Bevis says the proposition that a firm can move workers doing the same job into a different corporate structure to evade awards or agreements was a threat to the intergrity of the industrial relations system.
"If this situation stands it would mean that the entire system of awards and agreements is irrelevant," Bevis says.
A Full Bench of the Federal Court this week upheld an appeal by Stellar Call Centres against the Wilcox 'Transmission of Business' ruling. This decision means Stellar staff will no longer have the opportunity to enjoy the same pay and conditions as their counterparts in Telstra call centres who perform identical work.
Stellar is 50% owned by Telstra and does a large volume of Telstra overflow work.As result of this decision, Stellar staff will earn $28,000 for a 40 hour week, with no penalty rates compared to Telstra, staff doing the exactly same job who get $35,000 and work a 38 hour week, with much better employment conditions.
Bevis says that, while he is yet to study the ruling in detail, he says a Labor Government would address the issue in the first wave of industrial reforms it pursues on taking office. This is consistent with party platform set at last year's Hobart conference.
"The basic principle that outsourcing should not be used as a vehicle for driving down the wages and conditions of the same group of workers is core Labor policy," he says.
Not the End of the Road
The man who's spent much of the past year fighting the Telstra outsourcing, Stephen Jones from the Community and Public Sector Union, says the decision is not the end of the story.
"The Court has taken the view that because Telstra workers are human beings and not office equipment or some other form of valuable property, their work isn't part of the business of Telstra," Jones says. "It is a body blow to job security."
"It means that sham operators like Stellar can make a business out of undercutting the jobs and wages of ordinary working Australian's."
Jones says that while the decision is disappointing for the CPSU, it does not divert us from our strategy of developing new awards in the Telecommunications, IT, and Call Centre Industries.
He says that ultimately job security can only be gained with a fair safety net of wages and conditions across the industry, and a well unionised workforce.
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.
Labor Council delegates last night called on Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca to direct WorkCover actuaries to work with the Dust Diseases Tribunal to scrutinise James Hardies $293 million to settle all outstanding claims.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says he was skeptical about the James Hardie deal after being briefed by the company's spin doctors shortly before the offer was announced last week.
The company is proposing to put $293 million in a foundation that would deal with all claims, while dedicating a further $3 million to set up a research foundation into asbestos related illnesses.
Costa says the deal makes no provision for future claims, while the medical research foundation will be housed in an institution specializing in sleep disorder and asthma.
"I', extremely skeptical that this is anything more than an attempt to quarantine the company against future liabilities."
James Hardie is facing thousands of claims each year for illnesses ciontracted through exposure to asbestos products it marketed for decades in full knowledge of its carcinogenic effects.
The Maritime Union of Australia's Barry Robson, who told delegates he was 'putting a member in the ground every month' with asbestos-related diseases, says the offer is a scam of Patricks proportions.
"All that is happening is that James Hardie is trying to put a gloss ion the fact they are moving assets away from their business to limit the amount they will have to pay in compensation.
In an emotional address, Robson said that James Hardie shareholders were receiving "money tainted with the lasy gasp of our members' lives." He renewed calls for a strengthening of company law to send directors to jail
Robson says tens of thousands of Australian workers are expected to contract the deadly diseases in the coming decade.
NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says there are no legal protections to records on workers' medical history and trade union activity being passed on to third parties.
"I am particularly concerned that this sort of information is being passed around during the due diligence process when companies change hands," Costa says.
"While medical records are totally private when in the hands of a doctor, there is no protection when a medical certificate makes it way into the hands of an employer."
"Indeed, as Privacy Commissioner Chris Puplick pointed out last week, individuals have fewer rights as employees than in any other aspect of their lives."
The issue came to light after the sacking and subsequent reinstatement of 20 workers from Sydney's Wentworth Hotel. Of the 20 sacked, a disproportionate number were active union members, raising suspicions about what information was passed on to the new owners.
"While we have no proof the records were passed during this sale, the workers there are concerned that their files may have been accessed during the transaction of business," Costa says.
"Rather than have this atmosphere of fear and distrust, we call on the Carr Government to act decisively to ensure that workers are secure knowing their personal records will not be misused."
by Alison Peters
Mardi Gras is a huge event on Sydney's calendar with hundreds of thousands watching the Parade as it makes its way up Oxford Street. The Parade has evolved over the years but retains its identity as a demonstration for civil and human rights.
With such an enormous audience it is a perfect opportunity for the union movement to express its support for these ideals - ideals that are also the foundation of the union movement .
The union movement has been participating in the Parade for the last few years. Each year our contingent gets bigger and our float gets more elaborate. This year's effort will feature a politician that has had a huge impact on workers and unions. Finishing touches are being made to what will be a great float.
All union members are encouraged to participate in the Parade, irrespective of their sexuality. If you want to be part of Mardi Gras meet at Trades Hall Inn in Goulburn Street at 5.30pm on Saturday the 3rd March and wear something red.
For more information contact Robyn Fortescue on 0419 405 885 or Alison Peters on 9264 1691.
A total of 36 disability services across the state have been notified by their funding body, the Department of Ageing and Disability, that all existing funding to their services beyond June 30 will cease to exist. They have been asked to lodge tenders by March 3.
While the Carr Government has turned back the tide on competitive tendering in key sectors like rail and road maintenance in recent times, the push into the welfare sector is alarming unions.
Australian Services Union Branch Secretary Luke Foley, says the move will place jobs at risk and that the track record of tendering in human services to date has been abysmal.
"The Commonwealth has been doing this for ages, but this is the first example in NSW where community sector agencies have been asked to compete with with each other for their existing funding pool," Foley says.
The expressions of interests have been called under the auspices of allocating $1 million in new funding for individual advocacy work. But instead of only seeking bids for this money, agencies are being asked to tender for their entire budgets.
The ASU says there are fears from members that those agencies that have been critical of government policy, will now be made to pay for their 'systemic advocacy'.
A spokesman for the Ageing and Disability Minister Faye Lo Po has denied the policy amounts to 'competitive tendering'. "The process will be done by calling for expressions of interests and funding will be allocated on that basis and the major peak organisations will be included in the process."
The ASU's response? "Sounds like competitive tendering to us!"
The Labor Council has resolved to support the union and seek an urgent meeting with the Minister Faye Lo Po.
by Jasper Goss
Muhammad Zulrahman, treasurer of the Shangri-La workers union, at the Sint Carolus Hospital Jakarta after receiving treatement for a violent assault by a goon squad linked to the owners of the Shangri-La Hotel
Since the Shangri-La hotel workers' dispute began in Jakarta on December 22 last year Indonesian trade unionists have prided themselves on their unity and their struggle within the law. At no time has any Shangri-La worker utilised anything other than peaceful methods for struggle.
However, the same respect workers had maintained for their struggle was spurned on the afternoon of 19 February, 2001. Mr Muhammad Zulrahman, peacefully demonstrating at a Shangri-La Hotel picket, was grabbed away from his colleagues and assaulted by a goon squad linked to the owners of the Jakarta Shangri-La Hotel.
Mr Zulrahman is treasurer of the union at the hotel and an active supporter of the campaign to win Shangri-La workers their due rights under Indonesian law. The impunity with which the goon squad acted and the injuries sustained by Mr Zulrahman (severe bruising to the head, cuts, torn lips requiring stitching and missing teeth, see photo) clearly demonstrate that Shangri-La workers are now being targeted for violent reprisals.
Mr Zulrahman was saved from further beatings when two Shangri-la workers and a street worker saw the attack and intervened to save him. The three workers were also able to capture one of the attackers, a Mr Kaleb Ehanusa (see photo), who was later questioned by police, but claimed that Mr Zulrahman provoked him. Mr Kaleb, contradicting witness statements from three workers, also claimed that no one else took part in the violent assault on Mr Zulrahman.
Mr Kaleb Ehanusa, has been witnessed as acting as bodyguard for Mr Lyman (the founder of the Lyman Group), his son, Mr Osbert Lyman (the man in charge of Lyman Group investments at the Shangri-La Hotel), and Mr Tigor, personnel manager of Shangri-La.
The Real Terrorists?
Robert Kuok, billionaire Hong Kong share-holder in the Jakarta Hotel and boss of the five-star Shangri-La chain throughout Asia, recently visited Melbourne, Australia, to check on his proposed Docklands development which faces union opposition and possible boycotts if the dispute in Jakarta is not properly resolved. At the time of the visit it was suggested that the Shangri-La workers were terrorists and note real unionists.
Obviously, this was a rather unusual definition of the word terrorist.
No Shangri-La worker has ever kidnapped anybody. No Shangri-La worker has assaulted anybody. Yet, gangsters linked directly to the owners of the Shangri-La Hotel are now attacking with impunity workers engaged in peaceful struggle. Who are the real terrorists?
The IUF, the international federation of unions covering the hotel sector, has worked with its affiliate, the Indonesian Independent Hotel Workers' Federation (FSPM), of which the Shangri-La Hotel Union is a member, to draw international attention to this struggle.
Ma Wei Pin, IUF Asia & Pacific regional secretary, notes that "the owners and managers of the Jakarta Shangri-La have to understand that anything they do, any violent attack they make on workers will be known internationally the second it happens. They cannot avoid taking full responsibility for violent and brutal assaults on workers."
"If the management and owners of the Shangri-La think they can continue to act with impunity and that peacefully demonstrating hotel workers are targets for reprisals then they fail to understand the new world of global labour solidarity."
"The IUF continues to support the Shangri-La workers in their protracted struggle for dignity and basic workers' rights with every means possible. IUF affiliates and sister labour organisations around the world, such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), will continue to draw attention to any act which contravenes the rights of the
In the past twelve months there have been a number of high-profile lockouts including the six-month lockout of Joy Mining Machinery workers in Moss Vale.
Now paintworkers in NSW and Queensland, members of the LHMU, have been locked out of their jobs for eleven days by their employer, Mirotone, an Australian coating paints company.
The LHMU has been conducting a successful Paint Industry campaign for the last year with deals now signed with most of the major paint companies - including Taubmans and Wattyl.
" Mirotone has drastically ramped up this dispute by taking such a provocative act against LHMU members who were eager to make a deal," Cheryl Hyde, LHMU Assistant National Secretary, said today.
" Mirotone has never been a site where we have had huge disputes but the company seems to have imbibed the Reith rhetoric, adopted the Reith tactics, and decided to declare war on its workers."
The LHMU received Mirotone's lockout notice at lunch-time on Thursday saying all workers at the Revesby, NSW, and Wacol, Queensland, sites would be locked out of their jobs till 6am Monday, March 5.
The LHMU has already expressed concern about what it views to be coercive acts by the company. LHMU members have been trying to make a deal with company for more than three months.
" Our members are appalled by the company's action in threatening two members at Revesby, one a union delegate, by telling them they would either have to accept poorly-paid staff jobs or accept the sack. We think this constitutes coercion.
" The union is therefore considering taking legal action against the company. Normally companies complain to courts that it is workers and their unions involved in coercion - we are prepared to argue there is a clear case that here it is the other way round.
" Mirotone is pushing for an end to the 35 hour week which has been standard in the paint industry for many years. It has been an entitlement since the early 1980s. Now the company wants to destroy it," Cheryl Hyde said.
" Our members have consistently rejected a sell-out of the 35 hour week. They currently enjoy a nine day fortnight. The company wants to abolish that and make people work a 10 day fortnight with a 38.88 hour week."
The LHMU has been trying to negotiate a new enterprise agreement since November last year. The company refused to meet with the union until it was threatened with protected industrial action.
by Alison Peters
The NSW Anti Discrimination Act has been amended to prevent discrimination against workers because of their carers' responsibilities.
This provision takes effect on the 1st March and brings NSW into line with other parts of Australia where similar provisions have existed for some time.
This is an extremely important advance for workers who have responsibility to care for children, elderly relatives or other immediate family members. It means that employers can no longer discriminate against workers who look after family members.
The new provisions also require employers to provide flexible work practices where it is reasonable to do so to allow workers to meet both their work and carers' responsibilities.
Unions have been promoting the need for family friendly work practices for some time. Caring for family members while working is a major issue for many union members. With 91% of two parent families having both parents work and an increasing number of people caring for other close relatives this is a good opportunity for unions to talk to members about what might be appropriate for their workplace to secure good family friendly work practices.
by Noel Hester
The new daily was inundated with letters this week following a lead article which suggests 100,000 call centre workers at risk of acoustic shock in Victoria.
Acoustic shock occurs when call centre workers are subjected to sudden loud noises such as from a fax line through headsets. It can lead workers with depression, headaches and other health problems.
The Express published a full page of letters - some from recalcitrant bosses defending the status quo - but the great majority stories of pain and suffering from call centre workers.
