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  Issue No 61 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 July 2000  

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News

Reith Puts Boot into Health and Safety

By Dermott Browne

The CPSU has expressed concern at Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith's decision to arbitrarily move the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) from Sydney to Canberra.

Reith also wants to outsource the NOHSC library and end the close working relationship between NOHSC and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme

NOHSC is the tripartite national body that coordinates and leads national occupational health and safety efforts and programs to prevent workplace death and injury in Australia.

The Commission consists of representatives from all Australian governments, and the peak workers and employers organisations - the ACTU and ACCI. It maintains technical expertise about chemicals and other hazardous substances.

CPSU has raised many concerns about Peter Reith's decision including the total lack of consultation with NOHSC's many stakeholders.

Malcolm Larsen, CPSU Senior Deputy President said, "The minister has failed to talk to anyone about this issue. His rash decision will impact on clients, industry groups, unions, employer associations, state governments, OH & S specialists, and NOHSC staff."

CPSU has called on the minister to justify his decision and is asking that the Commission instigate an open process of review on the issue.

"There is no rational reason for this move. It will lead to increased costs, a loss of expertise and further job losses. Just what is Mr Reith trying to achieve?" asks Larsen.

Most of the NOHSC's 135 Sydney based staff are not in a position to make the move to Canberra. "We are looking at another round of unnecessary and costly redundancies" added Mr Larsen.

Of particular concern is the decision to outsource the NOHSC's library.

"This library provides important up-to-the-minute OH&S data and expertise for all Australians, particularly small business. It also contains the oldest and mostimportant collection of records on occupational health & safety issues in Australia. It is a vital part of Australia's national heritage. What Peter Reith is proposing is nothing less than

vandalism," said Mr Larsen.

CPSU will continue to lobby NOHSC board members ahead of the board meeting on Wednesday 12 July.

Tax Workers Vote on Pay Rise

Meanwhile, after a long and sometimes bitter pay dispute that coincided with the introduction of the GST, CPSU members have voted to accept the Tax Office pay and conditions agreement offer.

Key aspects of the offer are:

4% payrise backdated to 1 July 1999

2% tax reform bonus

2 further pay increases of 2% in December 2000 and April 2001 accompanied by 2% bonuses

new conditions for call centres and field staff

new conditions to balance work and family, such as a holiday child care program

Last week 69% of members supported a motion to accept the deal and to call off further industrial action. All Tax staff are now voting on the deal in a ballot closing 12 July.

"Our campaign was strongly supported by members and we were able to press the ATO to give more and more. The offer staff are voting on now is the Commissioner's 4th so-called final offer," CPSU's Tax Section Secretary Shane O'Connell said.

Although expected to be endorsed by a majority, a sizeable protest vote could be expected in response to Tax Commissioner Michael Carmody's refusal to convert the one-off 2% bonus for tax reform to an ongoing payrise.

The CPSU gained last minute concessions from the ATO, including agreement to fast track a new travel policy. With tax reform many ATO staff have been expected to spend excessive time travelling in order to get the job done. The ATO is now under pressure to develop an agreed system to not only reduce the current amount of travel, but also provide adequate compensation where it does occur.

Despite misgivings about pay, Shane O'Connell is happy with the outcome. "While we really thought our members were worth more, we have still managed to end up with a deal that keeps us at the forefront of public sector pay and conditions." "I am worried, though, whether the pay will be sufficient to keep well trained and professional staff from moving to more lucrative private sector jobs," cautions Shane.

Conservative ATO sources already admit to a 10% annual turnover of staff and expect this figure to rise, raising concerns about the ATO's ability to help business adjust to the new tax regime.

Recruitment to the union was strong during the campaign. In some weeks 50 or more new members joined up, many from ATO call centres and GST field operations.


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*    Visit the CPSU

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*   Issue 61 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Technology: Union Rep for Global Net Body
The godfather of unions and the Internet, Eric Lee, is seeking your support to give labour a voice on the net's governing body, ICANN.
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*  Interview: Downloaded and Done Over
In the wake of the TV Networks' digital TV victory, Internet industry chief Peter Coroneus rues a missed opportunity for Australia.
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*  Legal: The Global Millennium Project
The International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) has developed a draft proposal for a comprehensive revision and modernisation of international labour standards for the new millenium.
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*  Unions: Sandgropers Get Serious on Stress
The Australian Services Union in Western Australia in conjunction with the University of Western Australia, is surveying workers across the state's call centre industry.
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*  Politics: New Work for a New Millennium
View in full the ALP's Draft Industrial Relations Policy to be taken to the National Conference at the end of the month.
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*  Solidarity: Korean Hotel Workers Seek Global Help
Striking Korean hotel workers at the Swiss Grand Hotel and the Seoul Hilton are worried they could be the next targets of escalating riot police violence.
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*  History: Vince's Parable of the Sundial
How a working man survived WWII and ASIO blacklists to save a sundial.
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*  International: Room for Optimism from African Poll
The performance of pro-Deomcracy groups in the Zimbabwean elections has given supporters hope for better days.
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*  Environment: Mexican Wave Goes Green
American politics has taken on a Green hue with the left leaning National Action Party and the Greens in Mexico picking up nearly 40% of the vote in the recent elections.
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*  Satire: Aussies Celebrate Centenary by Leaving Country
Prime Minister John Howard has defended his government's decision not to involve Australia in the centenary federation celebrations.
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*  Review: A Building Sings of Lives Lived in Music
Mysterious shadows flicker in the windows of the Parramatta Town Hall. Strains of trumpet and sarod float outside. It's all part of the urban Theatre Project's latest work, 'The Palais'.
*

News
»  No Guarantees for Email Workers
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»  Hotel Bosses Face Olympic Showdown
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»  Aussie Bosses Embarrassed in NZ
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»  Labour Hire Task Force Begins Work
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»  Costa to Stay at Labor Council
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»  Lockout Sleight of Hand
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»  Owner Drivers Unite to Save Industry from GST
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»  The Future Starts Now for Youth Charter
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»  Volleyball Stadium Accident - Questions Remain
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»  Telstra - Making it Queasier for You
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»  MUA Helps Deliver Rice for Timor
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»  Reith Puts Boot into Health and Safety
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»  Biko Backer Tours Australia
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»  Unchain Your Mind at Melbourne Forum
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»  Union Stalwart Honoured
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Congratulations on the Email Rally in Orange
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»  Dissident Site
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»  Tax Workers Defended
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»  A Reluctant Brown-Tongue
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