing dark glasses - not because he's scared but because he's cool.
The company has been working with a US law form of union-busters to get an agreement approved by workers that locks out the union. Sally works with a group of workers who have organised their colleagues, to the point where they are approaching critical mass. This has all been done underground - after receiving an email from one angry worker - Mark. She's never even been into the workplace - all meetings have been out of hours in cafes nearby. In that time she'd established a network of four delegates, each of whom had four activists. This meant there were 15 people in the loop, in a workplace of 100; a better than adequate foothold.
When the management found out about these meetings they summonsed Mark and stood him down without pay. The union-buster consultants then called each worker individually into an office to talk to them about the importance of 'having a direct relationship with the company' - that is, not being in the union. Sally had discussed how the workers should react at previous meetings - so they were prepared, aware of their legal rights to organise. The bosses have backed off in recent weeks, but they're still making life very uncomfortable for Mark. It's a typical example of a bad employer - obsessed with statistics; monitoring toilet breaks; a supervisor sitting in a tower in the middle of the floor - and desperate to keep the pesky union out.
Sally is to brief Mark on a meeting that the management has invited the union to in Melbourne next week. It's important that the workers are driving the process. She has refused to meet with the employers until now, when she has the support of the majority of the workers. Once the majority were on board, she worked with them to write down what they wanted to see change; after a constant stream of email suggestions and alterations until a document, the workers' claim, has been finalised. "The company can see what's happening and say they don't want a third party - but they don't get it. I'm not a third party, I'm just a resource for them work this through for themselves."
"How's things going?" Sally asks. Mark tells her that the company has been circulating its agreement amongst the staff, going through the routine of consultation by asking for comments. "no one is responding to the draft," he says. "Things are falling apart for them," Sally agrees. The aim of the Melbourne meeting is to convince management that the workers want to negotiate as a group, through the union; to set the ground rules. Sally's job is not to take over; but to use her skills to make sure all the workers get a say. Her rule is to never attend meetings without the delegates present; but Mark can't get to Melbourne. This makes this meeting all the more important. Mark has to run, they agree to talk again by phone tonight; then again before the meeting.
"The thing that really keeps you going is the relationships you develop with your delegates," she says. "You can't help but admire the courage of them. There's a bond that develops where you go through a campaign where people have put their jobs on the line. You might only get one, two, three good victories each year, but that's enough to keep you going."
Sally finishes her coffee and keeps moving; a 2pm meeting with one of the city's biggest call centres
that bids for work with firms and government departments that contract out their customer service department. She's been trying to work with the management here to raise its reputation as a fair employer, compared to the other firms bidding for the contracts. Things have been progressing well until now; management has actually invited Sally to be part of the negotiations on a new pay deal. But things have hit a wall with the US controlling interests now wanting to break a deal between management and workers to draft proposed agreements separately and then exchange them. Local management now says it doesn't want to talk about the workers' ideas anymore.
It's an affront to the workers' dignity and the elected delegates are angry. It's worse for Sally, the process of framing the document and identifying hot issues, is key to her organising strategy. Today she's been invited to an on-site meeting as part of management's fast-receding goodwill. Here she'll meet with the delegates who have been voted by staff through their own internal processes not through the union. Sally treads wearily, appreciating that these workers are not unions members and not necessarily attracted to joining. She's been meeting with them for some time, so there's a warmth and familiarity, but she knows she has to win them slowly.
Pat, a strong faced woman who worked as a prison officer in a former life reports on the last meeting with management. The management claims says they can't offer much in the agreement and basically wants the delegates to go out and sell a dud deal. They're angry at being set up as the patsy and outraged that have dogged on the deal. "The company is scared because they can see us getting organised," Greg, a former hypno-therapist, muses. look to Sally for options; I think you have three, she says, ask them for another meeting to argue our position; just wait for them to give us their agreement, or go to staff and start organising now. "I say we go back to the floor and find out what they think," Pat responds. Sally can barely hide her delight, they are about to activate the workforce.
They decide to make the meeting off site after the different teams finish their shift. The delegates will put up the notices, Sally agrees to find a venue and draft an agenda. They agree to circulate a petition at the meeting calling on management to exchange the documents, knowing that presenting 200 signatures will give them the authority to stand their ground. They set the date for two weeks hence. Pat and Sally go and see the human resources manager to inform her of their decision to call a mass meeting; the manger offers to attend to explain the company's position - they decline her invitation.
They return to the room and plan the next step, how they'll react if the management turn hostile. "I'll just say we have a legal right to organise a meeting outside working hours," Pat says. Sally loves it, she's talking like a unionist. "When I first came into this workplace, the delegates were more suspicious of me than they were of management," Sally says later. "Now it's reversed. " She couldn't have orchestrated it better if she tried.
"The big fad at the moment is HRM - Human Resource Management, getting close to your workforce, telling that trust will eliminate the need for third parties," Sally says. "But at the end of the day it always backfires. One of two things can happen: either its rhetoric that is not delivered on and the workers become cynical because they did believe it in the first place. Or we start to unionise the workplace; where management will say: 'we want a direct relationship' and we say fine; that's what we want to happen too - I don't want to come near the place."
