31 December 2009

Thank you Abetz

With lines such as this one, the new opposition IR maggot is going to make life so much easier for us progressives.

"Underneath it all, modern awards are largely the same old prescriptive rules about conditions of work, penalty rates, hours, loadings."

Damn those low paid workers (and remember it's only the low paid who are award reliant) getting things like penalty rates and rules concerning their conditions of work! How dare they have basic standards!

Abetz is well-known for his homophobic views and "pro-life" views on abortion and euthanasia. He's a true right-wing warrior. I'm sure the Australian public will grow to love him...not.

29 December 2009

Labor 'ignores' building watchdog

According to The Australian, John Lloyd is feeling lonely and unloved by Gillard's office.

Good. Hurry up and fuck off already.

27 December 2009

Jesus image appears on banana peel

I am not going to blog endlessly about this article. I just wanted to say it is shit journalism, even by News Limited "standards". We don't live in the Dark Ages. This is not news. It's not even worthy of a B-grade blog.

24 December 2009

What is happening with the NUW in Queensland?

There's a bit of a mystery as to what happened to the officials attempting to block the Charlie Donnelly backed takeover of the Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia branches of the NUW. Certainly in WA the elected officials had their SDA gig to fall back onto, with that union being far bigger. But in SA and Qld the officials there were left without paid positions once those branches amalgamated into the Victorian backed General Branch.

The situation up in Queensland is bizarre. On 22 September 2009 the 'National Union of Workers Industrial Union of Employees Queensland' (NUWIUEQ) (the transitionally registered state union of the NUW) registered the Australian Business Number 34 732 750 564, based at the postcode 4129, which is the Logan area, south of Brisbane. Certainly not their Milton location.

In addition to this the NUWIUEQ has obtained right of entry permits for three individuals: John Cosgrove, the former State Secretary of the now abolished Queensland Branch of the National Union of Workers (ie the federal union), Michelle Holweg and Nick Story. See below.

Even more curious is the fact that Michelle Holweg appears to be the Secretary of the transitionally registered association and not John Cosgrove, despite his clear involvement. This can be evidenced in the Kerry Ingredients Australia Pty Ltd and National Union of Workers Industrial Union of Employees Queensland (Murarrie) Enterprise Agreement 2009 - 2011. Page 37 clearly shows that the address for the NUWIUEQ is 'The Groves', Unit 5, 3986 Pacific Highway Loganholme 4129. This is one of the few examples I can find of the NUWIUEQ having negotiated an agreement. It appears that most workplaces are choosing to deal with the NUW National Office, including the big employer Golden Circle.

Recent job advertisements (click here and here) on the Labornet website indicate that National Office has plans for growth and to possibly make sure this breakaway is crushed before it starts (although it's curious the closing dates for applications aren't until March 2010).

It is clear the NUWIUEQ has not given up the fight to operate as union in its own right. What is not clear is who is involved, besides the above three individuals. You'd imagine their financial membership is rather limited also so where is the money coming from? It's also puzzling as to why there is no telephone listing, at the very least, for this breakaway union. They have an office - why no phone? I expect details will come out in the new year...

The plot thickens.

For more information on the background to this story you might like to check out these links:
* NUW heads to Federal Court over bid to abolish branches
* Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009: NUW NSW and QLD State Branch Submission

Postscript to this story (22 March 2012):
The NUWIUEQ was apparently defunct for some time. In 2011 the national office had clearly taken over the NUWIUEQ and had it deregistered. I've never heard of a union deregistering ITSELF. I can only assume it was to make sure national office had complete control.

19 December 2009

The race for the top job of the ACTU

Well the way some left-wing unions are sooking you'd think the world had ended because Ged Kearney has gotten the nod over Cath Bowtell to replace Sharan Burrow as president of the ACTU

I have met both Kearney and Bowtell over the years and both were worthy of the job. However, it must be said that Kearney has the polish which Bowtell doesn't have. Bowtell is more a behind the scenes person. She knows her stuff but doesn't have the media experience. The ANF are a big union. Burrows was formerly president of the teachers' union - Kearney is also leader of a large white-collar union.

