As workers from the failed telco formally thanked the trade union movement for their support, the Labor Council resolved to use the One.Tel collapse as the launch pad for a coordinated campaign.
The campaign, to include posters and radio advertisements will highlight the fact that without the trade unions, the One.Tel workers would have got nothing.
The marketing push will compliment ongoing work to map the needs of call center workers in key regional centers such as the Gold Coast and Wollongong. Surveys of workers in these two key centers were launched by unions this week.
The CPSU's Stephen Jones says the One.Tel collapse had represented a Sea Change in community attitudes towards the union movement - which regarded it as "fundamentally decent".
Redundancy, But Still No Cash
Meanwhile, the 1400 One.Tel workers face a long wait to receive their entitlements, secured after the CPSU nailed down an award recognizing their rights to redundancy payouts in the Australian Industrial relations Commission.
The AIRC recognised the principle set just a week earlier by the Finance Sector Union representing HIH employees, that an employer could not contract its staff out of redundancy protection.
More details have emerged of how the One.Tel workers, without any explanation, were expected to sign legally binding contracts when they started their jobs. It wasn't until they turned to the union - as the company stood at the brink of collapse - that they released how bad the deal they had signed was.
Jones says while big advances have now been made, workers will still have to wait until the administrator disposes of the company's assets before they will learn how much they will receive.
But in brighter news, the union says it is being inundated with calls form other employers seeking contact with the One.Tel workers.
Not Useless After All!
Two representatives of the One.Tel workers last night thanked the trade union movement for its support during the dispute.
Hung Le told the NSW Labor Council's weekly meeting that before the collapse he didn't know much about trade unions. But now he's seen first hand what they can do, he's called on unions to have a more public face.
Colleague Patrice Marchbank said the last few weeks had "brought to light the fact that unions were not as useless as young people thought. ... For four beers a fortnight you can give yourself protection at work," she said.
The Council congratulated the workers and the CPSU for their successful campaign.
The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union has called for a review of the NSW Employment Protection Act in the wake of the One.Tel and HIH collapsed.
Under the Act, employers of less than 15 employees are exempt from having to pay redundancy pay to workers they retrench.
TCFUA state secretary Barry Tubner says the effect has been to make outsourcing and contracting out much more attractive. Tubner says the practice is now rampant in the industries he represents.
"In the clothing industry about 95 per cent of firms in SNW would engage less than 15 employees," he says. "That means that 95 per cent of employees are prima facie not entitled to severance pay in the event of redundancy."
"A principal contractor might contract out production to 20 or more contractors who would then in turn typically contract out production to one hundred or so makers.
"It would be very rare to find a single business in the clothing industry that would employ more than 15 workers - even though the principal may be engaging more than 100workers to make its product. And none would be entitled to redundancy."
Tubner says while the logic of protecting small businesses may have been sound when the exemption was passed in 1982, today's industry profile is much different.
The TCFUA has called for a review of the redundancy laws to ensure that workers in these type of circumstances still have access to redundancy benefits - both for the workers and to take away one of the incentives to contracting out.
A copy of the Bill was circulated to trade unions late Friday and will be scrutinised by Labor Council's legal advisor Jeff Shaw, QC, over the weekend.
A meeting of the Labor Council's workers compensation campaign meeting has been convened for Monday morning to consider Shaw's advice.
Assistant secrtary John Robertson says the Council is determined to ensure that the legislation that goes before Parliament reflects the framework agreed to by Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca last month.
That agreement was based on the following Labor Council resolution:
The Government proceed with drafting amendments (based on the Working Party Reports) to the Statutory Scheme, subject to clarification on certain aspects of the new proposed Dispute Resolution process.
The process for the development of the Guidelines, Thresholds and Formula is subject to a proper review and scrutiny by the Labor Council of New South Wales before being introduced as part of the reforms.
In addition, it be agreed that under the proposed Guidelines, thresholds & formula, injured workers should not be disadvantaged as per their current entitlements.
In relation to Common Law an Inquiry be conducted and Chaired by an independent person. The inquiry should include representatives from the Employers, Unions and Government.
The terms of Reference for this inquiry would be
· Examining more efficient ways to process Common Law claims
· Reducing unnecessary cost and inefficiencies in the System
· Maintaining access to the System for seriously injured workers
· How to reduce the incentive for pursuing unnecessary Common Law actions
There should not be any amendments to the Common Law provision until the conclusion of this inquiry.
That the package should include satisfactory outcomes of compliance issues and injury management.
That this position be communicated to the Minister and the Premier with a request that they respond as a matter of urgency.
The Electrical Trades Union has raised concerns that the Minister is promoting a new service for employees to get access to their relevant award through the Department of Industrial Relation's website.
But ETU state secretary Bernie Riordan says that what is not being promoted is that a copy of the award will cost a worker $16.50.
"It is a disgrace that a Labor Government would support a practice whereby a worker has to deduct an amount for their wages to gain access to a copy of their relevant Award from a Government Department websites," Riordan says.
"The ETU calls upon the Labor Council to contact the Minister and demand the removal of this unfair penny pinching and morally deficient fee. Has this Minister got any good news for workers?"
The Trades Hall executive voted to issue 800,000 to the Labor Council, a move that effectively gives the Council majority shareholding.
In return the Labor Council will pay $1.6 million to the Trades Hall Association for the shares. The Trades Hall Association is made up of the 50 original guilds and unions that built the Hall in the 1890s.
The transfer of control will enable the Council to proceed with the $15 million refurbishment, which will upgrade facilities while retaining the building's unique heritage value - including the Banner Room.
Both the Labor Council and the ALP will move offices to the old Hall on completion, bringing new life to the historic building.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa described the move as "historic". Costa also revealed he'd met with Sydney Lord Mayor Frank Sartor who had given his support for the project.
Refurbishment work is expecting to commence later this year with completion due by late 2002.
Three separate incidents were reported to Labor Council this week - following hot on the heels of revelations that the Department had launched legal action to have it excluded form the state's health and safety laws.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says there are growing concerns that "something is fundamentally wrong in the Department".
The incidents reported are:
- five building workers overcome with fumes while working at Blacktown TAFE while attempting to remove asbestos from a building.
- four painters sacked by a Balina contractor working on a DPWS maintenance contract for refusing to become sub-contract workers
- a major asbestos scam at the Lahey Constructions Rankin Park Hospital refurbishment where 80 workers were wrongly told that asbestos had already been removed. Work on this site has now been stopped by the Plumbers Union.
The Labor Council has renewed its call for an urgent meeting with Iemma over the incidents.
Sue Simpson, President, NSW Teachers Federation says in commissioning the Vinson Inquiry the Federation identified three challenges facing public education - under funding, competition with private schools and ad hoc policy making resulting in piece meal restructuring of our public schools.
"The injection of $100 million into inner city schools is evidence of chronic government neglect over many years," Simpson says.
" Had such under funding not occurred community confidence in public education in the inner city may well have been stronger.
"The Minister's latest plans whilst taking into account the concerns of some school communities have still been made without an adequate research base and with no necessary consistency of curriculum choice across communities."
Simpson says yhe closure of Hunters Hill and Maroubra High Schools despite concerted opposition from the school communities reveals a cynical powerplay.
"It seems to be OK to close a viable public high school in the Opposition Leader's electorate if that is balanced by closure of a high school in the Premiers electorate provided it is not the school that the Premier attended."
"The Minister's proposal has benefited from the input of local communities who rejected additional single sex schools and supported genuine community schools in the Cleveland Street area. The Federation welcomes further consultation on the future of Marrickville and Dulwich and Chatswood High Schools. "
The Vinson Inquiry will enable a comprehensive review into the adequacy of current funding levels and school types and will be backed up by research.
The concern surrounds a move by the TAB to force all those wanting to make phone bets worth less than $10 to deal with computers rather than people. Currently, punters with phone accounts can place bets as low as 50 cents with an operator.
The Australian Services Union's Michael Want says the move is a retrogrgade step for both staff and punters.
Wants says the workers have three major concerns:
- Job and income security for members
- Operators coping with the expected abuse from punters who wish to deal with a person not a machine
- a strong possibility that punters will be enticed to bet more.
The Labor Council is calling on all punters to take their frustration out on senior management rather than Phone TAB Operators by calling 9265 8211.
Wants says punters also need to be aware that over two hundred casual Phone TAB operators have taken redundancy as a result of the introduction of the new technology.
The problem is that few Australian unions have the resources, expertise (or time!) at present to collect even the basic information they need about their target companies.
Labor Council is currently developing a dedicated Bosswatch website that will do this. The site will be launched by the end of September.
Bosswatch is a website that will house a database of Australian companies which tracks company performance, exposes bad management and monitors executive salaries and company profits. The site will also track who sits on which company boards.
Shannon O'Keeffe who recently joined the Organising Centre after 2 ½ years as a Campaign Researcher at the LHMU is coordinating the project.
"We need to know what's going on inside these big companies because workers are being told there is no money in the coffers while CEOs and executives are paying themselves multi-million dollar bonuses. Workers and the community are outraged when this is exposed," Shannon says.
Once Bosswatch is up and running it can be used to assist unions and community groups in the development of e-campaigning and strategic campaigns by providing the supporting technology and base information.
BossWatch is being developed by Labor Council's technology partners Social Change Online.
"The workers are ready and waiting to get this season's crush underway, but CSR's refusal to let them work at this crucial time is threatening the local communities," ACTU President Sharan Burrow says.
The lock-out at seven CSR sugar mills is now in its third day, risking income for sugar farmers and local businesses in the Herbert, Burdekin, Plane Creek and Sarina districts.
"CSR is the latest company to use John Howard's extremist legislation to provoke a damaging conflict, regardless of the economic cost," Burrow says.
"The farmers, local businesses and workers are all calling on CSR to get back to the negotiating table. But CSR doesn't care because it's trying to sell out of the sugar business."