Sally's meeting for a regular beer and pizza night with other union organisers tonight. They keep in touch as a sanity check, as they struggle to change the culture of reluctant union hierarchies. Sally is optimistic, the day has been full of little steps all in the right direction. The more time she spends around them the more she is convinced, the call centres are ripe for unionisation. "These people aren't anti-union," she says, " we've just never engaged with them. Call centre people are confident, they do have a vision of themselves as being empowered and competent; they have, by definition, good interpersonal skills. The secret to organising is to give them the choice of what they want to build and how it should operates. You should be there as a resource, not a savior. If you do it right, it will add to those feelings of empowerment throughout the whole group.
Even as work changes, there is a need to for workers to band together; it's just that the ways they will do this have changed so fundamentally. A union movement rooted in the centralised wage system is worth little when firms can change a worker from an employee to a contractor with a swift legal manouevre. But where that movement analyses the changes and understands how work is changing, it does have a future. "In the workforce everything is changed, everything about the way people did their jobs has changed," Sally says. "But we haven't - we're still operating in the 1960s" The only thing she knows is that change will come - either through choose or through hitting absolute rock bottom. If unions choose to change, their work could become as dynamic and interesting as Sally's; warriors on the new shop floor.
Thank you for inviting me to participate in today's proceedings, the fifth commemoration of an event begun on 28 April, 1996 during the session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.
On that day, trade unions held a special candlelight ceremony to highlight the number of workers who have died, were injured or became ill due to inadequate occupational health and safety measures.
The date has since been officially designated by the International Confederation of Trade Unions as the International Day of Mourning to commemorate dead and injured workers.
Statistics gathered by the International Confederation of Trade Unions indicate that more than 1.1 million workers die around the world each year - that's almost 3,300 a day.
Of these approximately 12,000 workplace accidents claim the lives of children.
Occupational diseases cause around 325,000 of the deaths. Most of these involve hazardous substances, with asbestos as the largest single killer, claiming about 100,000 lives a year.
Here in NSW, 163 workers' compensation claims were made for work-related fatalities in 1998/99. Between March 1999 and March 2000, WorkCover has investigated 47 traumatic deaths in the workplace.
Each and every one of these workplace deaths, is a tragedy and it is important for us today to remember not only the victims, but their families, friends and work colleagues whom these tragedies also affect.
Young people new to the workforce are particularly vulnerable. On 1 February this year two teenagers were killed in separate workplace accidents.
In one case a 16-year old was working on a roof without fall protection equipment when he fell 12 metres.
In the other a 17-year old apprentice mechanic was killed when he took the motor cycle he was repairing for a test ride, lost control of the bike and collided with a truck. The motor cycle seat had apparently been removed prior to the accident and the young man was not wearing a crash helmet.
The message from these deaths is that employers must ensure that all their workers are equipped to do their job safely. If an employee is young or inexperienced then additional safety checks need to be in place before that person commences work.
As Minister for Industrial Relations, my responsibilities through WorkCover NSW for occupational health and safety matters in this State provide me with clear insight into the impact of workplace injury and illness.
In New South Wales, two major advertising campaigns are currently promoting awareness of occupational health and safety issues. One highlights the need for co-operation between every person, whether manager, supervisor or worker, to ensure that safe work practices are followed and risks are properly managed. The other highlights the co-operative effort needed to help injured workers return to suitable jobs as quickly and safely as possible.
Work injuries affect victims both physically and mentally. Extended time off work and, in some cases, the prospect of never regaining total fitness, can impact on injured workers' future earning capacity and their self-esteem, and this then begins to affect their families.
The Workplace Injury Management and Worker's Compensation Act, introduced in 1998, clearly defines responsibilities of injured workers, their employers, insurers, doctors and work colleagues and the co-operation required to help injured workers regain meaningful employment. A series of workshops on injury management will also be held throughout New South Wales in May, July and August.
In 1998/99 prosecution of offenders for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act resulted in convictions in 95 per cent of all court-determined cases. A total of 650 summonses were laid and court imposed fines for safety breaches totalled $2.97 million.
I am very pleased to announce that I have just given approval for the creation of an additional 25 WorkCover inspector positions. This will bring the total number of inspectors in New South Wales to 301. This gives NSW the largest OHS Inspectorate in Australia.
On 26 February this year 24 new WorkCover Inspectors obtained the nationally accredited WorkCover Diploma of Injury and Illness Prevention and Management. They are now working in the field.
Today provides us with an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives, been injured or made ill in the workplace. The best memorial we can grant them is to prevent such things happening in the future.
by Neale Towart
PreIndustrial May Day and Working People
As a working peoples celebration its origins go back much further, with connections to Ancient Roman rituals. In pagan Europe it was a festive holy day celebrating the first spring planting. The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated May 1st as Beltane or the day of fire. Bel was the Celtic god of the sun.
In the 1700s the Churches banned the pagan rituals, just as bosses today want workers to forget any traditions of solidarity and celebration of workers rights, but many peasants continued the tradition. Church and state were the butt of many jokes at May Day celebrations, and this certainly did not endear the craft guilds and others, who organised celebrations, to the authorities.
The Goddess of the Hunt, Diana, and the God Herne led parades. Later, with a move to a more agrarian society, Diana became a fertility goddess, and Herne became Robin Goodfellow, a predecessor to Robin Hood. This also indicated a shift in the division of labour and perhaps to a shift in power relations, with Robin remaining a symbol of the hunter from the woods, while Diana changed from being a hunter to a symbol of the fertility of the fields.