Having said all of that Bowtell has far more personality than Jeff Lawrence. Maybe he could bugger off, instead of the other ideas the Right unions have of creating another Assistant Secretary spot. Seriously, Jeff Lawrence is about as exciting as watching wet cement dry.

Paul Howes has also once again shown himself to be a whinger. When he grows some stubble maybe he'll have some cred.

18 December 2009

everyone will blame Labor

If the analysis by the "left-wing" SMH is anything to go by then we're going to see the media get stuck into the ALP for the recent bate of strikes. And we're also going to see half-truths and facts conveniently forgotten, such as

1. In the postie strike the plan was to have mail be delivered even if there was no stamp. Australia Post threatened any employee who did this with a deduction of their entire pay! The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to deduct pay for bans, but only on a proportionate basis to the action. So the posties said they'd strike instead - these facts seem to be missed in the article linked to above.

2. The strikes being undertaken were legal under Howard's laws too. Indeed many workers have had to jump through hoop after hoop to have their industrial action. It is coincidence they're occurring at the same time, in part. The Aus Post workers would've been on the grass months ago if management hadn't appealed decisions of Fair Work Australia to the Full Bench.

13 December 2009

I just had to share this photo. I cannot take credit for either the photo or the dog. I do feel sorry for the dog having that animal's name written on him.

09 December 2009

Tony Abbott eh?

Finally I have someone to hate again. And Tony makes it too easy!

22 November 2009

Bosses attack Go Home on Time Day

I imagine the boss' preference would be a Kiss My Ass Day. David Gregory from ACCI said

"I think the Go Home on Time Day is just a cheap stunt and I would hope not too many people take part."
If people like David got their way we wouldn't have a safety net for low-paid workers and unpaid overtime would be the case for everyone in every industry. Why is it that he doesn't want people to actually go home on time? Is he saying bosses should ignore the law and force people to work overtime?

It's not a "cheap stunt" David. 'Go Home on Time Day' has been proposed by The Australia Institute to remind workers about the health, social and economic sacrifices of unpaid overtime.

You can work your 20 hour day David. I can't say I care too much about your ilk.

20 November 2009

Policy on the run

This is what happens when you have policy on the run. No regulation. And when there's no proper regulation and electricity, people die. In this case it was a 16 year old boy in Rockhampton.

So sad.

No religion should be tax free

This article from Crikey is well thought out and I pretty much agree with its sentiments.

18 November 2009

bargaining under the Fair Work Act

Now we have laws which mean the bosses cannot circumvent us and our members, it is funny to see what morons they're using for advice. I am dealing with one particular wanker. He clearly has no concept of what unions are or how we operate (or how to write a simple agreement when we basically told him to just combine the previous short one with the award).

His angry emails do give me a chuckle. I've never read an email telling me so many times how the employer is "disappointed" and wants to work towards mutually beneficial outcomes. I really couldn't care less about an employer rep's feelings.

I also think he has too much time on his hands. Who emails for work purposes at 10.45pm? I'd say a person who works too hard but he responds to my email way too quickly.

But he is "Managing Director" of his own $2 company...wow...that'll make me respect him, not.

11 November 2009

this is not what Centrelink is for...

This evening I visited a comrade's place to help with some boring politics stuff. During my time there we discussed her year 11 daughter who had left home. She's being allowed to live with one of her mate's parents. And she is applying for Centrelink payments.

Let's get this crystal clear - her parents are perfectly normal. They're not perfect but they are not abusive, dysfunctional, aggressive or anything of the sort. This girl is a little messed up and due to the brilliant system we have you and I will be paying to essentially break up a family.

Fucking absurd.

30 October 2009

America's REAL death panels

A very scary article from the USA

America’s Real Death Panels: Jurors in capital cases must pledge support for the death penalty.

So much for a trial of your peers - more like a trial by 12 right-wing nutters.

25 October 2009

Declaring war

Tonight I declare war on morons who cannot spell.

"Your" is not the same as "you're". I am so sick of morons who cannot spell. Did these drop kicks go to school? Why must I constantly read bad spelling? Is it that hard to know the difference? No, it's not. Engage your brain before you type something! Argghhh!

