Dolan was ACTU President from 1980 to 1985. He was also a Vice-President and served on the ACTU Executive for nine years. Mr Dolan became ACTU President after Bob Hawke moved into Federal politics.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said Cliff Dolan had a lifelong commitment to working people and to promoting the role of unions in Australian society.
"Cliff started his working life as an electrician and went on to become one of the most respected people ever to represent working people," she said. "He was hard-working, a good negotiator, and a person of great integrity. Cliff had a vision of a better future for Australia and he always worked towards that vision."
Cliff Dolan began his work for unions when he joined the Electrical Trades Union. He became a full-time officer in the NSW branch of the ETU in 1949 and became Federal Secretary in 1964. Mr Dolan was also a member of the tripartite National Labour Consultative Council, and the governing body of the International Labour Organisation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Bill Mansfield, who worked on the ACTU Executive with Mr Dolan, said he made an important contribution to improving Australia's skills base by promoting vocational training and skills development, particularly in the electrical industry.
"Cliff's legacy has been to enrich the working lives of young Australians through vocational training. That is an outstanding contribution and one that his family will always be proud of," said Mr Mansfield. "Personally, I will always remember Cliff for his great personal dignity and his unfailing desire to help people in any way he could."
The Federal Secretary of the ETU, Peter Tighe, also paid tribute today to his predecessor.
"Electrical workers today will shed a tear of sorrow when they hear that Cliff has passed away," he said. "No greater servant have they had. Cliff's work for ETU members and other unionists will long be remembered."
The drivers, members of the rail, Tram and Bus Union, have been seeking a meeting with NSW POlice Minister Paul Whelan for several weeks.
The drivers say that motorists are flouting the law and putting extra pressure on them to meet their timetables.
Worst areas are through the city, the Harbour Bridge, Epping Highway and Pacific Highway.
"We've been trying to get these lanes policed since 1997 and we're told there's not enough police to do the jobs," bus driver and RTBU delegate Bob Weir says.
"The timetables presume we get a free run through the bus-only lanes, but the lanes are clogged with cars that shouldn't be there.
"We're now at the point where enough is enough - we've been talking about this for years and it's time for some action."
The Charter, developed by the ACTU, sets down basic standards for wages, conditions, health and safety as well as career development.
The Tasmanian Government has offered its support to the Charter as a basis for all industrial agreements covering government and agency call centers.
Bacon says "it is appropriate that Tasmanian agencies be required to give consideration to whether or not a call center meets the Minimum Standards criteria when contracting their services.
The NSW Local Government Association has also endorsed the charter and says it will give preference to call centers that have signed off on it when awarding contracts.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow welcomed the LGA's move.
"This is an important industry for Australia, and we are trying to ensure that it grows in a way that rewards Australians with high skilled, quality job opportunities," Burrow says.
The support the Association provides will reward those call centres that do the right thing by their employees and will encourage the industry to take the high road as it grows." .
NSW Unions are now calling on the Carr Government to sign off on the charter and follow Tasmania's lead in ensuring call center workers get a fair go.
The minimum standards and Charter were released by the ACTU last month as a basis for improving the quality of jobs in the call centre industry. Several call centers have already signed on.
by Zoe Reynolds
No funding has been allocated to the merchant marine and the Maritime Union has warned that this could lead to the ridiculous scenario where Australian soldiers equipped like Terminator II are starved to death before the enemy gets a shot at them.
"Who is the Government going to call on to supply the Australian soldiers and navy?" asked MUA Acting National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.
"Shonky foreign vessels like the Bunga Teratai Satu, that was stuck on our Great Barrier Reef for 12 days? The XL that set fire off Port Hedland in November? We need Australian ships with Australian crew to serve our future war efforts and help defend our country."
The government has ignored the merchant marine at its own peril. A comprehensive report Dunkirk to Dili: Maritime Union of Australia Submission to Defence Review 2000 - Our Future Defence Force highlights the strategic role the Australian Merchant Marine plays in wartime.
One in eight Australian seafarers died during World War II. As Major General PJ Cosgrove, commander INTERFET confirmed when he wrote to personally thank Maritime Union employees for their support during the INTERFET deployment in East Timor. "Many civilian ships have carried valuable people, equipment and supplies to the deployed forces, without which our logistic build up would have been severely hampered," (October 15, 1999)
The US Government via the Jones Act recognises the strategic importance of their merchant marine allocating $10 billion to ship building and operating program over the next 10 years.
Unions, business people, politicians and ordinary citizens are rallying around seven workers set to lose their jobs when the company shuts it's Corporate Shared Services unit in the town next month. The workers - popularly tagged the Wagga Seven - have rejected offers of redundancy, or relocation to Brisbane, to spearhead the fight against Telstra's program of rural closures.
More than 1000 Wagga Wagga residents signed a petition opposing the proposed closure within two hours of it hitting the streets this morning. The petition was the first shot in a campaign launched by the CPSU Communications Union, in conjunction with the Wagga Trades and Labour Council, and enthusiastically supported by local councillors, state and federal politicians.
CPSU organiser Andrew Hillard said he had been "astonished" by the strength of feeling in the southern NSW community.
"Almost everyone signed the petition and many added unsolicited comments that left no doubts about the strength of their feelings," he reported. "In the space of 24 hours we have had unequivocal support from local people, businesses and civic leaders."
Federal Member, Kay Hulls, pledged to raise the issue in the National Party caucus and to personally take up the closures with Telstra chief executive officer, Dr Ziggy Zwitkowski.
State MLA, Daryl McGuire, has also backed the union-led campaign.
Mr Hillard said the campaign had "stepped up another gear" after a town meeting, supported by the local council, in Wagga Wagga's Union Hotel last night.
by HT Lee
However, the Federal Minister for Industrial Relations Peter Reith wants to get rid of this important family day--he says they are a thing of the past.
Building workers and their families disagree--the family is never a thing of the past and they were very outspoken about this, especially their partners and children. This is the one day of the year where they can get together with their family, enjoy themselves and also catch up with mates they have not seen for a while.
Building workers work in one of the most dangerous, physically arduous industries in Australia. They often work ten hours a day, six days a week and miss out on quality time with their families.
The union picnic day which was won back in 1962 after decades of struggle and building workers will be defending this important achievement.
What you can do:
Ring Peter Reith in Canberra on (02) 6277 7320 or at his Melbourne office on (03) 5979 3188 and let him know what you think of his proposal.
Appeal to the Democrats to defend the industry picnic day. Get your kids to ring the Democrats who have the balance of power in the Australian Senate:
· Senator Vicki Bourne (02) 9247 3377
· Senator Aden Ridgeway (02) 9818 8422
Under its Living Wage Case 2001, the ACTU will argue that Australia's lowest-paid workers have been hit hard by rising petrol prices, GST price hikes and interest rates increases and need a significant pay rise to maintain their living standards.
"The economy may be doing well but many low-paid workers are being left behind. They missed out under the Government's tax cuts and now face higher interest rates, $1 a litre petrol and GST price hikes. They need a decent pay rise just to make ends meet," said ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.
Combet says that despite its strong economic performance Australia was facing a serious risk of developing an American style class of working poor. A Smith Family study on poverty in Australia released last month, revealed that the numbers of working families living in poverty is growing.
More than 42% of Australian families living in poverty now have one or both adults working and wages are now the main source of income in one in five Australian families that live below the poverty line.
Combet challenged the Howard Government to get serious about ensuring the low-paid a fair share of the benefits of economic growth and support the ACTU claim.
If successful, the ACTU's claim would increase the federal minimum wage from $400 to $428 a week and would benefit between 1.5 and 2 million low-paid workers who rely on minimum award rate increases. A decision on the case is expected in April 2001.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union was joined by other manufacturing unions and community groups at the rallies for Campaign 2001, which aims to deliver better job security, protection of workers entitlements, wage rises and a common expiry date.
NSW State Secretary Secretary of the AMWU, Paul Bastian says the stop work action is just the start of a long campaign by manufacturing workers across Australia.
``Campaign 2001 is about three core issues - job security, protection of workers savings and entitlements when companies go bust and for a better way of life for workers and their families.'' Bastian says.
He says workers in the manufacturing sector are not going to just sit back and wait for the next ``National Textiles'' or ``STP'' whereby shonky corporate takeovers or collapses see workers saving and entitlements get lost.
``The big issues facing our members will not be sorted out at the enterprise level, and it is time that the employers in our industry sat around the table with us and we came up with some real answers for workers.''
Rallies were held in QLD, NSW, Tasmania and South
One of the key issues in the AMWU's log of claims is the establishment of ``Manusafe'', a trust fund for the protection of workers savings and entitlements that employers would be required to pay into so that workers would not lose money when companies went bust or changed hands.
Bastian says that the AMWU expected a hysterical response from the Minister for Workplace Relations Peter Reith, but the community believes in fair and decent outcomes for workers, and that many working families were feeling betrayed by the present industrial relations system.
``Politicians and employers need to understand that it is getting harder and harder for many working families to keep their heads above water, and a lot of workers feel that enterprise bargaining has left them behind and failed them.'' He says.
``This industry campaign is about the issues that are impacting on the broader community - job insecurity and needing to have a decent pay packet to take home to the family.'']
by Mary Yaager
Angry Waste Workers and their families held a protest outside the Liverpool Council this week over the failure of the Labor Councillors to consider the workers and their families in a recent decision to award its waste contract to a shonky company.
Wayne Forno, TWU Sydney Sub-Branch Secretary said "It is a disgrace that the Mayor, George Paciullo and other Labor Councillors awarded the contract to another company despite giving assurances to the TWU that these workers would not lose their jobs."
Wayne Forno went on to say "The purpose of today's demonstration is to heap shame on the Liverpool Councillors.
Since February this year when the TWU first learnt a new contract was being put to tender,they have been trying to get a commitment from the Mayor and the Council that the jobs and entitlements of the current contractors would be protected.
The TWU condemns the Mayor and Councilors for their failure to consider the interest of these hard working Australians and their families.
Angie ,a wife of one of the workers at the protest said "I can't believe the attitude of the Mayor or the other Councilors and I will never vote for them again. .This has had a devastating effect on our family with Brandon losing his job right on Xmas . Brandon has really put his guts into this job but has now totally lost his self esteem " she went on to say
Wayne Forno said "this fight won' t stop here we plan to mount a major campaign against the current Liverpool Councillors."
The action moved into the court this week with the National Tertiary Education Union lodging a claim in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Union, which represents staff off Australian universities, argues that the float of Melbourne IT, and the resulting paper profits flowing to members of the University Council, raised a number of serious questions about the ways in which Council decisions are made, and the relationship between university governance and commercial decision-making.
`It's in the public interest that questions about the decision-making processes at the University are resolved, ' NTEU national president Graeme McCulloch says..'
`The University of Melbourne is a public university established under state legislation and receiving over $300 million each year in Commonwealth funding," he says.
"Its considerable assets have been developed primarily through public support. Therefore, the community has a strong stake in how it is governed and how its assets are managed.'
McCulloch says he hopes the case will contribute to greater transparency and accountability in the operations of universities more generally.
"With universities increasingly behaving like corporations and using `commercial-in-confidence' provisions in relation to financial decision-making, it is important that staff and students are able to participate fully in decisions that affect their teaching and learning environment."
"It is also important that the general public is confident that such decisions are being made in the best interests of the public university. We believe this case is important in reinforcing those principles."
The shortlist was released this week by Labourstart with an online ballot to be conducted up to December 31.
Workers Online is joined in the Top 12 by the NSW Teachers Federation, who site was also built by LaborNet partners Social Change Online.
Reith adviser Mary Jo Fischer after the historic vote
The controversial decision was made as new revelations of Reith's performance during the Telecard Affair came to light.
Media reports suggest that during questioning in Parliament, Reith's hands trembled, requiring him to use two hands to take a sip of water. The behaviour was deemed to constitute a 'drinking problem' under the rarely sited rules of the IR writers, grounds for a vote of 'no confidence'.
When the vote was completed, Reith was removed and the position of patron reverted back to his predecessor Labor's Laurie Brereton.
In a televised address to the dinner, Brereton accepted the post with regret, before announcing this year's winner of the prestigious White Golliwog, the Australian Financial Review's Stephen Long. Long was nominated after a keyword search found he had used the phrase 'landmark' in the lead paragraph of no less than 63 stories over the past four years.
Among the other winners:
* Workplace Express's David Vincent picked up the Golden Thing Award for fashion. He was nominated for his continued commitment to dressing down.
* Peter Reith's press secretary Ian Hanke again wrestled the Sour Lemon Award for best/worst media adviser out of the grasps of the ACTU> Reith adviser Mary Jo Fischer was on hand to accept the award and offer Australian Workplace Agreements to all present at the dinner.
* AAP's Natalie Davidson picked up the Best Newcomer in the Cul-de-Sac Award, narrowly staving off a challenge from the ABC's Ron Fuller. The celebrations were tempered by the recognition that they are the only two Sydney reporters left on the IR round.
* and the SMH's Brad Norington was awarded the Golden Egg-Beater for his series of front page scoops on the guide to workplace relations that encouraged public sector encouraged managers to lie and cheat. Both the Reith and Beavis entourages lobbied strongly for Norington.
Send us your predications for what will happen in 2001 in politics, the unions, sport and other fields of human endeavour.
We'll publish the best and come back in 12 months to see who's got the third eye.