Unions lifted overtime bans last week in a bid to finalise a new enterprise bargaining agreement, but CSR refused to negotiate in good faith before locking out members of the Australian Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
The Canegrowers association yesterday called on CSR to resume negotiations with the three unions.
Burrow says the problems at CSR were a direct result of company managers implementing militant tactics legalised by the Howard government in the Workplace Relations Act.
After the Act came into force in 1997, CSR attempted to use its provisions to cut sugar workers' pay by 21 per cent.
Last week the company revealed plans to close 21 service branches, the Finance Sector union says.
At the same time NRMA announced that they will be spending $4 million dollars on upgrading 11 of the remaining branches.
While FSU agrees that there is a desperate need to upgrade some branches in the network, surely this shouldn't come at the expense of customers and your jobs.
The unions says it will be working closely with members to ensure job security and fair play throughout the process.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has expressed serious concerns about handing veterans' medical records to the private sector.
CPSU spokesperson, Sue Mountford, said private sector organisations are not subject to the same privacy provisions as the public sector.
"There is no way of guaranteeing that private sector organisations will not use veterans' records for commercial purposes," Ms Mountford warned.
The CPSU claims regular surveys show veterans are very appreciative of the quality of service provided by DVA staff and have nothing to gain by outsourcing.
"The quality of service we provide to veterans is of paramount importance, especially given their age. Outsourcing of functions will make it harder to meet the needs of veterans, not easier" she said.
The union was calling on DVA management to put the needs of veterans before the Howard government's discredited public sector outsourcing agenda.
A draft Request for Tender (RFT) has been circulated to potential service providers.
A representative of the Vietnamese community in Australia, Than Nguyen, addressed this week's Labor Council meeting to outline the plight of religious and political leaders under detention and house arrest.
These include Father Tadeus Nguyen Van Ly, the 80-year-old leader of the Unified Buddhist Church, who has been imprisoned for calling for religious freedom
Nguyen is calling on Australian workers to take up the issue through the ACTU to demand the release of all religious leaders.
He also wants the ACTU to send a delegate to examine labour conditions in Vietnam tro ensure compliance with ILO conventions.
A meeting was also held this week with Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Laurie Brereton to outline the issue.
Place: The Function Room, Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road.
Date/Time: Tuesday, June 26. 6pm for 6.30 pm
Charge: $10 for drinks and finger food. ($6 unwaged)
To assist catering please advise attendance. mailto:[email protected] or phone 9371 4136 by June 22.
Chair : Tom Morton (ABC's Background Briefing )
The talk will be followed by questions from the floor and a response from Frank Stilwell, Associate Professor of Political Economy, University of Sydney.
Michael Jacobs is the secretary of the British Fabian Society and a prominent New Labour identity. Following the British elections he will be in Australia to meet with Labor frontbenchers to discuss policy direction.
About the Forum
As Blair wins another election the Australian Fabian Society has arranged this Forum to ask what is the secret of New Labour's success and where to now?
Michael Jacobs discusses the state of British Labour and the Left in the UK - both philosophy and policy. What is "New Labour"? Does the Third Way exist and if so where did it go? What does Blair mean when he says his second term will be more 'radical' than the first? (This doesn't equal more left wing!) What will be the big debates on the left of centre in the UK over the coming years? What are the lessons for the ALP as it approaches a Federal election?
The date is July 2 and the venue is Moreton's on Sussex. Kick-off at 6pm. Lots of surprise guests - including one secret big one.
It should be a fun night - and we'll be launching our commemorative book - "The Ship of Tools" to mark the three figures.
We'll also be announcing details of an exciting new web initiative - Wobbly Radio.
We have 50 tickets to the party reserved for Workers Online readers. If you want to come along just click the button below.
Regional Australia Deserves a Pay Rise
The TWU is holding a community forum in Orange to highlight the reasons Regional Australia deserves a pay rise.
The forum will be held on June 16, 2001 from 11.00am - 1.00pm in the Auditorium of Orange City Bowling Club, Warrendine Street, Orange.
A bus will be provided on the day to take people from Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst.
An Evening in the Sahara:
The Honourable Janelle Saffin MLC, President of the New South Wales Parliamentary Amnesty Group, cordially invites you and a guest to attend an "Evening in the Sahara" at NSW Parliament House.
The night will include cocktails, surprises, and a rare exhibition and auction of photographs taken live at the Saharawi refugee camps. All monies raised will go to help the women and children whose rights continue to be violated in the Western Sahara.
Special guest speaker will be Mr. Kamal Fadel, POLISARIO representative in Australia.
He will be joined by:
* Honourable Justice John Dowd AO,
* Senator Lyn Allison Democrat Senator for Victoria,
* Mr. David Raper, President of Amnesty International NSW Branch
Wednesday June 20, 2001 6.00pm. for 6.30pm.
The Jubilee Room, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney
Tickets - $45.00 Each (Please contact Tracy on the number below if concession is required)
RSVP - Tel: (02) 9230-3306
Media inquiries: Margherita Tracanelli 0407-911 429
Please see attachment which is an example of the beautiful photographs by UK photographer Danielle Smith that will be auctioned
Biomass Forum - Earthworker Alliance
Wednesday June 20, 7pm, NSW Parliament Theatrette
Since the Federal Government passed renewable energy legislation late last year, the burning of Biomass of forest products has become a hot topic in the environmental debate.
The purpose of this forum is to examine the issues that the legislation raises, hoping to build a consensus between the workers and their unions and the environmental movement.
- Craig Smith, secretary NSW forestry division, CFMEU
- Glen Klatovsky, The Wilderness Society
- Lee Rhiannon, Greens MLC
- Daniel Beaver, Forest Action network
More details call Shane Marshall on 9287 9387
You are invited to the launch of STREWTH! #7 The "We Blame You" issue.
When : Thursday 21st June, 6pm till late
Where : The Gaelic Club, 64 Devonhire Street, Surry Hills
Special guests : - Beer Swilling Songstress CHRISTA HUGHES, -People's Poet TUG DUMBLY, - Special guest band LOVE ME
$10 entry fee includes Issue #7 of Strewth! Enjoy the cheap beer and free conversation.
Solidarity with Korean Construction Workers
12 noon, Wednesday June 20
32 Martin Place, Sydney - Outside South Korean Consulate
Korean construction and transport workers are involved in a bitter battle for recognition of a trade union for ready mix truck drivers. The employers have refused to recognise their union and negotiate any collective enterprise agreement.
Dozens of workers have been based and detained by thugs engaged by the employers and by riot police. There are presently hundreds of workers involved in a sit-in outside National parliament appealing to the government to intervene and assist their struggle for justice. Many workers have been on strike since April.
The Korean unions and workers re calling for international trade union solidarity.
Women of Burma Day
You're invited to celebrate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Birthday
Tues June 19 2001 12-2p.m.at a birthday party at NSW Parliament hosted by Janelle Saffin MLC
We will also be celebrating Women of Burma Day and ACTU President will launch the Australian Women Friends of Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, who says: Please use your liberty to help promote ours*
Please bring a plate. RSVP to Janelle Saffin*s office on 9230-3306/2235
9th Annual Labour Law Conference
Examining legal issues impacting on employee relations
Presented by ACIRRT & Law School, University of Sydney
Half-day Conference, 28 June 2001, 9.00am-1.00pm Venue: Euro-Asia Rex Hotel, Potts Point, Sydney.
The conference will provide delegates with detailed analyses of several of the critical legal issues that will impact on the employment and management of workers in Australia in the coming year. The presenters at this year's conference are some of the most experienced lawyers in their field and this important half day event should not be missed by anyone interested in the practical implications of labour law.
Topics and presenters:
- Privacy laws and what they mean for employee relations - Prof Ron McCallum, University of Sydney
- Fitness for duty and the responsibility of employers - Kylie Nomchong & Jim Nolan, Barristers
- Informed consent in agreement making Iain Ross, AIRC
- New OHS laws for NSW: continuity, change and likely impacts - Jeff Shaw, Barrister
- Developments in the protection of employee entitlements - Joellen Riley, University of Sydney
- Employee benefits and the impact of tax laws - Sonya Greeves, Solicitor, Blake Dawson Waldron
Cost: $490.00 per delegate
Details: 02 9351 5626 or mailto:[email protected]
Program details are available on ACIRRT's website at http:// www.acirrt.com
DROP THE DEBT MARCH & RALLY
SUNDAY JULY 22nd starting 1 pm
to coincide with the G8 summit in Genoa where debt is high on the agenda.
The March will begin from the
Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park and end in First Fleet Park where there will be music including African drumming band and speakers including Fr Brian Gore.
Participants are encouraged to wear red and black and to carry either placards or large white crosses in memory of those people who are dying because their governments are compelled by the international community to spend more on servicing debt than on health.
Please also note e-mail action below.
Contact person: Anne Lanyon 0409-190-467
The editor of Workers On-line Peter Lewis has requested that in my capacity as May Day Secretary that response be given to the letters which came in concerning the cancellation of the March component of this year's May Day.
The May Day committee has traditionally had responsibility to organise activities to promote and commemorate the principles of May Day.
In most recent years this has taken place in the form of a toast on May 1, and a march/rally to take place on the next Sunday.
This year's toast was a resounding success with a function at South Leagues Club filled to capacity.
During the course of the week torrential rain had bucketed upon Sydney causing flooding throughout a number of areas including the CBD.
On Sunday May 6, I was inundated with phone calls as to whether the march would be proceeding. In discussion with those responsible in assisting with the preparations for the march and other committee members, the following was basically confronted:
1. People were having difficulty under the weather conditions actually getting into Sydney, impacting heavily on the numbers.
2. Darling Harbour Authority was concerned about traffic into Tumbalong Park, and could not supply the sound system which was ordered (due to weather). Thus, stopping the ability of conducting the speeches and the planned entertainment.