May Day was popular through to the nineteenth century, with the form of the celebration changing. The two most popular feast days for Medieval craft guilds were the Feast of St. John, or the Summer Solstice and Mayday.
The Diana myth was transformed into the Queen of May, who was elected from the eligible young women of the village to rule the crops until harvest. Besides the selection of the May Queen was the raising of the phallic Maypole, around which the young single men and women of the village would dance holding on to the ribbons until they became entwined, with their ( hoped for) new love.
Robin Goodfellow, or the Green Man who was the Lord of Misrule for this day. Mayday was a celebration of the common people, and Robin would be the King/Priest/Fool for a day. Priests and Lords were the butt of many jokes, and the Green Man and his supporters; mummers would make jokes and poke fun of the local authorities.
Industrial era May Day
Our modern celebration of Mayday as a working class holiday developed from the US workers struggle for the eight hour day in 1886. The working class movement in the USA began campaigning for an eight hour day in the 1860s, following the Civil War. The historic strike of May 1st, 1886 was a culmination of a concerted struggle. Chicago was the major industrial centre of the USA. Police attacked striking workers from the McCormack Harvester Co., killing six.
On May 4th at a demonstration in Haymarket Square to protest the police brutality a bomb exploded in the middle of a crowd of police killing eight of them. The police arrested eight anarchist trade unionists claiming they threw the bombs. To this day the subject is still one of controversy. The question remains whether the bomb was thrown by the workers at the police or whether one of the police's own agent provocateurs dropped it in their haste to retreat from charging workers.
In what was to become one of the most infamous show trials in America in the 19th century, but certainly not to be the last of such trials against radical workers, the State of Illinois tried the anarchist workingmen for fighting for their rights as much as being the actual bomb throwers. Whether the anarchist workers were guilty or innocent was irrelevant. They were agitators, fomenting revolution and stirring up the working class, and they had to be taught a lesson. Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engle and Adolph Fischer were found guilty and executed by the State of Illinois.
In Paris in 1889 the International Working Men's Association (the First International) declared May 1st an international working class holiday in commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs. The red flag became the symbol of the blood of working class martyrs in their battle for workers rights.
May Day in Australia
In Australia workers in some industries had claimed the eight hour day in the 1850s. The new international Eight Hour day was welcomed by Australian workers.
On May 1st 1890, the Brisbane Workers editorial said "May Day, this is our May Day, the by-gone jubilation of our forefathers for the reconquering of by the bright sunshine of the bitter northern winter, the new-born celebration of the passing of the workers' winter of discontent. In Germany, in Austria, in Belgium, in France, all through Europe, in the United Kingdom and in the great English speaking republic across the Pacific, millions of workers are gathering at this hour to voice the demands of Labor for fair conditions of laboring. Never in all history was there such a meeting..."
A large May Day meeting was held in Melbourne in 1890, chaired by Dr Maloney,a highly respected person who later became a federal Labor MP. The group of radicals who called this metting had an inaugural meeting on May Day 1886, to coincide with the US movement protests. Anarchist activists were prominent then, including J Andrews, Chummy Fleming, David Andrade and Monty Miller.
The spirit of the activists and early workers organisers is summed up in Bernard O'Dowd's poem, May Day:
Come Jack, our place is with the ruck
On the open road today,
Not with the tepid "footpath sneak"
Or with the wise who stop away.
A straggling, tame procession, perhaps,
A butt for burgess scorn;
Its flags are ragged sentiments,
And its music's still unborn.
Though none respectable are here,
And trim officials ban,
Our duty, Jack, is not with them,
But here with hope and Man.
The first May Day march was held in Barcaldine in 1891 by striking shearers. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 1340 took part. Henry Lawson's well known poem Freedom on the Wallaby
...So we must fly a rebel flag
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O'those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle
was composed in Brisbane at the time the striking shearers were facing the troopers guns at Barcaldine.
The following sites are invaluable resources concerning the history and tradition of May Day. I am grateful to the authors of these sites for providing the information from which this brief history was compiled.
by Zoe Reynolds
This is not Jenny's only claim to fame. Her family have worked the wharves for four generations, beginning with great grandfather Hugh Sykes (left), grandfather Tom Sykes and Uncle Jim Wright.
"This is going to be a fifth generation wharfie," she says, patting her overalls. The Patrick Webb Dock supplementary came onto the wharves soon after the Patrick dispute, one of 30 women to join the swelling ranks of casual workers. And as a casual, being pregnant is a concern.
"I don't feel I've got any job security," said Jenny. "And my partner only has a casual labouring job. So its a bit of a worry."
Casual work offers no job security and no parental leave.
"Management don't make me feel very welcome at the moment. I told them I was having a baby when I was about five months. They took me off lashing on deck and onto light duties without complaining . But the other day when my feet were a bit swollen and I was wearing runners, they started picking on me. It was really unfair. They'd turned a blind eye to some of ships service men wearing runners on deck . And they've warned me I' must have a medical before they'll think of taking me back on the job after my baby is born."
Jenny is not our only pregnant waterfront worker. Port Botany stevedoring worker Christine Romano is also expecting her first child as are Burnie members Sharon Maree Dobson and Kendra Leeane Duncan. But these women work as clerical or office workers and enjoy the full entitlements of a permanent employee -12 months parental leave with exemption from union dues.
Women are a minority on the Australian wharves - only 75 of 6,351 (1.18 per cent) all up, according to the unions membership files. And all but a handful of these work in the more traditionally female office jobs. But recently women have become heavily over represented among the ranks of casual wharf labourers.
