by Andrew Casey
The ACTU Delegates Charter was the first policy item discussed and adopted at this week's four-day ACTU Congress in Wollongong.
The Charter sets out the basic rights and essential elements needed if a local delegate is to operate effectively in organised workplaces
" Our union is committed to winning delegates rights in all our workplaces because we see it as the essential building block of organising and growing the union," Troy Burton, the Hotel Union Organiser at the site said.
The ACTU Charter was adopted on Monday at Congress and was agreed to on Wednesday at the Millennium Hotel.
ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, announced the Hotel dealt as the first success of the new Delegates Charter at the Congress venue - to a round of whoopees and widespread applause.
Troy Burton admits he was surprised, how easily and quickly management at the Millennium accepted the Delegates Charter.
" Our strategy is to expand this Charter to protect all our Hotel delegates. We see this as an important issue in the lead up to the Olympics so that our delegates now they have clear rights and responsibilities, accepted by all sides.
" The Olympics will be a hectic time. There is a potential for turmoil. We want to protect our members. We want to protect our delegates."
The key Sydney hotels which will be targeted to adopt the Delegates Charter are: the Sheraton, Westin, Accor Hotels, Regent, Intercontinental and the Wentworth.
The Hotel Union - the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union ( LHMU) - held a large rank-and-file delegates conference in Adelaide earlier this year to debate, discuss and adopt a draft Delegates Charter.
The 12 point ACTU Delegates Charter says union delegates should be treated fairly, recognised as members' representatives, given reasonable time off for trade union education, have the right to address new employees and have reasonable access to email, internet, phone, fax and photocopying in the workplace.
Quite independently the LHMU in South Australia has developed its own Charter of Delegates Rights and Responsibilities through an extensive process of surveying the needs of delegates and bringing 250 delegates together to discuss the results of the survey - and how it can be best implemented.
The ACTU Delegates Charter wants to protect all delegates, as they are the union movement's frontline key organisers, by getting the Charter adopted into agreements at all workplaces.
Union delegates shall have:
i. The right to be treated fairly and to perform their role as union delegate without any discrimination in their employment;
ii. the right to formal recognition by the employer that endorsed union delegates speak on behalf of union members in the workplace;
iii. the right to bargain collectively on behalf of those they represent;
iv. the right to consultation, and access to reasonable information about the workplace and the business;
v. the right to paid time to represent the interests of members to the employer and industrial tribunals;
vi. the right to reasonable paid time during normal working hours to consult with union members;
vii. the right to reasonable paid time off to participate in the operation of the union;
viii. the right to reasonable paid time off to attend accredited union education;
ix. the right to address new employees about the benefits of union membership at the time that they enter employment;
x. the right to reasonable access to telephone, facsimile, photocopying, internet and e-mail facilities for the purpose of carrying out work as a delegate and consulting with workplace colleagues and the union;
xi. the right to place union information on a notice board in a prominent location in the workplace;
xii. the right to take reasonable leave to work with the union.
These rights are basic and fair. Union delegates are entitled to know their role is recognised and respected. Unions will campaign to build these rights over time into workplaces across the country.
The train is the 3801 and it will leave central at 5.30 am on Thursday the 6th of July with a number of stops to collect passengers along the way. It will arrive in Orange at 11.30am and depart at 2.53 pm. Contact your union for the details and timetable.
A delegation from Email will meet the train and then we will proceed to Cooks Park for a sausage sizzle at 11.45.
There will then be a March down the Summer to Robertson's Park were their will be an address by a number of the email workers and local businesses etc.
The Orange City Council will be providing a sausage sizzle after the address. The Council is 100% behind this campaign. So is local politician Senator, Sue West who is sending an invitation to the Orange Community to support the Email workers and their families by attending the attend the address in Robertson's Park.
There will also be a band Country Express who are a local band and who will provide
entertainment all afternoon.
To register a seat on the Wemail Express contact your union or call Mary yaager at Labor Council on 9264 1691
Until recently she worked in a club where management policy did not allow any nose, tongue or belly button jewellery to be worn during shifts.
Belinda - a member of the Hotel Union, the LHMU - had her nose pierced with a tiny stud, almost invisible at a distance.
At a club where patrons are allowed to wear all kinds of jewellery, she was told to ditch her nose stud.
"I was so angry when they told me if I didn't take my nose stud out I'd be sacked," Belinda said.
"I mean it's not like I have a big bull ring in my nose."
When the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union ( LHMU) took up this issue with management, they still refused to back down.
"When Belinda and I contacted the club they absolutely refused to modify their policy," said LHMU organiser Yvette Berry. "You can have bleached spiky hair but no nose stud."
Rather than put up with the heavy-handed practice, Belinda chose to resign. "They made one guy take out his eyebrow ring which you couldn't even see because it was clear," she said.
"I resigned because I didn't want to work in a place that is so out of touch. Who would?"
Belinda's now got a job in another Canberra club.
" I asked before I started there whether they had any problems with body piercing. They said not at all. So I'm happy now."
Shaw's decision to call it quits and leave the NSW Upper House creates a quandary for Costa, who is in the middle of negotiations over a potentially lucrative computer deal in which the ALP and Labor Council each have a third equity.
The seat was earmarked for Costa as part of a deal that saved Shaw after he failed to gain preselection from his own Left faction.
Costa says he needs to weigh up the decision over the weekend. "I need to decide if the time is right. There are important projects at Labor Council that I am involved in; at the same time there is an obvious need to increase trade union representation inside the party.
Great Industrial Relations Minister
Costa says she will be remembered as one of the State's great Industrial Relations Ministers.
He says Shaw would be remembered for his 1996 reform package which turned back the tide on labour market deregulation across the nation.
And he says he's confident new IR minister John Della Bosca will successfully negotiate industrial laws which are currently before Parliament.
See next week's Workers Online for an exit interview with Jeff Shaw
Mr Bevis said Mr Reith is still trying to hide his role in what is arguably Australia's ugliest industrial dispute - a dispute in which the Federal Government employed heinous tactics to attack workers' rights.
Mr Bevis's questions were sparked by the recent publication of Waterfront: The Battle that Changed Australia, which highlighted Peter Reith's involvement in the dispute.
"Peter Reith has avoided any responsibility for this dispute from day one," Mr Bevis said today.
My questions are intended to finally get the truth concerning the Minister's involvement and get it on the public record for the Australian people to make up their own minds about Peter Reith.
"I want Mr Reith to own up to and explain many things, including the following:
* his meeting with Chris Corrigan in late November 1997 when Mr Corrigan was informed that the Reith would take a submission to Cabinet in early December regarding the Government providing redundancies for sacked workers;
* his taunts to John Coombs and Greg Combet at a meeting of 18th December 1997 about what they were going to do when the farmers came and took their jobs;
* what happened on the evening of 7th of April 1998 when he contacted P&O's Richard Hein and said that he was "pushing the button";
* what happened on the evening of the 7th April 1998 when he telephoned then Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge to explain that something would be happening on the docks that night;
* the details of his announcement at a press conference on the 7th April 1998, soon after receiving the press release from Patrick's, that the Government had earlier that night endorsed a redundancy package for the sacked workers; and
* the way he introduced laws into Parliament on the 8th April 1998, the day after the mass sackings, providing for the redundancies.
"The waterfront debacle has become the most divisive and disgraceful part of Australia's industrial history.
"And Peter Reith will be remembered as the evil mastermind, the Dick Dastardly of the whole shameful episode.
"The aggressive and violent nature of the dispute typifies Peter Reith's treatment of working Australians.
"Peter Reith's long political career is eminently forgettable except for one thing - his despicable role in the waterfront dispute. His signature will be the black balaclava and the attack dogs.
"It's now time he told the whole truth about his dark place in Australian political history," Mr Bevis said.
Reith Tables Salami
Also in Parliament this week in an effort to distract people from the manifestly unfair and unpopular GST the Government reverted to type and started a new round of union and worker bashing.
Peter Reith's obsession with reducing the working conditions of Australian workers continued with four pieces of legislation being introduced.
Monday was mandatory secret ballots for strike action, Tuesday saw yet another bill on Unfair dismissals being entered. On Wednesday Reith tabled legislation to make approvals for his unfair and unpopular AWAs even easier and yesterday he moved to remove meat tallies and picnic days from all Awards.
Each of these issues was covered in last year's failed second wave legislation which saw a coordinated a national campaign by both the union movement and the Labor Party which resulted in the comprehensive rejection of all of the Government's legislation.
Currently the Government has at least eight separate pieces of legislation before the Parliament each of them designed to reduce working conditions for all Australians.
Kim Beazley on behalf of the Labor Party tabled a Private Members bill that is designed to restore the powers and discretion of the Industrial Relations Commission to deal fairly and equitably with workers conditions and to resolve disputes.
The Waterfront Questions
1. Do you recall denying any prior knowledge of the Dubai Training scheme to the House of Representatives on the 4th December 1997 - a scheme aimed at replacing union members working for Patrick Stevedore's or related company entities with non-union labour?
2. Did you attend a meeting on the 18th September 1997 at which any of the following were present:- John Sharp, David Rosalby, Allan Hawke, Derren Gillispie, Greg Feeney, Kym Bills, Greg Bondar, Peter Wilson, Stephen Webster or Chris Corrigan and if so, which persons were present?
3. At that meeting did any person give a briefing of plans to completely replace Patrick's workforce with non-union labour that would be trained for the task?
4. (i) Was your former Chief of Staff Peter Richards also present at that meeting? (ii) If so, did he or any other person present; a) take notes; or b) provide a report, in writing or verbally, of it to you. (iii) If not, is it normal practice for members of your staff to represent you at meetings without informing you of what occurred at those meetings?
5. (i) Did a member of your staff, meet with any Commonwealth Public Servants and/or consultants and/or representatives of Patrick Stevedore's or any related company entity, on the 1st of December 1997? (ii) If so, were your staff informed of plans to replace the workforce of Patrick Stevedore's or any related company entity or of any other matters and what were those other matters? (iii) If your staff were informed of such matters, did your staff inform you of what occurred? (iv) If you weren't informed, is it normal practice in your office for staff to attend such meetings without informing you of the outcomes.
6. (i) Did you meet with Chris Corrigan and/or Peter Scanlon, or any other representatives of Patrick Stevedore's or any other related company entity on the 16th of December 1997? (ii) Was the issue of training of replacement stevedoring labour in Dubai discussed at that meeting. (iii) Did you enquire of any Patrick's representative at that meeting, what the company's future plans in relation to their workforce were? (iv) Do you still maintain as you did in an interview on the 4th of February 1998, that Chris Corrigan's interview on the 3rd of February was the first you knew of the details of the Dubai Training Scheme?
7. In relation to the Patrick's waterfront dispute of 1997/98 can you confirm that: (i) the first you were aware of the dispute was when your office was contacted by representatives of Patrick Stevedore's or any related company entity late on the 7th April 1998 and a subsequent press release faxed to your office? (ii) If this was your first knowledge of what Patrick Stevedore's or any other related company entity were planning, then
a) why was it you met with Chris Corrigan in late November 1997 where you informed him that you would take a submission to Cabinet in early December regarding the Government providing redundancies for sacked workers; b) why did you ask John Coombs and Greg Combet at a meeting you had on the 18th of December 1997 what they were going to do when the farmers came and took their jobs; c) why did you, on the night of the 7th of April, contact P&O's Richard Hein and state you were "pushing the button"; d) why did you, early in the evening of the 7th April ring then Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge to explain that something would be happening on the docks that night; e) how could you announce at a press conference soon after you received the press release from Patrick's that the Government earlier that night had endorsed a Government redundancy package for the sacked workers; and f) when did you prepare the Bill on these matters that you introduced into the parliament the very next day.
Burrow told Workers Online that the trade debate had been "terrific" and the resolution to push for core labour standards to be incorporated in WTO negotiations was vital/
"We deal every day now in Australia with the negative impact of deregulation and privatization in our own country," Burrow says.
"The challenge for us now is how you deal with that, on a global stage, when international trade, international investment, and now international management and provision of services, is up for grabs."
She says that by monitoring the debate on social tariffs - the key area of debate - the ACTU would ensure it played a leading role in this debate.
ACTU Backs User Pays for Non-Members
Meanwhile, the ACTU has endorsed a policy which could see non-union members charged a service fee when trade unions negotiate a pay rise on their behalf.