21 October 2009

Will 'Mr less than 2% vote' please fuck off

Steve Fielding. Anyone else sick of him popping up every 5 seconds? Why are the media giving this rat the time of day? He polled so few votes and gets so much attention - fuck The Australian!

Capitalism: A Love Story

I saw Capitalism: A Love Story this evening. It was sad but also inspiring. I knew some of the stories that were told but possibly the scariest one was how major corporations in the USA (the example used was Walmart) take out life insurance policies on their own staff - ordinary workers like you and me. It was truly disgusting. The memos talking about how this "investment" had not returned enough returns (i.e. enough deaths) made me so angry.

Capitalism is a failure. Socialism has largely failed too. There must be a better way. A way that treats human beings with respect. An economic and political system that rewards effort but doesn't mean people are left to rot in the gutter if they're not able to fend for themselves.

Think I might blog about this more later...it's too late right now.

17 October 2009

Conservative paper attacks public servants saying they threaten economy. For its evidence they cite

1. A report by the conservative Julie Novak of the right-wing think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs
2. An ultra-conservative free marketeer champion professor Scott Prasser from the newly established Public Policy Institute, which the paper's editor-in-chief Paul Kelly helped to launch (bit of a free plug for the new institute)
3. A conservative politician from the Liberal Party in NSW.

Good to see balanced reporting in The Australian. I was starting to get worried they were going to show some bias in their reporting.

The tax dodge needs to stop

This article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the tax perks for certain employees working in the not-for-profit sector just reinforced my opinion that this rort needs to be stopped.

This perk was designed for the not-for-profit sector to help them attract staff as the pay many charities pay is obviously low. The problem is that employees such as those working for church run hospitals and even the publicly funded health system also get access to this perk - and they're not badly paid.

This also skews the market. Private hospitals owned by companies pay roughly the same as the church owned ones yet the church owned hospitals can give their employees extra perks that the company owned hospitals cannot.

I'm not going into bat for capitalists. I just believe it shouldn't be all workers footing the bill for some well-paid workers to get an extra tax perk. The tax perks need to be removed and any staff attraction issues in the genuine not-for-profit sector can be dealt with by proper government funding!! I think you'd find the church owned private hospitals and government run health would still attract staff - the pay is still way higher than aged care.

14 October 2009

Federal judges get 6% pay rise

The Remuneration Tribunal has awarded a 6% pay rises to members of the federal judiciary. So whilst the lowest paid get nothing this year these guys get a big boost. Outrageous!

Review of Remuneration Relativities among Australia’s Federal Courts, Remuneration Tribunal, October 13, 2009

Why does no one complain about the real problem illegal immigrants?

I am of course talking about overstayers - people, mostly from developed countries, who come into this country on tourist visas and never leave or massively overstay their visa. Then there are also all of those who come into this country legally on tourist visas but illegally work, depriving the Australian government of taxation revenue, for a start. I knew one guy from Scotland who did just that. In the construction industry this is a huge problem that the fuckwits at the ABCC do nothing about.

The debate on illegal immigration always turns to those who coming in by sea, yet they make up the smallest numbers of the problem. If I read one more letter to the editor about "boat people" and how they're "taking our jobs" and going to make everything bad happen I think I will vomit - hopefully on one of those right-wing maggot letter-writers.

11 October 2009

Catholic chemist won't sell the pill

A chemist in Griffith won't sell the pill or the emergency morning-after pill because of his Catholic faith. This is bullshit. If you're going to provide a public service, where most of your products are government subsidised, or even free to low income earners, then you've no right to shove your belief systems onto others' bodies.

What if this was a town with only one pharmacy? What would be the option for women then? If you have some moral objection to selling some kind of legal drug then don't become a pharmacist. It's that simple.

Next we'll be hearing of chemists who won't sell drugs to schizophrenics because under their beliefs these mentally ill people are really possessed.

07 October 2009

Bye bye Costello: don't come back

Mt favourite quote from his retirement:

"Successful organisations plan for succession and engage in renewal."

