by Andrew Casey
Rio Tinto management, who have led the push to place workers on individual contracts, made the concession came on the eve of an international week of union action in countries ranging from the USA to South Africa, Chile and Brazil.
The company has faced serious industrial disputes across all of its Australian coal mines since it sought to cease bargaining with unions and push workers onto individual contracts a process begun in 1993.
The tentative agreement that would cover the company's Mt Thorley workers came after the Rio Tinto made a comprehensive offer of settlement last Friday night. The miners union, the CFMEU, and workers are now considering the companies' offer.
CFMEU National Secretary John Maitland has welcomed the tentative agreement: "We hope that this is the first step of a new approach by the company following the commitment by the Executive Chairman in May that they would seek peace with trade unions."
"The shareholder campaign that was mounted in the USA, UK and Australia, which achieved big investor support, has clearly provided a further incentive to the company to settle."
But Maitland has also sounded a warning to management. "If the Mt Thorley proposal is used by Rio Tinto as simply a public relations exercise to deflect the international campaign against it then further progress will be slow.
"The company has a long way to go to regain the confidence of its workers and their communities. "
The worker, who was employed by one of Nike's 600 contract factories worldwide, was threatened into resigning and had his house ransacked last December after attempting to organize workers.
The visit, to be sponsored by unions, Fairwear and the Nike Watch Campaign would involve a series of public events to draw attention to Nike's treatment of its workers - although there is no intention to disrupt any Games events.
Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union national secretary Tony Woolgar says its important to raise public awareness of companies that seek to use the Olympics to enhance their public image.
Woolgar says while Nike is prepared to pay athletes like Tiger Woods huge sponsorships to wear their gear - in Woods' case $65 million - they say they are not responsible for the labour practices of their colleagues.
With Indonesian workers earning just $US32 per month, Woolgar says Woods' sponsorship would pay 60,000 workers for two years. Looking at it another way, he says it would take an Indonesian Nike worker 33,000 years to earn Wood's endorsement.
What's the Beef?
Nike is resisting requests from organisations involved in the Nikewatch campaign to:
- make public the addresses of all factories producing for the company
- allow regular unannounced factory monitoring by credible human rights groups which are independent of Nike
- establish a confidential complaint mechanism to a credible independent body for Nike workers whose rights, including the right to organise, are infringed.
- and, in Australia, to sign the homeworkers code of practice.
Keep reading Workers Online for further details of the tour and related events
AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron, who is running a 'fair trade not free trade' agenda in the lead-up to ALP National Conference, has made the call in an interview with Workers Online.
Cameron says a Social Audit should be the mechanism to kick-start debate on the trade issue and provide a catalyst for a broader debate on issues like a Tobin Tax and social tariffs for countries who fail to meet minimum global labour standards.
He says the evaluation of trade should be determined - by both employment growth and improved social protections: the implementation of core labour standards; sustainable environmental standards; the elimination of forced labour and child labour and the adherence to human rights and democratic values.
Day of Action for Aussie Jobs
The AMWU is organizing a rally on July 26 outside Premier Bob Carr's Sydney office in supporting of Australian manufacturing jobs.
Under the banner "Make It Here or Jobs Disappear", the AMWU is calling on the State Government to adopt the following principals:
- the implementation of a fully transparent Major Projects Policy which imposes strict requirements on project developers to utilize Australian made material.
- the introduction of State Government legislation requiring State Owned Corporations to comply with the NSW Government Procurement Policy in relation ton preference for Australian made goods and services.
- the appointment of a Local Content Advocate, reporting directly to the premier, with responsibility for monitoring all projects and enforcing compliance with this policy.
- the commitment of the State Labor government and any future Labor Government to support inclusion of core labour standards in the charter of the World Trade organization.
- the commitment of the State Labor Government and any future Federal labour government to support fair trade rather than free trade through an increase in tariffs in the manufacturing sector to 10 per cent which is the internationally generally accepted level.
- immediate action by both the State Labor Government and any future Federal Labor Government to redress the decline of apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW.
The rally will take place at noon.
by Rowan Cahill
The five man deputation wanted to question bank officials about the $750 million the big US bank has lent Joy's American parent company Harnischfeger Industries Inc. The deputation was parked in the boardroom until higher authorities were apparently consulted.
Harnischfeger Inc. currently operates under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This section of the US Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to continue operations so long as it reorganises, restructures, and cuts operating costs.
Since 1998 the company has been involved in what it terms "aggressive" and permanent global downsizing, cost cutting, and "headcount reduction".