Speaking of predictions, Arch bevis is running his own peter reith Tipping Competition.
"Peter Reith has put in a Gold Medal performance as the country's most unpopular public figure," Bevis says.
"Having failed to get his 2nd Wave and other IR laws through Parliament the likelihood of a new job for Peter in Santa's
sack this year is high. (The Leadership Baton he got a couple of years ago seems to be broken now)".
* AUSTRALIA'S MOST UNPOPULAR PUBLIC FIGURES Source: Rehame Australia:
- PETER REITH Telecard Scandal 1,100 TALKBACK CALLS IN 10 DAYS. 801 HAD AN OPINION. 98% Negative
- MAL COLSTON Dropping of fraud charges 110 TALKBACK CALLS IN 6 MONTHS. 92 HAD AN OPINION. 97% Negative
- KEVAN GOSPER Sophie's torch run 360 TALKBACK CALLS IN 22 DAYS. 219 HAD AN OPINION. 92% Negative
Don't just be a spectator. This is your opportunity to join in the fun as Peter Reith starts to slide out the back door.
QUESTION 1: What Portfolio (if any) will Santa deliver to Peter Reith?
QUESTION 2: Who will Australian workers find in their 'stockings' on Christmas day as the new industrial relations Minister?
Prizes will be awarded for both the correct and the most creative response!
In each case the prize will be a $5 Telstra Phone Card. (Sorry the budget doesn't run to the $50,000 model.)
Entries should be forwarded to Arch's office by Wednesday 20 December 2000 - mailto:David.Tansey@aph.gov.au
Early Favourites forNew IR Minister:
- John Fahey - a dark horse with NSW form in this type of race. 2 to 1
- Nick Minchin - after a dazzling time wowing them in industry, is he the PM's choice? Has he got what it takes to train the Rottweillers? 4 to 1
- Tony Abbott an outside chance, prefers a muddy track. 50 to 1
Pete's new job:
- Minister for Telecommunications SCRATCHED
- Return to his pre-election job as comedian Eric Morecambe 100 to 1
The South Coast Labour Council will have a special meeting on Wed 13th Dec to hear a statement from the President of the Labour Council Mike Dwyer. It is expected that Mike will announce his resignation from this position. This decision comes after many many years of fighting cancer.
All union and community activists are invited to attend this meeting which will be held at the Illawarra Master Builders Club, Church Street Wollongong at 6.30 pm.
A strong advocate for a united and outward looking union movement, Mike has made an outstanding contribution to the union movement on the coast as a union delegate (Teachers Federation Rep); organizer for the NSW Teachers Federation and president of the South Coast Labour Council. He is a life member of both the NSW Teachers Federation and the SCLC. We hope you can join us in paying tribute to a wonderful unionist and human being.
Melbourne historian Dr Bernard Barrett has written a report entitled "Beating up", analysing the role of the police and the news media at the World Economic Forum protests in Melbourne in September 2000.
He examines the early media coverage of the protest plans from June to August 2000, which "beat up" an expectation of violence. He then examines all TV coverage of September 11-13 and finds that this footage depicts only punches and blows perpetrated by the police and none by civilians. The Barrett Report is on the Victorian WTO Watch web site:
As a delivery driver, I travel all over the Sydney Metropolitian area and recently I came across several industrious council workers and as these workers are much maligned as parisites and bludgers , I thought I would do my good deed and commend these fellow battlers. I wrote to Parramatta Council and the Local Paper , the Parramatta Advertiser commending these Council Workers, whom I had seen industriously working away in stressful circumstances at Wentworthworth Ave , Wentworthville. (June2000)
What a contrast to the debacle displayed by workers employed by the same council on Woodville Road / Spring Garden Street Granville , on Thursday November 30 , at around 9:30am.
Here we had workers walking in and out of the heavy traffic in the inside lane, there were workers, on the road, gesticulating and arguing with each other, oblivious to the fast moving heavy vehicles. There was inappropriate and deceptive signage's, including a "Road Closed" sign on the inside lane of Woodville Road.
It was obvious that an accident had not occurred, only through divine intervention, rather than the disgracefully dangerous traffic control system in place at the time.
I was tempted to contact the police traffic division and complain, but I took the easy way out, preferring not to get involved. I only hope that no one was injured because of the brief and regretted irresponsible neglect of my Civic Duty in reporting that which I believe to be criminal.
I can only pray that the apparent lack of value put on the safety of these workers, by their supervisory staff, was an aberration, and not indicative of some underlying behaviors so common today with dictatorial and oppressive employers particularly when dealing with those who appear to be intellectually challenged?
It would appear there is a pervasive death wish encompassing this organization, because, on Tuesday, the 5th December, while doing a trip from Parramatta to Liverpool, along Woodville Road , these same workers were on the road again , without any protection whatsoever .
What happened to Unions looking after their members or does this Local Government Industry have too many members and it is attempting to discard a few?
Or perhaps it is another case of domestic/political blindness when it suits the purpose or the pocket!
So the job has finally been done Labor has sold out the thousands of former supporters who send their kids to our once great Public School system.
The sell out by this no policy no philosophy "New Labor" party has finally closed the small divide between our two conservative parties, conservative Labor and conservative Liberal. There is now no reason to vote for Labor as distinct from the coalition.
The lack of leadership on the schools funding issue has been your downfall. The lobbying of the private schools be they Catholic or other is obviously more important to the Labor party than the cries of the parents of the 70% of kids going to government schools. You have sold them out for four years and no amount of posturing by Beazley going into next years election will rectify this.
I cast my last vote for Labor in New South Wales at the election before last. I have cast my last vote now for Labor federally . No guts no Christmas pudding. Sorry guys but because I know there will be no stomach to define a true policy of roll back in funding for private schools in the forthcoming election my vote and my lobbying will be for a party or parties which better represent the people.
So the job has finally been done Labor has sold out the thousands of former supporters who send their kids to our once great Public School system.
The sell out by this no policy no philosophy "New Labor" party has finally closed the small divide between our two conservative parties, conservative Labor and conservative Liberal. There is now no reason to vote for Labor as distinct from the coalition.
The lack of leadership on the schools funding issue has been your downfall. The lobbying of the private schools be they Catholic or other is obviously more important to the Labor party than the cries of the parents of the 70% of kids going to government schools. You have sold them out for four years and no amount of posturing by Beazley going into next years election will rectify this.
I cast my last vote for Labor in New South Wales at the election before last. I have cast my last vote now for Labor federally . No guts no Christmas pudding. Sorry guys but because I know there will be no stomach to define a true policy of roll back in funding for private schools in the forthcoming election my vote and my lobbying will be for a party or parties which better represent the people.
read with amazement the utter crap about Mr Martin McGuinness ;"Concerns About Fundraising" Workers on line December 1.
Nothing could be further from the truth , I attended a function at Trades Hall here in Brisbane addressed by Mr McGuinness and was extremely enamoured by his abilty to empathise with the audience. There were something like 200 at the meeting which is pretty good for Brisbane, especially as it was $25/20 to get in. The TLC secretary spoke welcoming McGuinnes and pledging the support of the Trade Union Movement for the "peace process". Before McGuinness spoke a group of aboriginal dancers welcomed with the traditional dances and songs. I am sorry for any readers who have not seen a genuine dance group in action. The music and the gestures are thousands of years old. It reminds the whites of a past before colonialism and it is humbling to see it survive.
After the address Martin mingled with some of the dignatories and some say that he has offered his professional electoral services to the Queensland Branch of the A.L.P.
He produced the following newsclippings as a reference to his abilities in collecting votes.
McGuinness 'elected by vote-rigging'
A former Sinn Fein election organiser has claimed that Martin McGuinness got into politics, thanks to systematic vote-stealing by republicans. Willie Carlin, a key Sinn Fein worker from 1982 to 1985, says a decisive 2,700 votes were cast fraudulently for the present Northern Ireland education minister by party supporters in the 1982 Stormont assembly elections.
Later, a party was organised for the election workers and Carlin alleges that a plaque was presented to the person who had voted the most times. The winner, a woman, had cast 67 ballots, just two ahead of the runner-up, he said.
Carlin, who was secretly working as a British intelligence agent within Sinn Fein, said he was proud of his role and now supported Sinn Fein. Recently, he returned to Londonderry for the first time in 15 years to show a BBC camera crew how he had organised electoral malpractice with the full knowledge of his British Army paymasters, who believed it would help maintain his cover.
Carlin's revelations were broadcast in the BBC Spotlight current affairs programme. The Spotlight team has invited the two Sinn Fein leaders with whom Carlin worked most closely, McGuinness and Mitchel McLaughlin, to comment, but so far they have not. In his first crucial election in 1982 McGuinness secured 8,207 votes and was elected on the first count.
"We not only ran a system of personation and stealing votes and vote-rigging - we closed polling stations through violence at 8.05pm in Rosemount. When our vote was out, drained and exhausted, personation done, stealing done, we knew we could get no more out of it," Carlin said. "People were told to 'get up there and start a row because there are only SDLP voters left."
Afterwards, Carlin briefed the Northern Ireland Office on how the Sinn Fein personation campaign was carried out so that it could change the law, bringing in new systems of voter identification to stamp out the abuse.
In 1985, Carlin was a community leader in the Gobnascale area of Londonderry and Sinn Fein planned to make him a council candidate. "I am convinced that if I had stayed in place I would now be in Stormont with Martin and Mitchel."
Carlin's intelligence was valuable because he was able to give his handlers an inside knowledge of Sinn Fein thinking, during a period when the government was in secret contact with the group. "I was told that my reports were sometimes read in cabinet and that they believed I would have gone right to the top of Sinn Fein if I had stayed on."
There seems little doubt of that since he had all the qualifications -- a liar, a cheat and closely allied to murder!
Perhaps he could be invited back for our next Federal Election?
As a committed socialist and one who finds the policies and direction as laid out by the New South Wales Labor Council a path easy to traverse. It pains me, to find my self in disagreement with the thoughts of the Council as promulgated on the issue of Union Picnic days.
While totally opposed to the latest "Reith Attack", on hard-earned conditions, I believe that the argument for discriminatory conditions because of an employee's affiliation is totally out of order.
How can the Labor Council argue on one hand that people should be rewarded on merit, (whatever that wank of a word means), and on the other hand be rewarded for political affiliations e.g.: Trade Unions.
If this is the recognized method of reward, why not an extra ride on the goat for "Freemasons", or some spiritual indulgence for "The Knights of Malta" , come of it Michael you can do better than that. This philosophy is only dividing the potential membership further and playing into the hands of the three stooges, Howard , Reith and Costello.
I believe you might find more succor from potential members by combating the rising incidence covert and in some cases overt racism and harassment because of the cultural differences of these vulnerable employees. Particularly when it is blatantly obvious that the perpetrators are being protected by naive, inadequate or mischievous Union representatives , under the putrescent guise of spurious comradeship..
How can a Union justify to its members, never mind those who may want to join - The discriminatory practices of such associations, and those that would vilify because of race or ostracize for dissent?
Come on Michael, this "Picnic Issue", is another wild goose chase that "The Three Stooges" are leading us on. The issues at your level of involvement are more pressing and urgent than this.
The Union Movement like the A.L.P. must submit to a purge, it must harshly discard the parasitical drones and rebuild the hive. It must cleanse its self of the paralysis ticks.
Nepotism and cronyism are like incest, the offspring are retarded, deformed, and useless, the Union gene base must be expanded, not today, or tomorrow, but yesterday.
This will be an arduous task and will certainly be no picnic!
by Peter Lewis
What is a former Keating Minister doing running a jobs network, a concept that would have been anathema to the government when you were in power?
Well, the first thing to say is that the Job Network enjoys now a large measure of cross-party support. I notice that Cheryl Kernot distributed a letter to Job Network members only this week, in which she expressed her support for the Job Network. I think that the major focus of the Opposition seems to be on an independent monitoring authority and a greater level of accountability for the Job Network, and insofar as Job Futures are concerned, we are quite comfortable with that.
For my part, on a personal level, I went through a period of unemployment after the loss of my seat in parliament in 1996 - and it was a substantial period of unemployment, and through no fault of my own. I guess there just needed to be a little passage of time before I was eventually able to secure a position working in the not-for-profit area, which is an area that I was particularly committed to. That period of unemployment hit me in the same way it hits every other person, - even with a strong academic background and a lifetime of experience in dealing with different situations - I went through a period of depression; a period of loss of confidence. Eventually I secured this position with Job Futures, which is a national not-for-profit network. I guess upon reflection that period of unemployment was almost meant to be, because it has given me a very strong commitment to tackle these issues. And that is honestly what's happened.
· When Labor was in power the CES was the central body that would run employment services. So argue the good case for the Job Network. Why through a Labor prism is this Job Network a better model?
Well, I have to make it absolutely clear that in my life these days - I have I put my active politically involvement behind me. My job is to relate to government and opposition; to people from all walks of life. But I think the important point to make here is that again, there is a large measure of cross-party support for the Job Network. Why? In part I think it is because the world has moved on - for better or for worse, whatever the original circumstances for the creation of the Job Network. The fact is that it does enjoy a very large measure of support in the community. I don't frankly think that there is going to be a turning back of that, whatever the circumstances of the original creation. I think both sides of politics now make that clear.