Surely that is a shot at the party that did so appallingly bad at succession planning with respect to moving Howard on.

I don't really care too much. I can't say I will miss Peter all that much either. I liked him marginally more than Howard but he was such a gutless wonder about the whole leadership issue. I quite enjoy the power vacuum at the Liberal Party at the moment.

29 September 2009

Hardcore vegans - absolute fucking nutters

I was told on Facebook yesterday that milk is all about "murder" and "rape" by a hardcore vegan. I then tried to engage in some rational debate with this horrible excuse for a human being. My bad. Turns out me pointing out how insensitive calling a cow being milked "rape" might be to actual victims of sexual assault only meant more shrieks of rape.

Fortunately a friend emailed saying she'd had run ins with these some extreme vegans and pointed out the bleedingly obvious I hadn't thought about - they're fundamentalists. Just like the religious variety, no amount of rational debate will make any difference whatsoever.

Part of being a progressive is trying to take people with you. If they disagree you communicate and find points of similarity. You can't use terms like "rape" and "murder" in the context of cows being milked and expect people to come along with you. You're just going to ostracise yourself and turn people off who were thinking of changing their ways.

I'm all about building progressive alliances - but the fundamentalist vegans won't be a part of it - they can go fuck themselves.

21 September 2009

'Living hell' over for quadriplegic who won right to refuse treatment

Why did this man have to go through so much pain to choose what to do with his own body and mind? Yet another issue where the religious nutters want to control our lives - our own lives. Piss off!

15 September 2009

when a family member is a scab...

I've been having an argument with my sister lately over the fact she won't join her union, the New South Wales Nurses' Association. Sure, she'll take all the benefits they have achieved but will she join? Of course not. Instead she complains and says things such as
"...it is a piss weak union, look at what teachers get!!"
Of course, I explained to her that teachers achieve so much because they're willing to fight. They organise themselves well through their union and are highly unionised. They don't get anything. They fight for it.

Her chief excuse is that they did a dud deal last time. Admittedly it wasn't the best deal but to not have done anything or gone through arbitration would've meant two years before a pay rise and she works for the NSW government, the one going bankrupt rapidly. Any pay rise above their pathetic 2.5% offer was a good outcome.

So instead of fighting for a better outcome next time, she'll complain and moan and let her colleagues do her fighting for her. I think she uses the outcome as an excuse - she wouldn't join anyway, as I said
"Frankly, I don't think you'd be a member even if the union didn't trade off RDO accumulation. It's just your excuse to not pay up."
Now, my question is, do I call her a "scab"? She is one, after all.

13 September 2009

Turnbull reopens door on individual contracts

Oh dear, the Torries sure do have a short term memory. Turnbull has just said, on bringing back individual contracts, that he is "...not ruling it in or out." Well if he wants to keep the Torries in the political wilderness for elections to come then bring back the policy platform of individual contracts that rip off the most vulnerable in society Mr Turnbull. I'll enjoy watching the show as the conservative forces in Australia have their vote destroyed. Sweet!

02 September 2009

“I contend also that when the labor movement ceases to be a Cause and becomes a business, the end product can hardly be called progress.”

Those words were spoken by the writer of Solidarity Forever, Ralph Chaplin. He has a point and it makes me think about the labour movement in Australia and throughout the world - sometimes it definitely feels like a business here. I work for a union because I believe in the cause. Most of my comrades feel the same.

You can tell those that are only in it for the bucks. They end up leaving, like one former colleague, and working for the bosses. He is now dirt to me, well more dirt. Never liked him in the first place. If the union movement gets taken over by the business types, then it ceases to be a movement or a cause and is nothing but a hollow shell with no soul - just like a corporation.

29 August 2009

well this nearly made me vomit

Every now and then an article will come along on the internet which will remind me of who I am and what I am not. This article about young people in the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy made my blood boil for so many reasons.

So to Geraldine Lowe, Michelle Martinkovits, Tom Kwok, Thomas Flynn, Jal Martinkovits and Chomg MaBen I say that I will remember your faces by putting your photo into this blog. You represent everything that I despise. You're Liberal and monarchist and don't even have the excuse of being old and twisted like Prof David Flint.