The policy was endorsed during debate on the industrial legislation policy at the ACTU Congress in Wollongong.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet says the issue of user pays needs to be considered by individual unions. He says the issue can be taken up separately by unions in enterprise agreements or could be developed into a broader legislative proposition.
Attempts by the NSW union movement to enshrine the notion of service fees has so far failed to gain the endorsement of the Carr Government.
The industrial debate also reaffirmed commitment to wiping out individual contracts and stated that non-union agreements should not be allowed to be used as a deunionisation tactic.
Speaking at the congress in Wollongong, Combet said this would help ensure adequate retirement income for Australian families.
Unions will build support for a move to 15 percent contributions through collective bargaining, government policy and legislation. Currently the Superannuation Guarantee Charge is seven percent. This will rise to eight percent from July 2000 and nine percent in July 2002.
The move to 15 percent is a long-term campaign, which will build on the success of superannuation in Australia. Since 1984 Unions have helped build a superannuation system characterised by universal access, strong returns, low fees and representation from employers and employees on superannuation trustee boards.
"Improved superannuation will give greater security to Australian families, boost national savings and create a fairer society ," Combet says.
In Australia the average income of the most affluent 10% has skyrocketed by almost $200 a week since 1982 - up to six times more than anyone at the bottom of the income scale has received.
Addressing this week's ACTU Congress, Clark says the time has come for affirmative action legislation to provide Aboriginal people with job opportunities.
Clark says while employment across the community is 93 per cent, 51 per cent of the Aboriginal workforce were unemployed.
And he says most of these jobs are in the government and community sector, rathert han the private sector.
"I can already hear voices saying that this is discrimination," Clark says. "It is not".
"The 'race discrimination' convention clearly required that the effects of racial discrimination be overcome, and acknowledges that 'special measures' to overcome disparities is not racialn discrimination.
"This is substantive equality where difference and disadvantages are taken into account to achieve equal outcomes."
by Rowan Cahill
"We have met with the Company and their legal team on a number of occasions but it's just been a waste of time. They don't want to talk about the issues", said AMWU organiser Alan Ward.
The Company refuses to capitulate on its demands for four separate enterprise agreements to cover the different sections at Joy.
About 70 workers from three separate unions (the AMWU, AWU, and CEPU) have been locked-out of their Moss Vale worksite for three months since the collapse of EBA negotiations.
Two picket encampments are permanently manned outside the worksite. The workers are surviving frugally on a fighting fund, while their activities and those of their unions are restrained by Supreme Court injunctions.
At this stage the lockout is in place until July 14, but there are indications it may be extended.
Part of the Company's negotiating problem is evident in correspondence it has sent to the locked-out workers.
In the Joy view of industrial relations, unions and their officials have apparently little to do with workers. There is no umbilical link or structural connection.
Hence Joy's consistent invitation to workers to negotiate with management without union representation.
As one locked-out worker put it to me, angrily gesturing towards Joy's headquarters, "Those bastards in there don't get it; we are the union".
Other people have no trouble understanding unionism and solidarity. Many thousands of dollars have been donated to help Joy workers in their long running dispute.
Large sums were raised at the anti-3rd wave rally, the ALP State Conference, and the ACTU National Congress.
As far afield as Las Vegas, Light Heavyweight boxer Justin Clements, a scaffolder by trade, donated his recent purse of $5000 after hearing of the plight of the Joy workers.
Joy Manufacturing, trading as Joy Mining Machinery, is a subsidiary of the American holding company Harnischfeger Industries Inc., currently operating under US Bankruptcy Code Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Internationally the treatment of the Moss Vale workers is generating concern.
In South Africa, workers employed by Joy have met with company representatives protesting against the treatment of their Moss Vale brothers.
From Geneva the International Metalworkers' Federation has communicated directly with the American Harnischfeger chairman foreshadowing the "launch of an international campaign against Joy Manufacturing" should the Moss Vale dispute not be satisfactorily resolved.
The United Steelworkers of America has also communicated with Harnischfeger, protesting against Joy's actions in Moss Vale.
As the steelworkers point out, "it would seem that at a time when Harnischfeger Industries is in bankruptcy it would be trying to resolve problems, not perpetuate them".
Anyone wishing to donate to the Joy Mining Fighting Fund should call Alan Ward on 0419 404 530.
by Noel Hester
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.'
by Andrew Casey
The Star City agreement with the Casino Union will deliver a total wages, and shift loading increases, of between five and eight per cent a year, for the next two years.
The special Olympic bonus is paid between September 15 and October 1 at $50 per shift ( $6.25 per hr ).
Casino workers normally earn about $28,000 a year, through to about $43,000 a year.
Australia's Casino Union - the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union - represents about 2,100 workers at Star City Casino.
" The Casino industry. which is overwhelmingly youth oriented, gives the lie to the argument that young people and unions don't mix," Rebecca Reilly, a Casino Union organiser explained.
The LHMU Casino Union example, of a new vibrant organising culture, will be featured on the first day of the ACTU Congress.
" The members are serious about their claims, but the youth, the style and the activism of this workforce doesn't fit the image normally associated with unions," Rebecca Reilly explains.
" The new union organising culture - which is the focus of the LHMU and is being promoted by the ACTU - is wonderfully represented here," Tim Ferrari, the Assistant National Secretary of the LHMU, said.
" People, active in the union, delegates taking control of the agenda and running the issues.
" We've been able to get the Olympic bonus during our enterprise agreement negotiations - and make it one of the best deals around - because our members are involved and understand the union movement is vibrant and alive - only because of them," Tim Ferrari, said.
Earlier this week the LHMU had a world-first breakthrough with the introduction into the NSW Parliament of legislation which will ban smoking at the gaming tables.
Rebecca Reilly explains that her role with the union members is to provide the backing to the key delegates and members who run the show.
" They decided to campaign for a ban on smoking at the gaming tables. They decided to campaign for the huge Olympic bonus they have just won."
" And now the members want serious talks with the company about how to control unruly and unacceptable patron behaviour which sometimes includes lewd, unsavoury and objectionable suggestions."
Administrative staff in schools have to manage large and complex budgets. Many schools have an annual turnover well in excess of $1 million. Administrative Staff will have to tread the minefield of multifarious GST rulings for the education sector.
The Department of Education says that "the correct interpretation of procedures and requirements by school staff is essential to ensure the accounting treatment of financial transactions is appropriate in terms of GST requirements".
Yet the Government won't pay for this work. It didn't even upgrade Schools' computer equipment to make ready for the GST.
PSA Acting General Secretary Maurie O'Sullivan said, "For years and years DET has relied on the goodwill of administrative staff to keep schools going. It has never been prepared to pay them for extra work - they just work unpaid overtime.
"The GST is the last straw. Our members in Schools are outraged that a Government, which is prepared to bail out SOCOG to the tune of $140 million, will only eke out a miserly $11.42 a day to help the biggest schools cope with the GST burden."
The awards were presented at the ACTU Congress in Wollongong this week. In presenting the award ACTU President Sharan Burrow praised LaborNet's diversity of content.
The AMWU site was praised by judges for it's interactivity.
The best publication award went to the Independent Education union, while the CFMEU won best media campaign for their work with the Oakdale miners.
Workers Online readers may remember last week's Stop Press, we received an eleventh hour legal letter saying our comparisons with the VC deal were wrong.
VC had held a meeting that day where they had agreed to improve aspects of the package. But when it came to their Congress promotion, they were still offering the old deal.
To clear up any problems, we've now had our comparison personally cleared by VC boss, Chris Clark.
GET ON BOARD - VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES PTY LTD Our Ref:
AM:2238012 Your Ref: PXR:TTS:990722
I act for Kingsway Capital Pty Ltd, one of the promoters of Get On Board . I refer to your letter of 23 June 2000 alleging that the comparison made in the Get On Board.com.au press release is "not correct".
We are instructed that the details of your client's product offering were derived from your client's current promotional materials, television and print advertising and responses given to telephone inquiries made by my client of your client's telephone staff. If this information did not accurately reflect your client's product offering it suggests that the material collated by my client may itself be misleading or deceptive.
I acknowledge receipt of the schedule to your letter detailing Virtual Communities current offer. My client however reserves its right to make future comparisons based on information made publicly available by your client, without seeking your client's prior approval.
The decision, handed down this afternoon, follows an application by the Labor Council of NSW to modernise the wage-fixing principles to redress gender under-valuation.
Under the decision, unions will be able to argue that certain classes of work have been historically under-valued for reasons associated with gender.
"This is an historic decision that will change the way wages are set - it shifts the goalposts in favour of women workers," Mr Costa said.
"It gives trade unions the opportunity to redress gender inequality in the setting of wages and conditions.
"It was pleasing that the Commission rejected the position of the NSW Employers Federation which sought to constrain any new principle.
"The Labor Council will now call a meeting of its affiliates to develop a strategy to apply the principle to ensure the decision has a practical effect."
The case was brought on by the NSW Labor Council following the Pay Equity Inquiry handed down in 1999.
I have just attempted to read Elizabeth Faue's article on Australian Labour History. I say "attempted" because I couldn't for the life of me understand what she was on about!
This article reminds me of the structuralist fantasies which I had to read as a history undergraduate in the late 70s/ early 80s. I mean, we've had a number of fashions since then - post-structuralism, semiotics and deconstructionism among them - but they all have one thing in common: they reduce people's understanding, rather than enhance it. And of course the language becomes a guarantee of membership of an exclusive club. The only difference between this club and that of the Masons is at least the Masons are more honest: Masonic language isn't supposed to be understood by the uninitiated.
What does, "'Community' in particular has served as a rough equivalent traditional solidarities and communal sentiments, one pole of the dichotomy of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft" bloody well MEAN? It gives me the absolute shits to think that supposedly progressive history written about working people is written in such a way that a working person couldn't understand it. I can't, and I've got a qualification in the field!
Workers Online performs a valuable function for all union members, explaining and reporting on issues that are often either not reported, or reported in a biassed way. I don't think that articles such as this one assist in serving that function; it simply reproduces elitist "history", and nobody is the wiser. Perhaps historians are happy about that - I suspect not, given the hammering they've been taking in academia.
I'd like to read more articles on labour history on W/O; but this aint one of them. Oh, and even if was interested enough to look at the book, I'm none the wiser, because the review neglected to mention its title!
National Industrial Officer
if you register at www.vtown.com.au, you can get your very own free email
address at vunions.com.au
my new email address is [email protected]
The Labor Party must distance itself from the misuse of overwhelming power, by these excessively domineering Unions.
The latest being the National Secretary of the, AMWU , at the 3 day A.C.T.U.Union conference in Wollongong . Where he erroneously claimed that free trade will cost thousands of jobs.
It is not free trade that will/is costing Australian jobs, it is our inability to adapt to the environment in which we live, and unfortunately for all economic dinosaurs - this means eventual extinction.
It is perhaps our National Ethos of "Laziness" or as some apologists would phrase it "She'll be right Mate!" that has caused our ultimate disintegration.
Or it may have been a Burke and Wills conversation at Coopers Creek or in Union Head Office? , "What's a couple of miles between friends, it's a big country"
We are a trading nation, and trade depends entirely on the provision of goods or services at a price that the customer is prepared to pay, not a price artificially set to protect some Union Bosses' cushy little number. We are a numerically small nation and are in desperate need of trading/economic alliances, and what better alliances that our close neighbours. But of course we are too busy playing mother, and chastising them over their domestic issues, to be bothered with things like trade and the economic well-being of our own populace.
What self-righteous Bastards we are? We condemn our own indigenous peoples to beggary, and then pontificate on Fiji and East Timor! One must reluctantly congratulate Labor Council Secretary, Mr. Costa, on his foresight, of International Labor rights being an integral component in the achievement this illusory level playing field.
Unfortunately this is well into the future, and is for now , in Gods' hands , and we must address the here and now. This will be easier to achieve without the invariants of Mr. Doug Cameron, National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, scare mongering not only among Union Members, but also potential Labor Voters.
I was hoping that Workers Online would advertise a demonstration that is going to occur outside the Department of Immigration at 477 Pitt Street Sydney on the 24th August,2000 at 4.30pm. It's been timed to coincide with a similar rally in Melbourne on the 26th. The rally has been called to express outrage at the current government's treatment of refugees, their racist stereotyping of them as disease-ridden criminals, and the human rights abuses that are a daily occurence in detention centres such as Villawood and Port Hedland.
