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  Issue No 85 Official Organ of LaborNet 23 February 2001  




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Trades Hall

Neale Towart's Labour Review

Labor Council's walking labour history museum is back with more wild and woolly facts from the wonderful world of workplace relations.


Employment 2001: Permatemps and Other New Lifeforms Stan Correy , producer

The AMWU casuals decision, "flexible workplaces", workplace partnerships, psychological contracts, spirited workplaces. All issues coming up in industrial relations and ones the Minister, Tony Abbott, will be talking about in his weird way.

Breen Creighton, author of many labour law texts, and a lawyer with Corrs Chambers Westgarth, is curious about Abbotts' return to the language of pre-industrial times, more or less equating industrial law with old fashioned family law. Industrial law did develop from family law and the master-servant relationship. Roman law was the basis of it, "when the pater familias had control over the members of the family and the extended family in the form of servants." The ideal for Abbott?

This program discussed the work and family situation and flexibility, contingent workers in the US (the big example is Microsoft), the Fairmont Hotel attempt to outsource its cleaning staff and labour hire firms in general. The flexible, family-friendly workforce doesn't exactly match Abbott's family workplace.

Construction Temps Fight for a Permanent Voice at Work

Labor Ready Inc. is one of the most notorious of the multinational labour hire firms operating in the USA. The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept last year launched a national temps campaign to gain a voice for construction temps. Workers are suing Labor Ready over its pay practices and the company is the subject of investigations for possible violations of workers' compensation laws.

It is just one of the 450 construction temp firms in the US. Annual income for these temp agencies rose from $4 billion in 1991 to $15 billion in 1998.

The US General Accounting Opffice reported that 30% of the US workforce laboured in contingent jobs - temporary or part time positions as independent contractors.

America@work; February 2001

Casualisation: What is the Debate We Should Be Having? by Meg Smith

The federal Minister and the Productivity Commission have been quick to dispute statistics about the level of casualisation and the level of insecurity in the workforce.

These arguments avoid the issues of the gendered naute of csualisation and the ability of the Industrial Tribunals to deal with it.

While casualisation is prevalent for both men and women it is women who are disproportionately represented in casual employment, particularly part-time casual employment:

� 32% of employed women are employed on a casual basis--the comparable figure for men is 22%;

� 70% of casuals are employed on a part-time basis. Men comprise 74% of all full-time casuals while women comprise 66% of all part-time casuals; and

� 85% of women and 52% of men employed casually are engaged on a part-time basis.

Conservatives use these figures to argue that women choose part-time casual work for lifestyle reasons.

New Fund to Secure Workers' Entitlements by Tania Clarke

A number of manufacturing unions have established an industry trust fund to secure employee entitlements.

Manusafe aims to protect entitlements and to ensure their portability in the industry. The scheme operates in a different way to the federal-State government "employee entitlements scheme". That scheme caps payouts at $20,000.00. Each separate entitlement is also capped. For example, an employee may only be entitled to 4 weeks annual leave even though they may be owed 8 or 12 weeks.

In contrast, employers participating in Manusafe agree to pay monthly contributions into the fund on behalf of each employee. The amount is negotiated and included in a certified enterprise agreement.

The Manusafe Board comprises union representatives and there are vacant seats for employers. All funds deposited are secure and returns earned on money in the fund will go towards the establishment of an industry-wide long service leave and/or severance fund.

On a week to week basis, casuals and contractors who are mobile and regularly change jobs will be able to secure their entitlements into Manusafe and take them with them from job to job.

The AMWU is currently campaigning to persuade employers in the manufacturing industry to both participate in the scheme and join the Board.

(ACOSS Impact; February 2001)

Enterprise Agreements in NSW - new principles for approval

The Anti-Discrimination Board intervened in the case to help ensure that:

� Enterprise agreements do not discriminate in their terms or their effects

� The terms or effects of agreements do not disadvantagw women, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with disabilities and others covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act

� These groups are properly consulted in the bargaining process.

The Commission agreed with the draft clause proposed by the Board.

(Equal Time; no. 47, Febraury 2001)

Carers' Responsibilities and Flexible Work Practices

Carers' responsibilities will start as a new ground for discrimination from 1st March. The law will now ask employers to do what they are able to do to accommodate their employee's carer responsibilities. It does not force them to do this when the employer can show it would cause major harm to their business. However, wherever possible an employer must provide flexible work arrangements so that an applicant or employee with carers' responsibilities can manage these alongside their work.