There are, I think, some very strong advantages of the current system. The most important is the active involvement of the not-for-profit sector in the Job Network and the potential that that has for enriching and strengthening the capacity of the community to get people jobs, and to get long-term unemployed people back to work. And I don't run away from that. I've seen it work; I've seen the energy, the dynamism; and I think that that needs to be clearly recognized, as indeed both sides of politics do.
There are some areas, however, where the Job Network is failing long-term unemployed people. I don't want to dwell on the negatives but one area that must be spoken of is the position of indigenous people. The secretary of the Department of Employment & Workplace Relations and Small Business, Dr. Peter Schergold, who happens to be a former CEO of ATSIC, has come out with a scathing criticism of the Job Network's failure to address the position of indigenous people. We have to try and work very closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and with the Department to lift the game of the Network. We see it, as the government I think does, as an important priority area.
· Just for those that aren't across Job Futures, who are your basic constituents and what is your vision for a job creation network?
Job Futures is a national not-for-profit network of community based organisations and the membership includes a diverse range of organisations from big and powerful and influential organisations like the Brotherhood of St Lawrence in Melbourne, renowned I suppose for its fierce advocacy of social justice, to smaller community-based organizations that are very influential in their local communities. These include Work Ventures, based in Surry Hills, and MTC Marrickville. These are organisations essentially that emanated from originally small, local community groups. Some of them were skill-share organizations, others evolved from community-based organisations operating outside employment services, but the common feature of all of them is the local community links.
For my part as the CEO of this organisation, I'm trying to drive the process of strengthening those community links and building on them right across the country. I think they are quite fundamental in opening up employment opportunities for people. If you have got an employment organisation operating in the local community, which is in touch with local employers, the local Chamber of Commerce, politicians from all different political parties, trade unions, education providers - that opens up a great network of contacts that helps get people jobs and it helps keep our community based organisations in touch with their communities and makes them more effective.
· What is the main challenge running an organisation that is effectively a group of community organisations, and having to be their advocate on a much more national and large scale?
Well, it is a tremendous challenge because we are not a monolithic body where some edict can be issued from central command. And I don't think that's a problem. I think it is actually a tremendous strength in that we really have a degree of diversity reflecting the communities in which our member organisations operate. There are some 45 of them around the country. We want to build and grow our network, but what we have been doing over the last six months is strengthening the links between those organisations and lifting the standards of performance and service of all our members by building networks and relationships between the operational people in the members to ensure that we provide an even higher standard of service. But you are right to say yes, it is a tremendous administrative and organizational challenge, but it is one that I am passionately committed to and enjoying very much.
· One of the things that you have done is sign off on an agreement with the trade union movement. That is basically a strategic relationship. What is your thinking behind that?
First and foremost, we are committed to building networks, relationships and practical methods of cooperating with others that we see in the not-for-profit sector, where we can operate essentially for the common good and for mutual advantage. So, in that regard, what we have done is revamp and reorganize some earlier relationship agreements that were intended to proceed with the NSW Labor Council to ensure that there are no political or legal problems. Although the idea for a relationship with the NSW Labor Council was not mine - it is one that I warmly welcome, and I particularly welcome the constructive approach that has been taken by the Secretary, Michael Costa, and by Chris Christodoulou in working with our members. We realize we have a big responsibility to give effect to that relationship and I look forward to talking to affiliates of the Labor Council in the New Year about how we might advance the agenda.
What we are seeking to do is to ensure that at Job Futures, that we are ready, willing and able to provide outplacement services to workers who have lost or who are in danger of losing their jobs in the near future, to ensure that get the counseling, both financial and otherwise, the training and upskilling; the capacity to be able to get a job and to remain out of the ranks of the long-term unemployed.
When people lose their job it can often be a time of great crisis, especially when people have been in a job for 10 or 15 years; perhaps in their 30s or 40s and find themselves out of work. They may not have any skills in writing a job application; preparing a resume, and losing your job is a very debilitating thing. People often get very angry, understandably so; but all these things have got to be dealt with and if people are going to get back into the labour force. So, another relationship that we are exploring as a part of all this is our relationship with Chifley Financial Services because we see financial counseling and support as another very important backup for workers who have lost their jobs.
· It is a tough call though isn't it? You see someone say, in a mine out in central western NSW and we know that there is a shortage of 40,000 IT workers. How do you get that person to take up that opportunity?
It is extraordinarily difficult in some cases, especially when people have their links in the community where they may have lived for a long period of time. And we don't pretend that we can wave a magic wand. What we do however say, is that we know the labour market, we know the feelings that people have and the detail of the situation people find themselves in when they lose their job. What we are able to do is essentially put before people all the available options that will enable them to take the best decision they can and exercise the best choice they can to get a job. Now sometimes that involves some hard choices and there are no simple answers in lots of cases, but we are committed to that outplacement service which we see as an absolute fundamental to opening up those choices for workers who do lose their jobs.
· If you look at the stats, all the economic indicators say that it is a buoyant job market at the moment. Being on the ground, does that accord with what you are seeing?
Well, it is a buoyant job market in some parts of Australia - Sydney is obviously a case in point. But if you look at other parts of the country, and I have just come back in the last week from Tasmania, there things are very different indeed. It is important to understand that it is a big country, there are lots of different labour markets and that is why local knowledge of those conditions is important. It is not all a bright picture, although some signs are encouraging, and that is to be welcomed.
· One of the big issues that is consuming a lot of time in the union movement at the moment is the yearning for job security amongst workers. What is your take on this debate?
That is obviously an area of frontline interest to the trade union movement, and obviously as an organisation involving employment services we want to see people in well paid jobs in which they are treated well, which have long-term career prospects. But there are limitations on what we are able to do to advance that agenda. I think that it is a very rapidly changing world and the more skills people have, the more they will be able to cope with change and with evolving conditions. I mean, I just think about my little boy who is eight years old and goes to school down at Shellharbour. What kind of life do I want him to have, and how do I want him to go through life? I have to say, the more skills he has; the more education; the more capacity he has to adapt to change; the more secure his life prospects are going to be.
And even in my own case, I think it is important to learn more; to undertake more courses; find new skills; and that is an important part of coping with the change process.
by Aidan White
The optimism and over-blown enthusiasm for information technology of five years ago has given way within the trade union movement and the media industry to a more sober assessment of change not least because the pace of change is much slower than predicted.
Journalists' unions are uniquely well placed to take advantage of new technologies and should be in the vanguard of mobilising this new workforce. Our members are a wired community with greater use of e-mail and Internet than almost any other sector of employment.
In addition, if we look at the profile of global news and information services, such as those being developed by major national broadcasters like the BBC and CNN and the major news agencies such as Reuters, AP and AFP, we find that it is traditional media employers who are among the leaders in opening up new on-line information markets.
Therefore, for many of us the issue is about reshaping our existing organising base to fit a landscape being developed essentially by our current employers.
Although the final shape of the new information economy is not distinct, and many media employers are now rethinking their web-based strategies, there are some things about which we can sure:
Firstly, journalism is not in decline, far from it. Our jobs are changing, of course, but dire predictions of the imminent demise of traditional journalism have been proved wrong.
The Internet gives greater choice and on-line services offer a new information menu for consumers, and in just a few short years we have seen how traditional media outlets - major newspapers, global broadcasters, news agencies - have transformed themselves into models of convergence offering a selection of mediums for their information.
People still need a professional filter to provide them with information in digestible chunks, perhaps even more so in the overloaded information economy. Today we see opportunities in journalism expanding: there are more jobs and more outlets.
Secondly, on-line journalism is challenging the traditional models of trade union organisation as well as redefining the priorities for collective bargaining.
We see the erosion of working conditions brought on by technological change and changing patterns of employment.
New problems arise, including issues of control, privacy and health. Stress, for instance, has become a major factor, not least because of demands for multi-skilling and flexibility in working arrangements.
Almost all journalists' unions - including those in the poorest regions - recognise that authors' rights, the right of journalists to be paid fairly for the reuse of their work, is a priority when it comes to bargaining. This is a major question for freelances and for staff members who increasingly see their material being reused either in information databanks or in other on-line and CD-Rom formats.
Thirdly, new forms of journalism are changing attitudes to work and to quality of content among journalists.
According to the European Commission there are some 9,000,000 on-line workers in Europe, the majority of them working in temporary forms of employment.
"Atypical" is no longer appropriate to describe employment types that are rapidly becoming mainstream. The IFJ earlier this year published a worldwide survey that revealed how freelance journalism is the fastest-growing sector of employment. Today journalists have to accept short-term, temporary and casual jobs in a market that is ferociously competitive.
A rising number of young workers now actively seek self-employment rather than long-term careers in large enterprises. These new young workers have no expectation of a steady job. They are adapting to an employment market that driven by the need for cost savings and higher productivity depends upon on flexibility and short-term contracts with paltry social benefits, if any.
Large, hierarchical firms with discrete boundaries and relatively stable job descriptions and employment security are giving way to the flattening of organisational models. New technologies remove the constraints of time and distance. And the need for physical channels of communication. Already half the workforce in the wealthiest countries in Europe is employed in information handling. The content of work everywhere is more knowledge-based and less physical. This applies to broadcasting techniques as much as it does to car production.
Too often, many of the newcomers to journalism do not recognise that they are working in journalism at all.
As a result, the ethical values of journalism are also being whittled away through the erosion of secure employment.
The process of globalisation has increased competition for all business and none more so than in journalism. Now that time and space are not obstacles to competing, "time-to market" has become the critical source of competitive advantage.
In journalism this is reflected in the broadcasting network obsession with "breaking news" - the "scoop" culture whereby competitive news reporting is less and less subject to critical and ethical evaluation before publication, but depends entirely upon gaining competitive edge with instant and dramatic images of news "as it happens". We all like to be first, but quality and standards should not suffer in the race to publish.
Union Strategies for On-line Organising
The challenges for media unions representing workers in the knowledge economy can be set out as follows:
1. To develop better ways of communicating with and recruiting on-line journalists, using web-based technology and tools;
2. To put rights of on-line workers into the mainstream of union demands (access to corporate e-mail systems, including teleworkers; rights of free access to the Internet and corporate intranets -- so they can log on to union sites and other sites with information of value to their rights -- and an effective ban on electronic monitoring by the employer of worker e-mails or web-sites visited).
3. To rework established standards: including multiple-choice models for employees suited to employee requirements for flexibility (37-hour week model in Denmark: maintains standard but allows destandardised approach in application for different workers over different time periods)
4. To rekindle identification with unions: focus on continued need for worker protection with new services from trade unions using web-based technology including:
· More timely and regular information (daily bulletins, not weekly) advertising more tailored and individual services with solidarity information ("cyberstrikes") and access to networks that provide job opportunities or cover specialist needs;
· Establishing union call centres to provide advice "surgeries" for members on a 24-hour basis to mirror journalism shifts.
Above all, unions need to provide more efficient and effective ways of delivering information on
Ø Salaries and terms of conditions,
Ø Model contracts,
Ø Authors rights,
Ø Legal advice,
Ø Pensions and social protection
Ø Training issues.
Increased labour mobility means that workers cannot rely upon their employer to fulfil their social protection needs, for example for pensions and health care. Unions need to examine ways in which national social security systems can be adapted to meet the needs of workers who are moving around the media labour market.
It is no answer to believe that traditional methods of bargaining built upon the stability of a single model of employment will work in future. Indeed, in the years to come such fixed ideas will be increasingly irrelevant to the new workforce of on-line journalists.
Finally, we should be positive about the changes taking place. On line journalism is giving a new lease of life to journalism. We should have new opportunities to restore public confidence in quality, timely and accurate information.
Above all, we have new opportunities for work. Whether those jobs will be professionally worthwhile and able to meet basic labour standards will depend on how unions themselves adapt to the process of change.
Their joint statement, "Pathways to work: preventing and reducing long-term unemployment" is a collaborative effort which began with discussions held in June this year, hosted by the Business Council of Australia. The "Pathways Statement" is released today (Wednesday 6 December) to coincide with letters to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and every member of Parliament seeking their support.
The Coalition consists of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS); the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU); the Boston Consulting Group (BCG); the Business Council of Australia (BCA); the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA); the Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF); Jobs Australia (JA Ltd); and the Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne.
The "Pathways Statement" argues that economic growth of itself has not and will not deliver the conditions necessary for tackling long-term unemployment. Although this period of growth in our economy has brought with it significant reductions in overall unemployment, unemployment benefit statistics reveal a worrying trend that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for more than 12 months has barely fallen over the past five years, and stood at 385,000 in September 2000.
The "Pathways Statement" identifies the need for action in three key areas, including:
1. Ensuring a successful transition from education to employment. All young people should have access to education, training and employment opportunities delivering Year 12 completion or its equivalent, as a minimum expectation for making a successful transition from school.
2. Ensuring a successful transition from retrenchment to re-employment. Employers, unions, Government, and employment assistance and training providers, should work together at the local and regional level to assist workers facing retrenchment who are at high risk of long-term unemployment.
3. Reducing long-term unemployment. To achieve this the Government should, as part of its response to the McClure Report on Welfare Reform, substantially boost its investment in employment and training assistance so that all long-term unemployed people are offered substantial help (such as paid employment experience and relevant education and training) to overcome barriers to employment, through Intensive Employment Assistance within the Job Network.