The demands of the rally are:
Freedom for the refugees
Funding for settlement, not for detention
Full citizenship rights, not temporary visas
An end to racist scapegoating
The rally is being organised by the Refugee Action Coalition, a group of trade unionists, students, families of the detained, former detainees and anti-racism activists.
Any word that you can spread would be fantastic. This is an important issue for trade unionists to take up.
School of Industrial Relations
UNSW Sydney 2052
Who's interested in an almost complete set of the NSW Industrial Gazettes from 1917 to 1989?
D'ya want to look roolly, trooly smart?
D'ya like the look of old, nicely-bound, musty books on bookshelves?
D'ya want to understand a little bit about what Jeff Shaw will be on about when he returns to the NSW industrial bar?
Well here's your opportunity.
The National Office of the LHMU are getting rid of one set of the NSW Industrial Gazettes,
We would like to place them in a nice home, so we are promoting this early 20th century literature through the 21st century world of the website and e-mail.
So if you want this set contact the LHMU librarian, Lyndall Gale, at: [email protected] or ring her on 02 9281 9511
PS Does anyone know what interesting industrial law cases were held in 1923,1925,1927,1932-1940? "Cause these are the only volumes missing ( nicked?) from this luverly 1917-1989 set.
The Institute of Public Administration, Australia (IPAA) is the professional organisation for public sector practitioners. IPAA hosts forums on issues in public administration and public policy. The NSW Division of IPAA is hosting a lunch time forum in Sydney on 11 July for ACTU President Sharan Burrows. Sharan will address the forum on the topic: "The role of unionism in the achievement of collective excellence."
This will be a great event with a great speaker. Be there! Make time to show your support.
Date: Tuesday 11 July 2000
Time: 12 noon - 2.00 PM
Address: Commences 1.00 PM, preceded by buffet lunch
Place: Masonic Centre, cnr Castlreagh and Goulburn Streets
Bookings: Are essential, please complete the attached form
Fee: IPAA is offering a special rate of $33 which includes lunch (reduced from $44) to participants who mention Workers Online when they register.
Call 0292285225 for more details or [email protected]
by Peter Lewis
One of the statements that you made in your opening address which the mainstream media hasn't picked up on, was the need for the union movement to win back a middle class which is disappearing. Can you expand on what you meant by that?
Australian society is now a divided society. Increasingly, you have people like the top 20% who take home 48% of weekly income and the bottom 20% that take 3.8 home, but if you look at that middle ground then we have seen a hollowing out or an erosion of the middle classes. Now, once Australia moves away from an egalitarian notion that all people can actually aspire to a decent standard of living with a secure future through job security and family support through central public services then what we've got is insecurity, more people being pushed to the bottom and a race to the bottom. That's what we're seeing. In WA for example, individual contracts are the best example of how a race to the bottom is on for people who would have once considered themselves somewhere in that middle class spectrum.
It is an interesting repositioning. Rather than the unions identify as the working class to actually be pushing this almost to stop being an underclass is more the game now isn't it?
Well, I'm not talking about pushing any kind of class structures. What I am doing is reflecting on the economic base of Australia. Australia as an egalitarian society had aspirations to lift working class people to the point where they could have a more egalitarian base - now that has been described in Australian economic history as middle class, what ever that means. For me it means a decent living wage, secure jobs and secure futures through a grantee of opportunity for your children.
We are losing that and now the economist describe it as an erosion or a hollowing out of the middle classes - that's what I was trying to point out. What it says for working class people is that old mantra that I grew up with - get a good education, its free, get a good job, buy your home and make a difference where you can. All this is now becoming harder and harder and its about, if you like, the slow death of optimism for now three and four generations of people who are not only working class but increasingly marginisled into the poverty spectrum through welfare dependence, unemployment and the like.
Does it frustrate you when the practical measures that you have put up for these ideas are interpreted as nothing more than a shift to the Left?
I think that its certainly frustrating because what it does is deny the responsibility that journalists and politicians have to have a good look at what's going on. But you know, I'm not much worried about it because when you actually look at the research you find 96% of Australians support increased investment in the public health system, 96% of Australians support free public education and the appropriate investment levels to deliver it. When people actually believe that there should be a fairer society, and we have seen that through those Australian articles just last week, then I have to say, that if those who would detract from that agenda about a fair share for working men and women and their families want to call it a march to Left, well it is a nice little, kind of disguise, of what is actually a very serious agenda, and we'll get around that.
Probably the fieriest debate over the week has been the fair trade. There were obviously different views put, but where do you think the grey areas in the fair trade debate exist?
Well, I think it was a terrific debate. I honestly think this is a critical debate for the future. We deal every day now in Australia with the negative impact of deregulation and privatization in our own country. The challenge for us now is how you deal with that, on a global stage, when international trade, international investment, and now international management and provision of services, is up for grabs. Where globally, capital would hope that there would be no rules, that their notion of a level playing field means that they could operate anywhere, irrespective of the impact on people. They are not interested in fundamental human and trade union rights, like poor labour standards, like a responsibility to protect the environment, like acknowledging that Governments have soverancey around central services like health and public education.
We can no longer simply worry about our own backyard - that local context is now also the international context. It's as much of an issue for us as it is for people in any other country so our responsibility is to be concerned about underpinning those global futures with secure rules. Now I think we put them up, we gave it a definition - that's an international definition developed by growing collocation of churches, community groups and unions calling for a fair trading environment. We can now define what fair trade is now.
If others seek to interpret that as some diplomatic code for protectionism, I would argue that's their problem. I think the notion of fair is now part of our cortex of what is going on in our own society and internationally and if we want to put a set of fair trading and investment rules for global futures then we have a right to do that. In fact we have a responsibility to do that and I think that the debate was a really healthy beginning to what going to be a long term agenda for us its now called business.
Do have a personal position on social tariffs?
Well social tariffs is one of the issues being talked about internationally. I said in my speech that there is no danger in monitoring international debate. I would add to that, I want to actually look at the debate in terms of those who are talking about conditions that the IMF would place on its support for countries or the World Bank place on it's support for countries in need and whether or not they would work with countries where there is no respect for labour standards or the environment or essential social services. You see the World Bank is already recognizing that part of the devastation wreaked in Asia was increased dramatically because there was not balance between economic and social policy. Now when the World Bank starts to talk about that, that gives us a chance to say well lets look at the options for generating reform of international institutions like the WTO financial institutions like the bank an the IMF and the like. That's our business and so anybody who is afraid of monitoring international debate I think is just, well you know, denying that we are intellectual people who have a responsibility to understand what's going on in world. So nobody has called for the introduction of any thing, other than a fair trading environment and our governments to respect that, and agree to it, and advocate it internationally.
What's failed to be recognized here unfortunately, I suppose, at one level its unfortunate that none of this is possible in a unilateral context. Governments in a global system can't unilaterally act to make sure that except in their own country poor labour standards, for example, are respected what they do have right to do though and a responsibility to do is to advocate that the multilateral nature of trade and investment frameworks must respect those things for all countries for all working people throughout the world.
And that's what your going to be concentrating a bit on in the post Congress period is your trip overseas?
I am going overseas in September, although that is some time away. I will be taking part in the Millennium Debate, as one of the Asia Pacific representatives. That's a debate setup by the ICFTU for all union centers throughout the world with a representative structure - a committee - to look at structures and priorities for the future. In other words, how to restructure and reform and rejuvenate if you like the international union framework much like we are doing here you now. What are the new priorities, what are the strategic directions, what are the structures that will make that possible.
by Peter Lewis
We make the long drive down the Princes Highway to the jewel of the South Coast, the home of Christodoulou and the Steelers. The Gong. . The Opening Ceremony sees local school kids and Archie Roach perform songs of welcome and the show begins. Meanwhile frantic computer technicians try to get on line as the Wollongong PABX all but collapses under the weight of 500 union officials with mobile phones welded to the ear.
Like the epic battles that have been played out on the stadium behind the Wollongong Ent Cent, Day One saw the traditional softening up period inside the conference hall. Keynote speeches from Greg Combet and Sharan Burrow, set the scene - a new-look leadership with new ideas. Comber speak of structural renewal; Burrow the need to rebuild a middle class - the real losers of the globalising economy. Unfortunately, a bit of retro reporting by the Fin Review's Stephen Long, transformed the pitch into "a shift back to the Left". It was a shame the line got such a run, it pigeon-holed an organisation that is taking serious step to break that mould.
Meanwhile, we had our own wars to fight. LaborNet set up our humble stall just two booths down from the VC empire - banks of computers, video feeds and very pleasant corporate types. We find out we're staying at the same hotel as the VC crew - a haunted house on the Figtree Hill traditionally home to visiting BHP management. Unable to match the slick, we go for grunge - Powderfinger gives us our theme music and we set to work hacking. Getonboard provided the tasteless shirts, and we blundered our way around the Ent Cent as the garish wide boys of the movement. And the thing is the officials were interested - what was this other deal; Costa spite? Or something of more substance? As we dined that night with the assorted hacks, we felt things were on track.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley addresses the Congress and opens up what will later be the key policy debate of the Conference. Beazley commits the ALP to incorporate international labour standards into its trade policy. The proposition is a step forward for Labor, but not a big enough one for Doug Cameron who is pushing a "Fair Trade, not Free Trade' line which would see the ALP actually imposing tariffs on countries that don't meet ILO standards. No-one misses the symbolism when dug walks out of the hall, during the ritual standing ovation Beazley receives after his address. This is poised to be a key issue at National Conference and the jockeying within the labour movement is important. Cameron is there when Beazley gives a media conference after the speech. They smile and shake hands, but when the cameras turn on him, Cameron puts the boot into Labor's policy. Next up Costa steps in to defend the Beazley line and accuse Doug of grandstanding, setting the scene for a fiery afternoon debate.
The free trade issue will be raised during the International Affairs report, delivered deadpan by ACTU assistant secretary Bill Mansfield. A series of foreign union leaders send fraternal greetings, then sit back to hear why Cameron would impose trade barriers on their countries. To some its progressive international policy - to others it's economic Hansonism. But it is a debate of substance: should we impose limits on global trade? And if so how? Beazley argues free trade as created 1.7 million jobs, Cameron says its' cost 300,000 jobs in the manufacturing industry alone. The question: is will Australian workers benefit from a policy that places a tax on goods that come from countries that don't meet ILO standards?
The actual debate is weird in that everyone is endorsing the Cameron amendment to "monitor" debate around a social tariff. It's the take-out that matters. Cameron could use it to take to ALP Conference as labour movement endorsement of his Fair Trade agenda. Cameron speaks passionately and eloquently, the NTEU's Ted Murphy seconds the motion, with an intelligent and reasoned argument. Then Costa comes out swinging, attempting to distinguish the current debate from Cameron's line, the minority right unions have one of their few opportunities to raise their voices. It's the best theatre of the week and drags on into the evening, but noone's going anywhere.
The debate delays Chris Clarke's Virtual Communities presentation till early evening when we were planning to be flogging our deal at a nearby restaurant. Clarke and Costa talk during the afternoon, the young executive looking just a tad spooked by the getonboard presence. Clarke does hand over a few shares to the ACTU for an education fund, but the expected equity announcement isn't delivered. Instead, Combet argues unions have equity by virtue of the investment of the super funds. Don't know about that one.
The Trade debate continues with more jockeying for the correct spin. The amendment passes unanimously, but the players have their own lines. Costa issues a release saying Cameron has been rolled. Then Cameron replies - only problem is he needs a computer. A magic moment as the AMWU spin doctors hop on our getonboard Gateway computer to bag our boss - now that's a free trade debate, Doug!
Meanwhile Bob Hawke and Geoff Clark address the Congress, as the union movement reinforces its commitment to reconciliation. Things are running smoothly until ABC radio reporter Ron Fuller rushes up to seek reaction to news that Jeff Shaw has resigned from the Carr ministry. The significance is that Costa has dibs on the seat, but Jeff has gone early. Costa rushes off to "consult with colleagues", while leadership aspirant, the TWU's Tony Sheldon shoots early. I'm running around the center trying to work out what's actually happening - for the first time in two years I regret not having a mobile. Those who have watched the LaborNet team run around Congress like we own the joint, now watch us attempting to handle the chaos. I think they call it catharsis.
The word 'computer' is off the radar for a day as our immediate future hangs in the balance. The only option is to drink, which we do with feeling as the afternoon melds into the evening and the glittering Conmgress dinner. Christadoulou silences his doubters by pulling off the impossible dream of the Rock Eisteddford meeting the union movement, it's hip and cool and very un-ACTU. Or is it? The night ends with 200 union officials dancing to Soft Cell's Tainted Love - there's Jennie George and Shazza getting down, Combet using his limbs to full advantage, Joe de Bruyn, John Coombs, they're all up there. Or was it a drunken mirage??