3. The Police were advising that the conditions were not safe to conduct a march.
4. The PA could not be put on the truck. It was envisaged to use that vehicle to play music and give general directions at Hyde Park.
5. A number of union floats could not be prepared.
All of the above was considered by the executive and ultimately a decision concerning the march aspect was taken and that albeit under difficult circumstances it was decided to have a rally at Hyde Park perhaps invigorating the old "speakers at the Park" which took place at the Domain many years ago.
Perhaps the decision would have been supported by those who did show up had the rain kept bucketing down, the rain eased slightly for about 60 mins over the week! Forty of which when we had the rally at Hyde Park where Jack Beetson headed up a number of speakers.
Constructive criticism and debate are integral factors in working class politics.
The decision was not taken lightly and further has continued to be subject to analysis, which should only assist organisers in determining future outcomes.
Ultimately there has to be accountability and as Secretary will take responsibility, something which was put to those who chose to stay for the rally.
Committee members are obviously disappointed the weather was not suitable as changes in the assembly/rally point from Town Hall/Circular Quay to Hyde Park/Tumabalong Park provided an environment for family involvement, and with ideal weather we would have achieved an outstanding day.
In closing the May Day committee has a number of responsibilities including satisfying council requirements, organising literature, fundraising (selling raffle tickets, badges), meeting with police, organising speakers, organising insurance coverage etc. It is work which is invariably done in committee members own time; given that we have not met since May I would like to place on the record my appreciation for the small number of people who assisted to achieve the above.
Comrade Lutherborrow says in his last contribution to workers on-line that he was trying to get a response from the May Day committee, yet the 1st letter stated no such request rather that we should take a long hard look at ourselves!
The above hopefully gives background to the predicament organisers faced. The debate reflects the passion people have for the ideals of May Day, which should be viewed as a positive for our movement. The committee is cognisant of the responsibility to ensure that we continue to build the movement in the interests of working class solidarity.
Hopefully, this correspondence clears the air for those concerned, allowing us the opportunity to focus on continuing to improve our collective efforts at this most important date on the workers calendar into the future.
Long live May Day
Yours in Unity
May Day Secretary
CNSW Branch Assistant Secretary, Maritime Union
Just under 75 years ago on 1 July 1926 The Workers' Compensation Act 1926 came into operation. The Act set up the Workers' Compensation Commission.
That Commission which was run by judges remained until 1984 when the judicial functions which it performed were taken over by the Compensation Court. That Court has continued in existence to the present time.
The principal function of both the Commission and the Court was and still is to determine on an impartial and independent basis the rights of injured workers to just and fair compensation.
Without wishing to display any bias it is fair to say that over the now nearly three quarters of a century of its combined existence the Commission and the Court have served the workers of this State in an exemplary and benevolent manner. One would only need to speak to the many workers who have come before the judges over the years to determine the overall satisfaction that they have with the Court.
Despite 75 years of service not only to the workers of this State but to the community at large the present government has formed a view that it wishes to abolish the Court. I has not ot to date, nor has any previous government been able to provide any proper reason for the need to abolish
the Court. There has so far as I'm aware been no evidence provided by the Government to show that the Court is in some way not performing its function or is performing its function improperly.
It is generally accepted that the Court has one of the largest, if not the largest workloads of any Court in the nation. It is also generally accepted that the Court deals with the cases that come before it in a just and expeditious manner.
The Government's intention despite the total lack of any justification has apparently found favour with the Lobor Council. With a history of service for nearly 75 years and without any serious complaint over that period about the operation of the Court it is difficult to understand how the Labor Council can justify its acceptance of the Governments intention and its willingness to accept a system that will deprive workers of that impartiality and independence.
75 years is indeed a long time to take to work out that something is not functioning as it should, ie. in the interests of workers. It takes little imagination to believe that there is in fact something more sinister in the Government's motives. The workers of this State are in the end the only ones who will suffer.
AIG's Bob Herbert
In your speech this week to the IRC you talked about the idea of mutuality of interest between employer and employee as being a key objective in any civil society. What did you mean by this?
Seen in its proper context, it was about the values of the Australian Industry Group and its predecessor organisations. We take a very firm view that the focus of industrial relations should be at the enterprise, and it should be about individual companies establishing a working relationship with their employees so that there is a common purpose between them. There should be an understanding of the interests of the employees and the employees should understand the interests of the business. And in that way Australian industry can grow and prosper. It's as simple as that really. We are in it together. It is not about an employer seeing this issue as: we can foster an outcome that is to our advantage over the employees. It is about trying to get an understanding between employer and employee about the way forward.
And where does the trade union movement fit into that analysis?
We have been strongly in favour of representative bodies of employers and employees. We are one of the registered bodies in the system. Indeed, we hold Registration No. 1 in NSW. We believe that there is value in our registration, so we have been supporters of organisations being registered under the system. You get rights and you get responsibilities as a consequence of that. That is how the system works. You can't have a system of conciliation and arbitration without there being representative bodies or the opportunity for representation.
Of course, there has been an argument over the last decade about the evils of the IR club, and I guess in that sense both employer organisations and unions have been grouped as part of the problem. What is your defence of that?
That is a bit of rhetoric that is so often thrown up and I pick up what Bert Evans used to say when it was thrown up at him. The only club that he knew was the one that some of the union officials would pick up and hit him over the back of the head with. The term "IR Club" is just part of the rhetoric from those that have a different ideology about industrial relations systems, and it is meant as a derogatory term which we don't carry any favour with at all. The system has its political boundaries and requirements and if you describe that as a club, so be it. But the system certainly ought to be encouraging a common view or "mutuality of interests". If this is regarded as being in the club, well we don't mind being in it.
In your speech you also warned against the danger of placing ideology at the centre of any move to reform the system. Do you think the deregulation of the IR system has gone too far under the Coalition Government over the recent years?
I think that industry has a good chance of being the victim of political processes. I think what is happening at the moment - the ideology of the conservatives now in government, and the ideology of the Labor Party who aspire to government, is in conflict one with the other - and in the middle is industry - and we are trying to get on and run successful operations and businesses; building understanding with our employees - but the position of both political parties is not necessarily helpful to industry in the middle. Ai Group has been quite thoughtful in going out and saying what we have said, that really there is a "mutuality of interest" between employer and employee. We don't want to wake up one day and have the system shaped by those who aren't operating in it, and who have different ideology. Or you could get some compromise engineered because of the Democrats view. They too are trying to satisfy an ideology as distinct from what the parties in the system themselves might believe appropriate. The people who really shape the system are the parties - not the political parties - the parties directly involved - it is the employers and the employees for whom the system has been created and they should shape it to suit their needs.
That is why I said if you are going to set up a process of judging fairness and balance in what is a safety net, why would you wish to deride a body such as the AIRC that has won the respect of working people for a century? It an Australia icon that we ought to preserve. We believe that our tribunal system over the years has been respected by working people - and by industry. As industry representatives we are the customers of the tribunals. They have always served us pretty well and if you took it away and left our destiny only in the hands of the politicians and legislated solutions, then I think we would be worse off for it.
Of course, the other wave in recent years has been the move from the industrial tribunals into the judicial system with major disputes now being fought under corporations law. What's your view?
That of course is a dangerous development in my view. The unions now emphasise very much the importance of collective bargaining, which is an Americanism in a sense. There are some difficulties with the American system. No system can easily be transplanted into the Australian environment and be entirely suitable. The thing that I notice about the American system of collective bargaining, is that there are contractual relationships which lead into legal processes - very highly contested litigious processes. So, in the US it has reached a stage that when they negotiate a contract - an employment contract - there is emphasis on every single word in it and legal debates about their meaning.
I saw one example of a company - it was Hoover in Conton, Ohio where something like 167 separate claims, or issues, about the meaning of words had to be cleared up before they actually began collective bargaining about the wages and conditions of employment. The words became so intensely important, because if they got them wrong, there could be some action about what words mean, which would then end up in the courts.
So if Australian unions are favouring collective bargaining, they should be very careful that it doesn't take you down the US route, that every word becomes so important, and a potential source of litigation. This is where the tribunal system that has been available to the parties in Australia, is a far better course than getting into litigation. Litigation has got so many drawbacks, apart from the fact that it takes you away from the concept of "mutuality of interest" and cooperation to a process of debate about words and what they might mean as distinct from what people are trying to do as a common purpose. Individuals are constrained if they are required to follow legal process because of the cost, small companies are constrained as well because they too can't pursue a claim to the end because of the cost. You would be crazy to throw out what we have even though it is not perfect.
I went to one company in the States, where in every discussion they had with the union they would take a transcript of what they said. They had a transcript room where every communication they had had with unions had been taken down word for word, filed away under the various subject matters so if there was a dispute about what the words meant in the employment contract, then they could go back to the transcripts as evidence of the meaning of them.
That's why a tribunal that is seen as being fair and balanced is what we ought to have and we would throw it away at our peril. People who propose total deregulation for it's own sake and who don't believe that there can be some proper and fair underpinning by a safety test could create a feeling that people believe they could be jipped. It would be crazy for one to support deregulation to that extent where "mutuality of interest" is left to be contested in the courts.
But we don't favour re-regulation to the extent that you have central outcomes as we did in the 60s, 70s, 80s. We have encouraged a move away from that to developing a "mutuality of interest" at the enterprise.
I guess the other trend over recent times has been individual work contracts. Do you have a position on those?
Yes we do. There ought to be choice in the system. Forty eight per cent of working people in Australia have individual contracts. Now there is a version of them called AWAs about which there is a paranoia by the unions because they're in an area which has been the union's traditional membership base. The unions don't seem to be so worried about the area outside that, which hasn't been the traditional membership base, when common law contracts apply. So the union's main concerns seem to be retention of membership. They are looking at it from that angle, rather than why shouldn't there be the opportunity for the individual to decide if they want to have an individual relationship with their employer or not.