MUA women's delegate to the International Transport Workers' Federation and Port Botany wharfie Sue Gajdos is concerned.
"Too many women are concentrated in casual jobs Australia wide and far too many are left in casual jobs on the wharves," she said. "The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures compiled last year expose the discrimination. We've now got 26 per cent of the Australian workers in casual jobs. But only 22 per cent of men are casuals compared to 32 per cent of Australian women. That's bad enough, but on the wharves its much worse - 64 per cent of women stevedoring workers are casuals. At Patrick enterprises it's over 90 per cent. "
The maritime industry is still male dominated. While women make up nearly half the Australian workforce, they only make up 2.3 per cent of all maritime workers. In seafaring most women are concentrated in catering doing the traditional women's jobs of washing dishes and serving. And, coincidentally, almost half these jobs are casual.
Sue Gajdos wants to see more women in the industry. "We make good workers and good unionists, It's good to see so many women on the Patrick wharves. I'd like to see as many at P&O," she says. "But we need them in permanent jobs."
Assistant Branch Secretary Dave Cushion has a good idea why: "I think Patrick believed young women would be less Bolshi," he said. "You know 'let's do away with the macho culture of leftie wharfies flexing their industrial muscle all the time. Let's go for the meek and mild. But they were mistaken."
Dave says even the young men and women they've brought onto the wharves who were a bit apolitical and anti-union to start out, soon came across: "You see Patrick just can't help themselves," he said. "They're such fascists.
"All they had to do with these young people was cuddle them a bit. Look after them. But no, they recruit these ex military people into management (like former Newcastle manager, now Patrick HQ special projects executive Major Chris O'Brien or Melbourne's human resources manager, former Navy personnel Colin Bambrook ). They bully and bark at these young supps and get their backs up. I mean fancy picking on a pregnant woman with swollen ankles for driving the ute in runners instead of heavy work boots."
Major O'Brien is currently the central figure in a land mark discrimination action before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, involving his treatment of a single mother in the Australian Army (The Australian, 22/3/00).
Dave says the Patrick motto is 'all they need is a bit of discipline'. "They heavy the kids and they come running to us," he says. "We don't even have to go out recruiting the supps. They get so pissed off they beg to join the union. You could say management do our recruitment job for us."
Recruitment is not a problem on the wharves, but casualisation is, especially at Patrick and the union is concerned. Assistant National Secretaries Mick O'Leary, Jim Tannock and Branch Secretary Mick Cottrell are all pushing for more permanents and less supps.
"They've got no reason not to take them on," said Mick O'Leary. "The part timers and GeeWees give them all the flexibility to meet the peaks and troughs of the industry they need. They're only guaranteed a couple of days, but they work a full week when the terminal is busy. And giving
people a career path, moving them up from supps to GeeWees to permanent positions, gives workers an incentive to stay on the job, get that extra experience and skills to really perform."
Meanwhile MUA women's delegate Sue Gajdos is not about to remain silent on how management is avoiding its equal opportunity obligations. She is delivering a paper on the casual women on the wharves issue when she attends the ITF women's conference in London on April 25.
"Women have proven themselves on the job and we're becoming active in the union. We've broken down the macho image of the wharfies that the tabloids have used against the union for over a century. It was their main PR weapon in the lead up and during the Patrick dispute. Women are good for
the union and women are good for the job. There should be more of us."
Jenny Wright agrees. "The men accept us on the wharves," she says, tapping her swollen belly and enjoying looking just like one of the boys. "We work together well. It's like a family. I feel I belong here."
The Korean Council of Trade Unions has issued the following statement:
The KCTU in its written intervention to the meeting of the OECD's Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs Committee on April 13, 2000 devoted to monitoring the industrial relations reform of the Korean government, pointed out that "the fact that there are only seven trade unionists held in prison currently should not and could not hide the fact that this very government had put more than 300 workers in prison."
It went on to warn that "as the workers are beginning to build up their collective bargaining campaign and workers try to influence the way in which key industry -- such as the automobile industry -- should be restructured, the government is making loud threats of arrest. Already the government has issued warrants of arrest against many trade unionist."
The KCTU premonition is, sadly, coming true. 03:40 April 25, 2000, more than 100 battle-geared police raided the office of the Daewoo Motors Workers Union in Pupyung near Seoul. They captured everyone in the union office.
The 20 trade union leaders and activists had made the union office their temporary home for the duration of the continuing campaign to shape the outcome of the restructuring of the ill company.
The morning raid is seen as a signal of the government attitude towards the demands of the automobile industry workers to set up a special taskforce composed of the representatives of the workers, company, creditor banks, the government, and experts and other interested stakeholders to undertake a comprehensive examination and discussion on the best way to rescue the troubled Daewoo Motors.
The trade union took a step back from the original position of immediate and unconditional end to the plan to sell the second largest car-maker to an overseas operator. The government responded that it was not willing to participate in kind of consultation and joint decision making process with the trade union movement.
The recalcitrant position of the government led to the April 6 strike by automobile industry workers in the four major car makers that lasted for 7 days.
In response to the strike, the government -- through its Public Prosecutors Office -- issued arrest warrants against 34 leaders and activists. It was only a matter of time, it was wide anticipated, before the government would begin to move in.