By Thursday the Congress is racing through the agenda in a bid to clear town by sunset. Industrial policy runs user-pay for non-members up a flagpole - a totally defensible policy that no Labor Government appears prepared to touch. The expected stoush on non-union agreements is quelled and it's a relaxed Greg and Shazza show that prepares to give the final presser of the Congress. Is that Combet practicing a few King Fu moves before it kicks off? They should be pleased, the policy has remained on track and there has been genuine goodwill on the floor. Only the coverage blue between the CFMEU and AWU threatens to ignite - and this is referred to the Executive to be fought another day.
The best bits of the Congress were about ideas. That's been my conference takeout. The ACTU positioning itself as a body prepared to promote debate not control it. In a world where the interests and priorities of white and blue collar workers are often different - it sometimes takes more than a one-size-fits -all approach. Debate on issues of substance like trade, even computers, have been productive - they should continue. By holding the reins, but not too tightly, the new ACTU leadership team has - in that very act - created a new culture. Wollongong was a successful Congress. Now the real battle begins.
I want to talk to you today about what sort of Government this nation needs to bring back fairness and equity to Australian families and the Australian workplace.
We are probably only half a year away from the next national election, certainly no more than 15 months away.
That election will be a contest between a party that cares about the needs of ordinary Australians, or a group that has demonstrated it governs for the few against the many.
In a few days time Australian families and wage-earners will start paying a Goods and Services Tax, and their employers will take on the burden of becoming unpaid tax collectors, all over this country.
As you know, Labor has opposed this unfair tax, which hurts the most vulnerable in our community. This huge change to our accounting and tax practices around the nation could hardly have been handled more clumsily. Complaint after complaint is rolling in from the public and from business about its botched implementation.
Governments exhibit a character that permeates everything that they do - they exhibit a pattern of behaviour that is particularly noticeable when dealing with their duty of care towards people. This Government's character can be seen in the way it sets up smokescreens around its actions, time after time.
When bringing in their industrial objectives to smash the power of the fair industrial umpire, and to erode workers' conditions, this Government called the legislation "More Jobs, Better Pay".
Just as when bringing in this regressive tax that will hurt ordinary Australians in so many ways the Government tried to pretend it was "unchaining their hearts" - as well, of course as unchaining their bowling balls, and shopping trolleys.
Only a dud product would need $430 million of taxpayers' funds to sell it!
Just as only a dud industrial relations policy would need the nobbling of the fair umpire to achieve it.
Now, it's worth remembering some of John Howard's words when he deceived the Australian people about his intentions on this Goods and Services tax.
He'll be remembered for telling Australians that their prices would only rise by 1.9 percent under the GST when even his own Budget admits there will be a 6.75 percent inflation increase in the three months following the introduction of this dud tax.
It's worth remembering some of the words John Howard used about this GST when he was telling Australians black was white in order to get himself elected. These are the memories Australians will have of this Prime Minister at the next election. They will remember his press release of 2 May 1995 that said this:
Suggestions in today's Australian that I have left open the possibility of a GST are completely wrong.
A GST or anything resembling it is no longer Coalition policy.
Nor will it be policy at any time in the future.
It is completely off the political agenda in Australia.
And then, on the same day, he was interviewed by the media:
Howard: No, there's no way that a GST will ever be part of our policy.
Journalist: Never ever?
Howard: Never ever. It's dead. It was killed by the voters in the last election...It's not part of our policy and it won't be part of our policy at any time in the future.
He just couldn't help himself. He was at it again on December 11, 1995, he was interviewed on the radio, and was asked again if he had a plan to introduce a GST, and he said this:
Howard: One of the worst things about politics in Australia at the moment is that the public doesn't believe what its political leaders say. Now I'm telling you ... it is not on the agenda, full stop.
Presenter: Would you like it to be?
Howard: No, it's not on the agenda, full stop. Just not there. Vamoose. Kaput.
He said it in English. He said it in Spanish. He said in German. But whatever language John Howard said it in -- it was a supreme and deliberate untruth.
If that wasn't enough, John Howard will go down in history for telling Australians their petrol prices would not go up under the GST. Now he is backing away from that promise with the speed of a Formula One driver.
Here's what he said on petrol on August 1988 in an address to the nation: "The GST will not increase the price of petrol for the ordinary motorist." On April 2 this year he said: "What I've guaranteed is that the price of petrol will not rise as a result of the GST."
John Howard knew he could not keep those promises. They were yet another attempt to turn black into white
Labor's policy, as you know, will be to roll back the GST, to make it fairer for all Australians.
You will all know our plans in detail before the next election. For the moment, I can assure you our priorities will be in the areas of providing fairness to the weakest and most vulnerable in society, including charities; lifting the burden on small business, especially the administrative complexity; lifting the burden on education and health; and lessening the impact on jobs
We all know that GST equals higher prices, which equals higher inflation and higher interest rates. It's already happening.
The value of the much-touted tax cuts has already evaporated for thousands of families, and we haven't even seen them yet. And interest rates keep going up too - because of the GST.
All Australians should remember John Howard's words - that we would all thank him for the GST.
Whatever his words as he desperately tries to wriggle off a hook of his own making as this tax comes in, and he jets off to London to visit the Queen, remember that this was his test: that people would thank him for giving them the GST.
This is the test: and not the one John Howard is now talking about. With the weekend nearly upon us, John Howard is now saying that - whatever else happens - the sky won't fall in on July 1, and everyone one should thank him for that.
So, in John Howard's terms, it does not matter if families are worse off; if small businesses close; and if there is chaos in administration because he has botched the implementation - as long as the sky stays up, we should all be thanking him.
Australians won't fall for this trick. They won't let John Howard wriggle off the hook. He introduced this tax system. It was his idea: indeed it has been just about his only idea for 20 years.
The fact is, John Howard is mired in the past on so many issues while the world is passing us by.
That's why it's time for the industrial and political wings of the labour movement to get together to defeat John Howard and his unfair GST, and his throwback workplace relations regime.
But of course it's not just on the GST that the Howard Government has proved to be the trickster's Government - the Government trying to turn black into white.
Perhaps its worst moments have come in the conduct of industrial relations in this country.
Many of you would have been astounded to hear that the Howard Government's chief head-kicker, Peter Reith, told a recent meeting of the NSW Industrial Relations Society how well off workers were because of his policies.
You know he calls himself "the worker's friend" - he stands up in Parliament day after day giving himself this title.
And this is what Peter Reith told the NSW I.R. Society about the experiences of Australian workers today: "...more cooperative workplaces with greater workforce participation in wage and condition setting"; "...more flexible conditions enabling work and family issues to be addressed"; rewards "more readily shared throughout the workforce".
Anyone recognise this workers' paradise delivered by this workers' friend?
Here's a more fitting description of the Reith regime - from a Victorian Supreme Court judge: who described the current state of workplace relations as "ritualised mayhem in which only the innocent are slaughtered".
From the moment they got the job, Peter Reith has been trying to make industrial relations in this country over in his own image - confrontational, bullying, aggressive.
Peter Reith was handed his confrontational brief by Prime Minister John Howard who told Parliament in 1992, as an Opposition frontbencher, when asked about the coalition's plans for the Commission, that: "We will stab them in the stomach".
He was quite upfront about it: he wouldn't come around and stab the Commission in the back, he would tackle them head-on and "stab them in the stomach".
And Howard found a soulmate in Peter Reith - a man whose first formal speech as Minister was spent attacking unions.
Nothing shows us more clearly how far he will go to attack trade unionists than his handling of the waterfront dispute - one of the most bitter and divisive conflicts in Australia's history.
For the first time in Australia a Government set out to create a massive dispute in order to get a mass sacking of workers.
Have no doubts that it was orchestrated at the highest levels of Government. Government documents from as far back as 1997 show a ruthless campaign to smash a union.
There is no doubt that the waterfront dispute - men in balaclavas with attack dogs chasing people out of their place of work -- came as a great shock to working people and their families everywhere.
The cynical way in which Mr Reith has carried out his brief -- and the way the Howard Government constantly uses industrial issues for political purposes -- is shown by what is happening in the Parliament this very week.
While Congress is meeting Mr Reith is introducing four separate industrial relations bills, mainly resurrecting proposals that failed to get through the last time he tried these tricks, in the so-called second wave legislation.
These bills deal with secret ballots, to streamline approval procedures for AWAs, to strip such matters as tallies and bonuses from awards, and to reduce the grounds on which workers can obtain unfair dismissal remedies.
Peter Reith is telling us these laws are all about "more flexible conditions"; "enabling work and family issues to be addressed" and helping to make workplace rewards "more readily shared". Turning black into white all over again.
But what he's really about is giving him and his colleagues a platform for their crusade against unions and their members on every day of this Congress. What they are really about is trying to keep the focus off the GST.
The constant misuse and abuse of industrial issues for short-term political convenience has been the hallmark of Peter Reith and the Howard Government from the day they entered office four years ago.
Peter Reith has spent every waking moment for four years using his office to indulge his obsession with getting unions and the fair umpire, the Industrial Relations Commission, out of any role in bargaining between workers and their employers.
And there is more to come. The High Court decision on the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) case two weeks ago means, in essence, that Peter Reith can legislate to take even more conditions away from workers and that the Commission can do very little - if anything-about it.
Already Mr Reith is using this as an excuse to resume his campaign to use the corporations power in the Constitution to underpin industrial relations instead of the arbitration power.
Back in March, Mr Reith announced he had set up a special project team in his Department to develop the idea. As the year has progressed, he has promised a series of discussion papers explaining it.
How would the most untrustworthy Minister for Industrial Relations in our history use the power to legislate directly for pay and conditions? We haven't seen his discussion papers yet. But we know enough of the Reith form to know the answer.
He would use the power to legislate a basic minimum level of conditions, over which workers would have to bargain as they could for rights such as pay increases and overtime, maternity leave, training and health and safety.
You know Peter Reith likes to get up in Parliament and belt me, along with the rest of the Labor Party, for having a close relationship with the trade unions.
He's just discovered that the Labor Party and the labour movement might have a few issue in common - like the protection of workers' basic living conditions, their health and safety, and the better balancing of their work and family responsibilities.
Peter Reith likes to say that when the political and industrial wings of Labor agree on something this means that the ALP is in your pockets.
We have our disagreements, and spirited they may sometimes be, but we will never be divided on the basic issue of protecting the fundamental rights of working men and women in this country.
And let's be quite clear about the people Peter Reith sees as his enemy - workers covered by trade unions.
More than two million ordinary, decent, working men and women.
These are people from all walks of life - nurses, train drivers, teachers, miners, shearers, childcare workers, builders and factory employees.
These are the people - from Whyalla to Wollongong, from Geraldton to Geelong, who have put their backbone into the economic development of this great nation.
There are many others who may not belong to unions but who are sympathetic to workers' rights to associate, their rights to better safety conditions, their rights to bargain for a fair deal and for some semblance of job security.
We all know that industrial action by employers has become more vicious. G&K O'Connor's Meatworks in country Victoria -- in an action labelled a "baseball bat lockout" by Justice Spender of the Federal Court -- locked out its employees for eight months because they refused to accept pay cuts ranging up to 17.5 percent.
ACI in Melbourne locked out its employees on Christmas Eve last year and kept them out for five months.
And we are all aware of the lock-out affecting the Joy Mining Machinery workers, that has been going on in the southern highlands, not too far from here. I believe some of the Joy workers are here today, and I want to wish them well in their struggle.
It is no surprise, in these circumstances, that survey after survey shows that workers feel more insecure and anxious than at any time in our peacetime history.
Peter Reith has overseen a system to which an incoming government will have to make significant changes if Australia is to have an industrial climate fit for the challenges posed by the new century.
There are huge issues -- certainly bigger issues that cynical politics -- before us in industrial relations.
The smooth operation of workplace relations is a vital part of national welfare. We all know this. Happiness in the workplace is fundamental to happiness in families. Family-friendly industrial relations are fundamental to a whole and peaceful society.
And that is more true today than ever before, as women increasingly enter the workforce, and where both parents so often work. And all this at a time when hours have become more onerous, as work takes up more and more of our lives.
Our workforce is now more atomised and casualised than at any time in our history. We have the second highest level of casual employment in the developed world.