Now I think it is important for the unions to think more about how they market their services to individuals. Now if I was in their shoes, I would say let's go out and contact individuals through whichever means we can and say these are the things that we can do for you; do you realise here is the trend in wages and conditions, these are the pitfalls etc. That would be a way of selling membership and not be fearful of individuals being better equipped to decide for themselves. I think the resistance of the union in truth comes back to the question of union membership. Otherwise there would have been more grief about individual common law contracts that have been around for years and years.
But there has been a big fall of union membership over the last 15 years. Do you think that is a good thing?
No I don't. It's the way of life I guess. We did a really detailed study of community attitudes with ANOP last year. What's coming through is that there is a trend away from people belonging to organisations to individualism. It's the way of the world. People don't belong to sporting clubs as they used to or Rotary Clubs or Lions Clubs, There is more reluctance to join employer bodies or unions. That's happening and perhaps the bodies themselves might be getting their marketing wrong. But I certainly don't think that it is the right course. At the same time, I don't think we can say to individuals you must belong, because there must be an option to choose. That's why we certainly don't agree with the principle that if you don't belong to a union you must pay a bargaining fee.
In a funny sort of way, bargaining fees would help us because we do a lot of good in the community. But we don't have exclusive domain over companies and we can't force them to pay for all the good work we do. It would be very helpful to our bottom line, but life is not that easy. I think that the bargaining fee concept is wrong and cuts across this idea of democracy and freedom of choice.
So how would you deal with the freeloader issue, the situation where a minority of people are funding work that is leading to a benefit for the majority?
Well that is the way of the world, that has been happening for hundreds of. No doubt all political parties would say that they provide a very good service and have put benefits in place, so why don't we have an obligation to belong or pay a fee to belong to the party. A Democracy must give people the freedom to choose whether they will belong to such bodies or not. Sure it would be nice to have everyone pay but you can't do it by prescription.
Talking about the Federal Election coming up, there is the prospect of a change government. Do you regard the Beazley Government as something to be scared of?
No, and here I come back to the issue of values. Value number one in our organisation is to be apolitical. Our job is not to decide which political party should be in power. Our job is to give leadership to industry and say what industry needs from the government of the day. So we fear a Beazley Government no more or no less than we would a Howard Government. That's for others to decide and we don't fear it at all. All we want to do is make sure they understand industry's position and react favourably to it. And we'll advocate it as hard as we can.
What specified things would you like to see if there is a new Government?
Well to both parties we have put a very firm agenda. It is all built around growth. We must ensure that this economy is not scared of growth, that we don't take our foot off the accelerator. We've enjoyed over the last few years growth in excess of four per cent, which has been good for Australia. It has been falling back a little bit but the crucial issue is to maintain growth so we can have all the benefits which flow from that. To do that we need strong industry policies which leads to the way you go about training and education and building knowledge. And I am complimentary about what the Labor Party is doing in that regard.
You certainly need to take advantage at the present time of where the Australian Dollar sits, it's too low, but there are opportunities for exports. With a competitive dollar we have to start putting more emphasis behind boosting our exports and we will be putting to both parties that this should be a priority. The way we go about tackling investment is absolutely crucial because that is going to kick into growth as well.
How you link our R&D and innovation to industry itself is also very important. If you don't innovate in an over supplied marketplace, you are not going to be able to get products onto the shelves. They will need to be a little bit different, and that requires links between innovation, knowledge, industry policy, investment and growth. These are crucial links and if that's realised by government - whatever flavour it is - then industry will have a smile on its face.
Finally, if you could shape IR policy over the next 20 years, what would it look like?
Very good question. I think certainly we don't need six or eight separate systems for eight million working people. If you are running a business today, and doing it efficiently within Australia you rationalise the branches you have. If you are running an international business it is even more important that you are efficient. So our industrial relations system should service Australia with equal efficiency.
There tends to be a paranoia about a unitary industrial relations system, but you ought to be equally paranoid about having a unified training and education system. The competition that's gone on recently between the state and federal bodies in trying to establish the ANTA agreement is a disgrace. To me, that is just as debilitating as having six or eight Industrial Relations systems. Now looking down the track some unity of purpose between the systems is required for efficiency. I think that over 20 years it will be achieved as gradually people see the common sense of coming together.
I also think you certainly need the concept of "mutuality of interest" that I talked about, and tribunals which are respected because they are seen as being fair and balanced in their approach; that is not expensive to access. I think the system could be a little better tuned into everyday life. I have an idea about enforcement which is novel. At the moment the enforcement process isn't good enough it takes you into the court system and that is expensive. We have been down that track recently and we don't like it, it is not the best option. There must be a simpler way. I draw the analogy of a football game. Every person who runs onto a football field would know the rules of the game. If you break the rules you are sent into the sin bin. That is a punishment for non-compliance with the rules. If you break the rules twice, you go in there for a bit longer. And if you do it three times you might get suspended for a month. I think that we could have the same sort of concept with the Industrial Relations Commission, simple rules where if people step outside them there is a quick mechanism for the tribunal to sin-bin the player who breaks the rules or the obligations that go with your rights given under the system. It should be accepted by the players in the system that if they go over the mark and then you will not be able to carry out your role as a representative for industry or employees for the period you are in the sin-bin. That sort of novel approach is needed to keep the industrial Tribunal tuned in to what is accepted practice by the community in other areas of endeavour.
The bottom line is you do want a Tribunal?
I certainly believe so.
A month ago I thought my job was fantastic I was spending loads of money, very happy in my position, had a good work relationship with my management as well as the staff that I had around me and it was a good environment to work in.
I was looking after fraud prevention within One.tel and I was setting up my own team. I was given an opportunity six months ago to do that, I was travelling around the country, I thought I had the best job in the world at the time. While it was sometimes hard to get interest in what I was doing from management, my relationship with them was quite good.
I'd been there five years and felt I was moving up. I had 50,000 shares in One.Tel. which at one point were valued at about $2.50. That meant I was holding about 100 odd thousand dollars, which seemed pretty secure at the time. They started to fritter away over the past 12 months. The company invested a lot of money in different things and there was a few losses and it wasn't looked on kindly by the share market.
My plans to have myself a nice house and a nice car and whatever else were starting to deteriorate. I guess I was building for the future, I was willing to put them in the drawer for a couple of years and hopefully they were going to be worth good money.
At this stage, I knew very little about the union. I mean there was a happy environment to work within and I think everyone felt the same way: the environment was good, the money was good, everything was good and I guess we all felt that there was no need to join a union at that time.
The alarm bells started ringing when the shares were suspended and we started to worry. That was about two or three weeks ago. We all started to worry thinking we were going to lose our jobs and we were going to be told that we weren't going to get our money. That was the biggest thing because we didn't think that we were going to get our money, and I was counting on my holidays and redundancy.
We weren't being told anything by management. It was all undercover: we didn't know what was going on, staff were getting very disgruntled and angry because they didn't know whether to turn up to work or what to do. I was due to go overseas on the 23rd of June - which I'm still tossing up on whether to go. My financial situation is terrible now because I borrowed against my shares and it is a nightmare for me at the moment.
We got a strong push from the unions in the last two weeks that has been fantastic. We called them when all this was going down and the shares were suspended. I suspected things were going to go wrong, and when staff were getting agitated I actually rang them and asked them what was happening. Then we heard there was going to be a union rep in the building so we went and saw him.
It was a great turnout for the meeting, and the union reps were very supportive and thoughtful of our situation. I was very impressed with what they have done for us with getting the Premier Bob Carr to side with us to push us through. It was a really good feeling to have that support when we were feeling low.
Basically everyone signed up to the union because we saw that no one else was going to help us. I went to the creditors meeting and, as far as I could see, the administrators did not want to pay us any redundancy. He wasn't going to pay us any entitlements, he wasn't interested in paying us a redundancy at all.
Then the unions took our case to the Industrial Relations Commission and got us redundancy which is fantastic. But we still don't know when we are going to get paid our redundancy and our entitlements and the only people that can help us with that now is the union.
The high point of the campaign was definitely the day when I turned up to the Industrial Relations Commission. It was like 10 tonnes off my shoulders to have people behind us to help us out with that. No one knew where they were, everyone was concerned I mean I have been there five years I have ten weeks of holiday's saved up, four weeks of long service saved up so that is like fourteen weeks pay not including redundancy. Not knowing when you are going to get paid or if you are going to get paid is quite a stressful situation when you are paying off loans and paying rent and whatever else you have to do .
We were employed on contracts, that set our conditions, but we didn't really know what they were. Nothing was pointed out, nothing was explained. If you are buying a mobile phone -which was the industry I was in - they explain to you the different terms of a contract and they have to and that is just buying a mobile phone. They should be explaining the terms of your contract when you are signing up for work. But there was nothing at all.
What this has shown to me is; one, it is important to look deeper and not to feel too safe in your job. And second, you need to have someone behind you to help you so that you can have another ace up your sleeve. That is what I found with the union. They are someone to turn to when things go wrong.
It has changed my mind about unions. My advice to other people in the IT Industry is that it's really important that you get involved with the unions. It is important to have someone behind you. I thought I was safe. Who would have thought that One.Tel, a large company like that, would have this situation on their hands? So think, who are you going to turn to when, if you are in my situation?
by Louise Beard
One.Tel Workers on the Street
The relationship between a contractor and a company is very different to that between a company and its employees. As there is no employment relationship between the former, a contractor is paid a fee for service (either by the company or through an agency) as opposed to a salary. When the contract is terminated due to circumstances such as the liquidation of a company, the absence of an employment relationship means the contractor is not entitled to a redundancy payment.