Of the 20 people dragged away by police, 13 low-ranking activists were released, but 7 leading unionists are held by police, expected to be charged and kept in detention.
The seven unionists, including the union president CHOO Young-ho are
LEE Nam-mok Vice-President
CHANG Soon-kil Organising Director
KIM Jo-hyun Industrial Action Director
BOK Jae-hyun rank and file member
YOO Young-ku Sports Activities Director
LEE Bong-yong Industrial Health and Safety Director
Vice-President Lee and Sports Activities Director YOO are expected to be charged for their part in organising a protest public meeting in front of the Central Office of the ruling Millenium Democratic Party before the April 6 strike. The rest, including President Choo had been wanted for arrest, with warrants issued out on them. With their arrest, 11 activists are remaining from the original list of Daewoo workers with arrest warrants. Key unionists from Hyundai Motors Workers Union - - including President Jeung Kap-deuk -- and others involved in the current automobile workers' campaign are also wanted for arrest.
The early morning raid on the Daewoo Motors Workers Union is a clear indication of the intention of the government to sweep away what it regards as a thorn -- or an obstacle -- in its best plans for restructuring.
KCTU in its written intervention at the OECD-ELSAC meeting called on the members not to be satisfied with the half-hearted adherence to international standards by the Korean government which feels it justified to overlook them in times of 'economic crisis' or in pursuing 'structural adjustment'.
What the Korean government overlooks is the fact that while removing trade union 'opposition' may make the structural adjustment process easier in the short term, but it will certainly sour the industrial relations endangering the long-term confidence.
But, the Korean government, feeling that it had achieved what it had hoped for in the OECD-ELSAC meeting, and feeling confident that everything can be justified in the name of "pushing ahead with restructuring", has began a calculated assault on the trade unions.
The Korean government led by President Kim Dae Jung perhaps believes that it has earned time - 18 to 24 months -- to sweep away all the problems and also have all the unionists released from prison in time for the next review process.
The opportunistic cynicism of the Korean government has been the key reason for the continuing industrial relations problems in Korea. This, together with bureaucratic missionary zeal, has created an oppressive and repressive environment.
President Kim, in the summit meeting with the leader of the opposition party, on April 24, referred to the actions of workers to present their views and demands as "illegal collective self-interest" and that his government will deal with them "sternly".
The expression of the -- what we feel to be valid -- concerns and fears about the impact of crisis and restructuring are regarded as obstacles or willful interference of standing in the way of realising some pure general interest or will pursued by the government.
We are beginning to see the story about to be repeated over the Daewoo Motors issue and the mounting pressure of the the KCTU May Campaign. Stay ready to with your usual protest letters.
by The Chaser
The stoppage coincided with a busy time for the casino, during the Golden Slipper Racing Carnival, leaving punters few options to rid themselves of money.
There were desperate scenes of people throwing their money down drains, burning it and trying to give it to passing rich people, but to no avail.
There were unconfirmed reports that some discontented punters had taken the extreme measure of going home to their families for the afternoon. Police confirmed they recorded an increase in the incidence of families taking strolls in the park as well as "very concerning" outbreaks of communal ball-games. Other gamblers turned their attention to punting on the result of the negotiations between the union and the casino.
As this story went online, punters were betting heavily on the casino screwing their workers. It was favourite at 1-10 on, with the strikers outsiders on 5-1.
The Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, has threatened to intervene in the dispute. "I don't mind the schools being shut down by strikes, or the trains being interrupted, but I have to draw the line when the major source of our gambling taxes - the very foundation of this State's revenue - is threatened."
by Nick Wailes
I work at a university. The other day I had to walk to the other side of the campus to deposit a form with some obscure office. On my way I saw a young bloke getting a long ladder off the roof of an old, dented van. By the time I returned, he was at the top of this precarious ladder cleaning windows. I stood and watched for a while. Not only was he not doing a very good job, but a couple of times he had to grab on to the window sill because the ladder was wobbling violently. From what I could see the window cleaner was going as quickly as possible and in the process was taking a lot of risks. Maybe it is just as well has hasn't leased a shiny new van- he might not be around long enough to enjoy it. Welcome to the new flexible workforce.
Not so long ago this wouldn't have happened. The windows would be cleaned by university employees, and not by an independent contractor. The university as an employer would have been required to provide appropriate equipment for the task. The worker would have been covered by an award which specified some safety requirements for completing such work. Whoever was cleaning the windows would have been paid on an hourly or weekly basis and wouldn't have been forced to work so fast that they endangered themselves. They might have even done the job properly! But we are told that the old ways are bad and inefficient, and in times of tight budgets, it is much better to use independent contractors.
While I am always being told that the university is not in the real world, the changes at the university reflect broader changes in the Australian labour market and they are driven by the same penny pinching logic. We are constantly being told that the country is in the shit and that it is all the fault of inefficient and lazy workers (it has nothing to do with the idiots that run the companies). To make Australian companies competitive, workers have to give up 100 years worth of gains and not question what we are told to do by our elders and betters. Most important, we are constantly told, those nasty unions have to be stopped from getting in the way with all their dangerous talk of the need for a decent wage and a safe workplace.