Employment itself is being contained in ghettos of good fortune, whole areas of the nation being turned into no-work zones..
Some of the elements of what the Labor Party has in mind for an industrial system which meets all these challenges are already well known. Others are not so well known, or not well understood. Let me lay out what I consider to be three founding principles.
Labor's legislation, when in Government, will recognise that the right of workers to act, organise and protect themselves collectively is a fundamental element of justice in the workplace.
The law must provide that all parties negotiate in good faith, especially as bargaining assumes its place alongside arbitration. Labor will promote collective forms of bargaining. But, whatever bargaining options are preferred, we will insist on good faith bargaining.
The Industrial Relations Commission must have the power to restore and protect fairness and equity in the workplace, to act in the public interest and to keep the industrial peace.
This last point reiterates what Australians have accepted for close to 100 years as a cardinal factor in protecting the community interest in industrial relations.
It assumes ever greater significance, in view of the Reith campaign against this Commission obligation, and the changes coming thick and fast in the workplace of today.
That is why, in the Parliament yesterday, I presented a Private Member's Bill proposing a number of legislative changes which will enable the Commission to fulfil these obligations.
Among other things, my Bill proposes that, among the principal objects of the legislation which governs industrial relations, the Commission will have the power to conciliate when possible and, to arbitrate where necessary.
As part of that, we will remove restrictions that tie the Commission down to just 20 allowable matters.
We would give the Commission the power to ensure that parties negotiate in good faith. The Commission would be able, for example, to consider parties' conduct: whether or not they have behaved reasonably, failed to negotiate, or prevented others from reaching agreements.
It would give the Commission power to arbitrate decisions if it can see that disagreements have become intractable, and to make or vary awards in order to resolve disputes.
And I want to reiterate today that in Government, Labor will, of course, throw out the Howard/Reith unfair Australian Workplace Agreements which have never worked, are highly unpopular, expensive, bureaucratically complex, and totally unnecessary.
And we'll throw the Office of the Employment Advocate with them.
One reason it is so good to be here with you today in this place, is that Wollongong and the Illawarra are a microcosm of all the workplace issues confronting this country.
As with every other part of Australia, the traditional economic base of the Illawarra is undergoing big changes.
Some of these are very important for the future of Australian industry, and I want to pay tribute to the marvellous work of the University of Wollongong - currently enjoying the status of Australia's University of the Year.
It won this most prestigious award for its pioneering work in information technology and telecommunications research.
The University's diverse areas of expertise cover a wide range of industries of the future -- superconductors, intelligent polymers, steel processing and products, microwave technology, smart foods, biomedical research, and medical radiation physics.
For the most part, this region shows Australia at its best - where the old and the new economies work side by side and in partnership on so many issues.
Now, this is exactly the sort of enterprise Labor is thinking of when we talk about our policies for the Knowledge Nation.
I know many of you hear me on this subject, and wonder what it means to ordinary working people, conjuring as it does the image of professors in lab coats.
But, of course, building a Knowledge Nation is not just about better science, better technology, and better universities, although it certainly is about those things.
It is about assisting working people such as your members to take advantage of the opportunities that the new economy will bring to this country in future years, and is already bringing some of us.
It is about ensuring all Australian schoolchildren get a better education, and stay at school longer.
It is about making sure there are more post-school training, apprenticeship, and education places for them, once they leave school.
It is about making sure all of us have the flexibility, the adaptability, to be able to change throughout our lives with the changing work culture.
This is how we will get the highly skilled, highly paid workforce that all of us want for Australia.
In truth, job security in the future will be all about education and training.
We have recently commissioned some work from experts on what sort of workplace Australians will be facing at the end of the decade.
The Workforce 2010 report shows that if you do not have a post-secondary qualification by that date you will be at greatest risk of unemployment. In fact there is no growth in jobs at all for people with no post-school qualifications. The highest job growth is for those who will have a bachelor degree or higher degree.
What this really mean is that Governments should be thinking right now about bigger and better investment in education and training programs for all Australians.
And yet, what do we see from the Howard Government? Spending on education as a proportion of GDP is actually declining, and there is a woeful performance on teenagers remaining at school, and undertaking further studies.
You know, under John Howard the path to a good education has been defined as the Four Rs - Reading, W(Riting), 'Rithmetic, for the Rich.
There is a real role for Government in the development of the Knowledge Nation, and I will be talking to you on these subjects in much more detail in the lead up to the election.
One thing the Howard Government will never understand is that the economy exists to serve the people.
Strong economic growth is essential - and we are committed to strong and sensible economic management. But Labor believes it is essential that everyone participates in the benefits and opportunities.
These beliefs are fundamental to the way Labor differs from our opponents.
I understand why, under the Howard Government, some people and some regions feel the pace of change is too fast.
The Howard Government has left the people hurt by globalisation, increased competition, and more open markets, simply to fend for themselves.
It has ripped away from them the helping hand that Labor used to provide. It has cut back education and training schemes, labour market programs, and child care places.
No wonder many people are asking why they feel they are unfairly shouldering the burden of change, while they see other people and other regions reaping the rewards.
But that is not an argument against embracing open markets and the new economy. It was under Labor that the economy was opened domestically and internationally. This involved embracing free trade, the deregulation of financial markets, and ultimately the creation of many more jobs.
We find now that more than 1.7 million Australians owe their occupations to the fact we are a trading nation - more Australians than ever before are working in trade-related jobs.
In the manufacturing industries, jobs in exporting firms can pay up to 30 percent higher wages than other firms.
Australia has done many hard yards on trade liberalisation. But the principal issue in free trade today is less about Australia, and much more about access to others' markets. This is an area where a Labor Government will be obsessive about securing what others have promised -- bilaterally, through APEC and through the WTO.
One other matter you can be sure we will be active on, in international forums, is that we will campaign to ensure ordinary workers around the world are entitled to core labour standards.
This is why we should be working towards the election of a national Government that cares about equity and a fair go for all.
The opportunities are there as never before for a lively, free society like ours to embrace new ideas, to take part in the explosive advances in technology and science.
We want Australians to be in the vanguard of the worldwide knowledge revolution.
We know, as you do, that in the fast-changing new world economy, no-one gets to stay the same.
We know what we want for our sons and daughters, for the young Australians just entering, or soon to enter the workforce.
We want them in dynamic, interesting work, where their creativity can add to Australia's wealth and progress.
But what we also want, more than anything, is something only Labor can deliver - fairness and justice in economic management, as well as in the workplace.
We will work together to bring back fairness to this country.
To restore justice to the workplace.
To promote economic growth, but growth in which all Australians must share.
We will work together for this great goal -together as we have always been.
The Labor way
by Lyn Vincent
For those whose ancestors came from a working class background rather than a professional one, it could be another avenue of information down the research path. Although trade union records have not been widely utilised as a source for genealogy they could well be an alternative or adjunct to other conventional sources when trying to discover the social, political and economic character of an ancestor. An insight into the lifestyle of an ancestor can be gained by using trade union records, while at the same time they can at times, confirm residence and work addresses, as well as other significant events in an ancestor's life. In essence if an ancestor was found to be working as a tradesman, then trade union records may well be a path to follow.
The main focus on accessing trade union records as a genealogical source was Sydney, New South Wales (N.S.W.) but attempts have been made to find the availability of these records in other states. Appendix B gives details of addresses, telephone numbers and opening hours of relevant repositories. The aim of this work is to detail what records are available in Australia, where and what they contain and their accessablity. A small case study of records will show what kind of information can be expected to be found from trade union records for the genealogist in Sydney, N.S.W. In other states the information may differ but the belief of the author is that the use of trade union records as a tool for family history will be a rewarding experience.
Trade union records are available in various locations in most capital cities of Australia and Appendix B of this work will attempt to describe known locations and how they can be accessed and what conditions apply to accession of their records. Trade Union records sometimes hold sensitive information and with this in mind it should be understood that they are sometimes not as easy to access as other genealogical sources but take heart, with the right approaches most of these difficulties can be overcome.
Although The University of Sydney does not hold any archival trade union records the Department of Industrial Relations at Sydney University has been successful in obtaining a grant of $11,000 from the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. This grant will be used by Dr. Taksa and Associate Professor Irving members of The Labour Heritage Network at The University of Sydney to compile a Labour Heritage Register for New South Wales. This register is not available for perusal at this time but is worthy of note for future use. The Department of Industrial Relations at The University of Sydney also produce a journal called Labour History. This journal is produced every six months under the ausipices of the Labour History Research Group and could prove to be a valuable resource.
The Mitchell Library in the State Library of New South Wales holds a large variety of trade union records relating not only to N.S.W. but other states and some overseas information. The earliest records held are of a craft union, The Sydney Progressive Society of Carpenters and Joiners with their records dating from 1853. The collection includes minute books, records of strikes, merges between unions and members recruitment. One of the holdings I was particulary interested in, the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society of Australia from 1876 until 1979 merged with the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and later with the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union. There are records pertaining to the Combined Rail Union 1936-1967 and the Eveleigh Carriage Works Shops Committee records 1936-1957 which would could prove valuable to my own family history and the small case later on this work.
The variety of unions represented in The Mitchell Library's collection are wide and include hospital and laboratory workers, metal workers, leather workers, builders labourers, clerks, ironworkers, ship workers, miners, sewerage workers, milk and ice carters, sail makers (another area of interest to the author), public servants, sugar workers, shop assistants and many more.
The Labour Council of New South Wales holds some archival records, which basically date from the 1980s, but in general records previous to this from 1892 -1982 are kept in the Mitchell Library and form a valuable historic record of trade unions in New South Wales. Enquiries made to the Labour Council of New South Wales indicated that any records they currently hold are not perceived to be of interest to genealogists.
The Mitchell Library also holds records of the Melbourne Trades Hall 1948-1915 which includes rough minute books, rule books of Victorian trade unions, records of the Eight Hours Movement and the papers of Trades Hall secretary W.E. Murphy.
Enquiries to the A.C.T.U in Canberra revealed that even though they do hold some old records, the laws of confidentiality apply and these records unfortunately can not accessed by genealogists.
The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, which is part of the Australian National University has an extensive collection of major (national and state) trade unions, including many membership records. The collection in this repository is very large and is comprehensively listed in their List of Holdings, which they will post to you free of charge. Access to material is gained with permission of the depositor and photocopying facilities are available at the discretion of the librarian.
The National Library of Australia in Canberra does hold some trade union records but because of a standing agreement, most trade union records in Canberra are held with the aforementioned Noel Butlin Archives at the National University Library. It would seem prudent, however, to explore the records in the National Library, as they seem to contain a great deal of personal information, such as union membership tickets, submissions, minutes, correspondence and address books of individual unions, newspaper clippings, notes and reminiscences of individuals who were active in the labour movement. Also available are a number of oral history and pictorial records pertaining to trade unions. The trade union records are housed in special reading rooms and some restrictions such as permission from trade union leaders are placed on access of material.
The Australian Archives hold some trade union records dating from Federation in most states. There is an Australian Archives Office in the capital city of each state, with the records reflecting the state where they are held. It is not possible to transfer records from one state office to another, making it necessary to visit each office in person or make a written request for information. A small cost will be charged for photocopying. Most of the trade union records held in the Australian Archives were created by a trade union coming into contact with the Commonwealth Government of Australia, such as Royal Commissions, Basic Wage cases etc. rather than records created by trade unions themselves. They have records created by the Australian Investigation Security Office (ASIO) about various trade unions and their more prominent officials. These records do have restrictions placed upon them, e.g. any material less than 30 years old and matters relating to personal privacy, defence, national security and international relations.
The Latrobe Library, State Library of Victoria holds trade union records in their Australian Manuscripts collection as well as in the Merrifield Collection. Access to the material held in these collections is somewhat limited for the budding genealogist. Briefly the policy on access is confined to:
'donors and their families or close associates, postgraduate students, undergraduate students at honours level and other researchers and members of the public who may reasonably expect to find information which is of use to them and which is not available elsewhere'.
Access to fragile or vulnerable material will be denied but the library is willing to negotiate the production of copies. The Riley and Ephemera Collection (housed in the Secure Reading Rooms) are however, much more accessible, being available to all members of the public. This collection includes leaflets, handouts, posters, stickers and badges of many arenas, trade unions being one of them. Gaining copies from this collection can usually be arranged by the area librarian on duty. Some trades represented in these holdings are telecommunication workers, engine drivers, brick and tile workers, tramway employees and plumbers. Trades Hall and related bodies and the Australian Labor Party and associated bodies also have a good representation.