But this does not mean that a contractors fees for work already performed and invoiced should not be paid. While obvious problems exist for those who contracted directly to One.Tel (given the lack of money), the majority of contractors affected were contracting to One.Tel via a recruitment agency, and are entitled to payment from the agency.
In the aftermath of the collapse of One.Tel, it came to APESMA's attention that various agencies were behaving unethically and unlawfully in relation to the contractors they had placed at One.Tel.
APESMA was recently approached by some of its contractor members seeking advice on their rights following the advice given to them by their respective agencies.
Unfortunately, it appears that some agencies are taking advantage of the issue and advising their contractors that they cannot be paid for recent work for One.Tel, even though the work has been signed off and invoices were submitted to the agency prior to One.Tel's liquidation.
The agencies have provided the explanation that because the agency will not be paid by One.Tel's administrators, the agency has no obligation to pay the contractor. But in each of the cases APESMA has reviewed this is blatantly untrue.
APESMA has reviewed the contracts between the contractors and their respective agencies and found that the contracts create an obligation for the agency to pay the contractor, not One.Tel. And the payment of fees is by no means contingent on the agency being paid by the client (ie One.Tel).
In some cases a contractual clause may give an agency the right to withhold payment to a contractor in the event that the client is dissatisfied with the contractor's work and withholds payment to the agency as a result. But this has no bearing on a situation such as the One.Tel collapse, despite the misleading conduct of some agencies who would have their contractors believe otherwise.
Last week APESMA wrote to the agencies concerned, outlining their legal obligations and demanding payment for the members concerned. At this stage we have had positive feedback from one member, who says his agency has now agreed to pay him for 80 hours fees previously withheld. The member says he will not be dealing with this particular agency again, however.
Other claims are currently on foot as the Association awaits the agencies' response. Should they continue to withhold unpaid fees, the matters will need to be dealt with on the members' behalf in the small claims court.
Contracts between contractors and agencies do vary, but it is only in very rare cases that a contract gives the agency the right to withhold payment to a contractor.
Contractors affected by the One.Tel collapse are therefore strongly encouraged to contact at APESMA (NSW Branch) if they have not yet done so.
I can't contemplate Workplace Democracy without it having active union membership as its core component. It is a little like contemplating a democratic society that is functioning fairly without an effective trade union movement.
Having been involved in the Union Movement for over 20 years, both at a rank and file and official level, I can say that I can't think of many instances where we go close to having real industrial democracy in the workplace and we certainly don't have any models where the owners or managers of capital have handed over an equal say to the workforce about the running of the business.
The word "democracy" in an industrial relations sense is really about having an equal "bargaining position". It may be possible to have greater meaning than that but without, in the first instance, having an equal bargaining position you will never actually achieve a non-adversarial model of workplace democracy.
Union membership has significantly declined in Australia and its decline unfortunately has coincided with the deregulation of both the labour market but also our industrial relations system. The factors associated with the decline in union density are probably not new to many of you but as a reminder they include:
· The decline in traditional unionised manufacturing industries and the growth in unorganised service sectors;
· The prolific growth in casual and other forms of precarious employment; and
· Ten years of union industrial inactivity due to the Accord.
This industrial inactivity saw us take our eye off the main game, which was organising.
Whilst there might have been political democracy at a National level between the ACTU and Labor Government, we forgot to engage workers in the workplace and to ensure unionism flourished during this period of industrial stability.
Some unions became lazy and forgot about our greatest asset - delegates and activists in the workplace.
During this time of industrial harmony we didn't have employers knocking on workers doors saying we can give you "the unionists" something more positive to do about having a say in your workplace. They didn't ask them to be involved in issues such as:
· outsourcing and its implications;
· the use of labour hire firms;
· introducing new work arrangements, which better meet the needs of workers families; or
· the introduction of new technology etc.
The sad reality is that most employers don't believe workers should have any say in decisions that might affect the running of their business.
The approach of the trade union movement is now very different, but not new. We are very much focussed on rebuilding trade unionism through workplace delegates and activism and hand-in-hand with that is real desire by unions where enterprises are well organised to hand back some of the day-to-day authority to the workplace delegates and members.
We want to encourage delegates in unionised sites to take on more responsibility and not rely on a paid union official to come and fix up their problem. We want management to recognise the role of delegates and listen to the views of the workers without always expecting the full-time union official to turn up on site or mop-up after the workers have gone out on strike.
This is where, in my view, there can be a real role for the notion of Workplace Democracy, that is in organised workplaces. In workplaces where bargaining is on an equal "footing". Where workers are well organised it is possible, in my view, to devolve some greater responsibility back to the workplace.
And why do we take this approach? Because we want our full-time officials out there helping organise workers in non-unionised sites. Helping workers who have been forced onto AWA's, or are being ripped off by other means, move back to awards or collective agreements and to restore their bargaining position.
Only with a restoration of their "bargaining position" can we expect to have the possibility of positive workplace democracy. Workplace democracy simply won't work in unorganised enterprises.
Time and time again we have seen employers try to set up sham Consultative or Workplace Committees, which seek to do nothing else but to either undermine union activity or stop unions becoming involved.
Even the most sophisticated attempts don't survive in the long term.
They often collapse as a consequence of a range of factors including:
· Employers not resourcing the Committees;
· Employees not being happy about the structures (undemocratic) and the authority vested in the structures;
· Disparate groups of workers not speaking with one voice; and
· Most of the time because workers usually wake up to the fact that they achieve little in these structures because they are mainly a tool for the boss to restrain employee dissent.
A bipartisan approach to Workplace Democracy can only work if two factors are in place:
1. when unions are involved through their delegate and where delegates are properly resourced and trained to participate; and
2. where there is a genuine desire by both parties to engage. It takes two to tango and unless both parties have built up a mutual respect for each other it will soon to back to an adversarial approach.
Without union involvement at a workplace level and real commitment by the parties to make it work, Consultative Committees, Workplace Committees, Work Councils or whatever you may wish to call them are simply doomed to fail.
The message that I would like to send to the advocates of workplace democracy is we need to fix up some fundamentals first.
1. We need to have employers genuinely recognise the rights of employees to be active members of their union.
2. We need to abolish mechanisms that detract from a collective approach. AWA's are a good example.
How can you ever expect real workplace democracy to occur via Workplace Committees in establishments that work under AWA's.
Do we really expect that workers in these circumstances are in an "equal bargaining" position?
3. And finally, we need to re-establish the legitimate role of unions in society and in the workplace. Nobody, not even change to industrial laws (although they can help) can do this for us. Unions need to do this by re-building an active delegates structure.
I am all for Workplace Democracy as long as its foundation has a solid base of workplace activism and employers accept the legitimate role of unions in our society.
This speec was presented at a Lloyd Ross forum on Workplace democracy at Sydney university on June
Stephanie Brennan with Wilaya
Smara Refugee Camp, South-western Algeria - November 2000
As our battered 4 -wheel drive makes it's way through the desert into the outskirts of the Wilaya, dozens of small dusty children run out to meet us looking for sweets - caramello, caramello? Behind them hundreds of canvas tents stretch into the flat spaces of the desert. This is Smara, one of four major refugee camps in the desert of south-western Algeria, a place so inhospitable no humans have ever lived here and I am about to have a meeting with a group of women that will effect my life profoundly.
180,000 refugees exist here - indigenous Saharawis who fled the bombs and napalm of invading Morocco 25 years ago. Having endured a bloody guerilla war for 16 years they were promised a referendum on self-determination as part of a UN brokered cease-fire in 1991. They are still waiting. In the meantime the Saharawis exist on humanitarian aid amid international promises. Children's bones are brittle from no fruit or vegetables and eight year olds look like four year olds. Lung problems are endemic because of the savage dust storms, hospitals have no medicine, and the people become increasingly despairing of their future.
Polisario, who represent the indigenous people of the Western Sahara, attempts vainly to negotiate a referendum that has been obstructed by Morocco for over 10 years. The UN negotiations drag on and on as the international community weakens and loses interest. The situation becomes increasingly tense, as the region is poised on the brink of war.
I am visiting this place as a representative of an Australian Western Sahara solidarity group, one of many such groups that exist internationally. Polisario controls this bleak bit of desert and its government-in-exile (the SADR) operates from here. Conditions for the Saharawis are grim and becoming grimmer.
Yet the people here are resilient, politically educated and well organised. Their hospitality is overwhelming as I share their meagre food rations and blankets. Although their diet consists mainly of powdered milk, pasta and rice and they rarely ever see meat or fresh vegetables, I am treated to what in Saharawi terms are feasts.
Today I meet with the Wilaya of Smara's Council of Women. This Council is made up of women from each of the districts that comprise the Wilaya. I leave my shoes outside the entrance to the tent where about six women in brightly-coloured mulhafas sit cross-legged, waiting. I am late. They greet me warmly.
We sit on thin foam mattresses placed at the edges of the tent around the only furniture - a low table next to a gas cooker where one of the women is making mint tea. After the traditional greetings and welcomes I ask them through my translator, Zorgan to tell me about what the Council does. They explain that the Council meets every morning at 8am to discuss what needs to be done that day. The women run most of the services within the Wilaya - schools, looking after the elderly, sick and injured, the bakery, political education, administration and tending the Wilaya's sparse and stunted communal garden. They rely on humanitarian aid and donations but they say that "sometimes no door opens in front of us."
They tell me that everybody in the refugee camps works (except for those with dementia or 'bad gizzards') but that it is hard relying on NGO's. They explain that 'because Morocco wanted to destroy Western Saharan society, because they used bombs, the generation after that (the invasion of 1975) carry the flag and sing songs of martyrdom.'
But the mood of the people has become increasingly desperate as their children's lives are wasted in the refugee camps. They grow weary of diplomatic promises. "If the UN does nothing, if they fail in taking us back to our land, we are ready to take the land by force. Everybody hates war because war destroys everything. Destroys all forms of life.' The atmosphere in the tent has become more intense.