Moss Vale Joy workers are currently in dispute with Joy management, and believe the economic situation of Harnischfeger and its global strategies are part of their problem.
Following the collapse of EBA negotiations earlier this year, about 70 workers were locked-out of the Joy worksite in Moss Vale (NSW) for three months under provisions of the Workplace Relations Act.
During this time they manned two picket encampments outside their worksite. Their activities, and those of their unions (the AMWU, AWU, and CEPU), are restrained by Supreme Court injunctions.
In the face of the hard anti-union line pursued by the company, the workers rejected an offer to return to work last week. And as the lockout turned into a strike, the workers visited Chase Manhattan.
According to Moss Vale worker logic, because Harnischfeger is globally restructuring, cutting costs and jobs, and Chase Manhattan is bankrolling the company, then the bank has a defacto relationship with what is happening in Moss Vale.
Sydney representatives of the huge US bank were not amused, and the workers left when asked to do so.
Back at the Moss Vale picket encampment, plans were being made for a "Solidarity and Support" tour.
This is now under way. Representatives of the locked-out workers/strikers are touring worksites nationally, explaining the Moss Vale dispute and what happens when management takes full advantage of the Workplace Relations Act.
Chase Manhattan meanwhile, has other problems. A few days after the Moss Vale worker visit, declassified US Treasury documents released in New York allegedly showed the banking giant had helped funnel German assets back to the Nazis from France after the US went to war against Germany during World War 2.
The bank is currently facing legal action by Holocaust survivors for the alleged wartime freezing of Jewish bank accounts.
"No one believes that Peter Reith has the interests of working people at heart," Burrow says.
"What Mr Reith's scheme is all about is short changing workers and turning their loss into his gain."
Burrow's comments came as Reith presented 50 sacked workers from Fabric Dyeworks with payments under his tax payer funded Employee Entitlements Support Scheme in Melbourne this week.
"Some of these workers have 20 years service with the company. Through no fault of their own they have lost all their accrued entitlements and their superannuation hasn't been paid for two years. Yet under Mr Reith's scheme they will receive an average payment of less than $2,700 each."
"That is simply not fair. Australia needs an employer funded national employee entitlements protection scheme that guarantees that all lost entitlements are paid to all employees in full."
Burrow also says she's disappointed that the Victorian Government had chosen not to make any contribution toward compensating the Fabric Dyeworks employees for their loss.
"Mr Reith's scheme is inadequate and State Governments are right to call for a
properly funded national scheme that protects 100% of entitlements," she says.
"But until such a scheme is in place, State Governments should demonstrate they are serious about this issue and make their own independent contribution to ensure that workers are afforded at least the most basic level of protection."
The Australian Services Union says the move was pulled as a case for non-payment of entitlements was part-heard before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
ASU legal officer Alistair McDonald says the action was in support of two administrative assistants who were owed a total of $5,000. When the company de-registered the unionw as advised its only option was to seek a court order for re-registration.
The union has now been told that if it wants the matter to proceed it has to come up with $15000, a filing fee before the Supreme Court would consider re-registering the company.
McDonald says the move appears calculated to avoid the action, as the surgery is still doing business.
"There is no penalty to stop companies deregistering themselves to stop claims by unions for under payment," he says.
"Perhaps its time we looked at a political response to this issue."
Shaw was this week in the Queensland Industrial Court representing the Australian Manufacturing Union is a case involving MUM Holdings and the Australian Workers Union.
He's also been called on to defend the constitutionality of his own Dust Diseases legislation against an insurance challenge in proceedings in Sydney.
And he's been briefed to represent the NSW WorkCover Authority in an appeal by an employer's against a conviction for non-insurance.
His junior? None other than his former chief-of-staff Adam Searle.
The Minister this week blamed Centrelink staff for reduced payments in response to claims that welfare recipients were worse off under the GST.
CPSU Community Services Section Secretary, Mr Mark Gepp says it's an outrageous act and that the union had been inundated with complaints since the comments were reported.
"Minister Newman should publicly apologise to all Centrelink workers immediately," Gepp says.
"The Minister knows that Centrelink staff have absolutely no say in policy matters and in the setting of payment rates.
"These are matters that are solely the domain of the Federal Government. Centrelink workers implement the law, they do not make it!" Mr Gepp said.