And seriously, singing God Save the Queen? What the fuck? It's not our national anthem - if you love the Queen so much then move to the United Kingdom.

26 August 2009

The Australian - the attack dog of the Australian business community

Barely a day goes by without The Australian attacking some aspect of the new Fair Work regime brought in by the Rudd Government. Their attacks on the union movement are relentless. Leaving aside the obvious bias my big gripe is the fact we've barely had 8 weeks of the new laws yet according to this paper the whole world is going to cave in. Their self-serving survey of bosses was laughable.

In one article the paper says that we're going back to the 1960s. What absolute rubbish. I don't see compulsory unionism. I don't see centralised wage fixing. Yes, we're entering a new era. But it is far more accountable and transparent than Howard's laws. This is what scares the hell out of the business community. They actually have to abide by decent laws!

23 August 2009

Paul Howes wants a nuclear future for Australia

According to the AWU website National Secretary Paul Howes wants Australia to become a super-power of energy by mining way more uranium and building nuclear power plants.

Self serving drivel - you bet! Which union covers uranium mining? What a coincidence - it's the AWU! Sure Paul, let's mine more uranium. Let's have the stuff flowing like water...it's not as if nuclear materials are used for anything other than energy...

Oh wait, they're used in weapons that could wipe us off the face of this planet. No mention of the dangers from Paul. Funny that.

20 August 2009

Now Australian industry Group cares about democracy?

Give me a fucking break! Heather Ridout, in her latest rant (click here), says that Fair Work Australia should stop interfering in votes for non-union agreements and wants to "...stop unions frustrating the democratic rights of employers and employees."

Unions are intervening because employers are not bargaining with them in good faith as required by the new Fair Work Act. If Fair Work Australia issues orders to stop a ballot it is because there is no other option. Basically her argument is that it's okay for employers to breach the law and not bargain as required under the Act and when the union wants a remedy for this breach of law they're stopping democracy. How absurd!

And since when did employers give a flying fuck about democracy? We didn't see them jump up and down during the height of Work Choices when employees had no democratic rights and had to cop what the bosses wanted.

Ms Ridout your hysteria is rotten and hypocritical nonsense. Grow a brain.

07 August 2009

Another lovely story about the Australian Workers Union

I was talking to a contact of mine who deals with the AWU. They told me the lovely story of how an employer wants to bid on certain construction work and they along with the AWU want to terminate the current union collective agreement and put in place a new one that pays lower. Just when all these warm fuzzy stories of alliances between unions have been doing the rounds, it's nice to know the true colours of the so called workers' union of Australia.

25 July 2009

National Day of Action for Same Sex Marriage

This unionist will showing solidarity with his gay and lesbian comrades by attending a rally: the National Day of Action for Same-Sex Marriage. It is disappointing that most unions have not done more to promote this event. Certainly the Australian Services Union through its GLAM network does an awesome job of highlighting issues being faced by gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender members.

Sadly, many unions don't follow their lead. I encourage all unionists to attend an event being run Saturday 1 August in your capital city - for more information check out this link: http://www.equallove.info/node/16/

08 July 2009

Australian Fair Pay Commission - good riddance to bad rubbish

Well yesterday Prof Ian Harper and the dropkicks at the so-called Fair Pay Commission, one of the last remnants of Work Choices, handed down their wages review for 2009. And the result of months of intensive inquiries and multiple submissions - nothing.

That's right, workers reliant on awards for their wage rises will receive absolutely nothing in 2009. Employers have successfully used the Rudd tax cuts and economic stimulus as a way of avoiding any contribution to getting this country out of deep economic shit.

From March 2008 - March 2009 the Consumer Price Index rose 2.5%, yet workers on the lowest wages won't get an additional cent off employers - and these are the most vulnerable workers too. Ones that are not on union negotiated agreements.

Well Professor Harper, I won't be sad to see the back of you. You're a pathetic excuse for an impartial arbitrator. You won't save any jobs with this stupid move - just make the working poor even more poor and line the pockets of employers. Hope you choke on your caviar you rich fuck.