As I sip my mint tea the leader of the Council lowers her glass deliberately. 'If there is no possibility of a peaceful solution then it (war) is the only thing we have.' I think of the 175,000 Moroccan soldiers stationed along the 2,000km wall that divides Western Sahara. The Moroccans have had 10 years of referendum talks to fortify the wall with millions of land mines. Their cease-fire violations have been the subject of reports to the UN but have been blithely ignored. The war will be one-sided and bloody.
I attempt to absorb the meaning of these words. An Australian who has never known war. All the women are looking at me intently. The leader continues. "Please try to consider our terrible situation: please try to represent this society. Try to go places we can't get to.
'We don't need papers or messages of threat. We need people standing and attempting to express our rights, to get freedom, to get independence within Western Sahara. If all countries are friends of Morocco we prefer to die. After that we prefer them to say that once there was an ancient nation that walked upon this land."
There is silence except for the flapping of the tent in the harsh wind. I struggle for words. There are none. I lower my head so that these proud women won't see my tears. But they do. I feel overwhelmed by the suffering of these people. And I know that it is right that we weep.
If you would like to take part in Australian actions to campaign for independence for the Saharawi people or join a solidarity group email mailto:[email protected] of the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) and the Western Sahara Alliance or phone her on 0411 239934. You can learn more about the plight of the people of the Western Sahara by visiting http://www.arso.org
Special fundraiser for West Sahara
Wednesday Junwe 20 - 6pm NSW Parliament House, Janelle Saffin MLC, Presient of Amnesty International Parliamentary Group hosts this Western Sahara fundraising event to raise funds for SAHARAWI women and children in the refugee camps.
There'll be an auction of beautiful photo from the camps by UK award-wining photogapher, Danielle Smith. 2 camels will be at Macquarie St entrance available for rides.$45 TICKET, 20%discount for Amnesty members, concessions available.
The Foundation Stone of Trades Hall being laid in 1888
Labor Council was formed in 1871 with six affiliates, in the 130 years since thousands unions have been affiliated with the Council most since amalgamated or disbanded. Of course some unions are still affiliated in their original form such as the AWU in 1894, the ETU in 1903, the MEU in 1910, the FBEU in 1911, and the Musicians Union in 1908 however the majority of Labor Council's affiliates either affiliated at a later date or have been through several amalgamations and name changes since their formation.
Of course it was not so long ago that debates took place on Council floor between comrades from the BLF and brothers from the FIA, it hasn't been so long since the BWIU and WWF graced the corridors of Trades Hall. Michael Costa can still remember being President of the AFLUE, Christodoulou looks back fondly to the days when he was Wollongong Sub-branch Secretary of the FMWU, Michael Crosby remembers the good old days with Actors Equity and even Della sometimes misses his time at ATOF.
However what about the forgotten unions, the bizarre and obtuse unions that once apon a time where active within the Thursday Night debates at Council. In light of Peter Lewis' editorial in the last edition of Workers Online, I thought it would be timely to have a look back at some of those unions and try and have a guess at who they covered.
Hat making must have been a boom industry in the early 1900s, Labor Council at one stage had the Felt Hatters Union, the Silk Hatters Union and the Straw Hat Makers Employees' Union of NSW all affiliated at the same time, obviously this was pre-Kelty so amalgamation didn't seem like a good idea.
The Tuckpointers' Trade Society of NSW has been causing a bit of a stir of late, affiliated to Labor Council between 1913 and 1915 they are still shareholders in the Trades Hall Association. No one has been able to work out what exactly a Tuckpointer is yet so their share allocation in Trades Hall has gone unclaimed. If any does know what a Tuckpointer is let us know, better yet if anyone is still a Tuckpointer let Trades Hall know ...you might have rights to their share allocation!
With the growth in Artificial Intelligence Technology of late the Models & Mannequins Guild of NSW could be seeing a comeback. Affiliated to Labor Council up until 1981 I have no idea who they covered.
Straight out of a Dickens novel comes the Bone Mills & Fat Extractors Employees' Union of NSW, they were affiliated to Labor Council in 1908. The Billard Markers' Union of NSW was affiliated between 1912 and 1914, I understand they had a few conflicts with the United Felt Workers Union of Australiasia.
The Great Depression saw an increase of unions affiliating to Labor Council some of those were the Rabbit Trappers Union, the Unemployed Workers Union and a union that still exists in WA and Queensland the United Blind Workers Union.
The Women Workers Union of NSW was affiliated between 1911 and 1935, they sat on Council floor with the Australian Vaudeville Artists' Association, juts behind the City, Suburban & Country Accumulators Association of NSW.
The Monumental Workers Union of NSW had a short but glorious time at Council, affiliated between 1902 and 1914, you would think that they would have experience a boom after the Great War.
This week Trades Hall Association Secretary Lorna Morrison celebrates 30 years of full-time work with the Association. Over the years many unions have called Trades Hall home, Lorna remembers the Milk & Ice Carters Union, a name she always found cute, the union was a long time tenant up until their amalgamation with the TWU. The Secretary Albert Thompson was "like a bumble bee in a bottle, always very vocal on many issues" according to Lorna.
Lorna also remembers the days of the BLF, they were based in Trades Hall and had several changes of the locks after their elections. However Lorna disputes the media image of the BLF she has always thought the old BLF Officials to be "gentlemen, always very nice people not the thugs the media painted them to be".
Not all unions however had offices in Trades Hall however many did use the Auditorium for example the Painters & Dockers' office was in Balmain, but they did have their meetings in Trades Hall and occasionally their was "blood on the walls of the Auditorium after some very passionate debates" but Lorna didn't mind because "in those days meetings were really good, there was a lot of passion, and sometimes that led to fisticuffs, but they believed in want they were fighting for".
The Life & Soul
In 1942 John Curtin walked the slopes of Canberra's Mount Ainslie in the early hours of the morning, settling his mind for the latest of his many battles with Churchill over the return of Australia's troops from the Middle East. Once, when he was lost in thought on the mountainside, Curtin's staff were frantically seeking him so he could respond to Churchill's latest cable. They even had a message flashed up in the cinemas of the capital. Eventually Curtin came in from the brisk Canberra night and the cable war was resumed.
Today, Kim Beazley jogs up the same Mount Ainslie every morning that he is in Canberra, sweating up the steep hill in his Newcastle Knights jersey - his name emblazoned across the back - in an effort to keep his weight down. Curtin had to give up the booze to reassure the ALP that he was up to the task; Beazley battles with his weight, that symbol of ill-discipline and weakness.
'If John Howard doesn't want the job, he shouldn't apply for it. I want the job.' It seems a strange thing for the leader of a political party to have to say after four years in Opposition. But then, John Curtin never really wanted the job in the way that Menzies, for example, wanted it. There was about Curtin a sense of fatalism that you can also observe in Beazley. After the 1992 elections, the leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, was asked: 'Did you, in your heart, believe you were going to win?' Kinnock replied 'You believe both things. You believe them at the same time. You believe you're going to win, and you believe you're going to lose. And you hold both views with equal conviction.' I can imagine Beazley saying exactly the same thing.
There have been 16 leaders of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, and five of them never got to be prime minister. Is it Kim Beazley's fate to join Labor's also-rans: Frank Tudor, Matthew Charlton, Bert Evatt, Arthur Calwell and Bill Hayden?
For a time even the great Curtin looked like becoming an also-ran. In the late 1930s today's 'Sainted Jack' was known to many of his Caucus colleagues as 'Jaded Jack'. In an article he wrote about Curtin, Beazley observed that 'all successful politicians are lucky and cautious'. So far, Beazley has shown great caution as Opposition Leader, but will he be lucky? Like Curtin when he became leader of the ALP in 1936, Beazley is the best man Labor has for the job - But whether his best is good enough remains to be seen. And even if he wins, how will he cope with the Prime Ministership? What would be a Beazley Labor Government's greatest challenge; the reason for it being elected?
In his controversial interview with the Bulletin's Maxine McKew, John Della Bosca said "I have seen flashes of Kim as potentially a really good leader and capable of carrying the imagination of the public'. One of those rare glimpses occurred a fortnight before Christmas in December 1999 when Beazley gave an address to the Ashfield Uniting Church in Sydney.
Beazley's speech was short and to the point, and he actually managed to say something. Beazley began by quoting from the Book of Mark: "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? ... It is a question I want to ask today about our nation.' Beazley iterated the problems he believes that Australia faces - poverty traps, falling educational standards and opportunities, homelessness, suicide, growing inequality, unemployment for some and longer hours for those with jobs.
'And all this is happening', he told the congregation, 'because it is a hard, competitive world out there, and we are more a part of it than we have ever been. And that hardness is creeping into our soul, because we haven't been ready - or we don't know how - to defend the fairness that makes us Australians.'
And then, with an element of honesty we don't usually expect from our political leaders, Beazley said: 'Now I could also tell you that this is all easy. That it is all the fault of the other side, and if you got rid of them, and elect us, it's all sunlit uplands from here. But it's not easy. This is a national journey, and not just a journey for the national government at that. It demands that we all step out of the comfort zone.'
Unfortunately the ALP - a vital institution in Australia's democracy - has not stepped out of its own comfort zone. Labor has reformed many aspects of Australia's economy and society in the past two decades, but it has barely attempted to reform itself. In this speech, Beazley could have been talking about his party. Hasn't a hardness crept into the soul of Labor. And what does it profit Labor, if it loses its own soul? After thirteen years in government spent overhauling Australia's moribund economy and embracing globalisation, Labor lost some of its raison d'etre. Was it running the economy for the Big End of Town or the Australian people? And was the party running itself purely as a platform for the personal ambitions of its senior members?
