23 June 2012

Rubbery numbers

Long time, no write...

Recently I stumbled across the fact that the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia (Queensland Branch) Union of Employees was de-registered in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC). Nothing odd in that, considering the fact that the Federated Ironworkers (FIA) amalgamated with The Australian Workers Union (AWU) nearly 20 years ago. The decision looks like a bit of house-keeping that the AWU should have done ages ago.

The odd thing is the fact that the FIA was de-registered with the grounds being that it was "defunct" and a "small organisation". For the purposes of the Industrial Relations Act 1999 a "small organisation" is one with less than 20 members. It's odd because the FIA has reported membership of thousands of members as the table below demonstrates:

31 December 20008,936
31 December 20018,119
31 December 20027,126
31 December 20036,710
31 December 20048,467
31 December 20055,011
30 June 20065,087
30 June 20079,109
30 June 20088,307
30 June 200910,939
30 June 20107,960
30 June 201110,386

So between 30 June 2011 and 18 June 2012 we're supposed to believe that the FIA's membership decreased by over 99%. Something's not right. Could it be that the AWU/FIA were fudging their numbers all these years? They wouldn't be the only union. To suddenly have virtually no members surely demonstrates  that the numbers reported to the QIRC for over a decade were rubbish.

22 March 2012

Celebrate the wins

Congratulations should go out to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Nursing Federation. Their Respect Our Work campaign won them a lot of admirers in the labour movement. Hopefully the appalling treatment of nurses by the conservative government has awakened the consciousness of Victorian nurses a little.

The next state election in Victoria will be very interesting if the ANF can convert this activism into an election campaign. Time will tell...

25 July 2011

Something I was emailed recently...

Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has suggested nine questions for the British parliamentary committee to put to Rupert Murdoch tonight. This is my favourite:

“Do you remember Digby Bamford, Mr. Murdoch? Let me remind you—Digby was the 13-year-old schoolboy who committed suicide after you published his 13-year-old girlfriend’s diary in the Sydney Mirror. It was back in 1964, just after you had taken over your first big city paper and you published a 13-year-old’s diary ‘in the public interest,’ so you said, revealing teenage promiscuity in state schools. Except the girl turned out to be a virgin and the boy killed himself from the shame that followed your invasion of her privacy. Let’s face it, Mr. Murdoch, your career took off by publishing a 13-year-old schoolgirl’s diary. Should it not end with the hacking of a 13-year-old murder victim’s mobile phone? Isn’t it time for you to go, not just Hinton and Brooks?

23 June 2011

This decision is a warning to brown-nosers everywhere. Beware of Commissioner Ryan!

AMIEU delegate Heath Lebsanft was recently re-instated by Fair Work Australia. A good result for him and his union.

I'll quickly quote from the decision:

[13] On this occasion Mr Lander, a Sticker (also referred to as a Bleeder) on the kill floor offered, and subsequently made, a statement to management of Oakey which supported its claim that an increase in the chain speed was reasonable. He did so in an environment where the AMIEU was strenuously opposing the proposed increase in the chain speed on the kill floor.

[14] It quickly became known to workers on the kill floor that Mr Lander had made a statement in support of the employer’s claim for an increase in the chain speed on the kill floor.

[15] By making a statement in support of the employer’s position and against the position adopted by the union Mr Lander was very clearly “nailing his colours to the mast”. This is an apt description of what Mr Lander did. By his actions in making a statement in support of the employer’s position Mr Lander was making clear that he was firmly on the side of the employer.

Mr Lander is referred to in this decision 223 times. Mr Lander would be known to the people working in that abbatoir and the local community.

This decision highlights the importance of hoping you don't get Commissioner Ryan conduct your hearing if you don't want all of your dirty laundry aired. I don't have any sympathy for Lander. He's a filthy brown-noser who undermined the collective decision made by union members. He's a scab...and there ain't much lower than them.

20 June 2011

So what's gotten me on here again?

The Australian, that's right - that "newspaper" The Australian. Specifically this article, entitled 'Penalty rates are holding us back'.

It's hard to know where to begin in describing how terrible this article is and how misleading it is. I'll just use dot points or I will be here half the night.

  • The article conflates penalty rates with overtime. Its apparent the store owner doesn't even know the difference between the two -

    "If there wasn't that restriction on doing overtime work I could employ more people to come and work on the weekends and, say, on Thursday nights, too," Mr Dracakis says.

    There's actually no restriction on overtime. You just have to pay people correctly. And more importantly you could employ casuals on evenings and Saturdays and not pay them any more than you'd have to pay for employing them during the day time as the General Retail Industry Award 2010 only provides them with a penalty for Sundays and night work (clause 29.4(a) and (b)).

  • "Dracakis Jewellers is required to pay its employees time-and-a-half for working more than 38 hours a week and on Saturdays, and double time on Sundays, under their industry award." WRONG. The award only requires payment of time and a-quarter on Saturdays during the hours of 7am-6pm, which was the the case with the previous state award. Also casuals are not entitled to this 25% loading - AGAIN this was the case with the previous state award. Maybe the writer is quoting from the Shiftwork clause 30 for his information, despite the fact that this store clearly does not fit into the definition - unless the jeweller wants to be open on Saturday night or 3am in the morning?

  • On a more fundamental journalistic level Amos Aikman has made zero effort to actually get an alternative viewpoint. His article reads like an opinion piece - I know it's an Australian article so why should we expect more but seriously? This is the best you could do? Not even a quick phone call to the SDA or ACTU to check your facts?
    It's frustrating reading poorly researched, one-sided bullocks articles like this. I just hope at least some readers see it for what it is - a puff piece for the National Retailers Association and other big business.

    02 April 2011

    Ian Macfarlane in a new light

    I cannot remember where I found this photo. Somewhere on the internet. It's the best shot of Ian Macfarlane I've ever seen - it really brings out his eyes.