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.


SES volunteers continue to respond to widespread flooding

7 09 2010

Date: 07 September 2010 Time: 06:00 HRS

SES volunteers continue to respond to widespread flooding across Victoria, with over 300 properties affected so far.
280 properties are at-risk of being flood affected today at Shepparton, Wangaratta and Horsham.
The Shepparton area remains an operational focus as the Goulburn River is rising slowly, and expected to peak at around 11 metres throughout the day. SES has warned the at-risk properties to be prepared to evacuate if river levels threaten their properties.
SES and local government are continuing to monitor the Wilson Road Levee at Wangaratta, with two weak points of the levee posing a potential threat to around 60 homes in the area.
Residents from behind the levee have been evacuated until the threat eases.
The situation at Horsham is being closely monitored this morning, with the Wimmera River levels expected to rise from an estimated 2.4 metres to around 3.5 metres. Some 20 properties are at-risk in this area.
In other areas minor, moderate and major flood warnings are still in place for rivers across the state.
Extensive rural inundation is likely to occur over the coming days along the Goulburn downstream of Shepparton; Murray River from Corowa to Tocumwal; Avoca River downstream of Charlton; Wimmera River downstream of Glenorchy and the Loddon River downstream of Serpentine.
VICSES has now have received over 4350 Requests for Assistance since Saturday and crews will work through Tuesday to complete remaining storm damage tasks.
The Commonwealth Government is providing assistance for the replenishment of current sandbag stocks.
Interstate SES crews from South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland are assisting their Victorian counterparts.

Dean Mighell has been appointed to a new Office of Solar Energy

3 09 2010

A new Office of Solar Energy and a $30 million boost to support renewable energy technology will drive new investment and the development of cleaner energy in Victoria, according to Premier John Brumby, who said a $30 million funding boost would support the development of alternative energy technologies.

This initiative is about partnering with industry to develop the technologies needed for the future to deliver clean energy for Victorian households, says the government. The funding will be available for parties interested in developing pilot-scale demonstration projects or research and development proposals for sustainable energy technologies in areas such as solar, wave, geothermal and bio-energy.

In addition to the $30 million fund, Mr Brumby announced a new Office of Solar Energy to bring together under one umbrella the work being done on solar energy in Victoria. The new office will become the first point of contact for industry, small business, the community and educational institutes looking for information about Victoria’s solar potential and work already underway.

Complementing the establishment of the Office of Solar Energy is the creation of a Medium Scale Solar Working Group, which will examine current barriers to investment and what additional measures are required to encourage the use of solar energy in Victoria. ETU secretary Dean Mighell has been appointed to the working group.

The working group will be chaired by Tony Wood, Director, Clean Energy Program of the William J Clinton Foundation, which was set up by former US President Bill Clinton to focus on worldwide issues such as climate change.

Other members include technical experts in the solar and finance industries as well as representatives from the unions, the commercial building sector and the community:

* Ian Porter – Alternative Technologies Association
* Cameron O’Reilly – Energy Retailers Association of Australia
* Andrew Blyth – Energy Networks Association
* Peter Lunt – Vic Super
* Dean Mighell – Electrical Trades Union
* Mark Twidell – Australian Solar Institute
* Mark Clover – ANZ
* Rod Menzies – Clean Energy Council
* Damon Moloney – Green Buildings Council

Watch That Man

13 08 2010

No Jobs on a Dead Planet

19 07 2010

In the lead up to the Federal Election neither of the major parties has tabled an adequate response to climate change.

This is a time for bold action as we enter an emergency which some are likening to a total war scenario, both in terms of the effects upon our nation and the scale of the responses required.  Due to the level of planning and regulation, and the massive engagement demanded of the Australian people and our institutions, the context of a war economy is being discussed by growing numbers of people.  With approximately two thirds of the Arctic gone, and significant rapid losses in depth at the Antarctic as well, this discussion is gaining force.

Where major political parties fail to introduce adequate measures to reduce carbon consumption, we the Australian people must participate in the new thinking towards a new zero carbon economy.  Over the next ten years we must insure an equitable Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS),

The opposing argument, which postulates that eco-systemic change must not cause the economic crisis to worsen, appears to be made up primarily of economic vested interests; their position is developing into “Jobs versus the Environment”.

All the facts lean towards a drop in employment if the status quo is maintained.  Around the world renewable energy is proving to be a viable way to secure long term jobs.  Investment in renewable energy will provide all parties across the CCS divide with an opportunity to unite around an agreed direction.

A CFMEU/Gippsland Trade and Labour Council combined initiative

In response to the threat of job loss in the power industry which is a mainstay of regional employment in the LaTrobe Valley, the Earthworker Social Enterprise Association’s (ESEA) is an initiative of the CFMEU and the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council.