If Labor aspires to do more than achieve power, if it aspires to govern Australia, to define, then pursue, our national interests in an era of globalisation, then it must get its own house in order.
Overcoming the growing disenchantment of the Australian electorate may be one of Labor's greatest challenges. By their hubris, the major parties have helped the rise of One Nation and the proliferation of other minor parties. At the 1998 elections, over one million Australians cast their lot with an Australian variant of right-wing populism. As a party of government, Labor must strive to make the position of the 'political middleman' respectable again. It is a hard competitive world out there, and every time Labor contributes to the voters' disenchantment - through its thuggish culture of branch-stacking, for example - it makes Australia a harder place to govern, a harder place to change for the better, and a harder place in which to protect the values of fairness and equity.
Defending fairness in the age of rapid and unpredictable change by making Australia into a Knowledge Nation might be the story Labor wants to tell, but it's a hard message to sell if the people aren't listening because to so many of them Labor looks like part of the establishment, and part of the problem.
In his speech to the Uniting Church, Beazley said: 'Lately it's been hard to tell the difference between what is inevitable change, and what is plain unfair. A lot of things are being called inevitable, when they are really negotiable. So should we in politics really be surprised when people say "Well, if it's all inevitable, what do I elect you for?".
Certainly the Labor Party shouldn't be surprised. For the longest time it was Labor who said things were inevitable, that change was the only constant, and that ceaseless reform was its own reward. And a lot of people in the Old Australia got heartily sick of it.
'All of us are elected with a duty of care to the society we live in', Beazley went on. 'We are elected to understand the social fault-lines that traverse out nation like a jigsaw puzzle: dividing regions from regions; the bush from the suburbs; the west and east of our cities; skilled workers from unskilled; and indigenous from non-indigenous. And the question we all face is how much stress these fault-lines can bear before they fracture.'
It's a cogent summation of the state of the nation. What Beazley didn't mention, however, was the fault-line dividing the governing class from the governed; the politicians from the punters. Building a bridge across this particular fault-line must be Labor's new 'main game' during the first decade of the millennium.
The Life and Soul of the Party by Brett Evans is published by UNSW Press
by The Chaser
The United States had reacted angrily to its failure to gain re-election to the UN Human Rights Commission and the International Narcotics Control Board. The US Congress has sent a letter to the United Nations threatening to withhold American money owed to the UN.
A spokesperson for the United Nations has admitted that they were puzzled by a threat.
"We are a little unsure whether they are threatening not to pay the money that they already haven't paid or the money that they seem unlikely to pay in the future," questioned one UN employee.
A spokesperson later clarified the US position. "The Republican administration is threatening to take America's policy of financially crippling the UN even further," he explained. "We will move to a policy of actively depriving the UN of funds, using such means as stealing that Kofi guy's wallet. Or maybe his suits. Geez, he wears nice suits."
The US President was incensed by the snubbing from the UN Human Rights Commission. He was particularly miffed by the fact that Sudan had been voted onto the Committee.
"How did those guys get on?" he reportedly asked. "Their whole political system is racially and religiously biased, they still have the death penalty and they refuse to support the creation of an International Criminal Court. It is an outrage that they should purport to be the guardians of international human rights."
The Bush administration also expressed confusion at the ousting of the US from the International Narcotics Control Board.
"The CIA controls most narcotics so I don't understand how we got kicked off," said a Bush spokesperson.
by Andrew Casey
It is running right now in cinemas throughout the USA, Canada, the UK and Europe but don't expect to see it soon in Australia because our cinema people reckon you can't make a buck out of a movie about cleaners.
The people who have the international distribution rights for the film - The Sales Co based in the London theatre district of Shaftesbury Ave - have hit a wall with all our cinema chains.
Joy Wong, who is responsible for selling the film to the world, told Workers-On-Line that she has been trying to get a bite from an Australian cinema chain for months.
" No one in your country has shown one peep of interest. No one seems to think a great story about cleaners will make a dollar in Sydney, or Melbourne or anywhere in Australia."
The film, by Ken Loach, has received outstanding reviews at Cannes 2000 and won best foreign film at the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival. The London Guardian, The Observer and the LA Times have all raved about the film.
The story is fictional, but it is based on the inspirational real-life story of the Los Angeles cleaners
( they call them janitors in the USA) who beat the odds to win better lives through joining the union running the Justice for Janitors campaign.
In fact today ( Friday) is International Justice for Janitors day. Right around the world unions representing cleaners in office blocks, schools and factories held rallies, concerts, marches and ran some media stunts to promote international solidarity between cleaning workers.
In London - to coincide with the launch of Bread and Roses - a campaign has been launched to improve the pay and conditions of cleaners in the public sector.
The focus of the international campaign is immigrants' rights as cleaners in modern office blocks - whether you are in LA, Montreal, London, Paris, Brussels, Rome or Sydney - are almost inevitably made up of the latest wave of migrants to the big metropolis.
Gandhi MacIntyre, a member of the Australian cleaners' union, the LHMU, knows why it is important to be a cleaning union member: " I left Sri Lanka in 1984 and came to Australia. I was glad I found out about and joined the LHMU 'cause I know that there are other cleaners in this country forced to work for bad pay and bad conditions because they are on AWAs and don't have the protection of an Award.
Ironically when Gandhi MacIntyre is not in his day job as a commercial office cleaner in the Sydney CBD he works on the side as an actor, having starred in a variety of Australian films and TV shows.
He has starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Bangkok Hilton, in the recent Sample People as well as on TV shows such as All Saints, Embassy and Misery Guts.
In Australia the LHMU Cleaning Union spent today promoting their role in defending migrant workers' rights with activity in Sydney and Melbourne.
A rally of more than 60 cleaners assembled outside the head office of the French-owned multinational finance company AXA Australia where the LHMU has been in disputes for several months over the cutting of wages and conditions of our members.
The LHMU has received great support in this campaign from union activists working at AXA's head office in France.
Cleaners refuse to keep being an invisible army of workers in office buildings, schools and industrial estates.
" Too often shonky cleaning contractors rely on ethnic communities, especially new waves of migrants, to play vital roles cleaning our workplaces - but they want to keep these workers invisible, quiet and ignorant of their rights," the NSW LHMU Executive Vice-President, Sonia Minutillo, said.
Shonky cleaning contractors
" These shonks, often fly-by-night backyard operators, take full advantage of recent arrivals and just don't comply with minimum Award standards.
" They're happy to scour ethnic communities for their workforce because they hope that a workforce made up especially of new immigrants, unaware of their Award rights, won't complain and will accept the harsh working conditions.
" In many countries a large number of cleaning workers are immigrants who do not yet enjoy their full rights in their new societies where they live and work," the LHMU's Sonia Minutillo said.
" Often these new residents are worried about exercising their full rights because of the abuse and exploitation they have suffered at the hands of employers in the past.
" For these workers joining the LHMU, and organising their workmates and other members of their communities into our union, becomes the primary way to improve their lives and sometimes escape their poverty.
" They often tell the union it was a liberating powerful experience to know they could join a trade union and stand up for their rights.
" In this city the LHMU Cleaning Union has won in some workplaces the right to English-at-Work classes and run out-reach programs to ethnic communities.
" Our members have the right to expect respect when they clean the offices, schools and industrial estates of our city," LHMU Executive Vice President, Sonia Minutillo, said.
by Police News
M1 Sydney Blockade
May 1st is traditionally a day when unionists and others march and/or demonstrate against perceived ills that beset modern society. This May Day was to little different except when a small minority of radicals took on the NSW police and blemished what started off, and in fact finished off as a peaceful protest.
Don Freudenstein from your Field Services Division was on site from 4am to 5pm in an effort to ensure that members' industrial rights were maintained. There was close co-operation between the Police Service Commanders, Dick Adams and Donald Graham and your Organiser was privy to events as they happened on the day.
Stand down areas and the provision of food and water to the members on the ground was generally to a high standard. However, as in any event of this scale there were glitches that will be worked through by your Association and the Police Commanders.
Informal discussions took place frequently on the day between Don and Dick Adams, Donald Graham, Ron Mason, Peter O'Brien, Mark Wade and various Tactical Commanders and OSG Team Leaders.
From the time Bridge Street was closed to traffic between Pitt and George Streets the crowd varied between 350 to roughly 500 with a maximum strength of about 700. The vast majority of the protesters were there to exercise their democratic right to protest and things remained calm until about 9.50am when a Kombi Van entered the blocked off section of Bridge Street, near the ASX. When attempts were made to remove the Kombi by using a tow truck the situation escalated and arrests were made in the face of strong resistance from the small minority of radicals at the protest.
The OSG and Mounted Troop were deployed and formed lines in Pitt Street just south of the intersection with Bridge Street. Numerous scuffles were underway and the Mounted Troop and OSG dealt with the situation in a most professional manner. Remarkable restraint was shown in the face of extreme provocation by sections of the protesters.Commander Dick Adams, who was in charge of the operation said, "They tried to roll marbles under the hooves of police horses in an attempt to bring them down. I am particularly disappointed in the demonstrators who poured petrol on the roadway when horses were coming through, in an effort to set them on fire."
Superintendent Ron Mason was the first casualty of day when he was repeatedly stabbed in the right thigh by someone in the crowd. Ron received about five puncture wounds and a scratch about three inches long. It is surmised that the instrument used to stab Ron was the pin from a police nameplate that had been ripped from a member's uniform. Ron was treated by the Ambulance Officers in attendance and soon rejoined the fray.
Numerous other members received bruises, abrasions etc whilst engaged in their lawful duty.
Michael McGowan from Endeavour Region OSG was taken to the casualty section of Sydney Hospital suffering from suspected broken ribs. Commander Lola Scott attended the Hospital to check on the condition of Michael as did Dick Adams and John Hartley.