"Centrelink staff work extremely hard to deliver services to some of the most needy people in this country. They ought to be congratulated by the Government for their efforts. Instead, all the Government and the Minister does is criticise them and cuts their resources. "
The union also questioned the timing of the attack by the Government on Centrelink. "We wonder what the Minister's real motives are here, especially as we are on the eve of the release of the Government's Welfare Reform report. After all, Minister Newman has already presided over the sacking of 5000 Centrelink workers".
In the front line as individual tax collectors since the clock first turned over to July 1, bailee taxi drivers are having to relive the GST nightmare of every small business around the country as they issue individual receipts ("Tax Invoices") for each fare over $50.
Drivers in the industry are reporting to the TWU that the nightmare they anticipated just keeps on getting worse.
But for a recent decision of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, however, things could be considerably worse.
Initially, some taxi owners and the service providers were expecting drivers to pay GST for their cab hire, collect GST from their customers and then pass on the full 10% back to the cab owner. Despite being illegal and in contravention of ACCC guidelines, this proposal would have left the drivers having to pay for the GST out of their earnings.
But thanks to this decision won by the TWU all Bailee Taxi Drivers in NSW are now protected from losing money as a result of the GST.
Under the decision all bailee drivers hiring a cab now have two options for passing on the 10% GST they collect from passengers to the cab owners. Both options ensure the driver retains any cost the GST has placed on the operation of their cab. In option two, the driver pays the current Pay-in plus 7.8% GST.
The decision also provides for a number of other important benefits for bailee drivers working under the new tax system, including the compulsion on owners to provide drivers with their legal entity, name, and ABN prior to the driver commencing each shift.
"This is an important decision delivering GST justice for all NSW taxi drivers," TWU Taxi Industry Official Alice DeBoos says.
"Thanks to this decision NSW cabbies will not be being ripped by the GST. Furthermore, because owners now have to let the drivers know their names and legal details, next time a driver is unfairly dismissed or being overcharged for their pay-ins we will be able to track them down and make sure the driver is delivered justice," DeBoos says.
For further information or copies of the decision contact the TWU on (02) 9912 0700
Specifically, speakers will be discussing new policy agendas for a twenty-first century Federal Labor government, and vital reforms to party structure to enhance membership, internal democracy and policy-making. A strong emphasis is on a younger generation of Labor men and women keen to promote new ways of achieving social democracy in a time of rapid change.
A critical perspective unites the forum speakers. Topics to be discussed include trade, globalisation, work place democracy, education, managing cultural diversity, the media and the new information economy, indigenous land rights, unions, party structures, unemployment and foreign policy.
Expect a rigorous critique of orthodox economic ideas of both the right and the left, and new left-of-centre perspectives on public institutions that may no longer be meeting the objectives for which they were established. Speakers will be encouraged to sketch alternative models of governance which might better achieve traditional social democratic goals. The aim of the Unchain My Mind Forum is to promote critical thinking, open dialogue and audience participation.
A must-attend event for anyone interested in political reform, government, social change and Labor's future.
When: Thursday, 27 July, 9:30am to 6.00pm
Where: Trades Hall, cnr Victoria and Lygon Streets, Carlton, Melbourne - Council Chambers
Cost: $25 or $15 concession
Chaired in three sessions by ALP veterans Barry Jones, Joan Kirner and John Button(tbc)
Speakers include Lindsay Tanner, Mark Latham, Duncan Kerr Rebecca Huntley, Paul Mees, Glenn Patmore, Andrew Scott, Guy Rundle, Sharan Burrows, Michael Gadiel, Kate Lundy, Julia Gillard, Race Mathews, McKenzie Wark, Tony Moore and Mary Kalantzis.
Dinner and debate to follow the forum (to be paid for separately).
Topic "The Centre is Mine - Tony Blair, New Labor and the future of electoral politics" Speakers: Andrew Scott, Jim Claven and Dennis Glover. Chair: Kate Lundy
All welcome! Book now!
Four easy ways to book:
1. Print out the registration form and fax to: (02) 9519 8940
2. Mail the form to: Tony Moore, Pluto Press Australia, Locked Bag 199, Annandale NSW 2038
3. E-mail the form to: [email protected]
4. Telephone Pluto Press Australia on: (02) 9519 3299
The conference, to be held on August 20/21 has been organized to coincide with the Global march of Women, an international event to protest against poverty and violence,.
The conference will also look at the implentation of key recommendations of the recent ACTU Congress.
For further details to register call Sharon Gibbard on 03 9664 7312
During the 1998 election campaign I made some unpublicised alterations to the Liberal party website, for which I was prosecuted. It was very much like the recent extraction of business details from the gstassist.gov.au website by "Kelly". In both cases the so-called crime was perpetrated merely by using a straight-forward web address (Universal Resource Locator).