'I started to experience a high noise level in my right ear, constant buzzing, sometimes lack of balance, headaches, sore right shouilder and constantly in some sort of pain that I knew had to relate to the earpiece,' wrote one correspondent, Elisa Lo Giudice.
'The pain I felt was like someone jamming a pen into my ear. I felt the headaches and the pressures of a busy environment,' wrote Daryl Scobie. 'In a normal 10 hour day I would take a 100 calls ranging between two and 10 minutes.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says State Labor governments can play a leading role in improving conditions in call centres by signing the charter and minimum standards code launched by the ACTU late last year.
'The emergence of this health hazard is a reflection of the draconian conditions that exist in some call centres. We want State Labor Governments throughout Australia to show the way for industry by agreeing to a minimum standards code, ' she says.
In Britain British Telecom has already paid out 90,000 pound to one worker suffering from acoustic shock. Union lawyers are representing another 83 BT employees who are suffering from the disorder.
In a refreshing contrast to Australian employers British Telecom recognises the potential harm from such noise interference and works closely with the union movement on research into its causes.
Doing it with Nappies
Meanwhile, Britain's TUC has published a report - It's Your Call - which says many call centre staff still work long hours for low pay and in poor conditions. The TUC found that call centre staff earn nine thousand pounds less than the national average wage.
It also found cases of management prerogative gone crazy, including the boss who ordered the staff member taking the longest toilet breaks to wear at daiper.
Call centres in Britain employ over 400,000 people - more than in the coal, steel and manufacturing industries put together. Turnover or 'churn rates' are believed to be as high as 40-60%. Unionisation in call centres is 44% although this is skewed by high rates in the public sector.
by John Dixon
"While the Federation has had student membership for over 50 years through the Trainee Teachers association student membership has declined since the end of teachers scholarships." John Dixon Membership Officer said, " However we plan to recruit and organise the next generation of teachers via the Internet. The students will receive all correspondence like newsletters and union journal via the net."
"In addition the we are recording when the student graduates and is likely to start teaching so we can send them appropriate material to upgrade their membership to full time or part time membership."
The Federation has produced a new section of for its web site - "Future Teachers" which contains a 'Prac. Teaching guide' and the 'Graduate Survival Kit'. In addition student teachers can join 'online' and have student membership fees waived while they are a student teacher undertaking a teacher qualification.
"With 13,000 students undertaking undergraduate teacher qualifications it's an investment for the union in the future"
Recently at 'O week' at Sydney University the Federation staffed a stall and provided student teachers with a student member 'welcoming pack' as they joined. The pack included :-
� a public education t-shirt,
� a coffee mug from the Teachers Health Society,
� a 'future teachers' pack from the Teachers Credit union including the ever popular 'slinky',
� pens and information from Members Equity home loans and
� information from the Federation such as salary rates and union's achievements over the last decade.
The response to the Federation's presence on campus was very popular and new links with student organisations were forged. The Federation signed up over 200 new student members in two days and is now beginning to receive online applications for student membership.
The stall was staffed by A number of Federation officers over two days with assistance from the NSW Teachers Credit Union, NSWTF Health Society, Members Equity home loans.
by Paddy Gorman
Specifically, it wants the company to cancel the closure of the Kenmare, Laleham and Cordeaux coal mines as the company has secured an per cent price rise in coking coal exports, worth an estimated $288 million.
With semi-hard coal expected to be upgraded to hard coking coal, BHP's price increase could be as high as 15-20%.
Miners union General President Tony Maher said that the price increase makes the planned closure of the three underground coal mines Laleham and Kenmare in Central Queensland and Cordeaux in the NSW Illawarra "a scandal".
"These mines have been classified as marginal but the latest price increase means they can operate profitably. If the closures go ahead, hundreds more coal mineworkers and their families in hard hit regions will be thrown on the industrial scrapheap.
"They deserve better than that. BHP's shareholders are reaping massive profits but what about the workers who produce the coal and the communities which host BHP's operations, aren't they entitled to some form of a 'community dividend'?", asked Tony Maher.
Tony Maher said that while the price increase justified keeping the three mines open, the settlement still fell short of what BHP could have got. "With the coal market tight and oil and gas prices rocketing, BHP should have done a lot better. However, it has reaped enough to keep these three mines operating profitably and to comfortably settle the enterprise agreement disputes that have been raging at six of its Queensland coal operations and three in NSW", he said.
With BHP's CEO, Paul Anderson, touring the company's Central Queensland coal operations this week, Tony Maher called on him to cancel the unnecessary closure of the three underground mines and to reach a fair agreement with its workforce. "In the past three years, BHP's coal mineworkers productivity has risen by more than 50%. At the same time its workforce has been slashed by almost 40%. The company is making record billion dollar profits. We say it is time for a 'community dividend' in the form of employment security and the welfare of our communities", said Tony Maher.
The NSW Nurses Association says the move would undermine quality healthcare and seriously undermine the image of nursing as a worthwhile career for young people.
Secretary, Sandra Moait, says that for better or worse it is clear Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party are going to be a high profile feature of Australian political debate for some time yet and her simplistic notions about nursing and healthcare can no longer go unchallenged.
In the Hospitals section of its current policy document, Pauline Hanson's One Nation states it wants the: "Re-establishment of the training of registered nurses in teaching hospitals." Further Ms Hanson recently received widespread coverage (for example, see Australian of 14 February 2001) for this policy and the following reported comments:
- "One Nation wants to lower the education standard for police and nurses to produce more 'street-wise' police and 'bed-wise' nurses. ...
- 'Why should we have police with solicitors' degrees? We need more street-wise police out there who know what's going on,' Ms Hanson told her supporters in Woodridge.
'- I've heard complaints about nurses with university degrees who don't even know what bedpans are for, let alone where to put them.'"
Moait says One Nation's policy and these comments indicate an appalling understanding of the needs of modern nursing and modern healthcare delivery.
"We don't need so-called 'bed-wise' nurses. We need well-educated professionals who can respond to and handle a diverse range of healthcare settings and the ever changing technology, drugs and processes that now characterise healthcare," she says.
"It is a dangerous and absurd proposition that, as healthcare becomes more complex and the community's expectations continue to rise, nurse training and education should be downgraded.
"Nursing is not about bed-pans, it is about the management of health and living with illness in a variety of settings. It is not just about hospitals. It is about aged care, it is about community healthcare, home-based palliative care and a whole range of other care situations. Hospital-based training cannot prepare a flexible workforce, which can respond to and be effective in all these settings.
"At a time when there is a concerted and much-needed push to recruit more young people into a nursing career, calls for a return to hospital-based training also send the wrong messages. As I have said nursing is a professional career that offers a range of interesting and exciting options. Portraying nursing as being simply about hospitals, hospital beds and bedpans is not only misleading, it potentially undermines this recruitment effort".
by Mark Morey
The non-English Speaking Background (NESB) Union Network will work with the Asylum Seekers Centre and the NSW Refugee Health Service to improve the transition of refugees in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas from detention into the community.
At their first meeting this month, the network resolved to investigate of providing work experience to people leaving detention. .
The NESB Union Network has been established to provide an opportunity for unions working with non-English speaking background (NESB) workers to meet bi-monthly and share information, discuss issues relevant to current and potential NESB members, and to identify opportunities to work collaboratively on small projects that will benefit both NESB workers and NSW Unions.
Sylvia Winton Director of the Sydney based Asylum Seekers Centre and Dr Mitchell Smith, Director of the NSW Refugee Health Service addressed the inaugural and outlined how Australia's detention centres are worse then prison. Stories about abuses of human rights within Australia's detention centres are numerous and Sylvia Winton provided her personal experiences with refugees and asylum seekers who had been subjected to solitary confinement, excessive physical force and beatings. One asylum seeker stated to her "I'd rather have died in my country than go through this and put my family through the treatment here.
One of the biggest issues for refugees and asylum seekers leaving detention is their ability to secure work and being able to demonstrate they have local work experience and knowledge of local industries. Both speakers at the meeting stressed that the refugees and asylum seekers have very strong desires to work. Many are not use to being in positions where they are not working and for many, they are certainly not used to accepting money from the government. Many refugees and asylum seekers did not trust governments in their own countries and were fearful of accepting money there. These sentiments continue to be strong even in Australia where they would rather be working and remain self-sufficient
In order to facilitate the progress of developing strategies to address this issue, the Network has undertaken to look into the feasibility of developing and implementing work based mentoring programs within unions for refugees and asylum seekers. The Network is also planning to organise a follow up forum that will invite key ALP politicians to discuss how the current ALP approach to immigration and refugees and how it varies current Coalition policies and practices.
The Network is open to anyone in the union movement interested in issues effecting NESB workers in NSW. For more information contact Labor Council's Special Project Officer Mark Morey on 9264 1691
by Mary Yaager
Employers must now consult with employees about safety issues and there are legal teeth to punish recalcitrant bosses.
The streamlined Occupational Health and Safety Regulation will replace a number of NSW acts covering Health and Safety, such as the Construction Safety Act, the Factories Shops and Industries Act and other existing Legislation.
However, according to Greg Donnelly , Secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, unions do have concerns with the new law, particularly because some of the good provisions in the old laws are not being replaced.
Greg Donnelley said his union constantly uses the provisions under the Shops Factories and Industry Act which cover important issues such as ventilation, workspace, amenities, first aid, heat and cold and young people working with machinery".
Labor Council, Assistant Secretary, John Robertson and a number of unions met with the Minister John Della Bosca this week to discuss concerns over the new proposed occupational health and safety laws.
John Robertson said ' the Minister has given assurances that the important provisions such as first aid, amenities etc. will be carried across under the new OHS Regulation 2000'
John went on to say ' the Minister has also set up a number of consultative committees with the unions to work through the details'
by David Tritten
The Union representing the workers at Speedo has condemned Speedo for failing to consult with the workers or their Union prior to announcing the termination of the employees. The National Secretary of the TCFUA, Mr Tony Woolgar, said, "the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and the Workplace Relations Act 1996 required that the Company consult with the workers and their representatives prior to the announcement being made. The idea of this consultation period is to allow time for the workers and their representatives to discuss alternatives with the Company to sacking employees".
As it turned out the Company yesterday set in motion what appears to have been a carefully orchestrated plan to sack its employees. The surprise sackings follow reassurances from management that the workers jobs were safe. At 7.40 am yesterday management separated the employees it intended to sack from the few who will keep their jobs. Workers who were not sacked yesterday were put in the boardroom and a security guard was placed outside the door.
The manufacturing workforce were then rounded up and told by management (who read from a short prepared script) that they were terminated. Management then handed the meeting over to 'consultants' (who were brought in especially for the purpose). The so-called 'consultants' were left to hand out the letters of termination to the sacked workers. As the sacked workers left the factory many had their bags searched by security guards who had apparently been hired for the purpose.
Earlier today Union representatives were told by Speedo management that the Company would not guarantee that the workers who end up making Speedo gear from work contracted out would be paid award wages and conditions.
Mr Woolgar said that: "This issue of contracting out in the textile and clothing industry has given rise to exploitation of women and children in other circumstances and we believe that Australian consumers are concerned that the garments they buy are not being made by exploited labour.
If the Company are concerned to retain some of their manufacturing in Australia why don't they keep it in the factory where they can guarantee that proper wages and conditions will be provided to the workforce".
The Union will be commencing action against the Company in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The Union are seeking to have the sackings reversed until all alternatives to termination of employment are thoroughly explored.
Wollongong Forum - Regional Australia Deserves a Fair Go!
Recognising the need to urgently address the disparity between regional and metropolitan areas, Transport Workers' Union together with the South Coast Labour Council is holding a community forum in Wollongong with representatives of the local community to highlight the need for improved wages in regional Australia and to demand a better deal from the Federal Government.
This forum will provide the community and general interest groups an opportunity to discuss experiences, emphasise the necessity for improved wages in regional Australia and raise awareness of other issues including Australian Workplace Agreements and the implications of the Federal Government's Industrial Relations system.
The forum is open to all members of the community and will be held on Monday 26th February between 10.00am and 12.30pm at level 9, Wollongong City Council, Burelli Street, Wollongong.
Free Western Sahara
Rally for a free Western Sahara Tuesday 27 February 12 pm Moroccan Consulate 11 West, St North Sydney
Hundreds of Australians will join with thousands of others around the world next Tuesday 27 February to call for a free Western Sahara.
Speakers to a Sydney rally, including Democrat Senator Lyn Allison and ICJ Justice John Dowd will tell Morocco that their brutal occupation of the small African nation must end.
"Morocco's vicious invasion brings shame on them, and on the international community who have done nothing to stop them," said Kamal Fadel, Western Sahara independence movement representative.
The occupation has seen thousands of Saharawi people killed, many more tortured or simply disappear and over 180,000 others fl ee to refugee camps.