We are normally told all of this crap by a particular type of economist or people who are advised by these types of economists. These economists derive their results from economic models which bear no relation whatsoever to the real world. Most people in the real world know that recent changes in labour market regulation have got less to do with economic efficiency and more to do with forcing the weakest to bear all the costs of economic change. Luckily there are still some economists that are actually interested in what goes on in the real world. Reshaping the Labour Market brings together the finest of these economists and presents a compelling counter to the flawed logic that has driven recent changes in labour market regulation in Australia. The first chapter, by Sue Richardson, provides an account of why labour markets were regulated in the first place. The basic reason is because workers tend to get exploited. The second chapter by Keith Hancock is a masterly demolition job of the economic theory behind labour market deregulation. In particular, he demonstrates that labour market deregulation in not likely to improve economic efficiency and may in fact damage the ability of the country to respond to economic change. Isn't it amazing what happens when you build realistic assumptions into economic models? Above all Hancock provides a timely reminder that labour is not just a commodity like all other commodities but rather that labour power is attached to human beings who deserve to be treated with some dignity.
The other chapters in the book concentrate on the consequences of labour market deregulation and focus in particular on the weakest in the labour market. The picture that emerges from these chapters is frightening. Low paid, low skilled and vulnerable Australians have been well and truly shafted. Not surprisingly, this has had deleterious consequences for the health, welfare and family life of many Australians. It has even created economic inefficiencies. The chapters are technical but accessible and despite being depressing are really interesting.
When I finished reading this book, I found myself wondering whether there are too many people in the labour movement that have given up questioning the economic theories that recent policies have been based on. Skilled, well-organised workers might be able to play the productivity game in enterprise bargaining, but in the process they may be helping to consign the weak to a bleak future. Every now and again you hear an old timer muttering "an injustice to one is an injustice to all". For those who still believe this, Reshaping the Labour Market provides some of the ammunition needed to counter the economic theories which have helped create far too much injustice.
Sue Richardson (ed) Reshaping the Labour Market: Regulation, Efficiency and Equality in Australia, Cambridge University Press ISBN 0 521 65284 6 $34.95 paperback.
In 1998 there was a black revolt against Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe. The President responded by sending 40,000 troops into townships around the capital, Harare.
These troops suppressed the challenge to Mugabe. They arrested over 1000 people and killed at least nine. The Western press remained silent.
Yet now the Australian press have gone mad over the murder of a few white farmers. The time has come to ask why black Zimbabweans hate them so much.
First, many of the 4500 white farmers are racists. Second, they pay their farm workers a pittance. $10 a week for 50 or 60 hours of work is only enough for ten loaves of bread. Finally, the whites own the land because their grandparents stole it from the blacks.
The BBC has reported that "about 4,500 white farmers own 11 million hectares of prime agricultural land. About one million blacks own 16 million hectares, often in drought-prone regions."
The land situation today in Zimbabwe is a consequence of its history. At the end of last century Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company used force and fraud to trick the Africans out of their land.
The blacks waged a two year war against the white imperialists. The whites indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children.
As a consequence of their victory, the whites set about grabbing all the good land they could. The whites then used the most brutal methods to extract Zimbabwe's mineral wealth. They set up a forced labour system which saw black mine workers kept in closed compounds and paid only starvation wages.
In 1965 it looked as if the colonial power, Britain, might give political rights to the 96 per cent of the population who were black. The white regime illegally declared independence, with only the 4 per cent of the population who were white able to vote or run the country or economy.
The black population waged a long fight for liberation. The white state repressed them. Mugabe for example spent ten years in detention.
The liberation struggle eventually saw free elections in 1980. Mugabe's ZANU-PF won overwhelmingly. One of the bedrocks of Mugabe's support was his promise of land redistribution.
The left around the world welcomed the free vote in Zimbabwe and Mugabe's victory. But some at least of the left had no illusions in Mugabe. Mugabe faced a choice - working with big business and the large landowners or confronting them.
As the British weekly paper Socialist Worker wrote in 1980: "Mugabe runs the risk of ending up a prisoner of the state machine, powerless to resist the pressures to respect private property, to cooperate with the multinationals. Liberation in Zimbabwe means more than just the transfer of
political power. It means social revolution-jobs for the unemployed, land for the peasants."
Mugabe chose to co-operate with big business and the landowners.
Just after he was elected in 1980 there was a huge wave of strikes. Mugabe repressed them. He had hundreds of strikers arrested. At least seven were killed. The western press said nothing.
Mugabe became such a friend of the multinationals and the white landowners at the expense of the poor that in 1985 Margaret Thatcher could say of him: "He is a man who can be relied upon to provide stability and economic growth."
Denis Norman, president of the white Commercial Farmers Union, became a cabinet minister in Mugabe's government.
Mugabe was such a friend of the white elite that six years after he came to office not a single acre of white land had been bought for blacks. Even when he did get around to redistributing some land, it was to his cronies.
Economically it is the poor and working class who have borne the burden of economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Unemployment for example is 50 per cent.
Mugabe's failure to deliver has seen the trade unions form an opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC.)
Mugabe fears the MDC. If elections were held now, it would do well and perhaps win Government.
That is why Mugabe has encouraged the land occupations. It is cynical ploy to cling to power. It is likely the MDC will become the target for systematic state-sanctioned violence.
Mugabe is adopting right-wing populism to wind back bourgeois freedoms to protect his own position. This will adversely affect the ability of the Zimbabwean working class to organise politically and industrially.
But even if the MDC were somehow to form Government it would not be able to resolve the problems facing Zimbabwe.
The activist base of the MDC is the poor and working class blacks. These people want land reform and wage justice.