The organisations involved in the Coalition, committing themselves to continuing collaboration, will be jointly seeking meetings with the Prime Minister, other key ministers and the Opposition as soon as practicable.
· David Buckingham, Executive Director BCA (c/- John Hine: 0418 332 272)
· Sharan Burrow, President ACTU (c/- George Wright: 0419 556 616)
· Michael Raper, President ACOSS (c/- Ian Wilson 0419 626 155)
· John Nieuwenhuysen, Chief Executive CEDA (c/- Margaret Meade 03-9662 3544)
· David Thompson, CEO JA Ltd: 0419 527 753
· Eric Sidoti, Senior Consultant DSF: 0418 965 450
· Johanna Wynn, Director Youth Research Centre: 03-8344 9633
PATHWAYS TO WORK:
Preventing and Reducing Long-term Unemployment
Australia is enjoying a sustained period of prosperity and affluence. Most of the country's economic fundamentals are positive: low inflation, consistent economic growth, strong export growth, high labour productivity, sustainable fiscal policy and solid returns for investors.
This period of growth in our economy has brought with it significant reductions in unemployment. The figures, in terms of the standard ABS measures, attest to the positive effect of economic growth. Even so, the number of long-term unemployed people remains unacceptably high, with 152,000 people unemployed long-term in September 2000. Despite the buoyant economy, long-term unemployment only began to fall in 1998 (after remaining stuck between some 200,000 and 250,000 people for the three previous years).
Moreover, the ABS measure of long-term unemployment conceals much higher levels of long-term joblessness because people whose period of unemployment is interrupted for a short time by casual work, training, or illness are no longer regarded as long-term unemployed. Unemployment benefit statistics, which include these people, reveal a much more worrying trend: the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for over 12 months has barely fallen over the past five years, and stood at 385,000 in September 2000.
Long-term unemployment always rises quickly after a recession, but declines very slowly through economic recoveries. This is not surprising, because the longer people remain out of work, the greater is their loss of confidence and skills and the lesser their attractiveness to employers. Economic growth of itself has not and will not deliver the conditions necessary for tackling long-term unemployment.
There are strong social and economic reasons to take determined action to reduce long-term unemployment. It is heavily concentrated. It cuts a broader swath among older workers and those who leave school early. It strikes economically disadvantaged regions such as the Mersey-Lyell region of Tasmania (where almost 30% of the unemployed have been out of work for more than two years) much harder than others.
Moreover, if we fail to reduce long-term unemployment while the economic opportunity is there to do so, Australia will be confronted with higher levels of unemployment, and the associated social problems and loss of production and labour market efficiency, after the next economic down-turn.
Australia's impressive economic performance has provided us with an opportunity not just to get the economic fundamentals right, but a unique chance to get the social fundamentals in order as well.
Having come together to consider these issues our organizations are agreed on the need for a strategy that simultaneously tackles the prevention and reduction of long-term unemployment.
To this end, we are proposing three priority areas for policy development, financial commitment, and action. In the context of welfare reform, high priority should be given now to action to reduce existing levels of long-term unemployment. At the same time, resources should be devoted to strategies to prevent people from falling into this condition in the first place.
1. Ensuring a successful transition from education to employment
· All young people should have access to education, training and employment opportunities delivering Year 12 completion or its equivalent, as a minimum expectation for making a successful transition from school.
This requires particular support for early school leavers or those facing other disadvantages. It should be recognized that early school leavers, who in effect forgo Government financed school education, are entitled to Government support in accessing alternative options.
· Community Partnerships should be developed and strengthened at the regional level between industry, schools, health and Job Network services, and other non-government agencies (such as organisations involved in the Jobs Pathway program), to identify those who have left school early or are at risk of doing so, and to support them in securing employment or further education and training.
· Governments at all levels - Commonwealth, State and local - should cooperate to provide the necessary political and financial support.
· The success rate of school-to-work transition should be measured to focus attention on outcomes and ensure that feedback is collected on the success or otherwise of public initiatives.
An agreed mechanism is required to ensure an identified body is accountable at the local level for increasing the participation in work, training or education of school leavers in their region.
2. Ensuring a successful transition from retrenchment to re-employment
· Timely and early intervention is critical for those facing termination of employment and who are at high risk of long-term unemployment.
Businesses should be able, at little additional costs to themselves, to assist their high-risk employees in the termination-back-to-work transition.
· Employers, unions, and employment assistance and training providers, should work together at the local and regional level to develop employment assistance packages for workers facing retrenchment who are at high risk of long-term unemployment.
· The Government should support these efforts through a new employment assistance scheme targeting this group of retrenched workers, or through some refinement of existing programs.
· Appropriate instruments should be developed to identify employees facing heightened risks.
3. Reducing long-term unemployment
· All long-term unemployed people should be offered substantial help (such as paid employment experience and relevant education and training) to overcome barriers to employment, through Intensive Employment Assistance within the Job Network.
· A package of employment and training assistance to meet each long-term unemployed person's individual needs should be negotiated between each job-seeker and a personal employment adviser within his or her Job Network provider. In return, it is reasonable to expect those offered such assistance to participate fully in employment and training schemes that are likely to improve their job prospects.
· As part of its response to the report of the Reference group on welfare reform, the Government should substantially boost its investment in employment and training assistance for those Australians who have been unemployed long-term, so that it can implement these proposed commitments to long-term unemployed people.
· Employers, governments and unions should work together with community organisations at the industry, enterprise and regional level to open up additional job and employment experience opportunities for long-term unemployed people.
We shall jointly be seeking meetings with the Prime Minister, other key ministers and the Opposition as soon as practicable to discuss an improved national response to long-term unemployment, including the proposals outlined above.
We are also committed to continuing our collaboration on this issue. In particular we have agreed to a convene by March 2001 a small number of Task Forces drawing on our own constituencies to focus on practical ways of tackling long-term unemployment in selected areas of high need.
And they have asked Australian hotel workers to show their support. The hotel workers have issued an international plea for solidarity.
They have asked union members around the world who are connected to the 'net to send e-mails to a list of 60-plus hotels in Nepal telling them you back Nepalese hotel workers.
One LHMU Hotel Union member has already sent e-mails to the hotel managements and in return received some abusive, and foul-mouthed, responses.
It seems the hotel managements are feeling the pressure of the international spotlight.
Ramhari, the Nepalese Hotel Workers' Union Vice-President - who works at the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu - has also sent an e-mail to say thanks for the support.
" We have now started the first stage of our campaign by wearing black ribbon armbands to work. This will go on for four days in all the hotels of Nepal.
" If the Government and the Hotel employers' representatives negotiated we will not strike.
If not we will start our general strike from Monday in the hotels. We are all together," Ramhari said in an e-mail to an LHMU member.
The tourism industry has grown rapidly in Nepal with big names like the Hyatt, Radisson and Crown Plaza running upscale hotels in the capital Kathmandu.
You can get details of the Nepal hotel workers' dispute - and the list of e-mails if you click onto this story on the LabourStart website.
The Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees' Union of Australia (New South Wales Division) (MEU) was successful in achieving the inclusion of a Community Language Allowance (CLA) of $13.14 per week in the Local Government (State) Award. The Allowance recognises the utilisation of a second language at work, by members, in addition to their job requirements.
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY LANGUAGE ALLOWANCE?
Language aides act as a first point of contact within council for non-English speaking residents. The aide identifies the resident's area of enquiry and then provides basic assistance by conveying straightforward information in relation to council services to non-English speaking background customers in the course of their work . This may be via face-to-face discussions and/or telephone enquiries. The role of language aides is limited and clearly defined so as not to be seen as a replacement or substitute for professional interpreters .
When a council employee utilises their second language, in addition to their normal duties, to provide services to speakers of a language other than English, or to provide signing services to people with hearing difficulties, the employee is eligible to be paid the language allowance in addition to their weekly rate of pay. The NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) deemed that the allowance could be paid on a regular or irregular basis, according to when the work is performed .
WHY WORKERS SHOULD BE PAID TO USE THEIR SECOND LANGUAGE
The MEU argued that the recognition of the demand for, and use of a workers second language in the work place had occurred as a result of the social and cultural changes across NSW and Australia. For example, at 30 June 1998, 23.4 per cent of the estimated resident population were born overseas . In addition, the 1996 census identified that 20.4% of people in New South Wales did not speak English well or at all, while at the same time, 16% of people in New South Wales spoke a language other than English. These language skills can be used in customer service areas in both the private and government sectors in order to provide customers and clients with better access to services and products . The CLA was seen as particularly relevant to workers with a second language in the inner west and western areas of Sydney where well over a quarter of residents who require the services of their local council were born overseas in a non-English speaking country.
History of the Community Language Allowance
In 1987, the NSW government launched a pilot Ethnic Affairs Policy Statement Program to encourage councils to increase the services they provided to non-English speaking background residents. The program was voluntary with the resulting policy statements becoming known as Local Ethnic Affairs Policy Statements (LEAPS). In 1989, the NSW government introduced the Community Language Allowance Scheme (CLAS), which renumerated State Government employees who used their second language, in addition to their normal duties, to assist government customers. To receive the allowance, participants were required to be accredited by the Ethnic Affairs Commission (EAC).
Agreements and awards with CLA clauses:
ORGANISING FOR THE ALLOWANCE
The MEU became aware that many of its members were using their second language skills informally within councils, especially in areas where a high proportion of residents were from a non-English speaking background. The incentive for councils to encourage staff to participate in using their second language was a result of the Local Government (General) Amendment (Community and Social Plans) Regulation. This regulation requires councils to develop and implement social and community plans to meet the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The use of employees with a second language as language aids had become one way in which councils could demonstrate how they had met these requirements.
Council libraries were an example of where staff were using their second language skills to assist library users. For example, an Information Officer working at one council library in an area with a high Arabic population, used their language skills to assist people to access library services, to translate English texts into Arabic (including catalogues, signs and surveys) and also being called upon to assist with general enquiries made at the council. For many councils, this practice was seen as staff simply volunteering their second language and thus there was no need to pay them.
To identify the extent of this practice, the MEU completed a survey of members working in Local Government Areas with the highest populations of people who spoke English "Not Well or Not at All". After identifying where councils were using members second language skills, the MEU then surveyed councils to see if any allowances were being paid to members for the use of their skills.
Of the 30 councils surveyed, 9 were paying an allowance, 1 had covered it within the salary system, 3 stated they "did not know", 3 stated it was "not applicable" and 14 councils used staff but did not pay an allowance. Where members were receiving an allowance that allowance varied from $4.00 - $20.00 per week. In addition, many councils had developed "second language lists" of people who could be called on to provide basic translation assistance.
In summary, the MEU identified a substantial number of members who were using their second language in addition to the requirements of their employment, whilst receiving little, if any, financial remuneration for their work.
HAVING THE ISSUE ARBITRATED
One of the main issues for the MEU was being able to demonstrate:
1. The use of second language skills;
2. That the skills were not part of the job skills; and
3. The skills were brought to position in addition to what was required.
The MEU proved there had been a change in the nature of the work and that the payment of an allowance was about recognising the skills a person brought to the workplace, in addition to the job requirements. That is, it is an additional skill attached to an employee rather than as a skill required by a particular position. In her judgement, Justice Schmidt stated:
"I particularly take the view that it is both disingenuous and wrong for a council to suggest that employees who, for instance, are asked if they possess community language skills and whether they would be prepared to assist residents who have difficulty speaking or understanding English and are later called upon to provide such assistance, are not entitled to any payment for such work, because they are not required to perform it and are merely volunteering to do so. That this attitude is persisted with at a time of increasing numbers of residents who require such assistance and in circumstances where councils must increasingly meet legislative obligations to provide such assistance, is difficult to understand."
HOW THE ALLOWANCE OPERATES UNDER THE AWARD
The IRC viewed employees who possessed community language skills would typically be:
1. Native speakers of a particular language;
2. Employed in any position within a council; and
3. Are called upon to utilise these skills on an as needs basis, in addition to their normal duties.
In order to receive the allowance, the IRC identified a number of requirements. Employees who are required by council to use such additional skill(s) in the performance of their duties shall have the use of those skill(s) considered in the evaluation of the position provided that:
· Council shall provide the employee with the opportunity to obtain accreditation from a language aide accreditation agency such as the Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales or Institute of Languages at University of New South Wales (Such training shall form part of a council's training plan and budget, in accordance with the requirements of clause 20 of this award);
· The employee shall be prepared to be identified as possessing the additional skill;
· The employee shall be available to use the additional skill as required by council;
· The council shall be recognised as an occasional or regular user of the additional skill as an adjunct to their normal duties.
Provided further that council shall establish a minimum level of usage of additional skill(s) for this subclause to apply. Language Aides shall record their use of a community language according to Council established policy.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The decision means that as soon as any employee is required to use the skill they are automatically eligible for the allowance.
Justice Schmidt was concerned that no training was being provided to employees using these skills, especially in relation to cultural nuances. Thus she stated there was a need for appropriate training and accreditation of employees undertaking this work and that the cost of that training and accreditation was to be the employers' obligation.
When implementing an organising strategy, unions need to find "hot beds" and activists within workplaces who are prepared to assist with the distribution of surveys and to be consulted in relation to the development and implementation of an organising strategy within the work place. It is important to:
1. Identify workplaces where workers second language skills are being use in addition to the requirement of their position;
2. Conduct a survey to identify those using their second language skills and whether they are being renumerated for their work; and
3. Identify whether or not the employer has taken any steps to identify specific staff members who are able to provide language assistance, for example, has a list of these workers been created?