In both cases, there was no security to violate. There were no passwords -- it was easier than checking email.
If "Kelly" is charged he should get a smart lawyer, not plead guilty under any circumstances, and appeal until he wins. And if he isn't charged, then why was I?
But let's allocate blame where blame is due. The Liberals are essentially a bunch of unimaginative lawyers from leafy suburbs. And their first and last answer to any problem in information technology is to aggressively apply the moral status-quo -- the true definition of conservatism.
Hence no security on government websites, unworkable censorship laws and oppressive datacasting legislation.
There is a possible exception to the idiocy -- Amanda Vanstone! She recently endorsed a Discussion Paper on Computer Crime. Its recommendations would legalize my actions, and those of "Kelly", and rightly so.
Checkout pages 155 to 160 of
Following up on your editorial piece in issue 61, where you suggest there is no need for tariffs against countries with lower wages and working conditions than Australia. I believe strongly that there is a need for some penalty for companies who manufacture in countries with low labour costs and working conditions but distribute the profits to richer countries. They are neglecting the workers of the richer countries and exploiting those in the poorer countries. International competitiveness generally has nothing to do with it.
I further believe that any tariffs collected in this manner should be directed to overseas aid so that we don't further expolit the workers and citizens of these poorer countries.
If we can work for competitive wages and working conditions for workers around the world then we really will be working for international competitiveness. But to stand back and do nothing (as you seem to suggest) will only result in lining the pockets of the multinationals.
A few more thoughts on "fair trade".
If countries that deny human rights are to be hit by trade restrictions, Australia must be included. After all, look at the treatment of Aborigines. If countries that restrict workers' rights are to face special tariffs, Australia can't escape. Look at Reith's anti-union laws.
But rather than promote nationalist trade wars, we would do much better to support internationalist initatives such as union training and solidarity action for our fellow unionists in the third world. This will actually help them. "Social tariffs" will just put them out of a job.
I was most surprised at the analysis given by the Greens MLC, Lee Rhiannon of the Mexican election. PAN a "left leaning" party? I'm afraid not.
See article below for a very different and more informed point of view.
Here is analysis of Mexican election results from US CWI section. Stephen Jolly, Socialist Party
Preliminary results of the Mexican elections gave the victory - after 71 years in power, 50 years as being the main agent of imperialism and 12 years of crisis of the PRI - to the main, conservative, opposition party.
The fact that Vicente Fox is a former high executive of Coca-Cola is more than symbolic. The PAN has emerged as the main tool of imperialism and Fox victory was greeted by the international markets, big business and both the Democrats and Republicans as the greatest thing on earth since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But it would be shallow thinking just to interpret this election as the biggest victory of imperialism ever in Mexico. The crisis of the PRI initiated 12 years ago precipitated the need for imperialism and the Mexican bourgeoisie to change horses and privilege the PAN as its main agent in the area. The PAN tamed his "catholic" roots and integrated many cadre from the PRI and its program today - on fundamental issues - is not that different from the PRI's. But the fact that the PRI lost the election effectively ended the one-party regime and opens up a period of political instability in Mexico and most likely of an upsurge of the class struggle.
Fox has announced an aggressive policy of defense of NAFTA and the demolition of the remaining barriers for imperialist penetration in the country - barriers that were significantly lowered during the last three PRI's presidencies.
The victory of Fox will have an effect in the class struggle in Mexico. Will encourage strikes, demonstrations and peasants struggles since the tombstone of the PRI machinery was lifted and the mass movement is now freer to pursue democratic demands with more effectiveness.
Some of the side effects of the PAN's victory is that the "official" links between most unions and peasants organizations with the PRI will be tremendously weakened or even demolished in the next period. The tradition of building independent unions and peasant's organizations will certainly accelerate. Together with that will come the demands of the different sectors. The one-party regime - modified 20 years ago but still in existence until Zedillo took power - is gone. This is an incredible advantage for the mass movement and if anything - the traditions of the Mexican proletariat and the mass movement - will re-emerge in this new situation.
The tremendous defeat of the PRD - which won the elections in 1988 but failed to take power - is just the retarded effect of that betrayal. Yesterday, while Cuahtemoc Cardenas was codemning the victory of Fox - and saying that what happened was a "disgrace" for Mexico - half of the leadership of the PRD were with Fox celebrating his victory. This will bring the possibility of a big split in the PRD and an increase in its left's opposition to the new government. The fact that the PRD won again in the Capital, Mexico City, if not of little importance.
