Construction Unions Rally – July 4 2012 Melbourne, Australia

9 07 2012


July 5, the Fin Review covered the rally and cited MUA Victorian Secretary Kevin Bracken’s call for an end to importation of international labour racist. In fact Mr Bracken was pushing for due process of all persons who wish to obtain work in Australia and an end to the 457 visa.

In fact Mr Bracken was calling for an adherence to the existing migration process that protects international workers from abuse by giving them citizenship of this country. He was also speaking for reinforcing skills in this country and said that those skills sould cease to exist in Australia if they were not taught to Australian citizens.

The 457 visa exists exists for companies wishing to extract maximum profit by cutting corners on migration in so called skill shortage areas. However international workers employed on 457 visas have often been subject to wages and conditions that fall far short of Australian conditions and are in breach of Australia’s Fairwork industrial relations law yet the Federal govt has been loathe to regulate the 457 system.

The May 25 announcement of an agreement that would allow Hancock Prospecting to import 1715 457 visa workers to their Roy Hill mine, Federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has embarrassed the Federal government into some show of revision.

BOB BIRRELL, MIGRATION EXPERT, MONASH UNIVERSITY: Over the past few years, the Government has systemically rejected any proposals this that there should be labour market testing for 457 visas sponsored by Australian employers, and suddenly on Friday, the Prime Minister says that she now feels that Australian workers should be given an opportunity to apply for work that 457 visa holders intended to do. So if this was the case, it would be a massive change and administrative revolution in the 457 visa regime.

Not embarrassed enough though, to call a halt to the expansion of agreements like Roy Hill with other companies chomping at the bit to get a hold of those low paid workers.

The 7:30 report touched on the issue in May this year.

730 Report on Rhinehart's Roy Hill Mine migration agreement
(29/05/2012 copyright ABC)

KRUNO KUKOC, SENIOR IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL To date we have had four applications for EMA, we have four applications, one fully considered, assessed and before the Minister, three with us at the moment.

STEVE KNOTT, AUST. MINES AND METAL ASSOC.: The number of projects that meet that criteria of $2 billion or 1,500 employees is very small – there’s only about 10 to 13 projects in that category. So yes, there are other enterprise migration agreement programs being considered.

GREG HOY: It is clear from comments made publicly over the past week that it won’t be long before further enterprise migration agreements are announced. The multinational Chevron corporation will today neither confirm nor deny rumours that it’s Wheatstone and Gorgon gas projects off WA are the next in line for such agreements, followed by the Indian GVK and Adani coal projects in Queensland. Unions are angry at the lack of transparency.

And Gina’s position?

GINA RINEHART (from corporate video): Whilst continuing to limit sufficient guest workers, we are not only losing or delaying projects, but creating problems for the future by putting ourselves in an unnecessarily high cost base structure, from which we will be forced to struggle to compete internationally for decades ahead. Both unions and migration experts have long called for greater market testing of availability of Australian workers, including for the closely related 457 visas that have, or will, bring in tens of thousands more skilled workers than will now arrive under enterprise migration agreements.

Gina Rhinehart could not be more blatant in her stated wish to undercut Australian wages and conditions but foisting lesser conditions on 457 workers who do not have rights the same as Australian citizens.

It seems pretty clear too, that such agreements would intentionally undercut Australian Enterprise Agreements and are designed to rid the space of union representation.

Finally the Fin Review should be noted as shark infested media and should note: it is a racist migration scheme in which inherent under-privilege is linked with country of origin.


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 Current union information can be sourced at 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 where you will find links to many other like-minded information outlets.

Workplace rights key to election – Australian public again send message about industrial relations

26 08 2010

22 August, 2010 | Media Release The ACTU today said that Australian people have sent a clear message during this election that their rights at work matter, and they will not support parties that are committed to policies which undermine workers’ pay, conditions and rights.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said:

“Our two million union members, and the more than 10 million workers in Australia have succeeded in forcing all major parties in this election to commit to fair work laws.

“We know that WorkChoices was a significant issue in workplaces and in the community and weighed heavily on the public’s mind in the lead up to this election.

“This is the second election in which WorkChoices has been decisively rejected by the Australian public.”

ACTU President Ged Kearney said:

“Whatever party forms Government, the ACTU will continue to advocate for better rights at work on behalf of working Australians and hold the Government to account for its workplace policies.

“Unions remain extremely concerned that to date we have not seen a detailed IR policy from the Coalition.
“There remain major workplace rights, including protection from unfair dismissal, individual contracts and award rates of pay and conditions that are not fully protected by legislation, and which could be eroded by a Coalition Government.

“We are also concerned about the future of superannuation and tax policy, investment in Australian industries and jobs, and the delivery of health and education to working families.

“We respect that votes are still be counted, and await the final outcome of the federal election.”

Collective bargaining – it’s good for all of us

17 08 2010

How do nurses achieve better nurse-patient ratios to lift the standard of patient care? How do workers in dangerous industries win tougher safety standards? How do teachers win smaller class sizes to boost students’ ability to learn?
The answer is collective bargaining, and these benefits go hand in hand with better pay, better conditions and the ability to have your say at work — in all industries.

Watch That Man

13 08 2010

Workers will be protected from company rip-offs under Labor’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee Jul 25, 2010

13 08 2010

The AMWU has welcomed Labor’s announcement of the ‘Fair Entitlements Guarantee’ as an important reform to protect the financial security of workers whose companies collapse without funds to pay out leave, superannuation and redundancy entitlements.

The AMWU has been campaigning for reform to the General Employee Entitlements Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) set up by the Howard Government after the collapse of Ansett and National Textiles in 2001.

The old scheme left many long-serving employees many thousands of dollars short of what they were owed, at the same time as they faced unemployment.

AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, said that the new guarantee would mean that workers were no longer left to bear the cost of companies who failed to set aside entitlements.

“We have seen thousands of workers loyally serve their employers only to be told that the company has gone out of business and there is no money left,” he said.

“The outcome for workers has been the double-whammy effect of unemployment after many years with an employer and no money to sustain them while they look for new work.

“The new ‘Fair Entitlements Guarantee’ will provide security to thousands of families around Australia.”

The AMWU also welcomed the increased responsibilities to be placed on management regarding superannuation payments, as well as the strengthening of corporate law and ASIC’s powers to prevent sham contracting and ‘phoenix’ company arrangements.

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.