The success of this campaign was a result of the MEU being prepared to see "difference" and "cultural diversity" as an asset that was being used within the workplace and hence, needed to be appropriately renumerated. It also provided MEU organisers with a "good news story" around which they could develop further organising strategies and use as an example to assist in expanding union membership within local government.
by Neale Towart
The anti-Sundanese campaign of 1885 was the first of many anti-imperialist campaigns fought by the Australian labour movement.
W.A. Wood in newsletter no. 3, November 1962 of the Bulletin of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History discusses the campaign against the Sudan Contingent of 1885. Writing during the Vietnam War, the importance of people power runs through his article.
British imperialism seized Egypt in 1883 and quickly moved to absorb also Egypt's southern neighbour, the Sudan. But the Sudanese rose in a patriotic-religious war in which they were led by the "Madhi". In February 1885 the Sudanese stormed into their capital city, Khartoum, and killed the British general, Gordon."
Jingoists in England and Australia clamoured for revenge, and the acting Premier of NSW, W.B. Dalley, cabled to London an offer of troops. The peace movement of the time succeeded in bringing the contingent home before they suffered or inflicted any damage. As F. Abigail, MLA at the time said;
"Soldiers for Sudan! Do you know what your mission is? To bolster our Egyptian bonds. To make Dalley Sir W.B. Dalley at the cost of half a million pounds. To make your wives widows; to make your children fatherless. To bring an unnecessary sorrow on your country, to cause Australia to be identified with England's quarrels and thus to bring a hostile army to your own shores."
The Contingent was raised in three weeks, whilst Parliament was not sitting, because Dalley knew full well that he would have great difficulty in persuading Parliament to back the move.
The government and its supporters congratulated themselves in committing the illegal act of raising the force. Respectable opinion supported the government. Some, such as Sir Henry Parkes, stood out against the action. However, Parkes' fear of standing alone were dispelled when much public opinion was with him, led by strong working class opposition.
This was first evident at a patriotic rally organised by government in support of the idea. One speaker, Henry Copeland MLA was attacking Parkes only to be howled down. Edmund Barton spoke at this meeting, in support of England and the troops. The Herald was in sympathy with the patriots, but had to report that the orators might as well have been talking to the winds and waves as to "a mass of humanity that cannot and will not hear and occupies the time in making a hideous noise." It went on to report that "the speakers were in a large measure unheard."
Dalley and supporters took the campaign on the road to raise funds, but often their meetings were take over by the opposition to the campaign. At one of the first meetings, a Mr Dawson "moved that Dalley resign... By crushing the rights and liberties and destroying the homes and religion of the Arabs - one of the freest people on the face of their earth - they would be committing a sin and "would be putting a blot which would for ever remain on the democratic character of this country."
The vote at most of the public meetings was firmly against the war party, at city and country meetings.
The working class attitude was expressed by Angus Cameron, financed in Parliament by the Sydney Labor Council (politicians were not paid the working people to participate).
From my conservation with the representative men I know that the majority of the working classes are against this movement.
Mr Buchanan from Mudgee declared that there had "probably never been a more contemptible war in all history than that in which England is engaged. England has no right in Egypt at all. She stands there in the same relation as a burglar stands to a private citizen and if she meets the same fate every upright, honest man will rejoice."
These representatives were responding to the mass movement for peace that grew rapidly.
In the war itself, as it developed "it began to display the particularly savage character of all colonialist wars from Ireland to Vietnam and protests increased in England as well as Australia.
The Herald editorial line throughout the conflict was pro war and in the end, as the campaign collapsed, it blamed the "whole fiasco on the people. But as its own columns abundantly showed, "popular sentiment" had been against the expedition from the very start. That was why it had been rushed out of Australia before Parliament could meet... The power of the people to stop a hateful war even after it has started has never been more strikingly demonstrated."
"The Sudanese showed that colonial peoples could fight the world's policemen and win. In that they had the help of the Australian workers, as later did the Chinese and the Indonesians in their anti-colinal struggles of 1938 and 1945.
"For Australia, that is not a matter of humiliation but of pride. We look back with admiration and gratitude to our forebears of 1885 who lit a torch that was passed on to the Anti-War League of 1889-1902, the No-conscription fighters of 1916-17 and the peace movement of today."
What is at stake is a fundamental rethinking of the socialist project in modern economic, technological and ecological conditions. It takes us beyond the 'middle-of-the-road' character of 'third-way' positions to a more audacious assertion of socialist principles freed from the taint of excessive authoritarianism which characterised the command-administrative model adopted in the twentieth century.
Its exploration requires, first and foremost, the consideration of the basic 'in-principle' appeals of socialism. Five elements are central. There is the appeal to equity - a classless society in place of a system based on unequal ownership of the means of production; the appeal to rationality - the planned use of economic resources to serve social objectives; the appeal to liberty - the extension of democratic principles from the political sphere into our day-to-day lives as workers, students, consumers and citizens; the appeal to solidarity - the recognition of common interests and the development of processes of mutual support and co-operation; and the appeal to harmony - living in balance with the natural environment.
Here is a recognition of our essentially collective concerns, that our social well-being is something more than the sum of individual self-interests. Here is a recognition that our interdependence necessarily involves more than purely market relationships. Here is an explicit recognition of ethical issues as the 'glue' holding economy and society together. These are basic socialist tenets. They stand the test of time remarkably well. Indeed, the contrast with the characteristics of contemporary capitalist society makes them seem increasingly relevant. However, as presented, theya re merely abstract ideals. Working out how to translate them into a viable economy and society remains a colossal undertaking. This can be confronted initially by exploring a series of fundamental questions, as follows.
How Much Work And By Whom?
Modern technology opens up tantalising possibilities for the liberation from toil. Work may be part of the human condition, but it need not be alienated labour and it can be more equitably shared. Evidently, modern capitalism has great difficulty adapting to these technological possibilities, although the system has played a major role in precipitating them. Many potential workers are currently denied any waged work at all, while other workers are putting in stressfully long hours. Addressing this socially damaging situation is a major task for socialist practice. Can we have flexibility in working lives, involving continuous part-time work or periods of full-time work interspersed with periods of leisure, education or other creative pursuits? Of course, the damand for a shorter standard working week and job-sharing without loss of wage income is a radical demand on capitalism. It also needs to be considered carefully as a basis for organising the distribution of work under a socialist alternative. Therein can lie a key element of the appeal of socialism as a means for tackling problems of production and distribution that appear intractable under the capitalist system. It has obvious relevance in the Australian context where the imbalance in the distribution of work is one of the most important current political economic challenges.
How To Combine Markets and Planning?
Socialists have traditionally been critical of markets because of their association with capitalism and its inbuilt tendency to produce inequitable outcomes. But the alternative of economic planning, particularly of a centralised kind, is also problematic: being sensitive to the complex patterns of consumer preferences. Industrial production possibilities and new technologies is a major, some would say impossibly difficult, task. Some forms of planning are clearly necessary though, if the broad directions of economic developments are to serve social purposes. So the key question is whether that planning can be combined with some role for markets in 'fine-tuning' the system. There are some interesting possibilities. With the aid of modern computer technology, regional and sectoral planning can also be used to set the broad parameters for economic development without negating the freedom of consumer choice that markets permit. Importantly, that planning framework can - and must - embody goals of ecological substainability, for example, by the regulation of the use of environmental assets and by husbanding non-renewable resources. Herein lies a major challenge regarding the development of appropriate industry policies. Again, the issue has obvious relevance in the Australian context, where industry development to date has lacked any such co-ordination.
How To Control Investment?
The private appropriation of an economic surplus and its disposition to serve particular class interests lies the core of the capitalist system. Under socialism there must still be a surplus. Not all the value created by labour can be returned to the workers as wages, or there would be no funds available to replace worn-out plant and machinery or for investment in collectively needed infrastructure. The essence of a viable socialism is not the eradication of the economic surplus but the control of that surplus for social purposes. How much surplus and how it is used then become essentially political decisions. But that leaves open the question of who is to make these decisions and by what criteria. To draw a parallel with the existing superannuation funds in Australia, there is a huge difference between them being managed individually with a view to maximising private returns (as they now are) and them being managed collectively for broader social purposes. A co-ordinated National Investment Fund, prioritising socially productive and ecologically sustainable industries, would be a step in the latter direction. Such a fund, suitably subject to democratic control and accountability, could be a key feature for ensuring collective determination of the investment process. But how much of the economic surplus would be channelled through such a fund, and how the fund managers would be selected, remain open questions.
What Forms of Ownership?
So too do the appropriate forms of ownership in industry. It is conventional to associate capitalism with the private ownership of the means of production and socialism with collective ownership. But various forms of collective ownership are possible. Collective ownership by the state of all productive enterprises raises the spectre of an over-centralised economic system. It is unnecessary; modern socialism does not require the nationalisation of the local milk-bar or the corner store, nor would that be broadly acceptable in the Australian context. One can conceive, as a compromise, of a three-tier system in which the 'comanding heights' of industry are regulated by 'planning agreements' to ensure the commitment to community service obligations, while medium-sized firms are typically organised as worker co-operatives, and private enterprise operates in small businesses. The relative size of these three tiers and the economic relationships between them would need careful consideration: so too would the extent of public influence over the economic surplus generated in the three sectors. The first tier need not necessarily involve extensions of public ownership: it is hard to see reversing the privatisations of the last two decades as a realistic option in the foreseeable future. But the use of 'planning agreements' can be an alternative means of regulating private sector corporations' performance ina ccord with government industry policy objectives. Industry policy thereby becomes conditional on forms meeting specified criteria regarding employment, investment, environmental goals, and so forth. 'Reciprocal obligation' becomes a principle to be applied to industry rather than social security recipients!
How To Extend Economic Democracy?
Economic democracy has to operate within enterprises, not just through public policies to influence the use of the economic surplus generated. Herein lie some exciting possibilities at the frontier of what a capitalist system can tolerate. There is an inherent contradiction between capitalism and democracy, contrary to the claim of the conservative economist Milton Friedman. Under capitalism, democracy is restricted to the political sphere, focussing manly on periodic parliamentary elections. Modern socialism needs to take democracy more seriously. Of course, it is the failure of twentieth-century socialist experiements (e.g. in the former USSR) to extend democracy in practice that is a principal source of the popular association of socialism with authoritarianism. Breaking with this legacy is crucial Industrial democracy is a key policy for this purpose because it has the potential to extend democratic practices into the economic sphere. But its appropriate institutional form remains a matter for debate. Are workers' councils the appropriate model? What about representation of consumers, environmentalists and other social interests? How are potential conflicts between regionally and/or sectorally based institutions to be reconciled? These are practical questions for which solutions cannot be plucked from existing socialist theory.
A 'Classless Society'?
The question of distributional equity is also central to the modern socialist project but not easily resolved. Of course, it is easy enough to contrast the capitalist tendency to reproduce poverty amidst affluence with a socialist vision of classlessness. But how much inequality could a modern socialist society permit in practice? What, for example, would be the tolerable limits to the ratio of the highest incomes to the lowest? Would , say 3:1 be appropriate as a means of allowing for material inventives while still emphasising social cohesion? I have argued elsewhere that this is a reasonable goal: certainly it stands in stark contrast with the ratio of top management salaries to low-wage employees, currently of the order of a hundred times that ratio. But what about the social divisions associated with gender and race? The readication of class inequalities associated with differential ownership of the means of production does not necessarily eliminate sexism and racism. Some contend that a 'politics of recognition' (emphasising the distinctiveness of 'minorities') ranks in importance alongside a 'politics of redistribution'. Support for multiculturalism and Aboriginal rights are expressions of this former concern, sitting somewhere uneasily alongside egalitarian objectives of transcending differences of race, gender and sexual preference. Evidently, it is necessary to rethink how the socialist vision relates to contemporary concerns with these multiple sources of economic and social inequality. And, of course, the policy instruments by which egalitarian outcomes are achieved also warrant detailed consideration. Policies towards inheritance and other sources of cumulative wealth, policies to balance wages against other income sources, and more progressive forms of taxation become central issues in this scenario.
What Basis for Economic Motivation?
The distributional issue is inexorably linked with the motivational issue. Here capitalism appears to be on firmer ground - fundamentally, it is a system for harnessing material self-interest to drive the economy. Replacing the capitalist dynamic of profit-seeking with the collective pursuit of social needs to easy to posit in the realm of rhetoric. It highlights the need to redress the perpetual imbalance between 'private wealth and public squalor'. But it seems a tall order to redress that imbalance by the appeal to collective rationality alone. Altruism and collective responsibility warrant greater encouragement, of course, but seem unlikely to provide a sufficiently robust basis for a productive economy. If the emphasis on the relentless pursuit of economic growth should be tempered by greater concerns with sustainability, the issue mellows significantly. Inculcating the motivation to maximise profits, outputs and market shares become less important than motivation to identify and attain more socially balanced outcomes. Of course, it has always been the hope and expectation of socialists that transcending capitalist structures would also transform social practices, even human nature itself. However, for an indefinitely long transition period, a more pragmatic compromise may be appropriate, whereby substantial material incentives are retained as a motivational element alongside the greater public control over the disposition of the economic surplus, as already discussed.
The Decentralisation of the State?