One thing that Cuahtemoc "forgot" to mention yesterday in his interviews with the media is that an year ago he proposed a comon electoral front with the PAN and only retreated from it when it was evident that he would not be the candidate of such a front. Over one million PRD votes shifted sides and voted for the PAN candidate yesterday. Maybe another million or so of PRD followers voted for all the lists of the PAN. After all, they were educated by Cuahtemoc and the PRD - and the left - that the most important thing was to defeat the PRI, independently of what or who would do such a thing. The left accompannied this capitulation by ceasing any independent activity since 1988 and supporting the PRD uncritically and finally dissolving themselves in the bourgeois party.
One sector of the PRD will go to collaborate witht he new government - another will increase its opposition.
What the PRI will do now when it is the opposition is of much relevance as well. An split in the PRI will be on the agenda from tomorrow. The different wings of the bureaucracy, the tradeunions and the popular sectors controlled by the PRI will re-assemble and re-aligned. There are already talks of an agreement between the PRI and the PAN to govern together (Fox announced a government to include all other parties). But any agreement with a sector of the PRI will bring decisive divisions with the "Mapaches" or hard liners and other sectors to the left of the center-right wing of the party which is the only capable of reachign an agreement with the PAN.
Many things in this front will depend on what the PAN does with three issues: a) the administrative corruption at all levels of government institutionalized by the PRI in 71 years in power. If the PAN does attack this corruption, even in a tokenist way, that will trigger huge conflicts. There are hundreds of thousands of public employees and bureaucrats involved and over 1-Million people enjoyed well-paid patronage jobs in Mexico; b) the relationship between the PRI and the drug cartels. This is not exlcusive of the PRI, though. The PAN administrations, particularly in the North of the country had been involved on this relationship as well but they are junior partners compared with the PRI.; c) What the PAN would do in relationship with the unions and peasant/popular organizations tied to the PRI. If it leaves the class struggle to decide its fate, it can re-direct some of these forces to consolidate its power. If it attacks those ties head on will encounter a lot of resistance and will force significant sectors of the PRI to go on the offensive against the new government.
Few weeks before the elections, the remnants of the one time powerful PRT (the USEC section, now reduced to a hundred or so members) and of the POS (the remaining couple of dozen members of the party created by the LIT decades ago) formed a coalition to run a symbolic, unofficial presidential campaign. Too little, too late. The PRT and the POS were destroyed in a decade of political zigzags that included the capitualtion to the PRD, the Zapatistas and lost most of their members to those forces. The POS was also further destroyed with the crisis in the LIT(CI) in 1988, just in the verge of that year's gigantic political and economic crisis. The PRT - who once claimed thousands of members, was also destroyed before the presidential elections in 1988 when its National Committee and most of their main cadre deserted "in masse" to the PRD and became - for a while - even cadre of that organization.
The rest of the left is in no better shape. The PSUM - the Stalinist party and the PMT (a nationalist left wing party) and other big organizations dissolve themselves in 1988 and integrated themselves to the PRD of Cuahtemoc. After the betrayal of the PRD in 1988, many of the cadre of the left emigrated to the Zapatistas furthering the fragmentation and destruction of 60 years of left wing traditions in Mexico. They are today mere appendices of the PRD or the Zapatistas. The EZLN that could have filled the vacuum left by the PRD betrayal in 1988, also crystallized in a regional and isolated movement and lost most of its potential of evolving into a new national left wing formation.
The next year or so will be decisive in the political life of Mexico.
Moreover, this situation in Mexico will have tremendous implications for socialists' political work in the United States especially in California and New Mexico and cities like Chicago and New York.
We have just updated our homepage with "Graphic Accounts of the Police
Attack on Workers". Just press the following link
by Peter Lewis
by Neale Towart
Multiculturalism in the 1950s! - Audrey (front row third from left)
by Rico Aditjondro
by Andrew Casey
For the first time in Indonesia public servants will be allowed to form their own unions - a right which was firmly denied them until legislation passed through the Indonesian Parliament this week.
The new laws give workers wanting to set up independent unions more legal gaurantees than any previous legislation.
Most importantly there is no attempt to herd workers into only Government-run unions or associations.
The explicit right given to public servants to unionize is an extraordinary win which should see the rapid spread of unionisation throughout Indonesia's government sector. Until now all Indonesian public servants were obliged to join the Indonesian Civil Servants' Corps (Korpri), which never acted as a union, but helped the Government to control a relatively well-educated workforce.