The 27 February is the Western Saharan national day, celebrating the day that the Spanish left he country in 1975.
This year, the day is especially important as escalating Moroccan aggression is bringing the region to the brink of war.
This escalation comes as the mandate of the UN mission, which has been in the country since 1991, is due to expire on 28 February.
A coalition of Australian parliamentarians, trade unionists, humanitarians and students have been campaigning around this issue for the last year.
"Morocco's increasing aggressive attitude should be of concern to all fair-minded citizens," Kamal said.
"We Saharawis are heartened by the support the Australian people have shown for us by organising the rally on the 27 th ."
For more information contact Phil Davey, on 0414 867 188.
EMILY's List to Celebrate International Women's Day!
Starring Joan Kirner and the EMILY's Polstars - female NSW candidates for the Federal Election.
Ros Kelly - Federal Minister 1989-94.
Sandra Nori - NSW Minister for Small Business & Tourism
All women and men who want to support female candidates into Parliament are welcome! In NSW, we are lagging behind in the ALP goal of 113 females. The fantastic win in Queensland also elected 27 female MPs out of 64 and 16 were specifically assisted by EMILY's List.
Great raffles! (Well it is a fund raiser):
- Facial/massage/hair treatment at Bruce Mann Hair & Beauty Salon
- Books from Shearers
- Palace Cinema tickets
When: 7.00pm for 7.30pm, Monday, 5 March 2001
Where: Martini Bar & Restaurant
1/99 Norton Street
Cost: $50.00 (three course meal and drink)
Bookings: Melanie Stewart
Phone: 02 9230 2488 or
Fax: 02 9230 3043 or
Email: [email protected]
RSVP: Before Friday, 2 March 2001
by Zoe Reynolds
Charlie Henry Fitzgibbon, a former general secretary of the Waterside Workers' Federation, and an executive member of the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the International Transport Workers' Federation passed away on Monday, February 19 after a long illness.
Speaking at the Palmdale Crematorium service on the NSW Central Coast on Friday, February 23 were Bill Kelty, former ACTU secretary, Ray Gietzelt, AO, former general secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers' Union and family.
"The labour movement has produced great people - prime ministers, premiers, judges, union and community leaders," said Bill Kelty. "These people play a very special role in this nation, providing a legacy beyond their years. Charlie Fitzgibbon, former wharfie's leader was among the best. Without doubt he was one of our most competent union leaders."
It was under the leadership of Charlie Fitzgibbon that the Waterside Workers Federation (now the MUA) established workers' superannuation, the Waterside Workers' Credit Union, permanency, voluntary redundancy, leave loading and the 35 hour week - all firsts in the labour movement and all achieved during the first decade after Fitzgibbon's election in 1961. Many of these conditions then flowed onto other unions.
"There is no worker in this country who does not owe Charlie," said Kelty, appointed by the ACTU to voice the collective appreciation of the union movement and pay tribute to Fitzgibbon. "Every day they work and every day they retire, all working people have a debt to Charlie. He was a wonderful person. A giant. A hero."
Fitzgibbon was also one of the architects of the Prices and Incomes Accord, as senior vice president of the ACTU, working closely with friends Bill Kelty and former PM Bob Hawke.
"Charlie was a mentor to political leaders and a lynchpin of the ACTU," said Kelty.
Charlie Henry Fitzgibbon was born in Newcastle. As a young man he witnessed the terrible effects of the Great Depression.
"It was this experience that influenced him to do what he could to make this world a better place for all," said Ray Gietzelt. "After the death of Jim Healy in 1961, Charlie Fitzgibbon burst onto the national industrial and political scene."
Charlie was regarded as labour right and there was much speculation at the time that the union and the labour movement would shift likewise. But Charlie stamped his own independent branch of progressive policies on the Federation and none doubted his outstanding ability and devotion to the cause of working men and women worldwide.
He served on the International Transport Workers' Federation as chairman of the dockers section and as Australian Workers' Delegate to the International Labour Organisation.
Other posts held by Charlie Fitzgibbon were on the ALP NSW Central Executive (1960s), ACTU executive (1967-1983) Central Executive of the ALP (1959-1971), ALP Administrative Committee (1971-1977), Chair, ITF Dockers' Section (1974-83) Commissioner of the Australian Shipping Commission (1973) Director of of the Reserve Bank of Australia (1983-1993), Member of the Steel Industry Authority (1982-1984) Commissioner of the IAC (1985-1986) Officer in the Order of Australia (1980)
Charlie Fitzgibbon is survived by his step daughter Valerie, grandsons David and Douglas.
Also attending the service were MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, former secretaries John Coombs and Tas Bull, retired union leaders Fred Peterson (TCFUA), Alec McLagen (ETU), Barry Joy (TWU), Neil Swancott (formely MEAA, IFJ, now LHMU) National Secretary LHMU Jeff Lawrence, family, friends and MUA members.
To the Editor,
I gratefully congratulate you on your editorial concerning young people in the union movement. And if the major newspapers are anything to go by, I am grateful that you mentioned us at all! It is true that today's youth are a largely ignored minority in the public arena and it seems that they are less enthusiastic than their forebears when it comes to joining unions.
I believe that the union movement's blue-collar history both repels and attracts young people. Repels because of the tired, earthy image of the oppressed worker (which contrasts so starkly to the glamour image of professional careers fed to us by the media, and which most will never even experience). There is the desire to escape the life of drudgery endured by many of our parents in the post-WW2 years.
Simultaneously, the struggles and victories of the union movement appeal to young people. For many, improvements in working conditions and pay for workers demonstrate acts of heroism unknown to the youth of today.
Often, young people do not consider themselves to be 'workers' or battlers as such. We do not expect our jobs now to end up as our careers. In casual positions with little job security and few rewards we work hours of unpaid overtime and are paid minimal wages, often working 2-3 jobs at once to support ourselves.
While aware of appalling sweatshop conditions in other countries, young people do not identify themselves as working in equally appalling conditions at home. This was my position working pre-Valentine's Day for a well-known Sydney chain of florists. In the mad rush to complete thousands of orders, my colleagues and I worked over 18 hours with less than 1 hour break. At 2.30am we trudged home for a shower then back to work on Wednesday to greet love-sick puppies in suits. We were not paid any overtime for a 60 hour week and we have not been given pay slips so we can check that we are being paid correctly.
My industry is not highly unionised. In fact in my workplace of 80 I could well be the only employee who is a member of the union. What do young people do in this situation... do we exit or do we fight alone?
OK. I'm forced into it, given the gung-ho Workers Online support for non-unionist levies. I think we need to be fairly careful about the trade union bureaucracy's push for fees from non-unionists.
I'll admit to being concerned about these fees. Your headline - "Union Members Tell Scabs: Sing for Your Supper" only re-inforces my concern.
First, where are these all these union members telling non-unionists to sing for their supper? Not in my workplace. Secondly, I had always understood a scab was someone who crossed a picket line to undermine a strike or other industrial action. People who are not members of a union are not scabs per se.
Your headline implies that non-unionists are incapable of being persuaded to join a union. Crap. If the union movement mounted a concerted campaign to increase
wages and conditions then non-members would join.
Thirdly, to say to non-unionists 'sing for your supper' means that passive non-unionist workers should be penalised for their class stupidity.
If a union were strong enough to impose a closed workshop I would support it.. But fees are a substitute for organising and imposing union consciousness on the workplace.
And that's the rub. The trade union leadership, from their capitulation to the Accord to their surrender to Howard, fails to challenge the rule of capital - or even to defend
wages, jobs and conditions through industrial action. The consequence of this lie of class collaboration - what's good for the bosses is good for workers - has been a loss of membership.
The real trade union response should be a general industrial reply to increase wages and better conditions and defend jobs. Of course, given the pro-capitalist politics of almost all of the trade union "leaders" it won't happen. Instead of attacking the bosses, and thus attracting workers to join, our "leaders" will attack fellow workers. Just like the pro-capitalist trade union leadership has done since 1983.
Your article about proposed changes to leave entitlements for young employees got it wrong - the legislation is even more discriminatory than you have stated. Adult service for the purposes of accrual of long service leave commences from age 21 - the previous adult age before changes were made years ago - not from age 18 as you stated (See section 4 (2) (a1) (iii) of the Act). The Long Service Leave Act 1955 was never updated to take account of the change in adult age.
Pauline Hanson articulates - please explain; puts into words - the concerns that many men and women have with economic rationalism. But does she have any answers? Choosing her policies as carefully as she chooses her deisgner outfits, she has real solutions. To improve the economy, abolish ATSIC and, for law and order, dumb down the police force by lowering the educational requirements for new recruits.
The continuing saga of Canada Bay must surely be the fusty icing on the weevil-infested cake of Local Government that authenticates its worthlessness in today's governance structures. It is now time for Harry Woods , the Minister for Local Government to step in and sack this dysfunctional council.
Not satisfied with the elected councilors squabbling among themselves they altercate like belligerent magpies over over who gets to peck the bottletop , and lick the cream of the milk . Or who gets the first suck of the tomato sauce on the saveloy We now have the Mayor almost deposed in a attempted Coup d'�tat , and calls for strike action.
While the threat of strike action, is an absurd furphy as this only benefits the ratepayers through saved wages and justification of hidden outsourcing machinations. This Union is certainly on the right track in demanding strong
Frank Sartor , would certainly fit the criteria to subjugate this epitome of "Bedlam". He certainly knows the price of everything,including personal tenets.
While not agreeing with most of the tactics used by Sydney City Council, in its continuing restructure. There can be no denying the gains made - not only by Sydney City residents , but also the employees, who have some of the hardest working and best paid "Garbo`s and Street Sweepers", in the world - among their assemblage.
While debate is an intricate part of democracy, the long-winded, comical,whimsical and sometime capricious verbosity of the sassy, uncultured, and curt behaviour of the councilors of Canada Bay , would be a more befitting in a sequel of "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest"
Come on Harry, Act on the initiative of this Union and its Organizer Ms. Carolyn Moore, in demanding action! Sack the lot of the Bludgers!
Give Frank a go at the lamp-posts?
by Peter Lewis
Unlike most Liberal IR Ministers, you actually come from a trade union background. In your AJA days, I hear that you ran a few strikes.
I didn't exactly run a few strikes, but when I was at the Bulletin, ACP management one day, quite unilaterally, decided to sack the entire photographic department - and at the Bully we did most of our stories with photographers, so the journos and the photographers very much worked hand in hand. So, we were all shocked, stunned, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted - when management just came in and said they were sacking the photographic department. So we immediately had a stop work meeting. There were various appropriately angry speeches made and I moved the resolution to go on strike, which was carried, as far as I can recall, unanimously, and we went on strike for a couple of days.
I'm not sure that in the end the strike was particularly productive, because as it turned out we got the magazine out in three days rather than five. The photographers stayed sacked, but they all ended up earning a lot more as contractors than they ever had as salaried workers. So, I guess that was an example of militancy, which may well have, in the end not have achieved its objectives, and its objectives may well have been counter-productive anyway.
My next dealing with the union was when I was briefly managing a concrete batching plant for Pioneer, and I got the company ideology - this is in the late 80s - this is in 1988. The ideology of the company was, in those days, was that the concrete industry had been run for far too long for the benefit of the owner-drivers and not enough for the benefit of the company and its shareholders - and we had to change that. So, like an obedient young fella I got to the plant in the morning, marched up and down the line of trucks like a Prussian army officer, telling owner-drivers who had been in the industry for longer than I had been alive, that that truck was too dirty, and that truck was filthy, and that truck had a leaking valve and had to be fixed.
Naturally enough, this wasn't very popular, and I had been there a couple of months, and a phone call came through one morning from the quarry manager, saying that there was going to be a strike starting at midday, so can we put a bit of stuff on the road to you. And I said sure, send me as much as you've got. I'll use it. I can keep my plant open for longer than I otherwise might.
I didn't think anymore about it. All these trucks turn up at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon with gravel and sand and aggregate, wanting to dump it. And I couldn't dump it without running material from the ground bins up to the overhead bins. It took me about half an hour to figure out how to turn the conveyor belt on because all the staff had gone home. I finally got it going; the materials were dumped; I went home feeling that I had done my job well. A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: "Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?". I said "Yeh". He says "Right - nothing moves - this plant's black - like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!" Ha, ha, has.
So anyway, I drove out to the plant that morning, thinking well, you know, this is a bit of a problem. How do I solve this? I thought that there's really only one thing to do, and that's to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: "Stan I'm sorry. I'm new in this industry. I appreciate that I've been a bit of a so-and-so, but you've made your point and I will try to be different."
He said to me: "It's out of my hands. It's in the hands of the union organiser." So I said, who's the union organiser and what's his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded, and he said: "It's more than my job's worth to let this go. Bloody Pioneer are always pulling stunts like this. We've had enough of it! We're sick of it! Got to do something." So I said, well, look why don't we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I'll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: "I'm putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry."
