19 July 2008

back to unionism

Well back to what I write about best: Australian unions.

We've had 7 months of the ALP in power and whilst it has been a vast improvement over the forces of darkness my doubts are still persistent particularly with respect to worker rights. There are several areas of concern:

1. The evil Australian Building and Construction Commission still exists, harassing unionists with its coercive powers that are a breach of international labour human rights.

2. No more AWAs can be made but many still exist for those forced to sign before March of this year. These can operate for up to 5 years

3. The new system appears that it will be just as restrictive on union right of entry as the Howard regime.

4. "Prohibited content" still looks like it's a reality in the new laws. Parties should not be told what they can and cannot bargain about.

The recent scape-goating of Dean Mighell of the ETU makes it clear that Rudd and co are no friend of the worker. Time will only tell whether the ACTU is truly prepared to put its money where its mouth is and be just as aggressive with its Your Rights at Work as it has been in the past.

20 January 2008

Come on Rudd! Where is the action for Australian workers?

Well to date Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party have done very little for the workers of Australia. Despite all their rhetoric they have not changed one aspect of the insidious laws called WorkChoices passed by the Howard Government.

Many people think that Rudd cannot do anything until the Senate changes in July. To a point this is correct, however with WorkChoices much of the laws are contained in regulations. Regulations are changed simply by 'Ministerial decree'.

Julia Gillard is the new Minister for Industrial Relations, plus a number of other portfolios. She could immediately change the regulations so that Prohibited Content in agreements was nothing. At present Prohibited Content includes things such as union right of entry, trade union training, delegates' rights, payrolls deductions for union fees (but not any other kind of deduction, e.g. for charity). Essentially prohibited content was targetted at reducing union involvement in the workplace and ensuring individual AWAs took precedence, even if the employer and employees didn't want this.

Around the trade union movement it is not a terribly big secret that quite a few union officials are annoyed at the lack of action by the Rudd Government. Many would be able to do their jobs a lot better with the simple removal of some or all of the anti-union Prohibited Content.

So come on Rudd and co. Where's the action? Or is the ALP all talk?

One thing is for certain. The Your Rights at Work campaign must not stop, and it should not be so actively supporting an ALP Government. Seeing Greg Combet jump ship mid campaign into a safe ALP seat, despite saying he had no interest in running for parliament was, in this author's opinion, a cynical ploy to get votes. Greg Combet lost a lot respect for this act.

Unions need to be just as vocal in their criticism of ALP shortcomings if they are not going to be seen merely as a cash cow for the ALP.

08 January 2008

good on you Anna...

Queensland Parliament
Question Time Thursday 18th of October 2007

Mr McARDLE: My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier confirm that nearly 90 per cent of her cabinet is made up of union members, former union officials and party hacks—a figure higher than the wannabe proposed loser Rudd cabinet? Is the Premier now setting the union domination benchmark for Kevin Rudd?

Mr Lucas: That’s a Walkley Award winning forensic job.

Ms BLIGH: Yes, a Walkley Award winning, forensically designed expose of the great secret of the Bligh cabinet. They are union members. Freedom of association, that is, the right to belong to a trade union, is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under the federal law of this country.

Mr Copeland interjected.

Mr Seeney: It is a prerequisite on the application form.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I warn the member for Cunningham and I warn the Leader of the Opposition.

Ms BLIGH: I remember a time when the Liberal Party of Australia stood up for the human rights of the citizens of this country. Now we find an all-out campaign to swing to the Far Right and undermine the human rights of the citizens of this country.

Dr Flegg: There is an equal opportunity rule, too, you know.

Mr SPEAKER: If the Premier would not mind sitting down for a moment. I will give her some extra time. This is a ridiculous situation. The member for Maroochydore comments in a low tone. She does not think we can hear her. I think we are all hearing her. I say to the member for Moggill that he is a serial interjector when questions are being answered. I have already warned under standing order 253 both the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Cunningham. The members of the opposition are asking these questions. I am going to give any minister the chance to answer them.

Ms BLIGH: I thank the member for the question again and I will do my best to answer it against the opposition’s unruly, ill-disciplined and disgraceful behaviour this morning. I believe the question was whether 90 per cent of the members of my cabinet are union members. I think the answer to that is no. I believe that 100 per cent of my cabinet are members of relevant trade unions. Not only are they members of their relevant trade unions; they are proud members of their relevant trade unions. They are proud of that, because trade unions have been one of the organisations that have built this country. They secured the eight-hour day. They secured decent working conditions so that people could feed their families and be safe in their workplaces. There is no shame in it—none whatsoever. The member wants to come snivelling in here doing the dirty work of John Howard. We do not resile for one minute from the fact that people on this side of the House care about the interests of working people. In terms of the talent of my cabinet, I will stack them up one by one against every runt of the litter that the other side lines up. My cabinet will be seen for what they are: the most talented cabinet that Queensland has ever had.

My favourite line is "I will stack them up one by one against every runt of the litter that the other side lines up. "