The Museum of Victoria has a trade union collection consisting of banners, badges, ribbons, posters, leaflets and other ephemeral material relating to the work of trade unions in Victoria. The collection covers health and safety, political developments and changes in working conditions. Although there may be no reference to particular people, this resource could give a valuable insight into the working life of a trade union ancestor.
The State Library of Queensland holds original records of various trade unions and associations and are to be found in the John Oxley Library. Some of these collections are on open access and others are restricted to researchers who have obtained written permission from the donor to access the material. Photocopying of material held by the Archives and Manuscripts Unit is not usually permitted. These records cover such things as rules and regulations, constitutions, minutes and ledgers. It is possible that membership records are contained in unprocessed material and as the public do not normally have access, the chances of viewing this material are slim. The library has a printed collection of 214 items related directly to trade unionism, ranging from historical and sociological studies of trade unions to periodicals issued by trade unions and newspapers such as The Worker. These items are accessible to the public. There are no costs involved in viewing available information but a charge will be made for any copying that needs to be done. These records are not available on interlibrary loan and so it would therefore be necessary to visit the library in person or write requesting information.
The Flinders University Library of South Australia does not, strictly speaking, hold any trade union records, but they do have the personal papers of Doctor Evatt. Among these papers is a history of the Evatt family compiled by a family member in the earlier part of this century and the source material for a book that Dr. Evatt was to write about Bertha MacNamara, one of the founders of the Australia Labor Party.
The Archives of Tasmania holds trade union records of a number of trades. The Australian Bank Officials' Association (Tasmanian State Branch) has various records dating from 2 April 1936 until 1970. Some of these records include membership, awards, salaries and minutes of meetings. The Federated Confectioners' Association of Australia (Tasmanian Branch) has records in this repository but access is restricted to the Union Secretary and/or persons with his/her written authority. These records contain minutes of meetings, ballot papers, cashbooks and membership cards for male and females and are dated from 1958 until 1970. The Australasian Society of Engineers also has records, which are accessible at the discretion of the State Archivist who must then notify the Society. These records contain minutes and correspondence and date from 1968 until 1970. The Batt Papers contain reports, lists of secretaries of branches and affiliated unions, minutes of meetings of various unions and papers relating to, among others, the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and is accessible at the discretion of the State Archivist. The records of the Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees Union (Launceston Branch) has minutes of meetings in these archives. Access is allowed only with the written permission of the Union Secretary. The Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council's minutes of meetings dating from 1917 to 1971 are accessible to bona fide scholars and others who obtain permission from the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council. Records of the Tasmanian Branch of the Operative Painters' and Decorators' Union of Australia contain minutes of meetings, newspaper cuttings and miscellaneous papers. Access is available to records less than 25 years old with recent records being only accessed with written authorisation. There is no cost to carry out research in this repository except photocopying and microfilm printouts.
The Battye Library of West Australian History, which is part of the Library and Information Service of Western Australia has a reasonably large collection of trade union records. The viewing of some these records, however, is subject to firstly gaining permission from the relevant trade union. It will also be necessary to register with the library and be issued with a Researchers' Ticket.
Some of the unions represented in this collection are: Engineering, Tramway and Motor Omnibus, Railway, Banks, Breweries, Carpenters and Joiners, Waterside Workers, Miners, Boilermakers, Engine Drivers, Maritime Workers, Building Workers, Printing, Teachers, Municipal, Hairdressers and Sail and Tent Makers and many others making this a valuable repository for trade union research. It is important to know that retrievals in the West Australia State Archives only occur three times a day, at 9.30am, 11.30am and 2.00pm Monday to Friday but after retrieval the records can be used in the Battye Library after the Archives has closed. Permission to photocopy any archival records must be sought from a staff member.
Another avenue of trade union records can be found in personal collections such as documents, papers and diaries kept by trade unionists. In the case of the author, her father Ainslie George Manning had kept a log of incidents books, subscription books and other paraphernalia relating to his time as a delegate of the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society.
To demonstrate the value of using trade union records in family history research, a small case study was carried out on my father Ainslie George Manning who worked for the New South Wales Railways at the Eveleigh Carriage Workshops from 1942-1961 and was a known active member of the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society.
In the case of the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society records there were the usual 35 year restrictions placed on accessing records (ie. at the time of writing anything after 1963). Written permission from the Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union was needed to gain access to these later records. It was found that even though this search would not go beyond 1961 it would still be necessary to gain permission from the Union as older records were at times mixed with more recent material.
After searching through one volume of minutes it became evident that there was a Redfern Branch as well as a Sydney Branch of the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society. As Ainslie George Manning worked at Eveleigh Carriage Works, Redfern it was clear that the Redfern Branch records were the relevant ones to search. However, the searching of this first volume of the Sydney branch was not in vain. In fact it was most interesting to find mentioned a Brother. John. A. Nicholson for two reasons. Firstly one of Ainslie George Manning's paternal grandmothers was a Nicholson hinting at a possible connection and secondly the nature of the entry was most intriguing.
"From Bro. Jn. A. Nicholson forwarding his resignation as a member and giving 3 months notice. Decided owing to the peculiar reasons surrounding his decision to resign on religious grounds it was accepted..."
This item certainly whets the appetite to research both the relationship and the incident, but it will have to wait for another time.
The first evidence found of Ainslie George Manning in the Boilermakers' and Blacksmiths' Society, was found in the minutes of the Executive Meeting of the Redfern Branch of the Boilermaker's and Blacksmiths' Society of Australia on 6 March 1944 when Brother Manning personally delivered a letter to the Secretary of the Branch in which members employed at Eveleigh Carriage Works rejected the decision of the Reference Board on the question of grinding, and requested a Special Summons Meeting of the Board "to discuss this contentious matter immediately". Because the summons sheet was already out for the next meeting it was not possible to accommodate them but an invitation was given to Brother Manning and his board to come before the Executive at the next meeting when this correspondence would be handled. This matter of grinding had been mentioned in previous minutes where a demarcation had occurred at Eveleigh Carriage Works between boilermakers and grinders. The matter appeared to have been resolved in November 1943 but its re-emergence in March 1944 clearly indicated this was not so. These two incidents can also be tied into a personal diary kept by Ainslie George Manning where he quotes "on 14/2/1944 3.30 Interviewed Robinson re grinding" and again on
"18/2/1944 ... a second class grinder was told to do the job. Protest was dismissed and Smith stated he would not vary from the decision of Reference Board - a template boilermakers ... and all other grinding 2nd class grinders".
At another Executive Meeting in 1944 where Ainslie George Manning was present there was talk of timing of jobs in the boilermaker's area at Eveleigh and the meeting agreed to remind the appropriate body of a promise they had made re timing. Also mentioned at this same meeting was a Brother Rostron. Rostron was another family name associated with Ainslie George Manning, therein the interest. Brother Rostron was mentioned in earlier minutes as having made a claim for five days compensation. The meeting agreed to meet the costs if the Commissioner of Railways refused to compensate. Compensation was granted to Brother R. Rostron under Section 100B. It seems ironic that Ainslie George Manning was working with men who were possibly related to him but to which he was oblivious at the time.
Interestingly it was discovered in the minutes of 6 January 1947 that Ainslie George Manning's father had died. In these minutes it was recorded that a telegram was received from Brother Manning apologising for his non-attendance at this meeting because of his father's death. Ainslie's father died on 23 December 1946.
Ainslie George Manning had always spoken of the fact that he had worked with the ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating's father and evidence was found of this in a list of members who were financial and possibly paying into a mortality fund. In 1955 Keating, M. was a financial member of the Boilermaker's and Blacksmith's Society and was paying a mortality payment of 6/- per annum. Manning, A.G. was a financial member but paying no mortality payment.
A good deal of information was found on the working life of Ainslie George Manning in the exercise of this limited search. He was diligent in pursuing unfair work practices and better working conditions. He was involved in quite a few demarcation disputes and was involved in a sub-committee to confer with officers of the Railways Department who supervised all matters related to apprentice training. It is interesting to note that in his later working life Ainslie Manning became a Safety Officer with the Railways, training others in safe work practices.
In conclusion it can be seen that trade union records are a worthwhile and viable source to be considered for family history purposes. Given the nature of being a trade unionist, it may be that you find some controversial information but this can be an added dimension to the individual being researched. The membership records viewed in this study did not reveal any personal details such as addresses or ages but this should not be a deterrent , because it appears that information varies in other trade union. The use of trade union records is not necessarily an easy path to follow because permission from the relevant entities is often necessary, but the reward is that your working class ancestor takes on a definite character and can suddenly come to life as you discover the personality, political persuasions and economic status of your ancestor.
The following information has been provided by Lyn Vincent, who graduated from The University of New England in 1996 with an Associate Diploma in Local and Family History. She has now retired from the work force and spends a lot of her free time working on what she calls her 'addictive hobby' of family history. I was put onto Lyn through one of her relatives who also does a lot of family history. Lyn and her cousin Suzanne Manning had many relatives who worked at the Eveleigh railway workshops. Lyn provided me with details about her father who was a union activist and Eveleigh employee. Below is her father's biographical profile and also information on using trade union records as a genealogical tool, which Lyn has compiled. This and other information can be found on her web page: http://members.xoom.com/lynvincent/
by Andrew Casey
The Fiji TUC has today started a campaign to ensure that all workers do get their jobs back as quickly as possible.
Felix Anthony, the Fiji TUC national secretary went on local radio this morning as part of the union campaign.
He told the radio station that the reinstatements were part of the deal struck between the Congress and the employers before the union bans were lifted.
"Part of the agreement was that all employees who lost jobs would be reinstated in due course, or as soon as the ban was lifted," Mr Anthony told a Fiji radio station.
"We have reached that agreement on trust and goodwill and look forward to employers complying with those provisions," Mr Anthony said.
John Coombs, the leader of the Maritime Union of Australia agreed with Felix Anthony and told the ACTU Congress this week that the lifting of the bans at midday on Thursday was " an act of good faith."
The agreement reached on Wednesday was a result of a what has been labelled a historic meeting involving representatives of the main Fijian employer groups, the Fiji Trades Union Congress, the religious community and other civil society groups.
The signatories to the agreement hope that it will lead this Pacific Island nation out of the current crisis which sees PM Mahendra Chaudhry and 27 other politicians and government officials still, after six week, held hostage by a group of armed thugs led by George Speight, a failed entrepeneur facing corruption investigations.
The joint agreement calls for the crisis to be resolved within the framework of the 1997 Fiji Constitution.
The MUA's John Coombs - in a moving address to the ACTU Congress - praised Fiji's PM, Mahendra Chaudhry, as a great trade union leader.
Chaudhry - who had headed up the Fiji TUC before going into Parliament - is well known to the international union movement because he served on the boards of the International Confederation of Free Trade Union, as well as being very active in the Public Services International and regional peak union councils.
In the debate on Fiji, on the last day of the ACTU Congress, John Coombs warned that the Australian union movement was fully prepared to re-impose the bans.
" Let us make it clear that if our act of good faith is not followed by the prompt release of the hostages we are prepared to consider the bans being re-imposed," John Coombs told the 800 ACTU delegates.
Coombs went on to criticise the Australian Government for "a lack of leadership" in isolating the terrorists holding the Chaudhry government hostage.
" The only people in this country that have provided any sort of effective opposition to this is the people who are the members of this great Australian Council of Trade Unions," he said, to applause.
Apart from comparing the activism of the union movement to the failures of the Australian Government Coombs lifted the current Fiji campaign to the levels of the historic anti-apartheid campaigns which the Australian union movement ran in support of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress.
" The ACTU has been placed in the forefront of regional activity before - in support of South Africa - and now we are doing it in the Pacific region. Countries in our region need our support," John Coombs said.
by Neale Towart
Everyone seems to accept high levels of unemployment as unavoidable in the modern economy. The Federal Government claims to have done great things for the unemployed when the rate is gets down to 6.8%. Never mind that this still leaves huge numbers unemployed or as discouraged job seekers, or that ways of reducing the figures involve counting as employed those doing a few hours each month, or cracking down on social welfare recipients as if it is their fault for being unemployed.
Paul Boreham, Geoff Dow and Martin Leet would assert that full employment is an achievable goal.
They have studied the unemployment performances of industrialised countries over the past 25 years and seek to answer questions such as:
Why has Australia had higher unemployment than other countries over the past 25 years?
