What is The Union Show?

7 12 2010

The Union Show broadcast on community TV C31 in Melbourne Australia from 2005 to 2009 and is a rich source of information on unions and issues affecting unions in this country. Whilst the program is no longer produced for television, the producers, United Productions maintain both a Union Show blog and the UnitedPro2010 YouTube channel as a means of disseminating union information that would otherwise be lost in time and in the morass of anti-union misinformation that is distributed by mainstream media.

An extensive archive of Union Show episodes is available for viewing at http://theunionshow.blip.tv. Current union information can be sourced at www.theunionshow.com.au and at the UnitedPro2010 YouTube channel. There are many other web sources for union information that deal mainly in the written word. One of those sites and perhaps the venerable example is www.labourstart.org.au where you will find links to many other like-minded information outlets.


Rigger’s industrial laws fight back in court

14 09 2010

By Candice Marcus

Updated Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:33pm AEST

Ark Tribe

Rigger Ark Tribe arrives for another court appearance (ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

A lawyer for a construction worker charged under federal industrial laws has told Adelaide Magistrates Court the prosecution case is seriously flawed.

Rigger Ark Tribe is accused of failing to attend at the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to answer questions about a stopwork meeting which was held over safety concerns at an Adelaide building site.

It is the first such case prosecuted.

Tribe’s lawyer Michael Abbott QC told the court that only the commissioner was empowered to form a suspicion that a worker had contravened the laws.

“It always has to be the ABC Commissioner investigating unless he delegates that function, which he never did,” he told the hearing.

“The function of the ABC Commissioner must be performed by him, and him alone, unless he delegates it and he would still have to publish a copy of the instructions of delegation under the legislation.

“The inspectors acted illegally and unlawfully.”

Mr Abbott said much could be read into the fact that Commissioner John Lloyd was not called to give evidence for the prosecution case, when it should have been his investigation.

“We say the silence of the ABC Commissioner is telling,” he said.

Hundreds of union members again rallied outside the hearing to support Tribe.

The magistrate will give a verdict in November and unionists have vowed to take nationwide action if Tribe is jailed.

CFMEU C&G National Secretary’s Message – The Election

13 08 2010

Tony Abbott is the most hard line right wing politician who has ever sought the support of the Australian people.

Abbott was a minister in the John Howard led Government who sat at the table as they forced WorkChoices on Australians without telling the public about the policy before the 2004 elections.

Now he is trying to con us that he has changed.

He now says he opposed WorkChoices in cabinet. Well he never said so publicly at the time. It was only after WorkChoices cost the Liberals the last election that he shared that story with the voters.

He now says WorkChoices is “dead, buried and cremated.” But in his recent book, ‘Battlelines’ he said “WorkChoices was good for workers”.

He also admitted on national television that he lies to the public when it suits him.

So what do we know for sure about Tony Abbott?

Construction workers know that it was Abbott who set up the Cole Royal Commission and established the ABCC.

We know he is proud of putting in place the law which sees Ark Tribe facing six months in prison for standing up for safety by refusing to dob in his mates.

We know that he supports bringing back compulsory individual contracts.

We know that he wants to get rid of unfair dismissal laws for millions of Australians.

We know that he would abolish the stimulus package which helped keep the construction industry afloat in a serious world economic downturn.

I think we can probably believe him on those bits of policy, if nothing else.

Of course the union has been critical of Labor for its delay in getting rid of the ABCC, and for using the language of the Liberal Party in talking about a “tough cop on the beat.”

And we have criticised the bill that Labor has put in to the Senate which would abolish the ABCC because it continues unequal treatment of construction workers – it does not go far enough.

The union will continue to fight for one law for all and we will not stop until this objective is achieved.

A Labor government gives us an opportunity to continue to make progress – while under Tony Abbott the current laws would be retained and are likely to be extended.

Under Kevin Rudd, Labor often looked like a pale shadow of itself. Many people had stopped listening to Rudd.  Julia Gillard has an opportunity to win back the true believers, including many construction workers.

Labor has made some welcome announcements about protecting workers entitlements.

Abbott would not implement these improvements if elected.

He has also pledged to scrap the resources rent tax which would finally see the mining billionaires pay a fairer share of tax on the massive profits that they receive from mineral resources; resources which are owned by all Australians.

Abbott’s mad policy would stop the long overdue plan to increase superannuation to 12%, a plan announced by Labor.

Abbott supports greedy billionaires trousering this money rather than millions of hard working Australians getting a decent retirement income.