The white rich elite are disillusioned with Mugabe because he cannot provide them with guarantees about protecting their land and profits. The landowners and industrialists have swung their support away from Mugabe and behind the MDC.
The MDC leadership has been courting the rich. As a consequence the MDC's leaders, although they will deny it, are under pressure to keep the land in white hands and protect profits by keeping wages low. The MDC leadership are talking left but will act right.
This conflict between the desires of the base and leadership of the MDC makes it a volatile group and means that in Government it too, just like Mugabe, will not be able to satisfy its black supporters.
The class contradictions in Zimbabwe can only be resolved with a social revolution - one in which landless blacks and black workers seize the land and factories to organise production for people, not profit.
John Passant is a Canberra based writer
by Anna Cunningham
Girls like myself are embracing this previously male dominated sport with team mates, and taking over local fields in the thousands. Our minds are fast becoming crowded with thoughts of goals, tackles and oranges at half time. We've developed a passion for a game that supposedly belonged to the domain of the male.
Women's soccer is now the fastest growing sport in Australia, emerging from the shadow of the men's game. Thanks to major events and ploys to capture the attention of the public, women's soccer is conquering the sports world, and developing an image of its own.
On an international level, the face of this traditionally conservative and male dominated sport is also changing. Officials and sponsors are finally beginning to see the advantages of offering their support. FIFA President, Joseph Sepp Blatter declared last year that 'the future of football is feminine'. Television viewers around the world are continually witnessing amusing scenes, such as President Clinton's celebratory visit to the US Women's change room after their World Cup win. Nike's sponsorship of American superstar Mia Hamm has been a phenomenal success, especially since the Women's World Cup last year.
Mia Hamm, most famous for stripping off after America's World Cup win, is considered the best all rounder in the world. In March this year, she was voted the most popular female athlete by American teenagers, second only to Michael Jordan. With the advent of the American Professional Women's Soccer League, and continued publicity for stars like Hamm, the game will continue to enjoy soaring popularity.
The Women's World Cup in 1999 signalled an exciting new era in international women's soccer. Involving 16 nations, the Cup was the biggest women's international sporting event ever, and it attracted record crowds. Although narrowly missing out on the quarter finals, Australia managed to qualify for the Sydney Olympics, and are now considered a chance for a medal.
Based on the success of USA 99, Australia has decided to bid as host nation for the next World Cup in 2003. If we can win the bid, the profile of women's soccer will receive an enormous boost. This will be the fourth Women's Cup, and the biggest yet on the female sporting calendar. At present, we are the sole bidder to host the event, although possible contenders include Brazil, Croatia, and an unnamed Asian country.
Moves like bidding for the World Cup show how the Australian women's soccer movement is keen to ride the wave of the sports' growing popularity. Thanks to nude calendars, and world class competitions featuring our national team, the Matildas, it is obvious that the sport has a big future here.
The Matildas market themselves 'the new fashion in football' . Their nude sports calendar starkly contrasted to traditional marketing efforts of other women's teams like the Hockeyroos and Netballers. The calendar provided the team with financial support for their Olympic campaign, and focussed a great deal of attention on a team that the public were barely aware of.
On the field, the girls are ranked eigth in the world, and are likely medal prospects for Sydney 2000. During the Women's World Cup last year, the Matildas came in an impressive ninth, although they are continually improving in the lead up to Sydney's games.
But let's look back to the local soccer associations of the country, because it is here that the strength of the game is most obvious. In the sports 25-year history, the number of players has increased more than tenfold. We are now the sixth highest participating nation, boasting over 58,000 players on our local fields.
Most of the players out on the fields on the weekend are under the age of twenty one. Like my own team, the mighty Georges River Tigers, we're out to have a good time, keep up the fitness levels and catch up with friends. More often than not, performance depends on whether we've had a big night beforehand, although everyone turns up regardless.
Overall, the future of soccer for women in Australia looks very promising, for both elite levels and local teams. As long as the Matildas continue with their success on and off the field, and the more modest teams out there keep up their enthusiasm levels, then Australian women's soccer will remain a force to be reckoned with amongst international women's sports.
Anna Cunningham is a UTS Communications student and a PR assistant at Lodestar Communications. She plays Centre Midfield for the Georges River Tigers on Sunday mornings.
Workers Sick of Long Hours
About one in six workers are putting in more than 50 hours per week, according to a survey conducted by researchers from Curtin University. About one in four workers are unwilling conscripts to long hours. The study was based on the 1995 AWIRS survey of 2000 workplaces. The report rate for accidents and illness for workers clocking up the extra hours was higher than for other workers. A similar study in the UK produced similar findings.
(Work Alert; March 2000)
Forms of Employment
The Australian labour market is continuing to change rapidly and researchers are trying to come to grips with the nature and extent of these changes. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) have published a new survey conducted in August 1998 focusing on a major area of research interest, the employment arrangements that lie on the boundaries between jobs where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, and self-employment. Workplace reform, micro-economic reform, technological change and "globalisation' have all impacted on the standard employment relationship.