So anyway, I have to say I did learn my lesson, and what I did learn was that company rhetoric couldn't be taken at face value, and I made it my rule after that to keep a case of beer in the fridge and at 4 o'clock every afternoon I would go and have a couple of beers with the drivers and the plant operators in the crib room, and I have got to say that the best jokes, the best stories and the best times were all actually had there, rather than on the end of the phone trying to sell more concrete.
Both those stories seem to be examples of positive experiences of unionism ...
Oh they are. Look they were in a sense positive experiences. Certainly they were both learning experiences for me. When I was at News Limited, where I went subsequently, we went on strike a couple of times. And I was against the strike on both occasionsThey were pay and conditions strike. It wasn't a fundamental question of justice strike. And I can remember standing up and it was in the lower Trades Hall in Sussex Street, it might not even be there anymore, and arguing in front of six to seven hundred people that we shouldn't go on strike and not meeting with a particularly warm reception.
But you still chose to stay in the union at that stage. What was it about unions that made you want to be part of them?
Historically trade unions have had quite an important and valuable role civilising the workplace; establishing the dignity of labour and so on. I think that unions today have in some respects too much power - too entrenched a place in the system, and I think it would probably be in their interests, the Labor Party's interests and the national interests if some of those things are changed. But, my view was that I was in a unionised industry; my colleagues were in the union; and I should be in the union. So I was in the union, and in fact I stayed in the union, I think for twelve months after I left journalism. I went in as a political adviser, where of course there was no tradition of union membership. Because I'm not against unions as such. But I have a critique of unions which I think is worth pursuing.
But let me finish on Tony Abbott and unions. My most recent experience - prior to taking up this job - was some dealings with the SDA over the issue of carparking fees for staff at Warringah Mall in my electorate. Now, my view was, and is, that to suddenly hit staff with a compulsory carparking fee. Most of the staff have got to drive, they don't really have public transport options, and once you are there you have got to park and really, especially for the older staff, they have got to park as close as possible, which means parking in the Warringah Mall car park. To hit people like that with a $3 a day parking fee, amounts to a $15 a week pay cut to people who are only earning just over $400 a week. It is very unfair. So I was a supporter of the union, and I suppose in a sense the union was a supporter of mine in campaigning against that fee. And I am pleased to say that thus far at least, Warringah Council has refused to approve Warringah Mall's attempt to hit the workers with a $3 a day parking fee, mainly Warringah Mall. So that was another positive, if informal operation.
Just on your past, you were also involved with Santamaria's DLP. Talk us through that.
When I was at Sydney University I was involved with something called the Democratic Club and the Democratic Club was the independent successor of the old DLP Club. There were strong but informal links between the Democratic Club and the NCC. Not all of the people who were involved with the Democratic Club had the link with the NDC but many of us did. And certainly I was happy to draw inspiration, guidance and occasionally some practical help from the NCC in terms of the work that I was doing on campus.
Well, let's move on to the present. You were talking about the role of unionsand how you think they have become too powerful. Explain what you mean by that?
I think Noel Pearson has made this comment about indigenous activism. During the early 90s indigenous activists lined up, almost to a man with the ALP and then the government changed and indigenous activists felt they were dealing with the enemy. Now the trouble is the enemy was the government of the country, and if you try to achieve good results for your people, you have got to work with the government of the day, even if it maybe wasn't your first choice. You have got to work with it because it is the government of the day for better or for worse, and there was I think a resistance on the part of a lot of indigenous leaders to doing that.
As long as the unions are institutionally linked with the Labor Party, they will have a sense of ownership with Labor governments and a sense of antagonism with non-Labor governments. That is to say, there will be an unhealthy closeness with Labor governments and there will be an unhealthy alienation from non-Labor governments.
But surely they are different. They set up the Labor Party!
And good parents let their kids go their own way. My kids will one day set up their own household and I hope they will always love me, but they are certainly not going to always obey me. Hell, I mean, it's hard to get them to obey me now and they are only eleven.
Are there any issues that you wish you could be working closer with the unions on?
I would like the unions to feel less hostile to workplace agreements. We have set these things up in such a way as there is no reason why a worker who doesn't enter into an AWA can't use a union as his bargaining agent, or can't use a union to provide information. There is no reason why workers who have gone on to AWAs can't remain members of unions. The only fundamental difference between an AWA and other agreements, is that there is no absolute necessity to go to the union to make the agreements - but there is no reason why you can't use the union to help you make the agreement. Why don't unions say to their members, look, if you think you can get a better deal for yourself out of an AWA, fine, by all means go down that path, but if you want our help and assistance we are happy to provide it.
I would have thought that many workers would have thought, well, hang on a minute, no one knows the ins and outs of industrial law better than the unions. I can probably go and get the unions' advice for a fair price, but if I go and engage Allen, Allen and Hemsley or someone, I may well be paying several hundreds of dollars an hour for their assistance. I won't be doing that with the union, so why don't I use the union?
By contrast, most of the unions - most of the unions but not all - seem to have adopted the attitude that anyone who goes onto an AWA is basically a pariah who has set himself or herself outside the general sort of territory that we unions wish to inhabit, and I think that is a pity. I mean, I would have thought that sensible, intelligent organisations - unions no less than political parties like to say that if you are not against me you are at least potentially for me. Whereas the union I think is saying, if you are not for me you are against me, which I think is a counter-productive attitude.
Let's go back to that point of hostility. A fair bit of it with the union movement stems back to the waterfront. I am wondering, would you have handled that dispute differently?
It's a few years ago now. I wasn't close enough to it at the time and I can't remember enough to give you a definitive answer. Look, I am a human being, with my background, my attitudes and my instincts - and Peter Reith and I are obviously somewhat different in that respect - but look, do I have any criticisms of Peter Reith? No I don't. Do I think that in the end that dispute probably didn't work out too badly? Yes, I do. I think it did probably work out OK in the end. Almost inevitably I would have done things somewhat differently, but I don't think that Peter Reith did it badly. I think it unfortunate that the whole thing got as polarised as it did, but it was probably inevitable when you were dealing with a very, very determined union. You know, a very sharp, but I think necessary conflict.
You have been talking about how the workplace is like a family recently. The question that unions would want to ask you is, what happens to the bad family?
Well, the bad families go to the Family Court, but most families never go to the Family Court.
But when they do, what is your view of the adequate safety net for workers that should be there?
I'm not unhappy with having an Industrial Relations Commission, or some similar tribunal, establishing a safety net. But I think it really should be a safety net, not an elaborately conceived and elaborately explained blanket. It should be a safety net not a blueprint for major aspects of the employment relationship. And that is all it should be. It should be a safety net.
So you are saying the basic minimum wage and what else?
Well, we have apparently got 20 allowable matters.
Do you reckon that's about right?
Look, it is no secret that we would like to further reduce the allowable matters. At the moment allowable matters include union picnic days. Well, I don't know that we really need to have union picnic days as an allowable matter. I think it's fine to have it in an agreement if the workforce wants it, but I am not sure that awards should be included for a start.
You have been in this government a while now. How do you think you'll be a different IR Minister to Peter Reith?
Well, look that is not for me to say - more for others to judge. There is an election sometime towards the end of this year, and who knows what the outcome of that election will be. Notwithstanding the results in Queensland and WA, I am reasonably confident that the Coalition can win, but the fact is that just at the moment my horizons are somewhat constrained by the fact that we have got an election coming up pretty soon.
Do you see part of your role to campaign against the unions?
No. I see part of my role as being to point out the realities of the Australian industrial system and the industrial culture which sustains the system and, as I said, I think it is a pity that the unions and the Labor Party march in one step the way they do. And I think it is a pity that as much of our industrial regulation is still institutionally in the hands of the unions, as opposed to being in the hands of the unions who have gone out and won that position and worked for that position on the merits of their arguments.
What do you understand by the term "Organising'
How do you mean?
Greg Combet came to power with a commitment to Organising. What's your understanding of that approach?
Well, it sounds to me like a term of art and not being close enough to the context of belonging to a union, I could only have a stab at it.
If it is basically about pushing unions back down to the shop floor and delegate structure, what would your attitude be?
Well, that sort of thing certainly sounds like a sensible idea - in the same way as sensible political parties try to revitalise their grass roots and build up their branches. It certainly sounds like a smart idea. But the difference between a political party and a union is that political parties don't have ways of dragooning people into membership. Political parties can't send people who are serviced a charge!
Let me ask you about this. What do you think unions should do about free loaders. You know, people that are union members pay their fees. Officials go out and do the hard yards, negotiating agreements, but the people in the workplace that aren't a member get the pay rise without having to pay. What is the solution?
It's not really a fee for service situation. I mean 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.
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. The bosses will not talk to individual workers or bargaining units other than the unions. So it is not the proper market situation. It is not a proper fee for service context, and to sort of hit people for a bargaining fee in a context where they have no choice but to accept the union pay rise, other than not to get a pay rise at all - for no one to get a pay rise - to insist on that is to insist on compulsory unionism. And that is just not right.
You've said you'll put legislation up if the decision is not overturned. But won't the Democrats oppose this?
I'm not sure about that. My understanding is that while most people support the right of the union to charge a bargaining fee, they believe that individual workers - as opposed to the workers collectively - have got to agree. But it is not enough for 50% + 1 in that workplace to agree that the union can charge a bargaining fee. The actual worker being charged has to agree, in advance, to paying a fee. That's my understanding of the position.
The big issue that comes out in all our surveys is job security. What also comes through is the feeling that in the deregulated labour market that security is weakened? What policies would you like to offer up to these people?
It is a very good question and it is a very scary thing to think that your job is at risk and especially for bread winners. Your job goes. Your house goes. Your family goes. It is a terrible situation to be in. So it is a very good question. At the end of the day though you can't legislate jobs for life. You can't guarantee anyone's job if there isn't in the end an economic justification for it. I think that the way to best protect jobs is to have workers and managers working cooperatively in the enterprise, trying to ensure that whatever the enterprise is, is as creative, flexible and adaptable as possible in terms of meeting the market opportunities.
Not for a second would I say that every boss is a great bloke. That every boss is the benevolent employer. A lot of bosses don't understand that a happy workforce is their greatest asset. A lot of bosses are into short term, they are not into and into medium and long term planning. I accept that. But still, industrial militancy is rarely the way to go, and building up a kind of them and us log jam isn't really the way to go either.
Those who are experts in these matters - who have spent half a lifetime in the field might think that this is all a bit simplistic, but you just cannot keep uneconomic businesses going without subsidy. And we cannot endlessly subsidise any business and any enterprise and any industry. And in the end, if there is not a dollar in it - if there is not a natural dollar in it, sooner or later it is going to fall over.
One issue that I haven't mentioned that I should mention is that I am very keen to pursue, as a matter of urgent priority, some greater work on promoting employee share ownership. Now, this is the kind of thing which is not necessarily affected by the general legislative log jam. Depending on the packaging we have got. I think that there would be some reasonable chance of getting a package passed this side of an election if there is broad support.
Do you expect that support?
Well, it is certainly my objective. My objective is to try to promote shop floor employee share ownership, rather than mahogany row employee share ownership, and I think that over time that has got to help to break down the old class war antagonisms in the workplace. I mean, if more workers have got a financial stake in the profits of the business, as well as just in the wages that the business can pay, they will better understand the position that the owners and the managers are in. y the same token, if there are more worker shareholders, the owners and the managers will have a better understanding of the predicament of the worker as well.
And if one of the problems of Australian industry is too much labour turnover; too much short termism; too much willingness to make decisions on the basis of the next quarter's profit forecasts, rather than the next five years' staffing requirements, well I think employee share ownership could help correct a lot of those things.
by Peter Lewis
Growing resentment over petrol prices has emerged as a defining political issue in this election year. It is a dangerous political issue where self-interest and short-termism risk undermining sound policy. And for Labor, it could leave the party squeezed from both sides.
The issue is, on face value, stark. In the past 12 months prices have increased by about 20 per cent. Because the government charges excise tax as a proportion of the petrol price, the government stake has been increasing as the price has continued to rise. The anger and resentment against the state is palpable - the greedy politicians are taking more of our money.
A few factors add to this resentment. The first is that the one-off impact of the GST has actually led to an increase in fuel prices which has added to the excise - creating a sort of tax multiplier effect of spiraling taxes. The second is that the government bungled a legislative review of roads spending, creating the impression that it was siphoning off money. This has left a public impression of a government pushing fuel prices up by greed, with each voter paying more money every time they fill up the tank.
