Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
A Recipe for Conflict
After the Accident
Cuba - the Debate Continues
Greetings from Japan
A Victorian revives workers' theatre
Once upon a time unions used to be at the cutting edge of popular culture. Steve Gome, a delo for the missos at the MCG, is doing his bit to revive this fantastic tradition. Steve is directing a play - Mr Puntilla and his Matti by Bertolt Brecht - at the Victorian Trades Hall. Don't think this is some sort of drab socialist realist monologue - get a load of the plot: set in the Finnish countryside it tells of the misadventures of a drunken landowner, Mr Puntilla who owns a sawmill, a studebaker, a forest, has four fiancees and ninety cows. And a chauffeur who has to keep picking up the pieces. There are themes about principles, for sure, but there's also plenty of laughs.
Steve came up with a great idea to finance the piece. He went on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, won a motza, and promptly told Eddie McGuire that he was going to spend some of the dough putting on a play at Trades Hall. For a review of the play go to the VTHC website.
Victorian unions have a new campaign going on for corporate accountability. VTHC remains committed to having laws to target corporate criminals. They're sticking to a long held demand that criminal sanctions apply to workplace deaths and are asking the Bracks government to tighten up the OHS laws. They want $5 million sanctions and the same standards of accountability to apply to workplace deaths as do roads or in the community.
Another long running dispute at Geelong Woolcombing is still running and next Friday unions are having a breakfast/fundraiser for the female partners of the striking workers doing it hard. Supporters are encouraged visit the picket line - see the VTHC website for details.
Similarly workers at Smorgon steel have now been fighting for 134 days for a 36 hour week. Again the VTHC are encouraging people to visit the picket line. Their details are up on the site as well.
US unionist guest star at Adelaide's cerebral fest
American unionist Amy Dean - a driver of the successful 'Union Cities' project in Silicon Valley was the guest at well attended seminar in Adelaide this week. Over 50 organisers from 9 different unions turned up. Amy highlighted the importance of unions working with the community and Labor Councils being central to building organising across unions.
UTLC Secretary Janet Giles says Amy's experiences resonated with the South Australian audience.
'Her story is similar to South Australia and the lesson is: we can do a lot more at the state level. She had some good ideas include building a power map of the state -.collecting knowledge across the movement and working out who has what influence. Also she had a good idea about running joint courses between unions, communities and university researchers.'
While in Adelaide Amy was also a participant at the Festival of Ideas - a cerebral gathering which has all sorts of intellectuals descend on the city. Amy played a great role injecting some imaginative union thinking in to what could otherwise be just a highbrow talkfest.
At a recent UTLC Planning Day, South Australian affiliates came up with an earth moving idea - they would not only concentrate their efforts on building up membership power but they'd also help each other do it!
Janet Giles says unions, driven by some positive experiences - in particular the recent national organising conference and a successful blitz in aged care are coming together more to help each other out.
'We had five different unions work together on the Aged Care blitz. Young organisers from different unions just loved helping each other out.'
Janet Giles says not only are unions beginning to work more closely together but so are the Labor Councils.
'We are building on the fact that we have Labor governments in all the states and we are sharing our experiences of test cases and tested winning strategies.'
ACTU Congress on the horizon
The trienniale workers parliament convenes in August this year (from the 18th to the 21st). ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles says the backbone of the Congress will be the Future of Work and Future Strategies and policies that will emanate from that.
'Draft congress policies and background papers will be available on the ACTU website soon,' he says.
Richard Marles says union reps can expect a good line up of international union leaders to participate.
Among the International crew coming along are Ken Georgetti from Canada, John Monks, formerly of the British TUC , now heading up the European Trades Union Congress, Linda Chavez-Thompson from the American AFL-CIO, Tom Woodruffe fro the SEIU, Willi Madisha from South Africa's COSATU, and Ross Wilson from New Zealand. Keynote speaker will be Guy Ryder from the ICFTU. There will also be some surprise guest celebrities.
Queensland public servants get a raise
Queensland public sector unions have finalised their enterprise agreement with the state government picking up three wage increases of 3.8 per cent each over 39 months plus increased security of employment.
The issue of PPPs at the Southbank education precinct is hotting up. The Queensland Council of Unions has been asked to give input into Government policy with regard to PPPS. The union response is going in today.
QCU Assistant Secretary Chris Barrett says the unions haven't agreed to PPPs in Queensland.
'We are saying that working conditions in public/private partnerships should be the same as the public sector. We are determined to avoid a two tier industrial relations system in Queensland,' he says.
Blue Ribbon meats still festering
In Tassie the Meatworkers dispute at Blue Ribbon continues. It is now in its fifteenth week with the workers who wanted to pursue a collective agreement and did not sign up as 'independent contractors' locked out since 2 April 2003. The Tasmanian Industrial Commission has asked for final written submissions by 25 July, with a hearing on August 1 for final oral submissions. A decision on this shocker is not expected before mid to late August.
The AIRC's Safety Net decision and an increase in the Supported Wage finally passed the Commission and wage rates in all State awards, including the supported wage, will be increased from 1 August 2003 (this is 12 months since the last SNA increase).
Unions Tasmania also pushed to flow on the principle of the Reasonable Hours test case, and have the model clause adopted and awards to be varied. on application. The Commission endorsed this gain as well.
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