04 July 2009

Fair Work Act begins

So all industrial players now must adjust to the brave new world that is the Fair Work Act 2009. It'll be interesting to see how the laws play out. The opening of Fair Work Australia was used by the employers to urge caution against following American jurisprudence. I don't know what to make of that. I certainly don't want America's anti-union society.

It will be good to have more rights for workers, such as those unfairly dismissed. Nothing is more depressing than telling a worker that because they worked in a workplace with less than 100 employees, they had no right to take their grievances any further.

27 June 2009

showing their true colours

Good to see Family First's Steve Fielding and Nick Xenophon showing their true colours. Julia Gillard wanted some regulations to be passed to curb some of the excesses of the ABCC, including their coercive interview powers. Those two bit players teamed up with the gaggle called the Coalition to defeat these changes in the Senate.

And once again the ALP only have themselves to blame for getting Steve Fielding elected in the first place. Absolute morons.

20 June 2009

Solidarity with Iran

Iran is a country going through massive upheaval at the moment. Mass protests, murders. It is a country not far from mass suppression of its people.

I'm not surprised, unfortunately. Trade unionists have been jailed, tortured and worse in this country. All this for merely wanting to exercise their right to collectively organise. Mansour Osanlou has been imprisoned multiple times and is currently in Evin Prison. He dared to be the leader of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company - unions are illegal in Iran.

I encourage people to get involved in any way they can to encourage democracy, human rights be respected in Iran.

15 June 2009

Without fear or favour - give me a break Kevin

Recently Kevin Rudd reiterated how little he cares for unions (but will take their money of course) and how out of touch he was. Talking on Melbourne radio station 3AW he stated new laws to replace the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) would be implemented "without fear or favour" even if that meant a union official going to jail.

Here's the problem I and many others have with that.Rudd is implementing laws which have fear and favour as a central element to them. They favour employers in the construction industry and keep the fear going for workers. Rudd has sided with big business and organised capital and given them a "tough cop on the beat" which has powers akin to treating construction workers like terrorists.

It's also appalling to see former union officials run to Rudd's defence like the gutless wonders they are. Where's the champion of the Your Rights at Work campaign Greg Combet? Probably trying to remember which safe seat he was parachuted into. And where's Bill Shorten, the hero of the mine collapse in Tasmania? Too busy keeping his right-wing business buddies within the ALP happy.

Unions do need to re-examine their relationship with the ALP. But that's for another blog...

05 June 2009

2009 ACTU Congress

Well this blogger just had the pleasure of visiting the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for the 2009 ACTU Congress (and what an impressive venue it was, I might add). The three days were rather dry at times and it was good to finally put a face to some of the names I know so well - Joe de Bruyn looks gawkier than I thought he would.

There was nothing overly controversial about the Congress - that was until Julia Gillard gave her speech. In a clearly provocative move designed for the packed media she goaded the congress delegates with her comments as to why the ABCC needed to stay. It got the expected response from the crowd, which included Ark Tribe, the CFMEU member being prosectuted by the ABCC for refusing to attend an interview. He faces six months jail for his "heinous" crime.

I joined in the booing of the Deputy Prime Minister - her words were insulting to decent, fair minded Australians who believe in basic rights for all people. The right to silence is fundamental in western democracies. Ark Tribe has not been accused of murder, violence or intimidation. He attended a meeting with management over safety standards at the Flinders University site he was working at.The ABCC was interested because workers were standing up for themselves over appalling safety standards Why does the ABCC have powers to prosecute people for a criminal offence when they refuse to attend interviews dealing with prosecutions over civil matters? Why have they not prosecuted one employer for non-payment of wages?

19 May 2009

ABCC prosecuting union members

A rank and file member of the CFMEU in South Australia is being prosecuted by the Australian Building and Construction Commission for refusing to attend an interview. That's right - he wanted to exercise his democratic right to silence and is now being prosecuted for exercising a fundamental right in western democracies.

Whilst it is the Liberal and National parties that took away basic rights in the construction industry, it is the Labor Party that continues these draconian and despicable attacks on human rights.