The accepted wisdom is that petrol prices are fuelling the One Nation renaissance in rural Australia. But there is another political dynamic, every bit as dramatic as the swing to the right. That is the almost as marked swing of support towards the Greens and the very real prospect that a future Labor Government may require Green preferences. In recent years the greens agenda has expanded from wilderness issue like the Franklin dam, to a broader anti-globalisation agenda. It is light of the rise in the Greens, that the petrol pricing debate becomes even more complex.
The petrol debate from a Green perspective tracks very differently. Petrol is derives from a finite resource. It is a dirty form of energy that is threatening long-term survival on this planet. It's use is increasing exponentially. As Australia attempts to flout its international obligations on greenhouse, we are witnessing a political debate around how to ensure more people can burn off more fuel for less money.
Apart form being a revenue raising tax, fuel excise has always been regarded as an environmental tax. By making fossil fuels more expensive, ti is argued that more people will be tempted to use more energy-efficient forms of public transport. This of course, requires a commitment from the State to provide this sort of infrastructure, rather than merely using the money to build more roads.
Looking at the issue from a global perspective, the other point to note is that Australian petrol prices are still remarkably - and in a global sense - unsustainably low. In Europe prices range from $A2 up to $A3 per litre, turning the maintenance of a motor vehicle into a real consumer choice rather than a fact of life. When the blockades in France, Britain and Italy by angry truck-drivers broke out last year the price in Europe was double what we are paying here! Add to this the fact that the Howard Government has handed out $3.5 billion in diesel and fuel rebates to people running businesses, and you see that Australia is comparatively well off.
The impact of ongoing sanctions against Iraq is also an element of the equation. We are entering a phase where the OPEC nations are again in a position to squeeze Western countries for maximum price. Fears of further unrest ion the Middle East will only add to difficulties in controlling the oil-producing nations. While governments may be able to reduce prices by cutting excise in the short-term - the long-term trajectory of petrol prices is only going in one direction - up.
All of which is to illustrate that petrol pricing is not just a tough issue for the Howard Government, it will force a labor Opposition to fuse its economic and environmental credentials to deal with the short-term issue without losing sight of the long-term. A bit like threading a the big guy through the eye of a needle.
My name is Maria Kavaratzis and I have been asked to come here today to give you my story. Employed by Big W Campsie, I am one of six delegates for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, otherwise known as the SDA, the union for the retail industry.
It will be a year in March since I became a union delegate in Big W Campsie. It was March of 2000 when things in Campsie took a drastic turn . . . Big W Campsie had one of the lowest Union membership figures in the state. . . In March of 2000 it was an appalling 40%. Something needed to be done and something was done. . .
The SDA, with Tony Burke, the area organiser, worked with the existing two delegates in the store, and together it was made clear to them that Big W employees needed to be represented whether they were full time, part time, casual or nightfill. The store needed to have SDA representatives at every shift offered.
What we realised was that there was minimal contact between casuals and the union. Most casuals were on short shifts. Anytime the organiser would visit he would at best see 10 or 20 of us. Yet there are over 120 casuals at the store. What we needed was co-workers promoting the union every day, on the ground.
But lets go back to the beginning...
I was approached in the store one day by both of the existing delegates, and as asked if I would be interested in becoming one of the... without hesitation the answer was YES, a similar scenario took place with the other two delegates, Poppi Kavaratzis and Denis Prado... A meeting was organised with Tony Burke, the union organiser where we were all present. The great thing about our delegate team in Big W Campsie is that we are all very passionate individuals and as you will see it is our passion that made our impossible mission ... possible.
That meeting was the beginning of the end for low membership figures, and un unknown union amongst many employees and management I might add, of Big Campsie. We were "on a mission" ... with the first of many great achievements attained just two weeks after that meeting.
We attended a delegates' training course held at night at Bankstown. When we returned to the second night of the course two weeks later we had recruited 60 new members ... and not long after that Big W Campsie ... from a 40% membership reached a peaking 90% membership.
How did we do it? Like it said ... the majority of the employees had no idea about what the Union did, or was. What made the casuals not become members at the very beginning, at induction, was the belief that casuals have no rights whatsoever ... they were basically led to believe that the union could not ever do anything for them ... we made certain that everyone we spoke to realised this was not true... We also made use of the fact that Big W had a new Enterprise Agreement due... this satisfied many because they were able to see for themselves that the Union did in fact do everything in its power to represent the interests and rights of all employees by having them documented in this "rule book" as we like to call it...
Over the past year we have informed, supported, represented and advised new and existing members in various situations that have arisen in our workplace. There have been over $5000 worth of back pays organised for members. We have dealt with matters regarding discrimination, and at this very given moment we are in the middle of negotiations with the company's head office after being faced with over 50 members being asked to all go home early after having turned up to work a rostered shift during stocktake.
From being a store with 40% membership and minimal union appreciation... you can now walk into Big W Campsie at any day or time of the week and see that just abour everyone is wearing their SDA union badges ... and everyone appreciates the role the Union plays for all staff members. They know never to say "we have no rights, we cannot do anything about it." When a problem however major or minor arises. They know to turn to their delegate for advice if a problem does arise and they know that there is a delegate available during the day, night and on the weekends.
90% membership to us, the Big W Campsie delegates, means there is till room for improvement. Yet another challenge which we gladly agree to take on, 100% membership, mission impossible? - maybe not.
This address was presented to last week's Labor Council Organising Seimnar
"A mean, low scurvy fellow; a scoundrel" was one of the original meanings of the word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary who trace it to 1590. In 1786 the OED records the word scabbed as being used to refer to a "mean and contemptible" act.
The use of the word directly regarding workers seems to stem from the USA in around 1811 as " a workman who refuses to join an organised movement on behalf of his trade".
Scabs have long been the target and subject of union songs. Mark Gregory notes Jack London's famous description of scabs:
"When God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.... the modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children, and his fellow men for an unfilled promise from his employer, trust, or corporation"
Banjo Paterson knew a great deal about and was sympathetic to the struggles of workers in the Australia he was writing in. He may have been a lawyer but his attitude to scabs is as hostile as that of any militant unionist as he proved in his poem "The Bushman's Song" better known as "Travelling Down The Castlereagh"
I asked a cove for shearing once along the Marthaguy/ "We shear non-union here" says he. "I call it scab," says I
Joe Hill's work was a mainstay of the Wobblies, before and after his "murder" by US authorities in a frame up murder charge in 1915.
This union satire of the popular folksong was written by Hill in response to a strike involving 35,000 shopmen of the Harriman and Illinois Central Railroad System (which included the Southern Pacific), Sep 1911 through 1915, and was first published in the 11 Jul 1912 edition of the Industrial Worker "Little Red Songbook."
The Workers on the S. P. line to strike
sent out a call;
But Casey Jones, the engineer, he wouldn't strike at all;
His boiler it was leaking, and its drivers on the bum,
And his engine and its bearings, they were all out of plumb.
Casey Jones kept his junk pile running;
Casey Jones was working double time;
Casey Jones got a wooden medal,
For being good and faithful on the S. P. line.
The workers said to Casey: "Won't you
help us win this strike?"
But Casey said: "Let me alone, you'd better take a hike."
Then some one put a bunch of railroad ties across the track,
And Casey hit the river bottom with an awful crack.
Casey Jones hit the river bottom;
Casey Jones broke his blessed spine;
Casey Jones was an Angelino,
He took a trip to heaven on the S. P. line.
When Casey Jones got up to heaven, to the
He said: "I'm Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S. P. freight."
You're just the man," said Peter, "our musicians went on strike;
You can get a job a'scabbing any time you like."
Casey Jones got up to heaven;
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine;
Casey Jones went scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to workers of the S. P. line.
They got together, and they said it wasn't
For Casey Jones to go around a'scabbing everywhere.
The Angels' Union No. 23, they sure were there,
And they promptly fired Casey down the Golden Stairs.
Casey Jones went to Hell a'flying;
"Casey Jones," the Devil said, "Oh fine:
Casey Jones, get busy shovelling sulphur;
That's what you get for scabbing on the S. P. Line."
A lot has been written about Hill. For biography and songs this is a good place to start.
The IWW in Australia included the Casey Jones song in their songbook.
Bitter disputes were common from 1917, and the IWW was often seen as the "worst element". They believed in "direct action". There influence waned with the rise of an official Communist Party. Verity Burgmann's excellent Revolutionary Industrial Unionism (Cambridge University Press) is a fascinating look at the IWW.
The IWW is still going and the Australian branch is on the web, with Direct Action.
In 1919 an Australian version was written, in response to actions that took place in Broken Hill during the strike. It was simply "Scab's Hymn". "Blue Whiskers" scabbed at the Central Mine on 7 September 1918
On the seventh day of September we called a
As a protest 'gainst the censor, Lieutenant Colonel Dyke,
But Blue Whiskers, the double scab, with legs upon his chest,
Was not prepared to stop away for one day's rest.
Blue Whiskers kept his popper running,
Blue Whiskers scabbed a second time,
Blue Whiskers got a wooden medal
For scabbing on the diggers at the Central Mine.
The unions got together and said it wasn't
For Blue Whiskers to go around a-scabbing everywhere.
The 'Wobblies' union local, number two, they were sure there
And they threatened to throw 'Bluey' down the Central stair.
Blue Whiskers will hit the bottom flying,
Blue Whiskers will break his scabby spine,
Blue Whiskers will fire in his alley
And he'll do no more scabbing at the central Mine.
(Warren Fahey collected this song in Broken Hill in 1974)
Warren Fahey has been crucial to sustaining and recovering Australian folk music over the years. This song and other classics are included in his recent collection Ratbags and Rabblerousers: a century of Political Protest, Song and Satire. Published by Currency Press in December 2000. 400 pages of songs and story for $32.95
The scab theme was played hard during the MUA Patrick dispute of course, and many songs were written and performed around that. The following were written by Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis.
The Fighting MUA (tune of Wild Colonial Boy)
There was a foolish stevedore and Patrick
was his name,
It was owned by a scab named Corrigan, to our great nation's shame,
He was a liar and a cheat, a puppet some may say,
But never could he bluff or beat, the fighting MUA.
It was the night that Patrick's came, like
burglars at their trade,
With guard dogs, scabs and Canberra spies, coming to their aid,
While Peter Reith and his 'little mate', fanned the flames all day,
In London, Cooktown and Dubai, they'd smash the MUA.
So come away, my comrades, on the wattle
we'll have no stains,
We'll scorn to live in slavery, bound down in iron chains,
We'll link our arms and stand and fight, forever we shall try,
We'll fight beside our fighting mates, the fighting MUA.
The judge in England said he could not
countenance this lot,
A nasty scheme was all worked out, a filthy dirty plot,
And comrades from around the world, will now come to our aid,
To fight and organise beside the fighting MUA.
(from: Warren Fahey. Ratbags and Rabblerousers, p 360)
The Slimy Patrick's Scab
Tune: works well with "The Sydney Market Boys"
There's vampire bats and sewer rats,
there's pubic lice and crabs,
But the lowest form of life on Earth is the slimy Patrick's scab.
There's vampire bats and sewer rats, there's pubic lice and crabs,
But the lowest form of life on Earth is the slimy Patrick's scab.
An hour before the sun comes up, he crawls
out of his pit,
You wouldn't get too close to him for the smell of slime and other little bits,
Beneath the cloak of darkness he sets off, all clad in black,
To serve his wretched masters goes the slimy Patrick's scab.
And when his treachery is done, on his
knees he crawls back home,
His kids don't want to know him, so he eats his tea alone,
They haven't been to school for days, they're ashamed that he's their dad,
"Tell me, what's your father do?". "He's a slimy Patrick's scab."
(from:Mark Gregory's website of union songs, articles, books, recordings and links to other song and union sites.
Feb. 19th, 20001
At around 17:50 yesterday two choppers were hovering around the sky of the Daewoo Pupyong plants and hundreds of riot police were following right after 4 forklifts which were removing the barricades of 4 gates of the plant.
At 18:00 1000 riot police finally entered the plant and the rest of them, 3100 surrounded the plant to arrest worker. 200 workers in the plant resisted against the police with stone and firebottles but 800 workers and family with children could not resist against 4100 riot police. The sky of the plant was overspread with smoke of the burning tires and furniture. Frightened workers were running and children and wives of the workers were crying. According to one of witness, wife of a striker, a three-month pregnant woman was hit by riot police and police by force separated children from their mothers. The police treated the wives of the strikers as criminals. After mothers were taken out of the plant, children were left surrounded by riot police.
Two hours before the attack by riot police, 800 workers including their family were resisting against police trying to enter the plant. Workers organized their defensive team with 200 union members at front of the plant gate. They were fighting against riot police with iron pipes, stones and turning water hoses on the riot police trying to enter into the plant.
There were 400 workers and students protesting and denouncing riot police 200 meters away from the gate. 1000 riot police also prevented them from getting closer to Daewoo plant. The 400 workers and students were gathering in front of the plant to support workers struggle.