Many of our members will vote for the Greens or for independents. If so, they should be careful that their preferences do not go to help elect an Abbott government.

However critical we are of Labor on particular issues, the fact is that at this time under our political system, either Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard will be the next Prime Minister of this country.

The union will always call it as we see it – regardless of which political party is in power.

We’ve had plenty of arguments with Julia Gillard.

If she is elected, we will continue to agree on some things and not others.

But if Abbott wins, Australian workers lose. We know this bloke and we know what he stands for.

Workers and their unions would need to prepare for a savage attack on hard won rights. Recent history tells us that when these rights are stolen by right wing Governments and employers, the fight to regain them is long and hard.

If you support rights at work and a fairer society, there is really only one answer to the question we all face on August 21 – that is to reject Abbott and the Liberals and elect Gillard and Labor.

Workchoices never again – but who does stand for Fair Work?

13 08 2010

The VTHC has passed a motion to support both Greens and ALP candidates in the seat of Melbourne. The motion followed a previous motion by the Council Executive to support ALP in marginal seats. However the seat of Melbourne Greens candidate Adam Bandt is supported by several affiliate unions in preference to ALP candidate Cath Bowtell.

Both candidates spoke to the chamber at the Council meeting last Thursday as exponents of workers rights. Both candidates have a history of union employment and advocacy. They do however stand opposed to each other on Fairwork Australia.

Ms Bowtell was employed at the ACTU for 15 years and was the lead ACTU negotiator in the development of the Fair Work Act introduced by Julia Gillard. She replaces Lindsay Tanner and was the clear frontrunner to replace Mr Tanner in the marginal seat, with the support of key state and federal ministers. Mr Bandt is an industrial and public interest lawyer. He was previously a partner at Slater and Gordon and has more recently worked on legals for both the UFU and the ETU where he has been an architect of the successful CEPU representation to the ILO on the contravention of ILO conventions on workers’ rights by Fairwork Australia.

The VTHC unequivocally supports changes in Fairwork Australia and it is largely acknowledged that the Gillard Fair Work Act 2009 saw only the partial return of rights lost under Howard’s Work Choices legislation; with the retention of the ABCC, the continued outlawing of “pattern bargaining”, and considerable restrictions on union right of entry in the workplace.. Most unions have spent the last year or so adapting to the Fair Work Act, the so called Award Modernisation process and OHS ‘harmonisation’. All very time consuming and often frustrating.

The ACTU leadership has made a few brief statements about the need for a second term IR agenda in the lead up to the federal election.
At the recent ACTU Executive a comprehensive pre–federal election resolution was passed. It included strengthening workers’ rights and extending collective bargaining: “The Executive recognises there is more work to do to secure and improve the rights of working Australians.”

New Federal IR Minister Simon Crean told a recent ACTU Executive (20/7/2010) that he believed the Federal Government had ‘got the balance right’ on IR and that the Fair Work Act was not up for more changes. Victorian unions are united for change to the Fairwork legislation. Both Melbourne candidates cite support for the union position on workers rights.

Ark’s Case Adjourned Until 10am Friday 18th June

17 06 2010

Ark’s lawyers argued that the ABCC had not correctly begun the prosecution – because the person authorising the prosecution did not have the power to do so. As a result they said the charges should be thrown out. Lawyers for the Commonwealth DPP contested the argument and the magistrate moved for an adjournment.

Ark Tribe Court Case, Adelaide, June 15

1500 people turned up this morning on June 15 in Adelaide, in support of Ark Tribe’s court appearance.

Proceedings began with a minute’s silence to commemorate work mates killed on site before several speakers took to the stage to voice their protest over the ABCC and their treatment of Tribe.

Two of the loudest cheers came for Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6) and Gerry Conlan (Guildford 4). Both had been unjustly imprisoned for several years in the UK before being exonerated. They came all the way from Scotland and Ireland to support Ark and voice their disgust at a possible similar injustice.

Ark, charged with allegedly failing to attend an ABCC interrogation, was thankful for the support as he took to the podium. He took time to thank his mum Anne and son Jake, who were in attendance, while also saying a big thank you to the CFMEU.

As a show of solidarity, several members and supporters formed a guard of honour by holding union flags aloft, as Ark and his lawyer Steven Dolphin, made their way to the Adelaide Magistrates court.

Many members yelled, clapped and cheered their support as Ark walked past, some offering handshakes and pats on the back as encouragement.

A harmonica player standing outside court fittingly played ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as Ark entered the building to more cheers of encouragement.

Dave Noonan, CFMEU C&G Division National Secretary and the Rights on Site Team