Ever since the election of the new government of President Wahid there has been a flowering of industrial activity by workers demanding new rights. They are using - with often colourful demonstrations and strikes - the democratic space created by the end of the Suharto regime.
Many of the strikes are targetting multinationals who moved into the country during the Suharto years to make profits on the backs of cheap and compliant workforces.
Fore more than a month Indonesian Rio Tinto workers in Kalmintan have been holding a sit in to demand better wages and conditions. The Rio Tinto workers - with the backing of the regional parliament - have now forced the company to negotiate.
A huge Sony plant in Jakarta has been the subject of months of on-going strikes and sit-ins. Sony has threatened to completely shut down the plant and move to Malaysia where electronic sector workers are barred from forming unions.
On July 8 Sony sacked about 1000 workers in an attempt to get rid of its most militant workers and bring the dispute to an end.
There are hundreds of new groups which have sprung up - all claiming to be unions. There are more than twenty union groupings claiming the title of national union centres. Some of these groups are aligned with different political parties, some are regional organisations, while still others are aligned with religious-groups.
Not all the new union groups are happy with the new bill. Romawati Sinaga of the National Front for Indonesian Workers Struggle, was quoted by the Jakarta Post this week as saying this union is preparing a joint statement to reject the bill.
The week was kicked off in Australia by the CFMEU holding stoppages at Rio Tinto mines on Monday.
On the same day Rio Tinto has made an offer to settle a long-running dispute at its Mt. Thorley mine in the Hunter region.The proposed settlement was announced to a mass rally of striking mineworkers at the three Rio Tinto mines in the Hunter Valley. (see news story)
Rio Tinto has faced serious industrial disputes across all of its Australian coal mines since it sought to cease bargaining with unions and to push workers on to individual contracts - a process begun in 1993.
The company concession came just as the international trade union action week on Rio Tinto began its week of action which was planned in countries ranging from Australia to the USA, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile and Brazil.
Here are some reports from around the world.
In Indonesia at the Rio Tinto coal mine in East-Kalimantan the independent trade union SBSI reported there is an on-going strike and occupation which started several weeks ago and has virtually stopped production.
But this Tuesday (July 11) local Rio Tinto management agreed to have what the union said was the first real negotiating meeting, according to Sebastianus Nira and Didik Hendro the General Secretary and Chairman of SPE-SBSI.
More than a thousand workers have been involved in a sit-in for more than a month. Knowing that people at the other end of the world are supporting them is important, say the SBSI officials .
At the beginning of last week local Rio Tinto management tried to break a long strike and site occupation by bringing in 300 strike breakers from another village who usually have no close relationship with the local people. These people were paid transport, food and some wage to break the strike, if necessary using violence,.
Local political pressure - including the regional governor and the regional parliament - was brought to bear on Rio Tinto management forcing them to meet several times with SBSI union leaders, and workers to discuss the strikers demands.
The 300 strike breakers brought in by Rio Tinto were largely neutralized after they had had a chance to talk with the workers whose jobs they would have taken.After about three days most of the strike-breakers had left and gone back to their home villages.
The regional governor has forced Rio Tinto to continue to supply the site with water, food, electricity, etc. The company had hoped to turn supplies off and force the workers out of the mine area. About 85% of the workers is now still on the site, continuing their passive action. They know that if they leave, they'll have lost.
In the USA on Monday members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 30 held a demonstration in front of the Rio Tinto owned Borax mine in support of Rio Tinto workers around the world - in particular Indonesia, Australia, Chile, Brazil and Namibia -- where workers are struggling for basic human and worker's rights. Borax mineworkers held up picket signs that expressed their support for other Rio Tinto workers in the specific countries listed above. The desert heat was intense but it did not dampen the resolve of ILWU Local 30.
The Borax workers also discussed the problems at the mine the mine itself. US Borax has been cutting costs at approximately 3% annually for a number of years. It is our understanding that the company is now attempting to cut back 24% annually but has only been able to average 14% annually. While the company is talking a lot about health and safety, these attempts at irrational cost cutting are causing serious health and safety and quality of product problems at the mine and have the potential to seriously undermine the future safety and job security of the workers.
Rio Tinto company representatives, including Alexis Fernandez, the Rio Tinto/US Borax Global Executive for Communications and Community Affairs, spoke with the media, and watched the events with tremendous attention and interest. It was very obvious that word of the California protest reached the head offices of Rio Tinto within moments of the event.