However, riot police with 4 forklifts came into the plant and arrested workers. Most of workers could safely run away from violence of the police but 80 workers were caught by riot police and taken to 4 separate police stations in Pupyong City.
At around 21:00 Daewoo autoworkers and metal workers from other unions gathered in Sangok cathedral to reorganize strikers to recapture the plant where riot police are occupying.
Feb. 20th, 20001
At 14:00 3000 workers and students rallied to recapture the plant. At the rally Dan Byong-ho, president of KCTU declared the all out struggle against the Kim Dae-jung government after denouncing that "The Kim Dae-jung government is implementing neo liberalism by dismissing Daewoo autoworkers by force for the interests of GM and TNCs. The government is selling workers lives to TNCs. The government uses violent measures not to criminal, formal CEO, Kim Woo-jung but to workers. Now KCTU declared the struggle for the resignation of KIM Dae-jung government."
The protesters were marching to the plant to recapture it. They occupied whole street but citizens on the street did not express their complaints against protesters. Instead they showed their supports by applauding to protesters.
The workers and students were demanding "Stop projected lay-off. No sale to overseas. Stop neo-liberalism. No TNCs" At the same time riot police provoked workers and students by beating with their clubs. However, workers and students resisted with their iron pipes and firebottles and could arrive in front of the plant. As soon as protesters arrived in front of the plant, thousands of riot police occupying the plant came out from the plant to prevent protesters to get closer to the plant. The police threw stones to workers when workers are marching to enter the plant. In the middle of the street 30 meters away from the plant gate, there were two police buses and the angry workers and student threw tens of firebottles to burn them out.
Metal workers in other region were striking to protest against the violence of the government. 1500 Daewoo autoworkers in Chang won were on 4 hour strike from one to four o'clock, 500 Daewoo autoworkers in Pusan were on strike after lunch break, and 300 Daewoo autoworkers in Kunsan were in strike for two hours.
Feb. 21st, 20001
At 14:00 3000 workers and students were gathering in Pupyong subway station but police prevented them from getting out of the station. Riot police arrested people getting out of the station.
At around 16:50 50 KMWF and Daewoo autoworkers occupied a part of Kyung-in highway demanding "Kim Daejung should resign!!"
How Many Workers Were Working At The Daewoo?
There are four Daewoo plants making cars, compact cars, trucks, and buses in four different regions in Korea. Pupyong plant located in the west of Seoul is making mid-size cars which are Lanos, Leganza, and Magnus. All of the dismissals were from Pupyong plant.
In total there were 17000 workers employed in Daewoo Motors and in Pupyong plant there were used to be 7000 workers employed.
So far 4327 workers were mandatorily retired since the early 1999 and on the 16th of Feb the company announced that it would go on dismissing another 1785 workers in addition, which caused such a big resistance of workers.
What Was The Cause Of All The Problems At Daewoo?
The Korean economy structure mainly depends on the giant conglomerates pursuing maximum profits based on long-working hours and low wage system without building competitiveness and rational management. Also, the owners of big company have close relations with politicians to have easier access to get huge loans from bankers.
Bankers lend funds to the big business without reviewing their abilities to raise profits and to pay back the loans.
The former CEO, Kim woo-jung could borrow huge amount of funds from bankers with the help of politicians.
Last Monday former 34 Daewoo executives and accountants were arrested for violation of foreign exchange laws. They had raised $20 billion officially and unofficially $38 billion by taking out illegal foreign exchange loans and pooling funds from its subsidiaries through falsified documents.
The ill management and inability of Daewoo companies resulted in bankruptcy. The run-away irresponsible previous owner, Kim Woojung is now hiding somewhere in the world. At the same time the Daewoo Motor workers gradually were laid off and it is estimated around 3,000 workers have been laid off. Those who were safe from the sack had to put up with the 30% of wage reduction for the last three years.
Regardless Of Who Is Responsible For The Situation, Do Workers Have An Alternative For The Bankrupted Company Daewoo?
Yes, Workers are demanding the public ownership of Daewoo. Union, share holders, creditors, and public bank should have the ownership of Daewoo Motors just like what the US, German and French government did for the Chrysler in 1970s, VW and Renault. The government should put public funds not for the sale but for the normalization of the company.
What Are The Demands?
Stop projected lay-off. No sale to overseas. Job security.
Daewoo autoworkers strike is politically important since their main demands are job security that is threatened by the neo-liberal policy of the Kim Dae-jung government for the interests of GM.
Last year Ford and GM were interested in Daewoo Motors but because of strong union movement in Daewoo Motors, it was for sure that it would not be easy for them to go on restructuring. Ford gave up Daewoo then GM became the most favorable buyer of the Daewoo. But GM showed lukewarm attitude of purchasing Daewoo. It consistently announced that the purchase of GM would be decided based on the process of restructuring. At the same time the Korean government want to sell the Daewoo to GM as soon as possible and announced that it will finish restructuring process by the mid February.
Can Such A Strong Resistance Bring Their Jobs Back?
The resistance and struggle led by KMWF and KCTU are aiming not only to secure jobs but also to stop neo-liberal policy of KIM Dae-jung government.
Right after the riot police used violent measures to the workers and family in the plant and arrested 80 workers on the same day, KCTU and KMWF immediately announced all out struggle against the government.
Mun Sung-hyun, KMWF president, announced that he would organize all possible forces to fight against neo-liberalism policy and call on metal workers solidarity.
Dan Byong-ho, KCTU president, declared the all out struggle against the government and will go on fighting for the resignation of Kim Dae-jung president.
How Many Workers Are Arrested So Far?
Monday 80, Tuesday more than 20 and Wednesday more than 80~85 were arrested.
The leaderships of Daewoo autoworkers union are on the wanted lists. It is reported
How Will This Struggle Go On?
The resistance and struggle led by KMWF and KCTU are aiming not only to secure jobs but also to stop neo-liberal policy of KIM Dae-jung government.
Right after the riot police used violent measures to the workers and family in the plant and arrested 80 workers on the same day, KCTU and KMWF immediately announced all out struggle against the government.
Mun Sung-hyun, KMWF president, announced that he would organize all possible forces to fight against neo-liberalism policy and call on metal workers solidarity.
Dan Byong-ho, KCTU president, declared the all out struggle against the government and will go on fighting for the resignation of Kim Dae-jung regime.
On the 22nd metal workers from nation wide will gather in Pupyong to start struggle for the resignation of Kim Dae-jung regime. On the 24th workers of KCTU will gather to struggle for the same demands.
Any Further Struggle Plans?
A team organized by Daewoo autoworkers to arrest former run away CEO, Kim Woojung will leave for Paris this week. So far Korean prosecutor is busy in arresting striking workers yet still does not issue warrant of arrest against the run away CEO, Kim Woojung. Union and KMWF earlier distributed wanted posters of former CEO of Daewoo worldwide.
URGENT APPEAL FOR ACTION
Our struggle is more than job security. It is the struggle against TNCs and neo-liberalism. GM and the Kim Dae-jung government use violent power against workers for the more flexible use of work force. The globalization of capital is threatening workers livelihoods and their families.
Please send your protest letter to KIM Dae-jung government and organize protest in front of Korean Embassy in each country.
Your solidarity actions are very valuable for us and your solidarity letter will be delivered to hiding Daewoo leaderships and fighting Daewoo workers.
Please send a copy of your protest letters to KMWF at mailto:[email protected]
by Thea Ormerod
It started out as a time-limited campaign with its deadline being the end of the year 2000. It did achieve a string of promises from the world's creditor countries, but in practical terms only a fraction of the targeted US$370 billion was written off by the end of last year.
The appalling situation continues where 19,000 children die each day as a result of their countries' debt burdens (UNICEF), while US$60 million flows from poor to rich nations in interest payments. Impoverished countries have generally paid back three or more times the original amount their leaders borrowed, yet are still four or five times more in debt than they were in 1980, because of compound interest. In the meantime, a child born in heavily indebted poor country is more likely to die before their fifth birthday than to attend a secondary school. Taking a broader view than the very poorest fifty-two countries, half the world's population has an average daily protein intake less than a typical American house cat.
Thus the fight continues, with Jubilee 2000 re-committing and re-badging itself in various ways around the world. The Australian campaign will be known as Jubilee Australia. It held a very successful re-launch in Sydney's Parliament House on Tuesday, February 20th. The re-launch was attended by Laurie Ferguson MP, by representatives of numerous aid agencies including APHEDA, unionists, Bishops and the Dr Rufai Soule, the Nigerian High Commissioner, as well as public supporters.
Jubilee's greatest achievement has been an enormous groundswell of global public opinion which is now unstoppable. The largest petition ever gathered, the mass rallies, together with the voices of Kofi Annan, the Pope, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Bob Geldoff, and numerous economists like Jeffrey Sachs are becoming more and more difficult for creditors to ignore.
In Australia the campaign has had its own victories. It has now won the support of the ALP as well as the Democrats and the Greens, and boasts our largest ever foreign policy petition of 457,000 signatures. It persuaded the Federal Government to promise cancellation of debts owed by Nicaragua and Ethiopia once these countries qualify for debt relief under the international debt relief program known as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC).
Nicaragua's debts were thus written off in January, but Ethiopia has yet to qualify. Until Ethiopia does qualify, Australia continues to collect from Ethiopia A$2 million a year, an amount which could go a long way there towards famine relief. It is bizarre that our country committed less to famine relief with one hand last year than we collected with the other hand in debt repayments.
Campaigners want to see Australia forgive the debts of a number of other desperately poor countries, or at the very least to place the money we collect into trust funds ear-marked for poverty alleviation in the debtor countries concerned. Other debtors to Australia include Nepal, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines which collectively owe us around A$390 million. This may sound like a lot of money, but in practice the cancellation of these debts would amount to about the cost of a cappuccino per Australian per year.
We also want the Australian Government to work towards a fair and transparent international process for negotiation of poor country debts, a process in which debtors and creditors have equal say in outcomes and one which is open to input from civil society.
The current process has creditors acting as judge, jury and party to debt negotiations, and these are largely held in secret. The "golden rule" operates - those who have the gold, make the rules. Thus the HIPC Initiative requires debtors to strictly follow structural adjustment programs for a number of years before any meagre debt relief is offered. Nations are required to stop protecting their primary industries, cut expenditure in health and education, devalue their currency, exploit their natural resources to the maximum in order to export and earn hard currency to pay off debts. Then when debt relief eventually comes through, qualifying countries are frequently still forced to pay more on servicing debts than on health.
A frequently expressed concern about debt relief is that it may not change the lot of the poor anyway because the money released could well end up in the hands of corrupt elites. Mindful of this, Jubilee campaigners around the world are equally committed to pushing for transparency and accountability in debtor countries as they are to lobbying for debts to be dropped.
While corruption remains an issue, many debtor countries have replaced their dictators with fledgling democratic governments. These are more interested in poverty alleviation, yet are hampered by debts run up by previous regimes. In effect, old debts have become a tax on new democracies. The poorest of the poor are being required to forfeit the basic necessities of life to re-pay loans they had no say in incurring, and from which they received no benefits.
Where substantial debts have been written off, social indicators are in fact improving. For example, primary school enrolments doubled almost as soon as Uganda received substantial debt write-offs.
Please write to your local MP, expressing your concern about Australian Government inaction on this issue. Urge your local member to lobby for debt cancellation to be extended to more countries, to be de-linked from the discredited HIPC Initiative and for Australian support for a fairer and transparent international debt arbitration process.
For further information contact Jubilee in Melbourne on (03)9815-1677 or [email protected] Visit our website on http://www.jubilee2000.org.au Or contact me in Sydney on 9150-9713 or mailto:[email protected]
by Ken Davis
At the end of last year 36 million people were living with HIV, the majority of them in Africa. So far 22 million people have died of AIDS, again the majority in Africa. In the year 2000, 2.5 million adults and half a million children died of AIDS. Yet most people around the world with HIV or AIDS cannot access medical care: drugs to treat symptoms or infections like TB that take over when the immune system is weakened, or anti-retroviral drugs to suspend the replication of HIV.
The main pharmaceutical companies, with sales of $315 billion per year, earn less than one per cent The of their profits from Africa, yet are campaigning to prevent African governments from buying cheap generic HIV medicines from producers in India, Brazil and Thailand.
GlaxoSmithKline with 39 other international pharmaceutical companies is beginning a court case against the South African government on 5 March, which the Treatments Action Campaign has designated as a world-wide day of protest.
GSK is also threatening Ghana for buying anti-HIV drugs from the Indian company CIPLA, which has offered combination HIV therapies to international non-profit health agencies for $800 per patient per year, while GSK charges over $18,000. Meanwhile the US government is hauling Brazil before the WTO for producing anti-HIV drugs for its citizens. Through this program Brazil has cut its HIV mortality rate by 50%.