Underpinning all these concerns are difficult issues about the role of government and, more generally, the state as a whole. The eventual 'withering away of the state' has long been a cherished ideal of libertarian socialists. This aspect of the socialist tradition needs rescuing in order to dislodge the more general perception of socialism as requiring an all-powerful central state. Yet some co-ordinating and regulating role for government is indispensable if socialist goals are to be achieved. Liberty is not inversely proportional to the size of the state, since states may ensure freedom from (oppression, exploitation) as well as limiting freedom to (engage in individual pursuits deemed to be against the public interest). Herein lie fundamentally complex issues for which it would be unreasonable to expect a formulaic solution. The fundamental challenge is to see how the planning/co-ordination/regulation roles of the state can be reconciled with liberal socialist ideals. Can partial devolution within the state apparatus help in this regard? In the Australian case, one significant step in that direction could be the replacement of the six state governments: therein lies a potentially significant element in the process of constitutional reform, far beyond the minor question of the nationality of the head of state.
Coping With International Capitalism?
In a global economy orchestrated by the institutions of multinational capital it is not easy for an individual country like Australia to chart a more independent development path - whether it be socialist or not. Capital strike is evidently an ever present threat. However, the nation's vulnerability to this problem could be reduced by the development of better mechanisms to channel local savings into funding the required investments. Threats of withdrawal by multinational capital would not then be such a damaging prospect. But such threats of withdrawal depend more generally on whether sufficient rates of return on capital can be maintained. A greater role for planning in promoting local and national economic development may indeed reduce the risk element. It is certainly quite compatible with maintaining and extending international linkages of various kinds. The globalisation of human rights, labour organisations and environmental consciousness can be progressive antidotes to the globalisation of capital. They have the potential to give strength and support to new forms of socialism, operating alongside and in tension with globalising capitalist institutions.
How To Get from Here To There?
In the end, it all comes down to the issue of whether there is a real possibility for any such alternative path of development. The characteristics of Australia and global capitalism are not particularly encouraging in this respect. However, flux, contradiction and dialectical processes of change are in-built features of the political economic landscape. Change is inevitable:L the key questions are "In which direction? and 'Driven by whom?' This issue of a possible transitioin from capitalism to socialism has, quite understandably, preoccupied socialist activists. It is an important antidote to an abstract Utopianism. Moreover, the nature of any such transition has a major bearing on the shape of the outcome: that much, at least, we know from political economic experience. So the questions about the nature of the socialist vision are ultimately not separable from questions about strategy and organisation for change. But, given that the preconditions for any such transition are demonstrably lacking in Australia at present, there is evidently 'breathing space' for broader reflections. Indeed, such reflections - made public as far as possible - are a necessary part of the process of establishing the ideological preconditions for radical reform. Otherwise there is no viable socialist alternative worth struggling for.
Going beyond the twentieth-century experiences of capitalisma nd socialism is an enormous challenge. Advocates of a 'third way' have made a valuable contribution to opening up debates about alternatives, but remain primarily focussed on the fine-tuning of capitalism. Reorienting the policies of the Labor Party around a hybrid of economic rationalism and community development goals seems to be the main concern. A 'fourth way' can be built on more explicitly socialist principles, rethought for the twenty-first century. As this chapter has shown, that alternative requires fundamental questions to be considered. These questions cannot be resolved by reference to the pages of any classical socialist text. Previous experience of other countries seeking alternatives to the capitalist system also leaves them open-ended. They are questions to be explored by progressive Australians concerned with reformulating a vision appropriate for this nation in the years ahead.
Posing such questions is not a sign of weakness. Socialists need to do so vigorously, as an antidote to the common perception of socialism ideology as dogma, offering only preformed and dated answers to complex and changing problems. This is what Mackenzie Wark calls the view of 'Marxism as the philosophy of the alternative state in wating'. As argues in Chapter 2, there has to be a vision of an alternative but its form cannot be independent of the process by which it is created. Questioning is an integral element in that openended process. The act of posing the questions is concurrently an important contribution to the critique of contemporary capitalism.
After all, socialism begins with the recognition that our well-being, economically, socially, environmentally, even spiritually, has essentially collective aspects. Society is not simply the aggregation of atomistic individuals: there are inherent elements of interdependence. So our well-being depends on policies that shape that interdependence in the most fruitful manner.
Modern socialism has to be centrally concerned with the exploration of progressive political economic alternatives which can contribute to that. Exploration is the key word. Socialism in not a blueprint, but it can be a more convivial context for explorations in social progress. For this purpose a socialist alternative must embody inspirational ideals while also offering down-to-earth proposals for dealing with the problems of contemporary Australian capitalism. Popular support for the alternative cannot be built unless these proposals point towards tangible benefits - lower unemployment, a sounder basis for industrial development, fairer taxes, better social policies, more balanced urban and regional development and a sustainable environment. These are the necessary features of a program of radical reform.
Changing Track by Frank Stilwell is published by Pluto press
by Jim Marr
He saw his first television program through the snow that invariably accompanied such habit-forming moments, courtesy of a black and white set loaned to the family by an uncle Ray.
Thirty-two years later Doyle has conquered the strange medium that crackled into his life that night and he is happy to talk about the organisation that nurtured his success, giving birth to his alter ego, Rampaging Roy Slaven, and inseparable mate, HG Nelson.
No matter how history regards Doyle, now moving into drama, or what Greig Pickhaver achieves in the future, to millions of Australians they will always be Roy and HG, especially after the smash Olympic success of The Dream.
Could the pair have ridden Roy and HG's coat-tails without the ABC? Doyle's response is simple, if long-winded.
"No, no, no, no, no," he insists.
"We started with This Sporting Life and what we did was anti-commercial. We modelled it, in the early days, on the John Laws show, constant self-promotion and constant promotion of products that were your own.
"It was a parody and there was no home for such a show anywhere else but the ABC.
"The ABC is the only place you could expect to be allowed to exploit the foibles of commercial radio and it does have foibles - the ABA (Australian Broadcasting Authority) inquiry was emphatic testimony to that."
Doyle, who has been around ABC radio and television for 15 years without ever being on staff, is scathing about claims that the national broadcaster is inherently biased. On the contrary, he argues, the ABC is the only broadcasting organisation that can afford not to be.
"The fact about commercial broadcasting is that you have to pay the piper. Advertising works, look at the cigarette companies for goodness sake."
The last line is delivered as he stubs one out and rummages for the next.
"That's why it is vital the ABC remains independent and commercial free," he continues.
"Being unbiased means you are going to antagonise whatever Government is in power. Personally, I would be disappointed if it wasn't annoying the Government, I doubt it would be fulfilling its role."
His personal view of ABC staffers is that they see their work as a vocation, driven by commitment more than money, much like those he mixed with in an earlier incarnation as a school teacher.
One criticism of the national broadcaster he will sign up for is that it is seriously under-funded and he has his own solution to that.
Doyle argues that big beneficiaries of ABC excellence are commercial radio and television operators who pick up, not just honed performers, but highly-trained production and technical people.
In the short-term, he contends, commercial networks could pay levies ear-marked for the ABC.
Not that John Doyle, Roy Slaven and the ABC have always been on the same wave-length.
As a jobbing actor, looking to make ends meet he applied for an announcer's job at ABC Radio Newcastle in 1975, then six years later auditioned in Sydney. Both overtures met with polite rejections.
The break didn't come until 1985 when he and fellow drama faculty graduate Pickhaver were appearing in support roles to children on the SBS's Five Times Dizzy.
Pickhaver had a five-minute Friday morning slot on the ABC's Triple J station. It was a sporting rant and he wanted a sidekick to spin off the theme.
Rampaging Roy Slaven was born as the pair schemed in the SBS caravan.
"Basically, it was what gave me the shits about sport that week," Doyle recalls. "Nobody really questioned the strident nature of the editorials so they became particularly strident. There was probably a fair bit of defamation in there."
A year later Pickhaver hit upon the idea of calling State of Origin "live" from the television.
It was a landmark career move - the genesis of HG the caller and Roy the expert comments man that is still central to their act.
"Roy is lucky enough to have represented Australia in a number of disciplines," Doyle explains, "he is qualified to give insights into what it is like being out there, to provide expertise.
"It is not a difficult mask to wear because most males can imagine themselves pulling on the Australian No 6 rugby league jersey and not making a complete goose of themselves, or sending down six cunning deliveries that might sniff out a wicket.
"We've all done it - in our minds."
Three weeks after their Origin debut Triple J contracted them to four-hour stints every weekend under the This Sporting Life banner. Sixteen years later the cult show still goes to air every Sunday afternoon.
Doyle the rookie appreciated "complete editorial freedom" not to mention an expert producer, Mark Kennedy, who still holds the operation together.
This Sporting Life had a three-series television spin-off made on the cheap.
They broadened into Club Buggery, picked up by Anglia Television for two seasons of a British version.
It was an experience but Doyle and Pickhaver found British television sterile, limiting and, most of all, pre-recorded. It was sanitised for the viewer whereas they worked best with a live audience and room to manoeuvre.
When ABC television turned down their proposal for a show featuring Roy and HG as "seriously corrupt" detectives and Channel Seven were looking for a daily wrap to their Olympic coverage the timing proved fortuitous for all concerned.
The Dream was the undisputed highpoint of Seven's Olympic coverage and brought the comic duo a whole new audience.
Industry insiders say it was so successful that any future Olympic broadcaster will attempt to duplicate the irreverent daily review.
It is rumoured that American giant NBC has already held informal discussions with the pair.
But Doyle isn't counting his greenbacks.
"If you think the Brits are sanitised then you would have to say the Americans make TV in a laboratory," he says.
It pretty much comes back to his Olympic creation, Fatso the Big-Arsed Wombat, retitled the Fat-Arsed Wombat by popular demand - a protest against the crass commercialism of official mascots "Syd, Ollie and Dickhead" that resonated with viewers.
"I am sure that like me people got the shits when they realised the best seats at every venue were empty because they were owned by sponsors who didn't even bother to turn up," Doyle explained.
"Australians love anarchy and when you get something that takes itself as seriously as the Olympic movement ..."
He's off, talking enthusiastically about just one element of Australian culture that has been sustained by a national broadcaster free from the demands of advertisers and politicians.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
CPSU activists and other ABC supporters are mobilising to:
o defend the editorial integrity of the ABC
o oppose commercialisation
o secure better funding
If you would like to be involved in this campaign, contact your local CPSU office or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Members are also encouraged to put their views on the ABC to their local MP.
For more information visit www.cpsu.org/abc and the Friends of the ABC site www.fabc.org.au
by Mark Morey
And let me say, no one is spared.
This book is an entertaining read about the life of our recently depart state opposition leader, the Hon. Peter Collins. The autobiography provides an insight into Collins' life from growing up in rural New South Wales, his time at Waverly College and Sydney University, his career as an ABC journalist and of course his political career. It is true that Liberals don't write a great number of books, probably because they are so boring, but The Bear Pit is successful in opening the door into some of the machinations of the NSW Liberal Party over the last 30 years.
The book deals with Collin's experiences in the Greiner and Fahey governments, including the ICAC report into Greiner and the Metherell Affair and the politics behind this process, his time as both a Minister and shadow Minister and his love of the arts. Collins outlines his perception of the events that lead to his removal as Opposition Leader and the manoeuvrings that went on to orchestrate his demise as leader of the party. Whilst writing about hiss experience, Collins' provides numerous anecdotes to illustrate the commentary on his life. Such as where he describes the period just prior to being dumped as opposition leader and each of his shadow ministers are coming to see him one at a time to inform him that he no longer has their support.
Jillian Skinner's approach at least showed some individuality. 'Hugs! Hugs! When my children have something go wrong that's what I do', she said her arms outstretched. 'Hugs, yes. Votes, No. What can I say? It's all over. It's no use fighting. Polls. Business.' 'Your support in the Party Room, Jillian?' 'No.'
Thankfully, not a lot of time is spent outlining the ups and downs of his relationship with his second wife. The only thing that detracted from the book for me was that there were times when I felt Collins could have provided more detail on the cut and thrust behind some of his more interesting political experiences in both government and opposition. This lack of detail at different points is the only criticism I have of the book.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has more than a passing interest in politics, especially New South Wales politics. The book provides many anecdotes and goes some way to providing an understanding of the workings of the New South Wales Liberal Party and one man's journey as a politician from the Liberal side of politics.
4 out of 5
The Bear Pit - A Life In Politics By Peter Collins MP (Allen & Unwin)
May I begin this lecture by thanking the Trade Union Foundation for the invitation to deliver the 2000 Whitlam Lecture. It is a special honour for me to be invited by a Foundation that recognises and affirms not only the right of employees to be represented by their union in the workplace, but also promotes an understanding of the role trade unions play in the maintenance and development of a vibrant democratic society.
I have been involved in trade union education in one form or another throughout my working life. It is only through education that enduring and sustainable change can be effected. Education not only gives the power of knowledge to the individual, but it should also impart the technique of rational debate to use that knowledge to resolve conflict in a way that promotes the common good for all of society.
I have been privileged to continue my commitment to trade union education in my current role as Minister of Labour. I realised when we were discussing the need for a fundamentally new direction for employment relations in New Zealand, that we had to build into the institutional design of the legislation, the opportunity for unions, employees and employers to have access to information and training in the legislation's objectives. After much consultation, we provided for a right to a maximum of 5 days paid education leave for trade union members. A contestable fund was also established to which both trade unions and employers have access for programmes that relate to the objectives of the Act, in particular, the duty of good faith in all aspects of the employment relationship.