Don Freudenstein and together with another Association organiser, Kel Graham, also attended the hospital to check on Michael, but at the time of their visit he was in X-Ray. It is pleasing to be able to report that X-Rays revealed that Michael did not suffer a break to his ribs and he was released from hospital and able to return to his home.
After what must have seemed an eternity for the members involved in the confrontation in Pitt Street the roadway was cleared of protesters and they were redirected into Bridge Street and the OSG and Mounted Troop, assisted by General Duties and Traffic Police maintained lines to keep the protesters in that area.
The protesters then marched with a police escort throughout the lower end of the CBD and finally returned to Bridge Street where a live band kept the protesters relaxed until the completion of the protest. The last members deployed at the site left the area at 6pm.Commander Dick Adams praised the efforts of police involved in the operation to minimise protester violence. The broader community should also give a vote of thanks to you the members deployed at the protest for your professionalism in dealing with such a prolonged situation. All our members from the Traffic, General Duties, Detectives, Mounted Troop, OSG, STIB, Video Unit, Rescue Squad and elsewhere, from Command Level to Team Leader Level to Practitioner Level, did themselves and their union proud. We thank you.
The Blues do us Proud
QUANTITY - there is no doubt that the individuals playing the game at this level are at least equal to those going around in any previous generation. Fittler, Barrett and Lockyer are ball players from the very top rawer and Andrew Johns, possibly the best of the lot, wasn't even th ere - EXCELLENT.
QUALITY - certainly not a masterpiece but you have to admire the intensity and physical commitment that have made these occasions famous. The fact that the Blues got up on home turf to keep the series alive only added to the flavour - GOOD.
AMBIENCE - fireworks lit the crowd with expectation but there is something about a venue with thousand of empty seats, even when it is down to refurbishment, that dimishes the experience. And, the Wizard cheergirls are, well, plain tacky, they've got to go - POOR
STYLE - This dish has been compromised by circumstances and time. Unfortunately, changes have seen it cross the barrier which divides simple from simplistic. Intense wrestling for dominance in the tackle might get coaches drooling but it is not what the great unwashed come to savour. A bit more footy, amidst all the athleticism, wouldn't go amiss. It's not as though the ingredients are lacking. - ORDINARY.
HIGHLIGHT - Wee willie waver Craig Gower stamped his class on this evening. Entering from the bench, his dummy half running, on the back of strong gains from Mark O'Meley and his fellow packmen, broke the Queenslanders apart. From
the time the softening-up entree was cleared, it looked ominous for the meringues, I mean the Maroons. They need a couple of good, stiff Gordens to be any chance in the decider - VERY GOOD
VALUE FOR MONEY - The blokes who run this chain still have a bit to learn about their core clientele - 80 bucks a head for seats in the rain, six rows back from the fence, where the action, apart from the afore-mentioned Wizardettes, had to be glimpsed through a forest of players legs - mmm. Might do the trick for the their once a year corporate mates but hardly likely to endear the establishment to the very people they are banking on coming back on a regular basis - HARDLY
Bullying's $13 Billion Price Tag
Workplace bullying is costing Australian business between $5.9b and $13b per year, according to researchers at Griffith University's Workplace Bullying Project team. In Qld there are moves to legislate against it within the equal opportunity regime, with a Bullying Taskforce being set up with employers, unions and the Anti-Discrimination Commission represented. Jocelyn Scutt, Tasmanian EO Commissioner, has a paper detailing how bullying legislation can fit into the EO laws.
(Discrimination Alert; issue 136, June 5 2001)
Bullying, Harassment and Horseplay
The Anti-Discrimination Board has published a guideline stating what they consider bullying in the owrkplace to be, how it can be considered as discrimination, how it is used as a management tool (yelling at and intimidating staff, setting unrealistic targets, intrusive surveillance and constant threats of dismissal foe example), and, who is liable for bullying.
(Equal Time; number 48, May 20010
Women -only Strike at Electrolux
Women at Electrolux's Chef Ovens factory in Brunswick, Vic. have taken action over the company's failure to provide appropriate training opportunities. Electrolux recently acquired the factory and immediately announced plans to close it and move operations to Adelaide, with the loss of 500 jobs. The company offered two training courses, both of which required fluent English. This was a problem for most of the women, and the courses were generally not relevant for their needs anyway. The company says that Swedish management would be distressed to hear that employees were being mistreated. A petition has been presented to management by the workers.
(Discrimination Alert; issue 136, June 5, 2001)
Unregistered Collective Agreements - the Industrial Reality by Diana Taylor
The unregistered collective agreement is not placed before the AIRC for certification. Within the workplace, the agreements depend on the goodwill of the parties. Problems with enforceability appear when one party decides not to honour the agreement or when the terms are ambiguous.
The findings of the federal Court in McCormick v Riverwood International (and the full court on appeal) and of the Victorian Court of Appeal in Ryan v Textile Clothing and Footwear Union have particular significance here.
In Ryan the court determined that:
· the identity of the partied bound was ambiguous
· the capacity of the unions to contract on behalf of their members had not been established
· there was an absence of consideration moving from the unions to the employer
· the duration of the contracts were not specified
· the intention of the parties to creat a legally binding agreement could not be established.
So the court found that the agreement was not a legally enforceable contract or part of a contract of employment.
In the McCormick case the terms of McCormick's redundancy were considered. His written contract of employment did not make reference to redundancy but it did have a heading "Company Policies and Practices" that stated that the employee, by accepting the terms of the contract, agreed to abide by company policy. During the 37 years of McCormick's service, three redundancy agreements with the unions were made, the 1993 one with the PKIU. Justice Weinberg in the first instance found that redundancy terms were implied in the contract, because of company policies with regard to the agreement with unions. Weinberg also found that the agreement was unregistered and thus was not a legally binding document.
The full court agreed with the decision.
(Employment Law Bulletin; vol. 7, no. 2)
Additional Forms of Employee Representation in Australia by Paul J. Gollan, Ray Markey and Iain Ross
Additional forms of employee representation (AFER) may be defined as any representative mechanism that exist alongside of or instead of trade unions.
The authors argue that whilst AFER may be useful for more effective communication and consultation, the evidence points to their being ineffective in representing the interests of employees. There is the possibility that state sponsored AFER with training ands support could improve their effectiveness. The complexity of the world of work may be starting to show management and employees that collective representation is still vital.
(ACIRRT Working Paper no. 64)
AWAs: Changing the Structure of Wages? by Kristin van Barneveld and Betty Arsovska
The date from ACIRRT's ADAM database reveals two key differences in wage provisions between AWAs and collective agreements. Firstly, wage increases in AWAs are not guaranteed but are 'at risk', as they are typically linked to demonstrated productivity improvement through performance. Such performance is more likely to be measured at the individual rather than the group level.
Secon difference is that AWAs usually use a loaded or all in rate of pay which is usually accompanied by open ended hours of work
(ACIRRT Working Paper no. 67)
As a former Tool of the Week myself it is indeed an honour to be guest contributor of the Tool section in this week's Workers Online.
And what a group of tools we have in the One.Tel debacle. So who is the biggest tool? That prize would probably have to go to joint founder Jodee Rich, who was a billionaire on paper just 12 months ago.
He is the man who almost went broke in the 1980s with computer company Imagineering and does not appear to have been telling the truth to everyone about One.Tel's financials.
The visionary was not delivering to plan and tried to cover it up as it all imploded in a sea of ill-founded blue-sky optimism.
This is bad enough in its own right but the most objectionable thing about it is the lifestyle he lead before the company had even made a profit.
Who has eight boats, a Porsche, a $14 million Darling Point mansion, an $8 million Vaucluse mansion, a couple of planes and a 1200 hideaway in the Whitsundays when their company is still losing $300 million a year.
And all this from a guy who ruthlessly tried to lock the union out of One.Tel and signed up lots of young workers on no-strike, no-redundancy contracts worth $28,000 a year.
Fellow founder and joint managing director Brad Keeling is the second most responsible because he shared in the $15 million worth of bonuses and was also ridiculously optimistic when assessing One.Tel's finances.
It was also these two lads he embarked on the ill-founded strategy of paying $523 million for Next Generation spectrum and then committing to build a $1.2 billion network. These two moves literally sent the company broke and it was the founders who dreamed dreams about owning their own network.
As Telstra has demonstrated this week, the whole telco sector was being squeezed but Rich and Keeling were deluding themselves and anyone who'd listened that One.Tel would come through unscathed.
The next biggest tool goes jointly to James Packer and Rodney Adler because they were the original backers of One.Tel five years ago.
Rodney was an old school mate of Jodee's at Cranbrook and persuaded James Packer to back this "visionary". There is nothing worse than a director who dumps stock in a tumbling market and that is exactly what Rodney Adler was doing right up until the point when One.Tel stopped trading.
At least Packer, Murdoch and the two founders did not try to sell out and they were left with 70 per cent of nothing which at its peak was 70 per cent of $5 billion.
The biggest mistake James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch made was agreeing to go on the One.Tel board when there is no way in the world they had the time to keep an eye on the joint MDs and hold them accountable. They are also responsible for approving the bonus deals and even pumping in hundreds of millions that triggered these very bonus payments which then helped destroy confidence in the company.
James Packer put in a real tool effort when he sacked PBL chief executive Nick Falloon for questioning the One.Tel investment and then hired a One.Tel spruiker in Peter Yates to take over.
Both Packer and Murdoch did not have enough street-wise bean-counters looking after their interests as they attended to the major parts of their billion dollar empires.
For their efforts, the boy moguls will now find themselves tied up in court action and should also hand over the $90 million worth of pre-paid advertising that One.Tel never used through the News and PBL outlets.
All in all it's a mighty big mess and plenty of tools were in there sharing in the glory.
if you want to keep tabs on corporate excess, subscribe to Crikey! - http://www.crikey.com.au
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LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/99/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005