The main obstacle to making treatments available for millions of people with HIV in Africa and across the developing world is simply the drive by companies such as GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Roche to protect their patents and super-profits.
The international trade union movement (ICFTU) has adopted a policy that health crises such as HIV and TB require making treatments available for the millions who need them to survive, and these urgent social needs take precedence over the profits of the big companies.
In the Mardi Gras, as well as the Labor Council group, there will be a special Global Treatments Action contingent.
APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad works in partnership with trade unions in South Africa and Zimbabwe on HIV education and care, and advocacy for the rights of workers and their families affected by HIV.
by The Chaser
by Extracted from Alter/Asians
'Asians in Australia', 'Australians in Asia', the so-called 'Asianisation of Australia': these are controversial topics in contemporary Australia. Pauline Hanson was only the latest public figure - after Geoffrey Blainey and John Howard in the 1980s and many before them - to make a political mark by voicing an explicit antagonism against 'too many Asians' in this country. But who has the authority to determine how much is 'too many'?
During the White Australia policy years, the very presence of Asians was considered a blemish on the ideal image of the white island continent, and as a nation Australia defined itself explicitly away from its regional Asian context, clinging desperately to its uneasy status as a far-flung outpost of Europe. On the brink of the 21st century, however, this quaint idea seems to have been replaced by the notion that Australia's location and destiny is, willy nilly, 'in Asia'. What are the cultural implication of this shift? And how does the idea of 'Australia in Asia' relate to the increasing visibility of 'Asians in Australia'?
Since the abolition of the White Australia policy in the early 1970s, when a 'non-discriminatory' immigration policy was put in place, the number of migrants from diverse Asian backgrounds has steadily increased. By the mid-1990s, statistical estimates suggest that about 5 percent of the population is of 'Asian' extraction. Pauline Hanson's popularity, while short-lived, is a clear indication that many Australians think this is already far too high a number.
Others who want to counter Hanson's anti-Asian racism struggle hard to deny this. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, for example, reassures us that 5 percent is hardly a case of being 'swamped'. At the same time, however, when (mostly Asian or other non-European) refugees arrive on Australian shores, the deep-seated fears around the violability of the nation's borders in the Asian region are brought to the surface, with Ruddock responding to the often near-hysterical mainstream public opinion by emphasising the criminality of their entry and increasing border surveillance.
The very controversy over percentages and coastal vigilance betrays a persistent underlying anxiety about Australia's 'Asianised' future. Five percent may not be 'too many', but what about 10, 25 or 50 percent? 'Too many' for whom? This hypothesising over numbers is based on the tacit assumption that there is a line to be drawn somewhere, where the 'benefits' of having Asians around will supposedly be outweighed by its 'disadvantages', where the 'danger' of being 'swamped by Asians' does apparently become a reality.
It is an arid, managerialist discourse which is generally being fought out over the heads of Asians themselves: they are reduced to being objects to be counted, and to be held in check. Too often, then, Asians in Australia (or, more assertively, Asian Australians) are still voiceless pawns in the public discussion about the present and future shape and formation of Australian culture (Ang 1999). Intellectual engagement with Asia/Australia relationships is intense, but its articulation remains ambivalent and still biased towards a sense of panic or alarm. Despite the rhetoric of tolerance, the presence of Asians within Australia continues to be seen as a problem for social cohesion, and Australia's regional engagement with Asia is seen either as a political liability or a mere conduit for economic prosperity (via trade, tourism or educational export).
Yet the demographic changes reflected by statistical figures are very real, and whether Pauline Hanson or Philip Ruddock likes it or not, they cannot fail to produce profound social and cultural change in the coming decades, influenced and energised by the active work, participation and interventions of people of diverse Asian backgrounds in the public culture of Australian life. In the process they will contribute increasingly, and in varying ways, to the transformation of the very meaning and substance of 'Australian culture' - in art and everyday life, in media and popular culture.
Already, to take a simple and stereotypical example, Australian cuisine is routinely evoked in terms of its 'fusion' with Asian ingredients, spices and tastes. Whether or not such transformations can be described in terms of an 'Asianisation' of Australia - or better, 'Asianisations' - is less important than the fact that they will take place, gradually but inevitably. Yet there has hardly been any serious intellectual reflection so far on these cultural developments, their complex social and political implications, and the multiple contestations and contradictions necessarily attending them.
Most importantly, there is still hardly any public recognition in Australia of Asian Australians as subjects of representation, as intellectuals, artists or writers vigorously intervening in and making inroads into the dominant culture, and as active makers of culture in their own right, whether confined within their particular migrant communities or, more ambitiously, in dynamic exchange and interaction with their 'non-Asian' partners, co-workers, colleagues, and co-citizens. There is even less recognition of the complex set of transnational relations and cross-cultural social formations of Asian Australians, connections that may be social, political and economic and which may span several continents and dramatically impact upon the everyday experiences of Asians living in Australia and, in turn, on Australian culture more generally.
This book aims to open up the emergent cultural space of Asian Australia through a decisive shift away from the all-too-familiar treatment of 'Asians' as Other. Featuring essays by both Asian and non-Asian cultural researchers and critics living and working in Australia, the book critically overturns the unhelpful absolute dichotomy between 'Asia/Asians' and 'Australia/Australians', 'us' versus 'them', 'here' versus 'there', that still dominates public discourse in this country. Moving beyond such binary oppositions, this book gives a kaleidoscopic (and by no means comprehensive) view of the ways in which 'Asia' and 'Australia' are already thoroughly intertwined in everyday culture and in the imagined worlds of Australians of both Asian and non-Asian backgrounds.
As such, it creates an opening for new kinds of identities and affiliations, new ways of thinking and political possibilities for the 21st century. At the same time it recognises the hybrid category 'Asian Australian' as a contradictory site of cultural struggle for membership in the wider society, and the key role played by young people in this contemporary cultural negotiation, whether they be cultural producers, academics or others. The authors of these essays contribute to a deeper understanding and appreciation of an evolving cultural and political cosmopolitanism in Australia, without ignoring the continuing geopolitical tensions, racialised animosities and experiential frictions as Australia moves into a new century in an increasingly transnational, globalised world.
Perspectives that illuminate the extraordinary diversity of the social and cultural experiences of Asian Australians themselves, as they become an integral part of a multicultural Australia and actively participate in weaving the fabric of Australian public life, are still rare. Nor has there been much consideration of the dynamic scene of Asian cultural production in Australia (through art, literature and performance), where new and hybrid Asian-Australian identities are explored, negotiated or contested. The first two parts of this book focus on these themes, and stress the creativity and imaginativeness of Asian-Australian agency in challenging times and sometimes conflictive spaces. Part Three of the book focuses on the ways Asian popular culture and media are becoming part of the Australian cultural landscape. As the variegated presences of 'Asia' in Australia become increasingly ordinary through popular culture and media, Australian tastes and cultural connoisseurship are also challenged and interrogated, and consequently, as has already become clear through the growing influence of indigenous cultural expression on mainstream Australian culture, notions of cultural difference and fracture are being inserted into the very core of Australianness itself.
The increasing visibility of 'Asia' and 'Asians' in Australia is propelling a rethinking of the received parameters of multiculturalism in this country. It is well known that, when the notion of a 'multicultural Australia' first began to be formulated in the 1970s, it was primarily a recognition of the persistent cultural difference of non-British ethnic groups who came to Australia in the postwar immigration boom, mainly southern and eastern Europeans. In other words, in Australia - unlike, for example, the United States - multiculturalism in its original incarnation was a predominantly European affair in both cultural and 'racial' terms. In this respect, the later arrival of people of Asian backgrounds - most prominently Indo-Chinese refugees in the 1970s, business migrants from several East and Southeast Asian countries in the 1980s and 1990s, and mainland Chinese students in the wake of the Beijing massacre in 1989 - produced a qualitative rupture in the vision of racial homogeneity and essential Europeanness that was implicit in Australian multiculturalism: the cultural difference and diversity they introduced was arguably far more challenging to a mainstream Australia traditionally so insistent on its espousal of racial and cultural whiteness as the core of national identity.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the spectre of an 'Asianisation' of Australia is widely experienced as a threat. One could argue, of course, that a similar 'Italianisation' or 'Mediterraneanisation', for example, was once just as threatening for Anglo-Celtic Australia - something we can hardly imagine today as Mediterranean cultural practices such as drinking coffee and wine and alfresco dining have become so thoroughly mainstreamed (which, however, by no means implies a full emancipation of earlier European migrants within the Australian establishment). In this sense, one could expect that the Australian cultural embrace of 'Asia', at least at a superficial level, may just be a matter of time. However, the sense of danger associated with 'Asianisation' is more than a question of cultural xenophobia; it is intensified by the paradoxical geographical positioning of Australia, far from Europe and on the margins of Asia, an isolation that is manifest in persistent popular discourses on the 'distance' of Australia from the centres of US and European cultural and political power and influence, and on public debates on the 'place' of Australia, 'in' or 'out' of Asia, as quintessential to the nation's selfhood.
The title of this book, Alter/Asians, is meant to challenge the categorical otherness that is still imputed to Asia and Asians in Australia. The predominant definition of Asianness in Australia still depends on the lumping together of all of 'Asia' as if it were a monolithic entity, on a process of racial/cultural Othering that still continues to be reproduced, for example, in media representations of 'Asia' or even in some well-intentioned efforts to bring 'Asian' art to the Australian public. Paradoxically, however, one might speculate that it is precisely the perceived absolute difference - the felt incommensurability - of all people and things 'Asian' that has impelled the sense of urgency with which the relationship between 'Asia' and 'Australia' has been addressed in the closing years of the 20th century. Time and again the need for active engagement, enmeshment, involvement has been expressed (FitzGerald 1997; Milner & Quilty 1996). As a result, it is the interface between 'Asia' and 'Australia' that has become the site of cultural negotiation and contestation - a process in which an increasing number of Asian Australians take an active part.
'Hybridity' is a key term in discussing and thinking through the conflictive complexities of this new field of cross-cultural, intercultural, transcultural encounters between 'Asia' and 'Australia'. Unlike the increasingly stale term 'multiculturalism', which has been criticised because it encourages different groups to reify their individual and collective cultures and the fixity of their identities (Stratton 1998), hybridity, itself a heavily contested term - as several essays in this collection explore further - stresses mixture, cultural interchange, and mutual cross-fertilisation. But this emphasis on the productivity of interaction between cultures shouldn't be reduced simply to a triumphant 'celebration of cultural diversity' or the harmonious merging of cultural differences. On the contrary, the hybridisation of contemporary culture is also a process of disruption, disarticulation, critical interrogation: intercultural contact and the intermingling of different cultural groups, traditions and forms also always involves the destabilisation and contestation of prevailing cultural purities, essentialisms and chauvinisms. In other words, the concept of hybridity, used critically, involves 'an antithetical movement of coalescence and antagonism, with the unconscious set against the intentional, the organic against the divisive, the generative against the undermining'.
It is this concurrent dynamics of continuity and discontinuity, fusion and conflict, that we also wish to highlight in the title Alter/Asians. The slash between 'Alter' and 'Asians' indicates the simultaneous joining and breaking, the cut-and-mix processes of Asia/Australia relations and Asian-Australian identity formation - it both links and splits, connects and disconnects. This captures the intricate and heterogeneous entanglements and interconnections that all Australians - regardless of race and ethnicity - already face on a daily basis, whether through direct social contact or mediated through the newspaper and television, or in art and literature, reconfiguring the relationship of 'Asia' and 'Australia' beyond the static binaries of the past.
This brings us to a third arena in which an older notion of multiculturalism is being put into question. Multiculturalism's traditional concern with 'migrants' and ethnicity has implicitly and explicitly focused on the enclosure of national boundaries: its main aim is to redefine the national culture and the place of immigrants within the Australian nation. In this sense, multiculturalism is the equivalent of a mode of nationalism designed to manage diversity within the nation's borders. More recently, however, this model of multiculturalism has been eroded by the increasing importance of transnational connections and diasporic linkages in the cultural identifications of migrants, and by the process of globalisation more generally.
These relations frequently become a source of anxiety in public discourse about the risks of migrants bringing 'homeland politics' to Australia or maintaining political and economic loyalties elsewhere. Nevertheless, the increasing complexity and importance of these transnational and diasporic social formations is undeniable, and has become linked to the growth of cosmopolitan cultures in an age when cultural and economic flows between people and nations are enhanced by already existing cross-border relations such as those of migrants. In this context, the representation of Asians 'here' is inextricably linked to that of Asia 'there', making porous the boundaries between 'Asia' and 'Australia' and unsettling the reassuring separateness of the nation-state as a distinct and self-enclosed cultural entity.