Would solutions to unemployment require higher taxes?
Has economic rationalism contributed to unemployment?
What's more important for Australia's future: low unemployment or industry competitiveness?
Their analysis refutes contemporary orthodoxy and the employment strategies adopted by successive Australian governments. The attainment of full employment is a political problem, not one constrained by economic limits. The hegemony of economic liberalism looms large, more so with the consolidation and deepening of this orthodoxy since 1996.
State capacity is important to this frame of reference, with the ability of the state to act and ensure employment goals asserted against those who would argue for the decline in real power of the nation state.
The potential to imagine another way was developed after the 1975 defeat of the ALP, and the Accord was an expression of the way labour sought to extend the confines of economic rationalism/monetarism. The early period of the Hawke government saw real if flawed attempts to wrestle with the unemployment bogey. Having inherited a 10% unemployment rate, this was reasonably successful.
Organised labour also sought to extend its role, the result being Australia Reconstructed, perhaps the most comprehensive political economic strategy ever developed in Australia.
The failure of this approach to have real influence says something about the bureaucratic elites in Canberra, with Treasury fiercely defending its position from alternative sources of advice set up by Hawke, in particular the Economic Planning Advisory Council (EPAC). This body was the true symbol of corporatism with its members drawn from business labour and government. Unions did not succeed in getting the Australia Reconstructed agenda on the table, and EPAC itself seems to have largely acquiesced to the Treasury world view. An opportunity died.
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) seemed to be most successful of the parties involved at getting its agenda on the table in the economic and industrial relations field. The ACTU leadership seems to have fatally gone along with some of the IR agenda, and its notions of strategic unionism and enterprise bargaining were well and truly buried by the BCA approach.
For unions, employees and government, the importance of production was central, but the approach adopted was what the authors call a profitability orientated strategy, rather than a production enhancement strategy.
The defining features of the profitability strategy include:
High levels of short-term profitability
Profitability restored or increased by cost reduction in areas such as R & D, investment, training and maintenance
New technology to replace skilled labour
Employment flexibility created by deregulation of labour market practices, particularly with more casual workers
High wage full time workers replaced by low wage part-time workers
Training expenditure focussed on management
High rewards for managers compared to the rest of the workforce, and managerial control consolidated with contributions from other employees devalued
The production enhancement approach is a complete contrast with:
Long term focus of productive capacity and market share
Profitability restored or increased by maintaining and increasing R & D, investment and training
Concentrates on high wage high skill workforce with high value added production
Integrates new technologies into a production process which capitalises on an highly skilled workforce
Limit labour turnover to maximise the return from training and experience
Seek to guarantee employment security to maintain organisational capacity, institutional memory and experience, even if some underemployment occurs.
Training and skills development go to all levels of the workforce
Participation in work decision making is encouraged
The authors argue cogently that labour must have a permanent place in the political process in the capitalist economy, because what labour does is the crucial activity in the economy. The Business Council influence will not disappear, but labour must reassert its role. The Accord and EPAC may be seen as unsuccessful attempts at adopting the corporatist approach in Australia. Boreham, Dow and Leet argue that democratic corporatism occurs when a wide range of decisions are made openly and publicly, by actors in the political process who must act in a public capacity to maintain their legitimacy. Government decisions and policy options do still make a real difference to political economic processes. Globalisation does not remove the role of the nation state and labour as a political actor within the nation state must seek to assert its interests against those who push the neo-liberal globalisation agenda.
(Paul Boreham, Geoff Dow and Martin Leet; Room to Manoeuvre: political aspects of full employment. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1999)
by The Chaser
Taking the witness stand, Satan refused to swear an oath on the Bible, but otherwise co-operated with counsel's questions.
He told the inquiry he's never met or spoken to Cronje, and certainly never led him into temptation.
"I don't even like cricket," said Satan. "I never go near it, if I can help it. The last time I had anything to do with the game was way back when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to New Zealand."
Satan said he's been far too busy with what he termed "real evil" to have the time to lead astray sports stars.
"It's just been flat out these last few years. The Balkans crisis, Indonesia, the new album from Garth Brooks."
But lawyers for Cronje urged the inquiry to disregard Satan's testimony, pointing to the witness' notorious reputation for wily deception.
"He is," noted one lawyer drolly, "the witness from hell."
In other developments yesterday, counsel requested that a subpoena be served on the star Australian cricketer Shane Warne.
Initial attempts by the inquiry to reach the leg spinner were unsuccessful, as his mobile phone was constantly engaged.
Warne's voicemail message said: "Hi, you've reached Shane, Hampshire County all-rounder. If that's Donna - please, PLEASE leave me a message, and I'll call you straight back. I'm just in the bath covering myself with more wine and cigarette ash - and if that doesn't turn you on, then I'm buggered to know what will."
Warne will give evidence at the inquiry this Friday. The inquiry is especially interested in claims that Warne has been accepting money from girls to stay away from them in nightclubs.
All of us at this Congress share the great responsibility of charting the way forward for Australian unions.
Our task is to drive forward the process of union renewal, to build stronger and more effective unions.
Because Australia needs strong, effective unions to achieve justice and fairness in the workplace - and in the wider society.
We must never lose sight of the role that unions play in the improvement of wages, living standards, and the quality of working life.
Unions ensure that Australians get a fair share.
Unions give people a voice.
Unions are a back-up for people in the workplace.
Who was it that fought for rights such as superannuation for all workers, for maternity leave, for decent health and safety laws?
Who was it that achieved a $51 per week increase in the Living Wage over the last three years?
It was unions.
And we have a long way to go. But for future success unions must grow in strength and influence, not diminish.
Sharan spoke earlier about the focus of this Congress on the importance of delegates, and on the involvement of women and young people in unions. I want to address three additional issues:
The need to fairly share the benefits of economic growth and change;
The need to restore the balance in the workplace, with a decent set of laws and employment rights; and
The importance of reinvigorating union organisation.
But firstly I would like to review some of the key events since the last Congress.
Events since the 1997 Congress
A lot has happened since we gathered in Brisbane in 1997.
The leadership of the ACTU has changed. And I want to welcome Sharan Burrow, and congratulate her for knocking over Peter Reith's unfair and biased pattern bargaining laws. Not a bad way to start as ACTU President.
Sharan has already paid tribute to Jennie George, and in particular her role in last year's defeat of Reith's cynically named More Jobs and Better Pay legislation.
I would like to add to that by saying a few words about Bill Kelty.
This is the first time in about twenty-five years that Bill Kelty has not attended Congress. I asked him to come to this Congress so that we could acknowledge his achievements, but he declined.
Typically for Bill, he said 'don't spend time on me, just go forward', and remarked that it's time for him to move on.
But while I respect this decision, I think it is appropriate that this Congress reflects upon just a few of the many things that Bill achieved.
Because he towered over this forum for many years through the strength of his ideas, and the passion of his commitment to unions and working people. And he profoundly influenced public policy in this country.
Bill Kelty delivered benefits to working families through the Prices and Incomes Accords, through the boost to award wages gained by minimum rates adjustments, through the achievement of a universal superannuation system. He recast the shape and direction of unions, as well as the industrial legislation.
He steered unions through a dramatic period of economic restructuring, and some momentous industrial events.
The quality that I admired most was his courage in advocating what he thought was right. I never once saw him adopt a populist position that in reality squibbed a hard call that had to be made.
At the ACTU Council meeting last December I commented that the ACTU has had some significant leaders since it was formed in 1927. Monk, Hawke, and Souter to name a few - but by any measure Bill joins the list as one of the greatest.
Leadership change at the ACTU is one feature of the period since the last Congress, but no account of events since 1997 would be complete without recounting the waterfront dispute.
We did not know that, at the very same time the Congress was sitting in Brisbane, the Patrick group of companies was secretly restructured, in a contrived attempt to do 2000 MUA members out of a job and all of their accrued entitlements.
It is a matter of public record that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet had given the green light to this ruthless assault on the union, its' members, and their families. Indeed, the Government helped plan and finance it.
The Government conspiracy with Patrick Stevedoring and the NFF violated the democratic standards expected of government.
It culminated in the mass sacking of the unionised workforce in April 1998, and one of the biggest industrial disputes ever seen in this country.
The 1997 Congress said we would support the MUA, and we did.
Bill Kelty said we would have the biggest pickets ever seen, and we did.
We said we would get every MUA member their job back, and we did.
We said we would get back every cent of the $132 million in workers entitlements that had gone missing, and we did.
We said MUA here to stay - and they're still here!
I want to thank every union here for their support during the dispute. It showed what great things we can do when we act together.
Living through a dispute like that, when you're close to it, leaves a bit of an impression on you. Two people stood out in my personal experience.
One was Peter Reith. I was staggered by his capacity for deceit, and his bitter hatred of the union and its' members. He incessantly attacks Labor for its' links with unions, but he is the most militant campaigner on the employer side of politics.
Reith's denials of knowledge about the secret union-busting scam cannot be reconciled with the documented record of his involvement. Not long after everyone was sacked he said "No one, to my knowledge, had any knowledge of any plans anywhere".
His statements both inside and outside Parliament do not stack up.
The waterfront dispute show-cased for all to see, that Reith cannot be trusted, that he is partisan, that he is biased. The dispute fatally wounded his credibility.
His latest effort involves the introduction of an anti-worker piece of legislation into the House of representatives on each day of this Congress. What puerile behaviour.
For utterly different reasons, the other person who left an impact on me was John Coombs. He was already my friend, but our experience during the dispute built a much stronger bond.
We talked many times every day for about twelve months, from the time that the Dubai training scheme was unearthed, through to the eventual settlement.
John was tough, reasoned, intelligent and compassionate throughout.
He made every hard call, and I can tell you that there were many. He put absolutely everything on the line, and at great personal cost, never compromising his integrity or his commitment to the members and the union.
Everywhere we went he attracted people in the street offering their encouragement and support. Of course, I was never jealous. I just figured it was his hairdo.
There is an inside story yet to be told about that dispute. One with a labour history perspective.
And when it is eventually told it will record John Coombs as a tremendously courageous and decent person, a person who inspired others, a person who saved his union, and to whom we are indebted.
Thankyou John. You deserve the acclamation of this Congress for what you achieved.
Of course, unions have achieved much more since the last Congress - in collective agreements, in campaigns, in tribunals and in the workplace.
The Oakdale miners, the second wave, the Living Wage, Court judgements protecting wages and conditions during contracting-out, the success of higher education unions in overcoming fixed term contracts, campaigns by individual unions. There have been many successes.
Some unions have successfully hung in there throughout bitter industrial contests - unions like the CPSU-SPSF in Victoria, and the CPSU nationally, and the meatworkers, to name just a few.
A lot's been happening. But there is much still to do.
The need to fairly share the benefits of economic growth and change
All of us face a great challenge as a result of economic change. Over the past decade the economy has been transformed.
We have experienced a dramatic period of economic expansion and change.
Services have become the main driver of the Australian economy. Resources, agriculture and manufacturing have important futures, but they have experienced rapid and painful adjustment as the economy has engaged with international markets.
There are of course many positive elements of this economic transformation. But the benefits of growth are not being fairly distributed. There are winners and losers.
There is a widening gap between rich and poor, between regions, and between social groups. There are more low-income households as well as more high-income households - the middle class is shrinking.
In the workplace we know the pressures better than most - redundancies, casual jobs, contracting-out, longer unpaid hours, individual contracts, the application of market principles to services where they do not belong.
There is growing unease in our communities about the direction in which the Government is heading. Even business leaders have spoken out recently, saying they are concerned about the lack of social cohesion and 'divisive government policies'.
The role of government during times of such rapid change and growth should be to make sure that everyone shares the benefits - that the society is guided by fair and just outcomes, that people are not left behind.
The Howard Government is failing this challenge.
It creates division, not a sense of community.
It has failed to articulate a vision beyond the looming mayhem of the unfair and unwanted GST.
John Howard has tried to respond by appealing to the business leadership to behave in a paternalistic manner as part of some vague social coalition. As usual he is out of touch with Australian people.
What is required is a clear and unequivocal commitment to creating a more fair and just society.
This is where unions come into play. Our character is defined by our unwavering commitment to fairness and justice, and our determination to fight for those principles.
At this Congress there are draft policies which spell out an agenda for fairness in the workplace - for better rights for women, young people and casual workers, improvements in working hours, a better balance between work and family, a Living Wage, paid maternity leave, and a strategy for boosting retirement incomes.