Today ( Friday), ILWU Local 20A will also be acting as part of the international Rio Tinto trade union week by holding a lunchtime protest with workers outside the US Borax Chemical and Processing Plant to demonstrate their concern about Rio Tinto's global treatment of workers and their communities. The chemical and processing plant is located in the Los Angeles harbor area. The plant processes and ships out materials that they receive from the US Borax mine located about two hours outside of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert.
In Utah, the members of Steelworkers District #12 who are employed at Kennecott Utah Copper will be meeting with top management today ( Friday, July 14) specifically to protest the companies lack of support for human rights and workers' rights around the world. The Steelworkers work at one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world, located near Salt Lake City, Utah.
In Canada, in the French-speaking state of Quebec, the Steelworkers at the QIT-FEr et Titane mine and smelter have an official meeting scheduled with the top company management in two weeks and will be directly expressing their solidarity with other Rio Tinto workers around the world, The QIT mine and smelter produce titanium dioxide feedstock for the pigment industry.
In Chile workers from a Rio Tinto copper mine in northern Chile have been in Santiago this week protesting the termination without cause and blacklisting of 84 miners. These workers were fired in 1999 from the largest copper mine in the world, Escondida. A delegation of the workers met with representatives from both the office of the President of Chile and the Ministry of Mines and Energy earlier this week.
This mine is actually majority owned and wholly managed by Australia's BHP - but Rio Tinto owns one third of the company. As part of this international week of action on Thursday a delegation of Chilean miners was scheduled to visit the Australian embassy to protest Rio Tinto's actions against workers and their communities in Australia.
For more information about the Rio Tinto Global Union Network - and a copy of a letter you can send - on your letterhead - to Rio Tinto management contact the Rio Tinto Global Union Network Email: [email protected]
by Buried Country (Pluto Press)
by Peter Lewis
The latest ADAM Report from CCH/ACIRRT shows the average annual wage increase for enterprise agreements registered in the March 2000 quarter to be 4%, up from 3.8% in the December 1999 quarter.
Wage outcomes were at their peak in 1996 (rises of 6.5%), and have dropped by 40% since then.
Public sector rises were at 3.5% while private sector were at 4.1%.
Non-union agreements were at 3.8% and union agreements at 4.1%
Differences in wage outcomes within and between industries show the largest divergence. For example in mining and construction the highest annual wage increase was 11% and the lowest 0.7%.
In food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing the highest increase was 7.7%, the lowest 0.7%
In recreational and personal services the highest was 14%, the lowest 0.5%
ACIRRT holds information on the AWAs of 593 of the 2026 employers with AWAs.
Wage outcomes for AWAs shoed an average annual increase of 2.9% compared to the average for union based collective agreements of 4%.
Over half of all AWAs did not provide for any wage increase during the life of the agreement compared to 86.6% of union agreements.
(ADAM Report no. 25, June 2000)
Recently registered enterprise agreements have contained clauses increasing the role of employees in decision making. These clauses include an agreement in the education sector that contains a commitment to participatory democracy, small group decision-making and site-based decisions.
Also a public sector agreement affirms and strengthens the role of workplace representatives, with specific time each month for meetings, a role in rehabilitation programs and time each week for rehabilitation meetings and urgent meetings with employees.
Family Friendly Provisions
These are still relatively uncommon, despite much lip service being paid to the concept.
Breastfeeding: Recently in the public sector breastfeeding provisions have been introduced (flexibility of hours) and also an hours paid leave per day for expressing milk.
Child Rearing Leave: Another public sector agreement includes child-rearing leave to cater for parents of young children. It is on top of maternity, paternity or adoption leave and is available to parents with pre school aged children. It is leave without pay and is available for a maximum of 52 weeks. 10 weeks notice is required
Antenatal leave: access to paid leave to attend antenatal medical checks.
Care rooms: A commitment by a public sector organization to provide care rooms for employees to access child and dependent care services.
(ADAM Report, no. 25, June 2000)
Ban on Union Badges Harsh and Oppressive
The Full Bench of the West Australian Industrial Relations Commission has held that the Burswood Resort's ban on wearing union badges was an industrially unfair infringement on the proper ability of union members to express their membership in the workplace, promote their organization and their interests as members of that organization. The badges did not have any noticeable effect on the grooming and dress of the employees.
Australian Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Miscellaneous Workers Division WA Branch v Burswood Resort, FB of WAIRC (FBA 30 of 1999) 15/3/00
(Employment Law Update; newsletter 156, 16 June 2000)
Violence in the Workplace - an employer's responsibilities and rights
Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about their responsibilities and rights in relation to workplace violence. This article discusses the liability which may be imposed on employers for workplace violence by common law and statute. Also the limits placed by unfair dismissal legislation on an employer's ability to take action against an employee who has been involved in workplace violence.
