|Issue No 85||23 February 2001|
Opera Workers Join Freeloader Chorus
Stage crew and designers at Opera Australia want a service fee levied against freeloaders as part of their next agreement.
The backstage staff lodged the claim with Opera Australia management this week as anger against those who refuse to pay for the work going into wage negotiations continues to grow.
NSW Media and Entertainment Alliance state secretary Michel Hryce says the Opera Australia performers are also considering a similar claim.
The service fee push has gathered pace since the Australian Industrial relations Commission last week upheld the legal validity of a $500 service fee levied by the Victorian ETU.
Hryce says the issue is being driven from the shop floor and has sparked spirited debate at a workplace level about the importance of union membership.
"What we're finding is that in workplaces where the union is working well with the membership, the momentum is building," Hryce says.
"In fact, with Opera Australia its quite likely that by the time the agreement is finalized we'll have 100 per cent membership and won't have to levy a fee against anyone."
Abbott Preparing to Flex Muscles
The service fee push is gathering momentum as new Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott flagged he would change the law if the AIRC decision is not overturned on appeal.
Abbott has told Workers Online he is confident that the Democrats would approve the changes on the basis that were against the notion of compulsory unionism.
He says the idea is not a legitimate fee for service situation. "There is no analogy between what the unions do for people in a particular workforce and what a doctor might do for someone who comes in to get his injury bandaged because if they weren't there there would not be a pay rise," Abbott says.
"In many enterprises the only practical way to get a pay rise is for the union to negotiate some kind of agreement, is because of a culture which has been in there for a century or more, whereby the bosses will only talk to the unions."
Concerted Drive on Union Service Fees
Meanwhile, NSW unions will develop a joint strategy to promote service fees in majority-unionised workplaces, including pooling resources to fight any legal battles that may emerge.
The meeting has been called as branches adopt the user-pay fee as official policy and prepare to test the proposition under NSW legislation.
One affiliate, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers has called on Labor Council to consider funding any future legal action the ETU faces on the issue.
AIMPEE Secretary Andrew Williamson says all ACTU affiliates should share the funding on a pro rata basis.
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.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005