The term 'Alter/Asians', in short, is designed to maintain a dynamic spirit of (dis)comfort and defiance in the (self)representation of Asian-Australian identities. The sense of panic and alarm most recently reinvoked by Pauline Hanson and her ilk is not usefully countered by a flat denial of the necessary frictions and strife that go with the widening and deepening of cultural differentiation within the nation - a strategy too often deployed by well-meaning liberal pluralists eager to affirm, as an article of faith, the positive value of 'cultural diversity'. On the contrary, what is needed are serious cultural interventions able to direct the conversation not only to the creative cross-fertilisations but also to the intercultural misunderstandings, difficulties, dissensus and discord. Asian Australians are here to stay, in ever greater numbers, and it is the difference that their presence makes in the Australian cultural landscape that is the focus of Alter/Asians. At the same time, this book will complicate the multiple relationships between 'Asia' and 'Australia', as each of these terms stands for shifting meanings and heterogeneous modes of significance, not only in relation to each other but also in connection with other important constituencies in the Australian context.
The magnificent landslide victory to the Beattie Labor government on February 17 is a great boost for Queensland workers.
It looks as if the majority in the Parliament may be as high as 46 seats with the opposition reduced to a splintered rabble made up of independents, One Nation, a Liberal or two and about a dozen National Party MPs.
The Queensland Council of Unions played a strong role during the campaign to retain power As General Secretary, I toured the north of the state visiting most of the marginal seats Labor had hoped to pick up. The message I delivered was loud and clear "If workers want to continue getting a fair go in the workplace and a fair go from WorkCover, then there is no alternative but to support the return of the Beattie Labor government." "Beattie Better For Workers" was the slogan used.
Most of the workers in Queensland could remember what happened last time the coalition had control of the Treasury benches. The coalition's Santo Santoro was the Minister for Industrial Relations and it was clear that he took his cue from Peter Reith when it came to drafting anti-worker legislation.
Under the previous coalition government, Labor's Industrial Relations Act 1990 was scrapped and the Workplace Relations Act 1997 was introduced. It provided for the stripping of Awards to only provide for listed allowable matters, individual contracts, reduced unfair dismissal protection and provisions lessening the powers of the Industrial Relations Commission. The WorkCover legislation was amended to exclude a range of workers from compensation benefits and had the toughest definition of injury in the country. Workplace health and safety was virtually ignored as a government priority.
Trade union members throughout Queensland could be forgiven for wearing a faint smile following the recent election when Santo Santoro lost his seat to trade unionist Liddy Clark of MEAA, just like Keirath did in Western Australia. And, as everything happens in threes, just watch the member for Flinders, Reith, lose his seat at the next Federal election to a member of the MUA - I think its called 'poetic justice'. Go Wayne Finch!
Workers and their families have obviously had enough of the kind of divisive legislation dealt up by conservative parties around Australia and sick of feeling insecure in their jobs.
When Labor came to power in 1998 the worst aspects of what the coalition had done were reversed and the Industrial Relations Act 1999 was introduced following a major review of Queensland's industrial laws by a tripartite task force.
It appears to be the case that every time we have a change of government and the legislation changes, it's a battle to regain all that was lost. To its credit, the Labor government went a long way in 1999 to deliver most of what the coalition had taken away or sought to destroy and it did so as a minority government.
The QCU and its affiliates will be keen to make further gains with the new government. There are aspects of the Industrial Relations Act relating to unfair dismissals that need improving and provisions relating to unfair contracts require fine-tuning. The QCU will also ensure that the findings of the Queensland Pay Equity Inquiry are implemented and a Work and Family Unit be established in the Department. In addition, improvement in benefits for injured workers under the WorkCover legislation need some attention. The QCU will meet with the new Minister as a matter of priority to pursue the changes required as well as discussing issues relating to jobs and training.
The real significance of the Labor win on February 17 is that the spectre of a coalition government or a hung Parliament are no longer considerations and won't be now for at least six years if the size of the majority is anything to go on. What this means for Unions is that we can now get on with the job of growing the movement without having to watch our backs all the time.
While the legislation in Queensland is not perfect is does not hinder Unions from gaining access to potential members, it supports collective agreement making, it protects the Award system and it provides for Union Encouragement clauses to be inserted into Awards and Agreements.
In this type of climate, affiliates can concentrate on recruiting, developing delegate structures and looking at their own internal structures to ensure that they support these activities. The QCU is increasing its organiser training efforts and will provide assistance to affiliates to organise in key areas such as call centres and other new growth areas. There are no excuses now, we just have to get on with it - and we will.
Now we're not having a shot at the feisty former Northcote, Kent Invicta, Balmain, Easts, Penrith and Parramatta halfback. He's paid his dues, on and off the park, not least by giving his guts in a record 46 Tests for the New Zealanders. Freeman has warmed-up for this position with stints helping out former team-mate Wayne Pearce at club and State of Origin level and is currently guiding the fortunes of a Sydney under-16 outfit.
It's not the man as much as the method.
The Kiwi coach was chosen by a panel comprising businessman, Bob Haddon; the man with no shame, Graham Lowe, and one Jarrod McCracken.
It's now reported from across the ditch that McCracken and Lowe will help the new coach with the former likely to be installed as a selector.
Don't think about the disasters Lowe perpetrated on the Kiwi game as head of the privatised Warriors nor conjure with the prospect of McCracken whispering words of encouragemnt to star forward Stephen Kearney. He's the bloke, remember, who finished McCracken's career with that tackle, the one McCracken has publicly refused to forgive and is still considering legal against.
Other things worth putting out of your mind are the well-documented personality clashes between Matthew Ridge, Freeman and McCracken.
Ridge, of course, is now a big-shot in the Warriors from which the Kiwi test side will continue to draw heavily.
But this isn't about egos or personalities, it's about the survival of a struggling game in a place sucessfully reinventing itself as a backwater.
The Warriors sold out from day one as avenue for the development of Kiwi coaches and administrators. They started with John Monie and Ian Robson and have graduated to unproven Daniel Anderson and another Aussie ceo with no footy background, whose name escapes us for the moment.
Now the Kiwis have gone the same way.
Graeme Norton, who coached New Zealand in Super League's tri-series; John Ackland, who had success with Warriors under-19 and reserve grade outfits; and former Kiwi prop Gerard Stokes all had impressive credentials but would have been almost complete unknowns to Lowe who crossed the Tasman in the early 80s and McCracken who settled in Sydney as a teenager around '88.
To put it mildly, Haddon's football credentials are limited.
That they came up with Freeman who left Northcote in 1987 is not neccessarily bad for Kiwi Test results, just a sharp kick in the teeth for blokes who, unlike Mr G.Lowe, have tried to keep the game alive without the incentive of enormous financial rewards.
Fair dinkum, they might as well close the show down over there and become another joke in the stand-up routine of international league - picking players and officials from the NRL on the basis that their grandparents once stopped over in Auckland for a night.
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ANY Sydneysider considering him or herself a racing fan will be at Warwick Farm next Saturday for the mouth-watering Apollo Stakes showdown between Sunline and Tie The Knot.
Okay, the facts suggest that Sunline is the superior animal, maybe even, according to Bart Cummings - a bloke said to know a bit about such matters - the best we have seen in the last 50 years.
She's a champion and Tie The Knot is a peg below that rarified status but there are no certainties in this game and both have huge armies of supporters.
Tie The Knot might battle in Melbourne, and when he faces the Kiwi mare, but he is Sydney's favourite and deservedly so. Two Sydney Cups among his nine Group One successes entitle him to that.
And, last week at Randwick, he won first up over 1200 metres in scintillating fashion for talented Victorian horseman Paddy Payne. At seven, that result marked both debut first-up and 1200 metre successes for the Nassipour stayer, suggesting something special might lie ahead in this preparation.
The five-year-old Takanini freak, meanwhile, was demolishing a quality field at Te Rapa for her ninth Group One laurel. It's part of a record that makes Cumming's words worth thinking about - 23 wins and five seconds from 31 starts, including Group One victories in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Warwick Farm is incredibly lucky to have attracted Sunline, on her way to Dubai, after last year's prevaracations forced her connections to skip Sydney altogether.
But its grand for Sydneysiders who took the Desert Sun-Songline bay to their hearts from the time she put together three back-to-back Group victories on her first trans-Tasman foray as a three-year-old.
Sunline is a freak because she is close to bullet proof, getting out in front and avoiding the traffic that has so often undone the Knot. She wins on dry or wet, setting her own furious pace and breaking the hearts, almost literally, of those behind.
It is useful to recall the fates of quality horses who competed with her last spring when she looked bigger and stronger than ever.
Fairway took a nose decision off her on a shifting track at Melbourne and was, to put it mildly, completely rooted for the rest of the season. Grand campaigner Diatribe battled away for second in the Cox Plate and barely fired a shot in the Melbourne Cup for which he was favourite.
Last year's Cox Plate performance, in a race rated the true test of Australasian horseflesh, was nothing short of phenomenal. She won by about seven lengths, and besides cruelling Diatribe's Cup hopes forced the talented Sky Heights to abort his spring campaign.
It is a style reminiscent of Might and Power who was able to physically hurt opponents who had the temerity to challenge his superiority.
Sydneysiders might not see Sunline again. It's Dubai next month, then a Melbourne campaign aimed at a third Cox Plate and, from there, who knows? Both the UK and US have been mentioned in dispatches.
She, alone, will be worth the price of admission.
Tie The Knot has run second to Sunline on two occassions and been blow away in a Cox Plate showdown but the mare just might be vulnerable next Saturday. She has only one start under her belt; is getting bigger and older, meaning while she might be even more brutal at peak she could take longer getting there; plus, no question, her connections have bigger fish to fry than the Apollo Stakes at Warwick Farm.
Knot fans will be hoping so but don't bet on it.
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)
The man who won a nation's heart with his performance in 'A Country Practice' and then turned their stomach in 'Dogshead Bay' has crafted himself as the titular head of the elitist 'Friends of Currawong'.
The Friends are a bunch of local Pittwater residents and inner-city trendies who claim ownership of the Labor Council's resort by virtue of the fact that they moor their yachts there.
For those who haven't been following the story, Labor Council has been running the holiday camp since the 1940s . Union members can take holidays there, heavily subsidized by affiliates to the tune of about $50,000 per year.
At a time when the movement is losing money and needs to focus on organizing, Labor Council has taken the view that this money would be better spent on core union activities. Holidays are fine, we say, but when a movement is under threat they are not the main game.
Accordingly, when a proposal to develop the site, while maintaining trade union access and improving training facilities, and netting a return of $200,000 per year for the movement - while retaining ownership - the Labor Council was more than interested.
Through a long process of consultation, the Council nutted out a 35-year lease to the Currawong Preservation Society, which includes representatives of Labor Council as well as Tim Brennan, a businessman linked to Corporate Renaissance, the company that promotes Transcendental Meditation. They wanted to use the site to hold training and holidays.
When the Friends heard they would have to share their playground, they went straight to the NIMBY textbook and mounted a hysterical public campaign. Using their impeccable media contacts they enlisted the support of such working class advocates as Piers Ackerman, Richard Carelton and Mike Munro to cast the Labor Council and the evil Costa as the enemies to the workers.
With Shane as public spokesman, they cashed in on his borderline celebrity to bag the deal across the metrolopis. Along the way they ran a particularly grubby and bordering on a racist campaign against the Maharishi and the religious beliefs of the Transendental Movement.
What they have never been able to justify is why the borad union movement should subsidese holidays for the elect few. Postcode analysis of those who use Currawong show that less than three per cent come from the Western Suburbs. The vast majority are North Shore, Inner West and Eastern Sububrbs type who enjoy recreational slumming
On environmental grounds, the proposal will meet all standards and is currently being worked through with Pittwater Council with a view to putting forward a development application. Despite the bek
Despite all this, the Friends have kept at their campaign with a sometimes manic intensity. Throughout the whole saga, Shane has been at the forefront, playing the role of environmental activist as a sort of cross between Robert Redford (circa the Candidate) meets Tom Hanks in Born on the Fourth of July mode.
Few will forget his memorable address to the Labor Council when he outlined 'his plan' for Currawong - basically getting unions to pump a lot more money into make the holiday site more agreeable for the select few who go there. And when they want media attention over the holidays, they go for a flotilla of yachts - good working class direct action, eh comrades?
The protestors were at it again at last week's Annual General Meeting, attempting to interrupt the Premiers' speech to protest a rule change that has absolutely no bearing on the Currawong proposal.At every turn it is Shane at the helm, hamming it up with not a modicum of ironic self-distance. Not only is he cheesy, he self-interested, he is deluded, he is wrong - he is a Tool.
For all the latest Friends of Currawong propaganda, visit their website at http://www.savecurrawong.org
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/85/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005