(Employment Law Bulletin; issue 12, June 2000)
Koala Attacks and Knowledge Management
An experienced ranger in a koala park knows the animals well and thus can easily identify suitable koalas for visitors to touch, and avoid the crankier ones. A less experienced ranger might get the wrong ones, to the detriment of the visitor and the Park business. There was no formal training the experienced rangers resume, the ranger just "knew".
Dr Kate Andrews spoke at the recent Australian Human Resources Institute National Convention about the role for human resources in knowledge management issues. Dr Andrews defined knowledge management as the process by which an organization generates wealth, or achieves public good, from its intellectual knowledge-based assets. These include knowledge, expertise, creativity, innovation and skills. A summary of Dr Andrews' paper is presented in the Human resources update.
(Human Resources Update; no. 241, 23 June 2000)
Trade Union Mergers: A survey of the literature
Aims to highlight important themes that have shaped union mergers in Australia since the 1980s. These include merger forms, merger motivations, role played by union officers and merger 'waves'. The author contends that internal and external factors need to be analysed to understand why and how unions undertake such structural change. The consequences of mergers on members and union performance are explored.
(Australian Bulletin of Labour; vol. 26, no. 2, June 2000)
Trade Union Regulation and the Accountability of Union Office-holders: examining the corporate model.
There is a substantial body of federal law imposing standards of accountability on unions, and regulating the conduct of officials. The federal government has proposed that new accountability measures borrowed from corporations law be imposed on unions. These proposals are examined by Forsyth, focussing on those that would fix union officials with fiduciary and other duties similar to those applying to company directors. He concludes that the many differences between unions and companies - the reasons they exist, the purposes they serve, the interests created in their members and the role and functions of their managers - are such that the imposition of a corporate model of regulation of unions is inherently flawed.
(Australian Journal of Labour Law; vol. 13, no. 1, June 2000)
Many see home-based work as a growth area, but this article shows that many jobs just don't allow work from home, as the work flow and face to face time are needed. Many issues need to be clear between employers and employees. It is suggested that employers allow employees to initiate the move, and the main group able to work from home are professionals with a fair degree of day to day autonomy. The types of work that seem to fit with work from home include journalism, editing, research, web design, telemarketers, graphic designers, stockbrokers and programmers.
It is suggested however, that with a recent case finding favour of an employee who claimed unlawful discrimination because her employer would not allow part time employment on here return from adoption leave, it may be only a matter of time before employers are faced with similar claims for not allowing work from home.
(Workplace Change; issue 51, June 2000)
by Mary Yaager
The Deputy Convenor of the NSW Parliamentary Country Labor Group, the Hon Janelle Saffin, MLC, will launch a rural safety hotline on Sunday, 16 July, in conjunction with National Farm Safety Week.
The launch will take place at the Pelican Sheep Station, Braidwood Road, Goulburn, at 3.00pm.
The free hotline service, which is an initiative of the NSW Rural Industry Reference Group, is made up of unions and employers and will provide the latest occupational health and safety information for people working in rural industries.
The Rural Industry Reference Group was one of 13 specific industry groups established by the NSW Workers Compensation Advisory Council as part of major changes to the WorkPlace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act of 1998.
Terry O'Connor, a union organiser with the AWU, will be speaking at the launch. Terry is a professional shearer with over 28 years' experience and is classed as one of the best "gun shearers" in the industry. He has won shearing championships at regional, state, national and international levels. In his role as a teacher/trainer he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the art and techniques of shearing, with many of his students going on to achieve success as professional shearers and competition winners.
Terry, who as a shearer works in a high risk industry, said: "There is a great deal of apathy towards safety in the bush, and we need to change this culture, not only to reduce costs but more importantly to save lives and stop people, sadly many of whom are quite young, from being permanently maimed or killed.
"The recent statistics released by the National Occupational Health & Safety Commission indicated that two workers die each week on Australian farms. 35 bystanders, mainly children, die. 18 visitors are killed each year. Over 1,000 workers suffer serious and permanent injury.
"It is all our interests to turn around these devastating statistics which have a major impact on our community and families, particularly when they lose a spouse or a child, a family member or friend.
The information hotline which is being launched on Sunday, will encourage both employers and employees to seek advice on how to make their workplaces safer.
The Hotline Number is 1800 300 377
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005