It is fair to observe that these provisions were not without controversy. The criticisms focussed on the fact that only trade union members were eligible, and on the requirement for employers to give leave for education purposes. The lack of total coverage for all employees was due to questions of cost and practical implementation. The criticism of the right to an entitlement to education leave, was essentially ideological and reflected the prevailing construction of the employment relationship as a matter of private contract between two individuals.
The Employment Contracts Act had enacted this expression of the market approach to the employment relationship into our law. In order then, for the new Labour?Alliance Government to recognise the public as well as the private nature of the employment relationship, it was necessary to repeal the Employment Contracts Act, which was what we proceeded to do immediately on becoming the Government.
The Context for Change
The arguments surrounding education leave provide a good introduction into the wider debate surrounding the enactment of the Employment Relations Act and the points of difference between the previous National Government's policy approach and that of the current Labour?Alliance Government. I thought it may be useful if I first briefly sketched the ideological context within which New Zealand, and to some extent Australia, have been functioning over the past 15 years. The purpose of this sketch is to provide an understanding of the reasons for the repeal of the Employment Contracts Act. I shall then outline the objectives of the new Employment Relations Act and the means by which we intend to achieve those objectives. I shall then conclude with some general observations on the experience of the new legislation to date.
The drivers of public policy in the 1980s and l990s were similar on both sides of the Tasman. The internationalisation of capital, high inflation, increasing unemployment, unacceptable overseas debt levels, especially in New Zealand, and the failure of traditional Keynesian economic measures to redress these economic problems forced both Australia and New Zealand Governments to reform their economies. There were essential differences in our approaches, at least, at the beginning of the reform period.
The Australian Labor Government in the 1980s chose a consensual?cum?corporatist strategy, whereas the New Zealand Government of the same period chose a commercial/monetarist approach. In the labour market in New Zealand, this approach was expressed in a radical deregulation of the labour market and decentralization of bargaining. The election of the National Government in 1990 saw this approach taken to its extreme in the enactment of the Employment Contracts Act.
This Act was the legal expression of an ideology that constructed the employment relationship as a purely economic contract. Labour was treated like any other commodity, whose price was best set through a free unconstrained labour market. Trade unions had no role in this new employment relationship because they were a constraint on the free operation of the labour market.
Although trade unions were not made illegal, all statutory supports were removed, including the support for collective bargaining. The constraints placed on unions were political as well as economic. The trade union movement was perceived as being the foundation upon which the Labour Party stood and therefore if their strength were diminished, so would be the political opposition to the National Government. This reading of the politics of the left was inaccurate in so far as it assumed a greater organizational importance of the unions to the Labour Party than was the reality. As a former Party President, I understood this truth better than most people did.
The consequences of that followed from the Employment Contracts Act were serious however. They included a reduction in the level of unionization from around 60% to about 20% of the workforce; increased flexibility in the use of labour through an increase in casualisation of work; stagnant gains to productivity to around 0.5% a year; increasing levels of income inequality, especially in the middle income groups; increased compliance costs, especially in the area of personal grievances, where the advent of lawyers increased the costs of the process of dispute resolution; and a decline in the skill base through a combination of emigration and failure to resource skill training and retraining. While the effects of the Employment Contracts Act and the policies of structural adjustment that supported it impacted on sections of society differently, by the end of the l990s there was a growing view that overall they were not working for the overall benefit of society. This realization was a major factor in the change of Government at the last election.
During the election campaign, both the Labour Party and the Alliance had campaigned on the repeal of the Employment Contracts Act. This unambiguous position gave us the mandate when we won the election to get on and implement the policy commitment. It did not come as a surprise then when the Government proceeded immediately to start the process of repeal. This did not mean there was no opposition.
The New Zealand Employers Federation led a high profile campaign in conjunction with the opposition parties in Parliament to destabilise the Government's relationship with the business community. The campaign was serious but misjudged because it failed to focus on the reality of the labour market and the problems facing New Zealand in positioning itself to be competitive in the attraction and retention of skilled labour. The campaign assumed the Government was taking an ideological position similar to the previous National Government and was just out to somehow punish employers for past wrongs. It therefore failed to understand the intent behind the legislation and the real attempt to reposition New Zealand by making it truly competitive in the global marketplace.
The principles and objectives that drove the Employment Relations Act are consistent with the principles and objectives of the Government's overall economic strategy. We are striving after years of neglect through failure of previous Governments to take responsibility for economic management because they had abdicated that responsibility to the invisible hand of the market. We are endeavouring to rebuild an economy that recognises the reality of the global economy for a small economy such as ours. We must trade. We must compete. We must develop our skills. We must create environments that support and encourage innovation and creativity. We are doing this through recognition of the need for an abandonment of the extremism of the National Party and a return to a more balanced approach to both economic and social policy.
An essential element of this balanced approach is the creation of partnerships between Government and the communities that comprise our society. The development of a partnership between Government and business was an essential element of that approach as was the partnership between the Government and the trade union movement. While the quality and nature of those partnerships would be different because of historical and ideological factors, the need to establish a cooperative relationship was necessary for the rebuilding of New Zealand. How to give reality to the notion of partnership in the workplace through developing relationships, was the challenge I faced when conducting the negotiations surrounding the Employment Relations Act.
It is useful to pause at this point and describe the political environment in which the Labour?Alliance coalition governs. As you are aware New Zealand has a MMP electoral system that is designed to provide balance in political decision making. MMP was the electorate's answer to the tyranny of the executive under the previous first past the post electoral system. The election late last year produced a minority coalition Government. This means that the Government has no majority and is dependent on one of the opposition Parties, normally the Greens, but on occasions, New Zealand First, for a majority in Parliament. All decisions are therefore negotiated between the Labour and Alliance members of Government, then with one of the opposition Parties. From the outset I had established a process of consultation with the Green member responsible for employment relations. This relationship proved crucial when negotiating the Bill through Parliament.
Provisions of the Employment Relations Act
The policies of both the Labour Party and the Alliance had been clear that the repeal of the Employment Contracts Act was to be replaced by a return to collective bargaining and a recognition of the right of unions to bargain collectively on behalf of their members. The policies also relied on the notion of good faith as an essential element of collective bargaining. I sought the views of both the NZ Council of Trade Unions and the NZ Employers Federation, as well as the Employment Law Committee of the NZ Law Society at the outset of the policy work on the new law. I included the lawyers because they had become major players under the Employment Contracts Act. The employer community had become dependent on legal advice and I assumed this would not be easily discarded. The subsequent campaign against the Bill proved me correct as the legal community supported and on occasions led the criticism of the legislation.
The policy process indicated that fragmentation of the labour market was well advanced. New Zealand had always been a country of small employers but the programme of structural adjustment had not only casualised the workforce but the traditional employer?employee relationship was being replaced by the employer independent contractor relationship. Collective contracts had also been substantially replaced by individual contracts. The parties were also relying more on the pursuit of their legal rights on the breakdown of their employment relationship. This had increased costs for employers and employees, and the practice of contingency fees had become prevalent. The courts had also interpreted the Employment Contracts Act inconsistently so there was a general feeling of uncertainty amongst the parties.
It was also apparent that the Act had contributed to a lack of labour market strategy, a deskilling of the workforce and low productivity. It would be unfair to assume the Employment Contracts Act was solely responsible for these outcomes because it was merely part of a larger economic strategy of structural adjustment. It was fundamental however in constructing a low waged, low skilled labour market, with small groups of high paid and high skilled employees.
It was obvious that a new direction was required and the new Act would need to clearly signal that direction. The title was therefore used to signal that the notion of contract was to be replaced with that of a relationship. The objects section also clearly set out the expectations for the new Act. The objects stated in the Act are as follows:
to build productive employment relationships through the promotion of mutual trust and confidence in all aspects of the employment environment and of the employment relationship -
(i) by recognising that employment relationships must be built on good faith behaviour; and
(ii) by acknowledging and addressing the inherent inequality of bargaining power in the employment relationships; and
(iii) by promoting collective bargaining; and
(iv) by protecting the integrity of individual choice; and
(v) by promoting mediation as the primary problem?solving mechanism; and
(vi) by reducing the need for judicial intervention; and
(2) to promote observance in New Zealand of the principles underlying International Labour Organisation Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Bargain Collectively.
The first point to note about the objects of the Employment Relations Act is that they cannot be achieved by a return to the traditional instruments of compulsory unionism, national awards, monopoly unionism, and compulsory arbitration. It is equally clear from the objects section that the legalism of the Employment Contracts Act era is no longer a useful construction of the employment relationship. The objects section endeavours to reinforce the human as well as the economic nature of the employment relationship, and to lay down the basic principles within which that relationship must be conducted. Those principles are those of good faith, and mutual trust and confidence, which are to prevail throughout all aspects of the employment relationship and not just during the collective bargaining phase. The principles therefore apply to individual agreements and to the relationship between unions and their members, and between employers where both are bargaining for the same collective agreement.
It is in the comprehensive nature of the application of good faith and mutual trust and confidence that lies the radicalism of the new regulatory framework. Naturally the critics have noted that it is impossible to legislate for good faith. Of course they are correct in that legislation cannot change individual values or beliefs. It can however influence and change behaviours. If it did not do this there would be no purpose to our legal system. Whether legislation successfully changes behaviours depends on whether it is sufficiently practical in its application to enable those affected to conduct their affairs in an orderly and mutually productive manner.
I believe the Employment Relations Act will meet that test, and early indications of its application, would support this belief. The reasoning behind this approach is simple. It is based on the practical principle of no surprises when conducting your employment relationship. This requires the parties to have access to as full information as is consistent with legitimate right to confidentiality. It also requires assistance to be available to the parties through mediation to work constructively through points of difference in a win?win way, rather than always the win?loss approach of the adversarial system in the courts.
Although there is no time in this lecture to give a detailed analysis of the provisions of the Act, it may be useful if I briefly explained some of its key elements.
The Act applies to all employees and employers but directs the Court to look at the real nature of the employment relationship to ensure that the contract for services is not in reality a contract of employment;
All employment agreements, including individual agreements, must be in writing;
Individuals have a right to belong to or not to belong to a union, so the concept of voluntary unionism is preserved in the Act;
Any group of employees who are 15 in number may register as a union, provided the union is incorporated and the rules are democratic and not unreasonable, not unfairly discriminatory or unfairly prejudicial, and not contrary to the law. The union must also be independent and operate at arms length from any employer. This assessment is made by the Registrar of Unions on the production of a statutory declaration;
Only unions can negotiate collective agreements, so the trade off for this provision was the ability of any group of employees to form a union under the conditions set out above;
All employees have the right to chose between the collective or individual agreement, but where there is a collective agreement in existence a new employee must be given a copy of that agreement and be given a month to decide whether they wish to be covered by that collective or an individual agreement that may be offered by the employer. If the collective is chosen the employee must join the union;
Unions have access to the workplace under reasonable conditions to recruit members as well as service the interests of their members;
The right to bargaining collectively includes multi?employer as well as enterprise collective agreements. This right had been included in the Employment Contracts Act but the Employment Relations Act extends the right to strike or lockout to multi-employer agreements;
Codes of good faith setting out the protocols that will govern the good faith bargaining process may be negotiated between the parties. Currently the NZCTU and NZEF have agreed on an interim generic Code of Good Faith and will revisit that Code to finalise it in the new year. I have attached a copy to this lecture for those who may be interested;
The duty of good faith in the context of collective bargaining includes the union and employer using their best endeavours to reach an agreement; that they meet with each other; that they consider and respond to each others proposals; that they recognize the authority of any person appointed to be a representative or advocate and not undermine that authority; and they must provide each other with information that is reasonably necessary to support or substantiate claims relating to the bargaining ? this information includes financial information but there is a process for the appointment of an independent reviewer to assess the information to ensure confidentiality is preserved;
T here is a right to strike or lockout but only if the matter relates to collective bargaining;
There are also provisions relating to the settlement of personal grievances that are similar to those in the Employment Contracts Act but with the difference that reinstatement is now the preferred remedy unless there is good reason not to reinstate, and the parties have access to mediation to resolve their dispute before to goes to the Employment Relations Authority and on to the Employment Court if no agreement is reached;
While the Employment Court remains with a similar jurisdiction, the Employment Tribunal has been replaced with access to mediation through a service provided throughout the country by the Department of Labour. This service is free. If the dispute is not resolved at this level then the matter may be referred by the parties to the Employment Relations Authority that is required to investigate the matter in a non- adversarial manner, which basically means without lawyers having the right to cross examination, but with the intention of seeking a mutual agreement with the patties to resolve the dispute. If this process does not produce an agreed outcome then the matter may be referred to the Employment Court for a de novo hearing, at which the normal adversarial processes of cross?examination prevail. The institutions and processes of dispute resolution are the other radical innovation in the legislation. They attempt to provide a quick cost-efficient means to resolve disputes in a way that meets the interests of the parties. The provision of a combination of mediation, inquisitorial, and adversarial methods of dispute resolution is an attempt to meet the needs of the parties and not the demands of the legal profession;
The Act applies to both the public and private sectors so places some particular challenges for Government as the employer.