Some examples of possible flexible arrangements include:

� allowing an employee to work form home some or all of the time - this may include paying for and providing equipment and facilities to do this

� changing an employee's start or finish times, rosters or break times

� allowing an employee to work part-time or job-share

� allowing an employee to work their hours over fewer days

� being flexible about the amount of paid and unpaid leave an employee can take and when they can take it

� giving adequate notice about occasional changes to their regular hours, days or location of work

� subsidising the additional cost of an employee's alternative care arrangements that were caused by occasional, out of the ordinary or last minute changes to work hours or location

� including the costs of an employee's care arrangements in a salary package

� subsidised workplace childcare

� providing breastfeeding facilities, and/or breast-milk extraction facilities

Some employers have set excellent precedent sin this area including

� Kimberley Clark who provide family care assistance as well as adoption assistance

� Nokia provide each employee with $1000.00 a year for health care, personal development or childcare

� AAMI provide a 3 month career break leave option, as well as a range of family friendly practices

� Many companies including Bain International and C&W Optus provide paid maternity and paternity leave

The President of the Anti-Discrimination Board has criticised the legislation for its too narrow definition of "family member" - it is inadequate as it doesn't encompass concepts of family held by indigenous workers or those from a non-English speaking background.

He said the fact that these communities have wider family 'webs'--also comprising cousins, nieces and nephews, aunties and uncles--would have to be addressed.

(Equal Time; no. 47, Febraury 2001) and

Industry and Community Coalition to Prevent and Reduce Unemployment

A coalition comprising the ACTU, ACOSS, the Boston Consulting Group, the Business Council of Australia, the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Jobs Australia, and the University of Melbourne's Youth Research Centre. They have released Pathways to work: preventing and reducing long-term unemployment. The strategy argues that economic growth alone cannot deliver the conditions necessary for tackling long-term unemployment.

Some of the Pathway proposals are:

1. Ensuring a successful transition from education to work. All should have access to opportunities in education, training and employment opportunities delivering year 12 completion or its equivalent. This requires particular support for early school leavers.

Community partnerships should be developed, particularly at the regional level to strengthen links between schools, industry, health and Job Network services.

Government at all levels should co-operate.

2. Ensuring a successful transition from retrenchment to re-employment.

Timely and early intervention is crucial here. Businesses should be able, at little additional cost, to assist employees.

Employers, unions and employment assistance and training providers, should work together at the local and regional levels to develop employment assistance packages.

The Government should support these efforts through a new employment assistance scheme targeting high risk retrenched workers.

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 unemployment.

A package of employment and training assistance to meet each long-term unemployed person's individual needs

The government should substantially boost its investment in employment and training assistance.

Employers, unions and governments should work together with community organisations.

(ACOSS Impact; February 2001)


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 85 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Tony Abbott � Workers' Friend?
The new Workplace Relations minister relives his own union background and explains why he�s really just another worker at heart. Honestly.
*  Politics: The Politics of Petrol
Australia might be burning, but is it a fire that can be brought under control?
*  Organising: The Battle of Campsie
SDA delegate Maria Kavaratzis recounts how the Campsie Big W has been transformed into a union shop.
*  History: Scabbing Through the Ages
Neale Towart looks back at how popular culture has treated those workers who have not considered themselves part of the collective.
*  International: Diary of a Showdown
The Korean Metal Workers Federation recounts a week which culminated in violent attacks on workers outside the Daewoo factory.
*  Economics: Debt Dumping Campaign Enters New Phase
The millennial deadline might have passed, but Jubilee 2000 is not giving up the fight for debt cancellation for the world�s fifty-two poorest countries.
*  Health: The Real Drug Wars
As Africa attempts to deal with the HIV crisis, access to the medicines that can relieve victims� suffering is emerging as a major humanitarian issue.
*  Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
John Howard has claimed the Liberal Party�s decimation in Western Australia and Queensland as a triumphant vindication of his party�s embracing of the national competition policy.
*  Review: Beyond a White Australia
As we ponder the One Nation renaissance, a new book challenges the current debates around xenophobia and the perceived threat of danger from Asia.

»  Labor To Move on Outsourcing Scams
»  Opera Workers Join Freeloader Chorus
»  Independent Eyes for Asbestos Deal
»  Employment Records Must Be Protected
»  Workers to Float Down Oxford Street
»  Competitive Tendering Hits Welfare Sector
»  Violence Hits Indonesian Dispute
»  Locked Out, �Cause The Boss Won�t Talk
»  New Laws To Protect Carers
»  Acoustic Shock Cases Tip of the Iceberg
»  Teachers Fed Gives Free Membership to Students
»  Miners Union Calls for �Community Dividend�
»  Hanson's Nursing Plan Bad for Health
»  Refugee Plight Focus of NESB Network
»  Unions Pause On New Safety Laws
»  Heavy Handed Tactics Leave Speedo Workers Exposed
»  Activists Notebook
»  Vale: Charlie Fitzgibbon (1922-2001)

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  No Shrinking Violet
»  Service Fees a Cop Out
»  Not Quite Right on Discrimination
»  Explaining it to Pauline
»  The Canada Bay Debacle

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