The Employment types that respondents to the survey were categorised into were:
ˇ Employees with leave entitlements
ˇ Self-identifies casuals
ˇ 'other employed persons'
ˇ owner managers of incorporated
ˇ owner managers of unincorporated enterprises
59% of all employed persons were employees with leave entitlements
18% were self-identified casuals
4% were 'other employed persons'
7% were owner managers of incorporated enterprises
13% were owner managers of unincorporated enterprises
The growth of employment agencies and labour hire companies is a major new feature of the labour market. This survey does not really give a clear picture of that trend. The 1995 AWIRS Survey showed that over 20% of employees were agency workers. Only 84,300 of 8.4 million workers were paid by an employment agency. Perhaps the 18% casual and 4% 'other employed persons' match this. Also a component of the employees with leave entitlements category may be agency workers.
The practice of reducing permanent staff and contracting former employees as consultants is highlighted by the owner manager category. 15% of all owner managers were dependent in some way on their client.
27% of full time workers expressed a preference for fewer hours of work. Part-time workers were more likely to want more hours.
The trend to rapid turnover in jobs was also highlighted by the survey. 21% of employed persons had been at their current job for less than one year, while a further 21% had been there for between one and two years.
190,900 employees out of 8.4 million had fixed term contracts due to finish within one year.
(Australian Bureau of Statistics. Forms of Employment Australia August 1998 (released 15-2-00) catalogue no. 6359.0)
Insulation Wools: new ILO code
The ILO has adopted a new code of practice for working with synthetic fibre insulation wools.
More than 6 million tonnes of these wools are produced annually with over 200,000 people employed in the manufacturing and use of them. Despite technological improvements there is still concern that some insulation wools may have long term health consequences.
(World of Work; no. 33, February 2000)
Training and Productivity
The Productivity Commission has released a study of that shows labour productivity increases with training, provided it is combined with innovations such as technological change and reorganisation of management. The study was based on an examination of data collected in the 1990 and 1995 AWIRS Surveys. Over 60% of workplaces in the survey provided some training for employees, and spent approximately $185.00 per employee on training.
(Human Resources Update; no. 237, 25 February 2000)
Trade Unions and Vocational Education and Training: Questions of Strategy and Identity
Australian unions entered the 'national training reform agenda' in the late 1980s promising themselves a high skill, high wage economy in which 'lifetime learning' was an integral part of paid employment. The regulatory arrangements the union movement sought in order to realise these goals have instead been used to promote the 'marketisation' of vocational training, in which the business community has greatly increased leverage over training design, delivery and assessment. As a result, unions have seen one of their traditional strongholds - the male dominated apprenticeship system - cut back, while training access remains sharply defined by class and gender. Unions now face questions of how best to participate in the training market, in ways that promote union identity.
(Labour and Industry; vol. 10, no. 3, April 2000)
Wage and Salary Earners
Interesting trends showed up in the December quarter statistics. The number of private sector employees increased by 1.1%. The largest annual percentage increases by state and territory were in the Northern Territory (up 9%) and the ACT (up 6.3%). These are areas of strong federal public service presence. Strangely the numbers of federal public servants continued to decline, down 3.5% in the year. State public service numbers increased by 1.7%.
By industry the big areas of growth in employment were the property and business services area (up 11.2%) and wholesale trade (up 5.6%)
Perhaps the restaurant business is slowing, because there was a decrease in the numbers of employees in the accommodation, cafes and restaurants category of 5.6%, and in mining of 8%.
(Australian Bureau of Statistics. Wage and Salary Earners Australia December quarter 1999, catalogue no. 6248.0)
What's a ``Relevant Award'' for the Purposes of the ``No disadvantage'' Test?
When an enterprise agreement is made, the employees who are a party to the agreement must not be disadvantaged in the terms and conditions of their employment compared to employees whose terms and conditions are regulated by the relevant award. It is not always clear which award is the relevant comparison. A recent full bench decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission found that the award used does not have to cover all the terms and conditions to be the relevant award.
The Australian Guarantee Corporation (AGC) had proposed to use the Clerks (Finance Companies) Consolidated Award 1985 (Clerks Award) in order to compare the terms and conditions of employees under a proposed enterprise agreement. Cmr Whelan ruled initially that it was not appropriate but the full bench overturned that decision.
Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited v Finance Sector Union, AIRC (FB) (Giudice P, Marsh SDP, Harrison C), 3 February 2000, (2000) 47 AILR 4-214.
(Australian Industrial Law News; no. 3, March 2000)
It hasn't been a great week for the human toltoy, starting with revelations of the manual provided to senior public servants teaching them how to lie and cheat in negotiations.
The story, front page in the Sydney Morning Herald, sent Reithy into a flurry of activity - ringing the reporter, his editor and anyone else with Fairfax shares demanding a retraction.
But the story wouldn't die - culminating in a heated showdown with reporters at a press conference where Reith tried, but failed, to characterise the story as old news.(see story in news pages).
The only thing going for Reith was that the fracas almost, but not quite, managed to overshadow his failure to honour his promise to secure workers entitlements when companies go into liquidation.
His inability to convince even conservative states of the merits of his model where taxpayers rather business would kick the can, means the Howard Government is now exposed to another national textile campaign the next time a firm closes its doors.
And all the while his Employment Advocate runs rampant across the call centre industry pushing pattern bargaining-style AWAs.
It's all getting so hard, he's even trying to outsource the very industrial relations functions he aims to subvert from other government departments.
One of the joys of watching a master puppeteer is seeing how all the strings can be manouvred without ever getting tangled.
But Reithy aint a master anything, and right now the strings are all mixed up.
So is our Deface a Face program - Hopefully we'll get it working by Monday!
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/51/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005