But our commitment to fairness extends beyond the workplace and our industrial demands. It underpins our vision for this nation - as a republic, for better standards of education and health, and for reconciliation with indigenous people.
Contrast this with John Howard, whose approach to indigenous issues is a tragedy for Australia.
Cast your mind back over the past four years.
We have heard him on the 'black arm band view of history', on the evils of 'political correctness', the failure to repudiate the views of Pauline Hanson, the refusal to apologise for past injustices, the postponement of reconciliation, the equivocation over mandatory sentencing, and the failure to participate in the simple gesture of crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
At this Congress we will consider the endorsement of the Declaration Towards Reconciliation.
The contrast between the Howard Government and Labor on this issue is stark, as it is in so many areas of policy - areas like the GST, Medicare, education, childcare, development of the regions.
These policies will shape the future of Australia - making it critical that Kim Beazley and Labor succeed at the next election. I believe the cohesion and well-being of this country will ride on that result.
And in that context some comments about the relationship between the ACTU and Labor are in order. Too often the relationship is seen in the narrow terms of the Accord. That period is over.
The relationship between unions and the ALP has had many phases over the past one hundred years. But it has always been underpinned by a shared commitment to fairness and justice.
What is developing now is a relationship for the times.
First and foremost, unions will be a strong, independent voice for working people. This may lead to some differences with Labor at times.
But our relationship with Labor will also involve many shared commitments to improve living standards and the quality of working life.
For those commitments to be fully activated Labor must be in government. We must not lose sight of this.
High on the list of changes required must be a fair set of rights for working people.
The need to restore the balance in the workplace, with a decent set of laws and employee rights
Economic pressures have led many employers down the path of cost cutting and eroding the rights of working people.
Conservative governments have turned back the clock, undermining awards and industrial tribunals, and promoting division and conflict by encouraging employers to be more militant.
The pendulum has swung too far in favour of employers. Balance must be restored.
Despite many important wins, we have much to do in responding to this challenge. The answer does not lie in the security of the past.
We need a new set of rights. Rights that are relevant for the times. Look at just two important areas:
The right of people to collectively bargain and organise in a union;
Contemporary employment rights.
What are the key issues concerning the right to collectively bargain and to organise?
We have now had about 7 years experience of decentralised bargaining. For many union members it has realised substantial real increases in earnings.
But there are deeply unfair flaws in the system. These can only be addressed with changes to federal law.
First and foremost is the need to guarantee the right to collectively bargain. Under Reith's laws the employer gets to choose the form of bargaining.
Even if the entire workforce wants to bargain collectively through their union, the employer does not have a legal obligation to meet or negotiate.
Instead there is legally sanctioned discrimination and victimisation. Employers can simply refuse to bargain collectively, and make any pay increase or job opportunity conditional on acceptance of individual contracts or non-union agreements.
This discrimination and victimisation must be banished from the system. If employees want to collectively bargain through their union, it must be a guaranteed right.
This is one issue but there are many others.
Issues like effective powers for the Commission to see that justice is done, a real right for working people to have their union organiser enter the workplace, and a set of rights for union activists and delegates on the job.
This morning the Congress made a start on these issues by endorsing a Charter of Delegates' Rights. Our pursuit of these and other basic rights will be critical to the future.
They will be necessary to restore the balance, to achieve fairness in the workplace.
Also important will be a focus on the contemporary workplace and labour market issues. I will refer briefly to just three areas of policy.
Firstly, there is a need to overcome the widening inequality in wages. Many employees will never benefit from bargaining, or are employed in services unsuited to the bargaining process.
Many working people and their families depend upon minimum rates of pay, and struggle every day to make ends meet. Despite the significant improvements achieved through the Living Wage, minimum award rates are lagging well behind the market.
A substantial lift in award rates will be required if low paid workers are to get a fair share of economic prosperity, if we are to improve equal pay for women. There must be a capacity to boost minimum rates so that they are relevant.
I will make this a key objective of my time as ACTU Secretary.
Secondly, it is important that casual employees get a better deal. 27% of all workers in this country are now casuals, and that includes many women and young people.
Many are not casual at all - in reality they do the job of permanent employees but virtually none of them have sick leave or holidays, and only a tiny minority have maternity leave.
Casual workers deserve more. That is why better rights for casuals are being put to you as policy proposals at this Congress.
Thirdly, it is clear that people want unions to continue the drive towards improvements in working hours. This is a complex issue in the contemporary workplace.
The dominant problem is not necessarily the length of the standard working week - it is the longer, unpaid hours that so many people are being made to work.
The surveys carried out by the ACTU and many unions over the last two years show decisively that long hours, stress, and an inability to balance work and family are vibrant concerns across many industries.
These trends inevitably follow downsizing - the well known code word for massive redundancies.
Gains continue to be made in reducing the length of the standard working week, most recently by construction workers in a great 36 hours campaign in Victoria.
But the policy before Congress takes the debate further, and asserts the need for a reasonable limit to overall working hours in a workplace or industry - where this is supported by the workers involved.
This is not an unheard of concept. An average weekly maximum of 48 hours per week is a benchmark throughout the European Union.
The ACTU has tested this concept in opinion polling, and there is strong support, especially if it is linked to a better balance between work and family life, and to saving or creating jobs.
It is time for some debate in the community about this issue.
Union strategies to boost award rates, improve casual rights, and achieve reasonable hours represent important opportunities for involving workers in campaigns.
The importance of reinvigorating union organisation
Which brings me to the final area of my address, to union renewal.
The changing economy has taken a heavy toll on unions in the form of diminishing membership. In the steelworks here in Wollongong alone, the number of jobs has fallen from around 21,000 to 6,500 since the early 1980s.
But in the great labour tradition of this community, people are rebuilding for the future. And that is what we must do as unions nationally.
The ACTU alone can't turn this around. The ACTU is not a union. It can provide advice, devise strategies, lend a hand, provide leadership.
But the responsibility lies with each union.
Anyone here who feels complacent about declining membership, about the loss of 150,000 union members last year, better wake up.
Because we will not achieve a fair share for working people by failing to meet the challenges before us.
There are too many workplaces where union organisation is weak, where the activism is low, where there's no delegate.
There are too many workplaces where there is no union at all.
And there is too much time and money spent on demarcation cases.
When we produced the [email protected] report last year we said our key challenge is to grow where the economy and the labour force is expanding.
This requires an unwavering commitment to shift the resources of the union into a growth strategy - into delegate activism, into new organising methods.
The same challenge is confronting unions in other advanced economies. And they are organising to meet it.
At the ACTU Council last December we heard how the Services Employees International Union was tackling it. Since then they have become the largest affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Richard Trumka can tell you the story from the US.
But I am greatly encouraged by the efforts of unions in Great Britain. After the decline during the Tory years they have recorded two successive years of overall membership growth. And last year, for the first time in twenty years, an increase in union density!
We highlighted some of the reasons for this in [email protected]. It doesn't have much to do with the election of a Labour Government, or changes to industrial laws - it has come from a drive to organise and rebuild.
It is important to point to all of the positive things we are doing as unions, to the successes we have had at organising new members, to new campaign methods like the successful shareholder mobilisation against Rio Tinto.
But it is also vital to increase our determination.
The priorities identified in [email protected] are reflected in the business of this Congress.
Don't treat it as business as usual. Let's keep our eyes on the main game.
Make a commitment to delegate development and union education, put resources into organising new members, modernise the delivery of services to members, build campaign capacity.
As I said at the beginning of this speech, we have a great responsibility to the working people of this country. A responsibility to make sure that there is fairness and justice in the workplace, and our society.
To achieve it we must accelerate the process of rebuilding, of renewal.
There are great things for us to do. And we will never finish the fight for justice.
When I look around this Congress, and I see the experience, the energy and the commitment that is here, I am filled with optimism that we will achieve our task.
If we do not undertake it, who will?
And when we are united and determined, we will succeed
by Anth Courtney (no relation!)
A Young Mark Courtney on the cover of "Moving the Goalposts"
AWAs: an unfair regime
Tim Ferrari, Assistant National Secretary of the LHMU, offers the alternative view on AWAs to that presented by Grant Poulton (Labour review no. 41).
Ferrari highlights the myths of AWAs, put out by the Government and the Employment Advocate and nails them one by one. These include:
The myth of choice
The myth of pay improvement
Myth of the employee's
The myth of equality of bargaining power
Myths of equal flexibility and give and take
Myth of freedom to refuse an AWA
http://www.workplaceinfo.com.au Australian Business website. Conference paper
Enterprise bargaining: the evolving agenda
ACIRRT paper assessing trends in enterprise agreements as they are now emerging. Two distinct streams are seen, union driven agreements and employer driven agreements and the traits of each category are outlined here.
Where unions have relatively high rates of coverage the push is increasing for job security and stronger employee control over flexibility and leave provisions. Employers, on the other hand, seek to increase flexibility on their own terms and lock in productivity at the expense of all else, and seek to marginalise union influence.
Framework agreements are a common union tactic, and some large employers are happy with this as it ensures a more co-ordinated approach all round.
Employer use of casuals and sub-contractors are targeted by unions in job security campaigns and are key organising issues.
http://www.workplaceinfo.com.au Australian Business website.
Work For All
An Australian Options leaflet attacking the acceptance of high unemployment. This Outlines the problems and suggests action. Part of a national campaign (hopefully)
(Australian Options; no. 21, May 2000)
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has developed a five point plan for employment generation in Australia.
A buy Australian campaign and strategy to replace $5billiuon in imports each year for a decade with goods made in Australian factories
Infrastructure investment program to improve road, rail, water, sewerage and communications infrastructure
Develop a new generation of manufacturing businesses
Deal for manufacturing workers to encourage them to stay within the industry by providing greater job and income security
International coalition to promote and achieve fair trade rather than so-called free trade
(Australian Options; no. 21, May 2000)
Globalisation and Labour Regulation
A collection of articles from a conference on globalisation, jointly co-ordinated by the Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management, are published in the latest Journal of Industrial Relations (JIR).
Some are theoretical, developing ways of understanding the impact of globalisation on industrial relations theory, while others look at the actual impact of changes on industrial relations regulation and practice.
(Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 42, no. 2, June 2000)
Stress in the Workplace: solving the problems
Productivity has increased by 2% in Australia over the past twenty years. To break this low productivity cycle, Guidara argues that there is a need to focus on one factor - employees and the "people factor". To be effective in this area there is then a need to acknowledge the problem of stress in the workplace and to manage it. A strategy is outlined here involving facilitating change, overcoming inertia and lifestyle management.
(Occupational Health and Safety Update; newsletter 5, 1 June 2000)
The Cost of the "Recession We had to Have"
Bruce Chapman and Cezary Kapuscinski argue that the downturn of 1991-92 was exacerbated by the government over-reaction. The critical role of high interest rates in slowing growth should have been recognised as having significant implications for long-term unemployment. Even by acting to moderate the impact on employment slightly at the time would have meant 25% less long-term unemployment today. Recession avoidance rather than something we have to have would be sounder strategy.
(The Australia Institute; no. 23 June 2000)
Clark is joined by Michael Costa to honour an undertaking we made to Clark that "we won't do anything to you we don't do to ourselves". So in an exciting first we present two tools.
It must have been a tough week for Clark, whose VC is vision is at best, at risk. Direct competition before a float is not what he needs. Not only that, but his keynote presentation was delayed till well after most of the delegates had gone home.
The smart talk was that Clark would increase equity for the ACTU during his Congress address in an attempt to lock in long-term support for the venture. Instead he offered some shares for worker education - laudable, sure, but hardly a meaningful shift. He did also offer "the thanks of 30,000 families who are now online" - it made me feel warm, anyway.
The VC coverage of Congress was admittedly sharp - video feeds of speeches - but performed as a one-off by a team of contractors. Not a sustainable sort of web model, more a piece of eye candy.
Their friendly team of - must have been a dozen staff - also helped us out when our computer (non Gateway!) crashed. So they weren't all bad. But V-Town is V-Town and, if you've seen the site, that's reason enough to be in the Shed
Costa's trip into Tool Shed caps off an exciting week which has included a spirited Congress brawl with Doug Cameron over trade and a surprise career crisis. As he considers his future of the weekend, we ask him what other organization would treat him like this?
Disclaimer This has been written by Peter Lewis who is contracted to the Labor Council of NSW, one third equity holder in getonboard. Notwithstanding this vested interested, he has considered VC a dud and Chris Clark a Tool for some time
© 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/60/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005