In this brief summary I have endeavoured to identify the main elements of the new Act. For those who may be interested in more detailed information I am happy to provide it if you contact me.
I want to conclude this lecture by returning to where I began. The Employment Relations Act is a new departure in industrial relations for those who have traditionally relied on adversarial conflictual models of dispute resolution in the workplace. For those of us who have always believed that cooperative inclusive models produce better outcomes for the most people, it is merely a new expression of an old tradition. The recognition of the fundamental right of employees to form and join trade unions must be an essential element of any workplace regulatory framework. To deny people this right not only produces inequitable and unsustainable outcomes in the workplace; it also weakens the fabric of democracy.
It is important for us never to forget that democratic principles and practices are relatively new in terms of the totality of human experience. They are also fragile and constantly under attack by those who do not find the sharing of power and the ability for all people to participate in decisions that affect them very congenial. For me, trade unions have always been one of the essential institutions in any democracy. This does not mean they are beyond criticism and do not need to change.
I sometimes think however that it is forgotten how important it is for people to be able to come together to support each other in pursuit of their interests. In a world where frequently decisions that affect the lives of many are made a great distance from their impact, it is doubly important that the voice of working people is heard clearly. I hope the Employment Relations Act not only provides them with this opportunity, but also will demonstrate that new approaches to old issues can operate to the benefit of all if we have the imagination and the willingness to try them.
Besides, the beauty of this little teaser is that there is no right answer so, for once, we can't be wrong. There are three potential answers - yes, no and maybe - each with supporting arguments.
According to most pen-wielders who have taken guard in the days since the Windies slumped to their second successive defeat inside three days the answer, most assuredly, is in the affirmative.
The reason being, apparently, statistics. Twelve consecutive victories is a new world record so stuff that in your pipe and choke on it. But hang on one minute - statistics, surely, are bare, bald wee things that can look awfully crude when when subjected to the microscope of context.
The serious contenders for the all-time crown are generally though to be Waugh's men, Don Bradman's team that pasted the Poms not long after the guns of World War 2 fell silent, and Clive Lloyd's ruthless, arrogant, brilliant, West Indian side of the 1980s.
Given that bugger-all of us can remember Bradman's team let's settle on Lloyd's lot for comparative purposes. Objectively, does Waugh's team match a line-up that would include Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Richie Richardson, Vic Richards, Lloyd and Larry Gomes for runs? Answer: Nope.
What about the wicketkeeper/batsmen - Adam Gilchrist v Jeff Dujon? Barely a split hair in it, either way?
Spin - Warne or MacGill v Roger Harper With Warne on his game, chalk up a big tick for the Aussies.
But pace? With due respect to the in-form Glenn McGrath; potentially-outstanding Brett Lee; injury-prone Jason Gillespie and sundry back-ups we ain't ever going to see a faster, more relentless barrage of bounce than that supplied over after over, day after day by Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and their support team.
These Australians are superb in the field but the Windies, boasting super-athletes in Lloyd, Harper and Richards, were hardly inferior. But by its nature a team, or a good one anyway, is greater than the sum of the individuals who make it up.
Things like chemistry and captaincy play indefinable roles in transforming good sides into great.
Back to the objective, however, and this Australian line-up has no made-in-Asia scalps on its belt. Its winning run was crafted in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia. Australian sides, in fact, have struggled mightily to register wins on the sub-continent, let alone back-to-back ones.
Lloyd's men won in India and Pakistan as well as blitzing the Brits on their own turf in a famous black-wash. The genuine status of these Australians won't be known, in historical terms, until they both meet the South Africans, generally regarded today's second best outfit, and tangle with Indians and Pakistanis on their own surfaces.
But the biggest difficulty in comparing sides of different eras comes from changes in the way the game is played. There isn't much doubt that Waugh's team is more professional and, physically, better prepared because that's how the game is these days. And, no question, when great teams clash professionalism and preparation count.
And what about the influence of one-day cricket? Even when Lloyd's team put its 11-match sequence together draws were plentiful enough to be almost the norm. Barely a decade and a half later they are a rarity except for matches contested on the slow, low pitches of the sub-continent.
It wasn't that long ago that every Test playing country had at least one, and often two stodgy, stubborn sods specifically programmed to seize draws from the jaws of defeat. Bill Lawry, Glenn Turner, Geoff Boycott, John Edrich and Mudassar Nazar were just a few who had the technique and temperament to "put up the shutters" for hours on end. But it is a dying art. Of the current Test batsmen probably only England's Mike Atherton, who began his career before one-dayers were the staple of the international diet, is similarly equipped.
Teams these days don't know how to play for draws and that, in itself, sheds a
different light on any winning streak. So, are Waugh's Aussies the greatest cricket team of all? Not yet they're not but, unlike every outfit that has gone before them, they have time on their side
McCallum weighs up contending "freedoms" in industrial relations. The Workplace relations Act appears to have contending freedoms, the freedom to manage and the freedom of association. Undoubtedly the freedom of association provisions were drafted with the intent of attacking unions, to break down so-called closed shops. Unions have, however, been able to use these sections to defend their rights. McCallum looks at the BHP dispute and the Commonwealth bank dispute to illustrate how the unions and the Federal Court have played out the varying interpretations. He concludes that these cases highlight the necessity for rules concerning the recognition of trade unions. The Act erroneously seems to say that freedom of association only protects membership, but not the right of collective bargaining. "This type of argument is akin to saying that freedom of religion protects the right to be a member of the church, but not the right to practice the faith through attending religious worship".
He also calls for more authority for the AIRC, which has been nobbled by Reith. The Federal Court is seen as ill equipped to deal with ongoing disputes
Changing Hours Drive Employer Bargaining
Working time arrangements are the 'one overwhelming issue' on employers' agenda when they enter into enterprise bargaining negotiations, according to the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training.
Ron Callus, Director of ACIRRT, told a Sydney conference today that most employers ultimately wanted their agreements to facilitate changes like annualised salaries, 12-hour shifts, expanding ordinary hours, and time off in lieu instead of overtime.
Callus said some 83% of Australian Workplace Agreements had a clause dealing with working time arrangements. His analysis is drawn from various sources including the recent joint ACIRRT/Australian Business Ltd research, concentrating on small to medium enterprises; a Business Council of Australia survey focussing on large businesses; and research conducted for the Office of the Employment Advocate.
Callus told delegates at the Enterprise Agreements Update Briefing 2000 he could not come to grips with the 'crucial' question of why employers moved to Australian Workplace Agreements.
'I can't understand rationally why in a large organisation you'd choose AWAs over a non-union certified agreement, which is a much easier process', he said. 'It's not entirely a rational decision-it has to do with a belief system.'
Similarly, the research showed an 'almost universal belief' that enterprise bargaining brought about change, although there had been no perceived change in skills, output, productivity of profitability.
Man Who Resigned After Plant Sold is Owed Redundancy
The NSW IRC has found that BHP Refractories acted unfairly in refusing to pay redundancy to an employee who resigned to accept another job after being told the plant he worked at was being sold.
Justice Roger Boland accepted the man's evidence that he believed he wouldn't be offered a position with the new owners, and that he left BHP with "deep sorrow" to avoid uncertainty about his future.
A woman at a nearby BHP plant (that was being closed down) also left early but she received redundancy. The man claimed that in applying two different policies on the availability of redundancy packages - and doing so purely to protect its own interests - BHP breached the NSW IR Act's s106 unfair contract provisions.
He ordered BHP pay the man what he would have received if he'd been given redundancy in April 1998, plus interest. He refused to take into account what the man had since earned, saying that would "perpetuate the unfairness inflicted on the applicant".
Justice Boland also found the man had made out a case for the payment of proportionate long service leave under s4(2)(1)(iii) of the Long Service Leave Act, accepting his claim that he resigned because of "domestic or pressing necessity". He ordered BHP pay him 7.58 weeks. The company has to also pay costs.
David Pearce V BHP Refractories Pty Ltd, NSW IRComm235. (23 November, 2000)
The AIRC has set a checklist for determining whether a probationary period exceeding three months is reasonable. Issues to be considered include:
· The nature of the job
· Entire circumstances of employment including the situation at the date the employment commenced
· Employee's previous experience, training and employment
Pisa and Merritt v Country Fire Authority (2000) AIRC Print T0960, 19-9-00
It has been held that a three month probationary period for someone employed as a storeperson was excessive, with 6 to 8 weeks being considered reasonable. It was also held that a period of work experience before employment was offered should be taken into account.
Frattinin v Mission Imports (2000) SAIRC no. 1295 of 1999, 16-5-00
Earlier rulings from the AIRC on probation are discussed in Corrs Workplace Relations for November by Linda Paterson. Other key factors in longer probationary periods are the seniority of the position, the amount of supervision, degree to which the quality of the performance is immediately apparent and the practices in the relevant industry. The nature of the job is the key factor.
If a probationary period is to be extended then this time must have been determined in advance for a maximum specified period.
Commissioner Eames of the AIRC has also noted in Irving v Paspaley Pearls Properties Pty Ltd (AIRC, 8 Dec, 1998, D Print Q9496) that "if a probationary period is to be attached to employment, it ought to be spelled out at the outset. In my view, it should be committed to writing at the outset, so that both the employer, and employee, know very clearly what the circumstances are."
(Recruitment and Termination Update; newsletter 26, 17 November 2000)
(Corrs Workplace Relation; November 2000)
Drug Addicts Have Rights, Too
The massive overreaction in the national media and by some politicians, including the NSW Premier, to a Federal Court ruling on a former heroin addicts expulsion form a club is inappropriate, says Leigh Johns from Mallesons Stephen Jaques.
The Court found that drug dependency was a disability, bringing it under the umbrella of federal and state anti-discrimination legislation.
Johns said it was an unremarkable decision that the court had found drug dependency to be a disability and thus workers were entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.
"In certain circumstances, if you were to find out at the recruitment stage that someone had a drug addiction, you would treat them like anyone else who with a disorder or a disability.
"The next inquiry you would make is whether they are able to perform the inherent requirements of the job and if they are able to do that?then they ought to be entitled to be employed."
(Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin; vol. 9, no. 207, 29 November 2000)
Lack of Robbery Prevention Measures Putting Workers At Risk
Employers are putting workers in danger by failing to adopt basic robbery prevention strategies, the Australian Institute of Criminology has warned. Adam Graycar, AIC director says armed hold-ups are significant concerns for business, but some are not doing enough to reduce the risk. He was speaking at the launch of the AIC workplace violence handbook, which focuses on the prevention of robbery. Risk control measures suggested by the AIC include:
· Restricting public access to cash and stock handling areas
· Installing alarms and surveillance systems
· Keeping cash to a minimum
· Developing a crisis response plan
· Training staff in how to respond during and after robberies
· Keeping emergency phone numbers close to the phone
· Requiring the reporting of suspicious, violent or unusual behaviour
· Providing additional security for staff working at night
The level of risk varies between jobs and industries, so planning must consider each circumstance. Failure to take precautions is traumatic for employees, and can be expensive for employers because of workers' compensation claims and legal action for failure to provide a safe workplace.
(Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin; vol. 9, no. 207, 29 November 2000)
"In a town of ambitious people there is no-one more ambitious than Pyne. In his mind, he has a hot date with destiny," one of our Canberra sources told us this week.
Pyne is the righteous dweeb with the very neat, short cropped curly brown hair and a voice that bears more than a passing resemblance to Mr Humphries from 'Are You Being Served'. He's been popping up on the news all week looking very concerned about alleged Labor rorts.
(As an aside, we're told the whole committee bears a spooky similarity to the old Grace Bros sit-com, with another member - Senator Jeannie Ferris, getting particularly excited about the voting rights of a pussy.).
But I digress, back to the Tool of the Week. Pyne's the new Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters - currently conducting public hearings over the 'Integrity of the Electoral Rolls'. The inquiry was established by the PM in a bid to link the allegations coming out of Queensland to Canberra.
But the question of integrity is now shining on the pedantic Croweater who this week refused to consider allegations against fellow Lib Jackie Kelly who's accused of turning her home into the Hotel California of itinerant conservatives.
When these allegations, along with those against his South Australian mentor Robert Hill were raised in Federal Parliament, Pyne decided public scrutiny of electoral rolls might not be such a good idea after all.
When members of his committee suggested Kelly and Hill should receive the same treatment meted out to Labor figures, who Pyne has been pursuing so vigorously, Pyne used his casting vote to ensure there would be no inquiry into their behaviour.
Pyne's behaviour exposes the inquiry he is chairing as the farce it is. This is politics pure and simple; an attempt by the PM to extract maximum political capital through his tax-payer funded kangaroo court.
It's hardly surprising that one as ambitious as Pyne would be happy to smear a bit of the 'doo-doo' around his chops. A quick look at his web-site 'Pyne-Online' confirms that there are a no depths to which he'd refuse to stoop.
Start with an Australian flag sailing through his name, move to the links to JFK speeches, wallow through Christopher's maiden speech and you'll walk away convinced, as we are, that in Pyne's mind he is already a great statesman.
Which makes his current grubby behaviour all the more Tool-ish. If there's a lesson for the kiddies at home it's this: blind ambition can lead one down some dangerous paths. It's the same lesson some of the younger members of the Queensland ALP are learning at the moment. Let's hope our Tool of the Week, the young, righteous Christopher does not suffer the same hubris. He's on a narrow path.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005