As CFMEU Construction state secretary Martin O'Malley said, the member was "just an ordinary bloke on the tools who doesn't see why he should dob in his mates and go along with laws that are absolutely wrong".

"A guy like that, he doesn't see much sense in why he was out there trying to change the government a couple of years ago and now he's up in court from a John Howard law under a Labor Government," said O'Malley. Couldn't have put it better myself O'Malley.

If convicted the CFMEU member faces up to six months in jail. What a joke. For more information on these bullshit laws check out Rights on Site

10 May 2009

18 weeks paid maternity leave

The Federal Government has announced plans for 18 weeks paid maternity leave. It is to kick off from 1 January 2011. This 18 weeks will be paid at the Federal Minimum Wage. It is a good start, however I question why it will take so long to implement. It is good to see a government that is actually listening to the Productivity Commission. The ACTU looks rather stupid for only pushing for 14 weeks paid leave. Those unions that pushed for more have been vindicated in their positions.

06 May 2009

May Day

So another May Day has come and gone with the typical celebrations around the world. And whilst Kevin Rudd is throwing away money at everyone, workers still have to worry about whether they will be able to provide for their families should they have a child.

This is because paid parental leave still hasn't been guaranteed by the Federal Government in the upcoming budget. Australia and the USA are the only countries in the OECD to not have some form of government sponsored paid parental leave.

It's really a no-brainer and the ACTU and unions with large female memberships have taken up the fight. It's a shame that other unions haven't taken up the fight more, although it's not that surprising. The Productivity Commission has supported it so let's hope a government actually reads a report it commissions, for once, and takes up the opportunity to support workers who want to take time off to have a family.

The only question is what sort of scheme. There are heaps of models out there with their pros and cons.

28 April 2009

International Day of Mourning

Today, 28 April, construction workers observed a minute's silence for their comrades who went to work but never came home. On average one person dies every week in the construction industry.

It's a shocking figure. Yet the ABCC continues to threaten an harass construction workers and their unions for sticking up for their rights. It makes me sick, especially a supposedly pro-worker Labor Government is the one keeping these laws in place so that the Master Builders and their ilk have lower wage costs.

04 April 2009

Now is the time to grow

With the impending Fair Work Act to come into force from 1 July 2009 now is the time for unions in Australia to get out into workplaces and show they are just as relevant in the 21st century as they have ever been. There are no more excuses for not organising workplaces and these news laws will be the ultimate test of union success - not all will survive.

The current Generation Y know very little about unions as they have lived most of their lives under conservative rule. We need to show them that Howard's lies and deception were just that. We need to show them that unions are not a bunch of scary, fat old men (although they do exist). Your typical union official is an educated professional and probably female. We're moving with the times. We need to make this count.

03 April 2009

AWU - 15 years behind the game

This author has had the (mis)fortune of reading some articles recently where the AWU has been rabbiting on about its growth strategy. Looks like it discovered the organising model about 15 years after most unions. And let's face facts - it's pretty hard to know what is the truth from that union. Its reported membership figures are some of the biggest works of fiction around. Its Queensland Branch counts over 10,000 unfinancial members as being full members.

Mind you this is a union that put in charge a right-wing hack by the name of Paul Howes who is so young you'd think he was straight out of high school with no real work outside of being an ALP lacky and time in the union movement. Oh wait - that is the case. How can this person be the national leader of a (let's face it) mid-size union? Is he rank-and-file? Did he cut his stripes in a shearing shed or a mine? No. He was 26 when "elected" to the post. It's pathetic. For unions to be truly representative their leaders should actually have worked in the industries they represent so they know the issues facing their comrades. At least Bill Ludwig was a shearer.

And whilst I am discussing right-wing unions and ridiculously inexperienced union leaders I cannot go past Joe de Bruyn. Born in 1947 this man has been National Secretary of the SDA for more than half his life. If there was ever a case for limited terms for union officials Joe would be Exhibit A.

