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.