|Issue No 60||30 June 2000|
Strike Marks Resurgence In Community Sector Activism
By Noel Hester
Over 1,000 Community Workers walked off the job and rallied utside NSW Parliament House last Friday in a show of anger and frustration with the NSW Government.
Union members were protesting Government inaction over a lack of funding and poor work conditions in the sector.
It was the first state-wide strike in the non-government service sector in over a decade and marked a resurgence in activism by workers traditionally hesitant to take industrial action. Busloads of SACS activists from Wollongong, Gosford, Newcastle and the Blue Mountains converged on Sydney for the rally.
Up to 3500 ASU members in the social and community sector are believed to have participated in 14 different events during the Day of Action across regional NSW.
Tightwad Treasurer Michael Egan was a particular focus of anger at the rally. His failure to front up and address the crowd led to his 'mass sacking' - scores of hessian sacks addressed to him were heaved over the parliament fence to a spirited rendition of "Don't Be Too Polite Girls". Hundreds of purple and green streamers were plastered on the front of the House.
SACS workers have been campaigning vigorously for a new award for the last 18 months. The NSW award is the worst in the country. Hearings for the award are to finish in the New South Wales IR Commission on 23 August.
ASU Secretary Alison Peters says SACS workers are in a classical Catch-22 situation.
'The employers won't talk about money and the Government says that they don't actually employ anyone under the award. They say they'll look at the funding implications after the award has been made. That may well be too late,' she said.
'Most organisations in this field rely on government grants to provide services and to pay wages. Employers generally recognise the need for better pay and conditions but won't agree to improvements without a commitment from the government to increase funding.'
Alison Peters says SACS workers have proved they can take collective action on an industry wide basis.
'We are now looking at other options for bans and further action. One thing is for sure - SACS workers are serious and they're not going away.'
Interview: Turning Tides
ACTU President Sharan Burrow reflects on the disappearance of the middle class and what the union movement can do about it
Unions: Fear and Loathing in Wollongong
For four days this week, too much unionism was barely enough. We bring you the highs and lows from behind the scenes and inside the bars of this week’s ACTU Congress.
Politics: The Group Hug
Opposition leader Kim Beazley came, saw and conga-ed. Here's what he said to the ACTU Congress.
History: Unions and Family Trees
Trade union records may not be the first port of call for a beginning family historian, but down the track a little, these records could bring to life an ancestor who previously was just a name printed on the page.
International: Fiji Bans Lifted
Fiji employers are expected to start reinstating all their workers over the next week, now that Australian union bans have been lifted at the request of the local union leadership.
Review: Room to Manoeuvre
Full employment with a highly skilled well-paid workforce is a realistic goal for Australia, despite the supposed constraints of globalisation.
Satire: Satan Subpoenaed To Cricket Inquiry
The King Commission of Inquiry into cricket match-fixing yesterday heard evidence from Satan that he never influenced Hansie Cronje to accept bribes.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005