30 March 2009

NUW: democracy at its worst

The National Union of Workers (NUW) recently had a ballot of all members to decide whether to merge the South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland branches into a new General Branch. Members in those states voted overwhelmingly against the merger. However the largest number of NUW members by far is in Victoria and their votes drowned out the will of the smaller SA, WA and Qld branches.

Unfortunately for the NUW members in these smaller branches the union's rules (it's constitution) allowed for such a vote to occur. Many unions rules would not allow one branch's vote to decide the fate of another. If an Australian state was to merge with another our constitution specifically says that a majority of both states must agree to this, as well as a majority of Australian citizens.

The NUW's rules have been abused. It is a blatant power grab by Charlie Donnelly to sure up his power base in Victoria. The Central Branch will operate out of the same building as the Victorian and National Offices. Charlie Donnelly is a power-broker for the ALP Right faction - the faction that helped get Steve Fielding elected in the 2004 federal election over a progressive candidate for the last senate spot in Victoria. These people are not friends of working Australians.

The NUW has always been a bit odd. It's Western Australia Branch shares exective members Joe Bullock and Martin Pritchard with rival union the SDA. Bullock is State Secretary of the SDA and Assistant State Secretary of the NUW. Pritchard is the same but reverse the unions. (note this might have changed recently). This has led to some interesting national meetings.

The only positive from this merger is that it will do away with the absurd situation of shared officials. A union official cannot properly serve the interests of two unions and their members at the same time, particularly when the unions are rivals in coverage.

ALP - better the devil you know?

The recent victory of the ALP in Queensland brought home to me just how much hatred there is out there for the Greens from ALP supporters. Online I saw the abuse coming for the Greens who didn't preference the ALP in many seats over their poor environmental policies.

Despite what neo-cons might say the Greens and ALP are miles apart on many issues, including industrial relations - the Greens have a better, fairer policy.

The new Fair Work Act introduced by the Rudd Government does undo many aspects of WorkChoices but it continues others such as

1. Restricting Right of Entry for unions
2. Keeping in place bureaucratic secret ballots for workers to take industrial action (despite Julia Gillard being on public record in opposition opposing secret ballots)
3. Treating building workers differently to other workers

It's way better than WorkChoices yet it doesn't take a genius to see that there's still much more room for improvement.

04 February 2009

Trade unions and social justice

Having attended a couple of rallies recently over the invasion of Gaza by Israeli troops I started to think about the lack of involvement of the wider trade union movement around the world in this issue.

During the apartheid era in South Africa unionists around the world made their voices heard on the issue. The 1971 Springbok tour of Australia led to many unions protesting the continued racism and brutality of the South African government. Yet at the protests in Brisbane unions had a small presence with the usual suspects from the various socialist incarnates having a much stronger presence.

I think the reason is that people are scared to discuss the issue of Palestinian sovereignty openly in Australia for fear of offending others. But this is no excuse. Unions have a responsibility to educate their members of what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israelis are still illegally stealing land in West Bank for the "settlements". They cut off everything to the people of Gaza and killed hundreds of children in the most recent conflict.

I will be pushing this issue amongst my comrades. I hope you will too.

08 January 2009

Why are they called the Labor Party?

I often wonder why the Australian Labor Party calls itself thus any more. The release of the Fair Work Bill into parliament showed that whilst Prime Minister Kevin Rudd thinks Work Choices went too far, he is not that keen on winding all of it back.

This, coupled with the dog's breakfast that is award modernisation, makes me wonder what the whole point of the Your Rights at Work campaign was. I gave up a lot of my time and effort to get a government voted in that couldn't give a flying fuck about people like me and my generation. I work and I am single so I didn't get any free money in December (the poorly targeted save our economy monies thrown at families and pensioners). I know there are a lot of grumblings from people on this. That money could have been better spent on a fixing our schools, hospitals. You name it.

Full marks to the Greens and Senator Christine Milne. It appears only they have the courage to stand up and fight for workers' rights. Only the Greens are backing construction unions in their fight to get rid of the fascist Australian Building and Construction Commission. The ALP has forsaken these workers to intimidation and harassment by this secret police. Building workers have less rights than accused terrorists. Shame, ALP. A fucking disgrace.