Using the Everlast factory in Dandenong as a model, the Earthworker Social Enterprise Association’s (ESEA) first factory, “Eureka’s Future,” will need 12 staff members to manufacture the tank alone.  However in the early days of the Earthworker Project, most jobs will be created in the installation.  For each solar hot water system manufactured, one day of work for an installer would be required, plus some additional trade time for plumbing and electrical work (depending upon the system installed and the skills of the installer).  Eleven installers doing an installation every week day would be the minimum required to install 2400 systems.  Given the need to do site visits to quote on jobs and the variability of time required to do different installation, more than 20 installers would likely be needed to cover this level of installations.  There will also be additional staff required in sales and marketing, and over time, there will be jobs created in repairs and maintenance.

Establishing a small manufacturing facility and generating more local interest in installing solar hot water systems will therefore result in around 30 – 40 new jobs.  Making this initiative a success will then provide the enterprise with the experience to expand into a diverse range of sustainability manufacturing and installation initiatives, resulting in more job creation.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council is continuing to push ahead to establish Eureka’s Future in the Latrobe Valley, now that the initial work done by CFMEU Mining and Energy in commissioning the Business Plan is complete.

The unit we will produce is the Everlast tank, solar collectors and associated components, a unit which is already successful in the marketplace.

The plan is to start with, but not be limited to:

  • Manufacturing Jobs linked to environmental sustainability.
  • Providing jobs which never leave our shores because they are owned by union-supported Social Enterprises, affiliated to the ESEA.
  • Manufacture of Solar Hot Water Units – 26% of the household bill.
  • Organising for deferred payment either through a person’s Energy Bill, their EBA or Superannuation.
  • Ultimately diversifying into manufacture of the full range of green technologies (see below).
  • While the majority of profit will advance the Social Enterprises, we will seek to always insure that some profits are used towards the elimination of youth homelessness and the waiting list for our elderly in hospital, dental, optical, and for other social justice responsibilities. We intend to take our communities with us.

The  cooperative aims to address both the pending environmental overload and the economic issues arising from it, based on development and implementation of new technologies for energy production. It provides a regional context, at the heart of the power generation economy in the LaTrobe Valley, for staged redeployment of a workforce.

You can view details of the development at http://www.earthworker.org/

A Viable Energy Production

The argument often made is that renewable energy cannot replace the “baseload” nature of our coal generators.  Two reasons are often given for this:

The first is that you could never harvest the amount of energy stored in fossil fuels such as coal which is quite energy dense from the wind/sun and biomass.

This is in error because we actually only need to replace the “delivered energy” service, not the energy contained in the raw coal.  According to the Federal Government’s Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator in June 2009, of the 2050PJ delivered to power stations by coal, only 388 PJ is used by industry, or less than 20%.  It is not 2050PJ we need to replace, but 388PJ.

The second reason cited against the viability of renewables is that the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine all the time.

However Australia is a vast country and our electricity system spans the eastern seaboard, with varied meteorological conditions.  Solar Thermal Plants, 97,000MW of which is now planned for Government land in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado have 17 hours of storage and run annual capacity factors of 75% very similar to Latrobe Valley 85-90% capacity factors.  Lowest sun periods in Queensland Jan/Feb correlating with the monsoon offset lowest solar incidence in the southern latitudes June/July at excellent solar sites such as Mildura.  Because Solar thermal with storage works the same as a hydro dam, in that the heat energy is stored in giant molten salt tanks (Two small 50MW plants in Spain store 1,045MWe and dispatch power each night for 7.5 hours after sun down.  Solar Thermal stations are proposed worldwide with 50MW, 250MW and 400MW turbines. They are able to provide “firming” power like a gas peaker or hydro dam, to match the supply curve of more variable wind power.

Plant Closures

We are faced with the possible phased closure of Morwell, Hazelwood and Yallourn within a very few years.  Closure of these three older plants could happen in any number of ways and will more than likely happen as a result of the combination of overseas corporations closing them down, as part of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), and/or massive pressure from populations as a result of catastrophic climate change.

CCS is something that our union will obviously pursue because in the long run, if it works as planned, it will provide valuable time and space for Australia to put the 50, 100 year and beyond-solutions we will require to maintain a relatively civilised standard of living. Employers on the other hand see things in terms of costs and return for the shareholders.  With plant closures imminent, if we are limited to negotiation with Governments and corporations with protest as our fall back, our union’s ability to defend our membership and their families into the future is under threat.  In the shorter term however, with our members as the renewable energy provider , we can begin building the alternative jobs and environment pathways straight away. Therefore our union is taking the reins and determining our own direction.

We are moving beyond protest! Wont you join us in this, our country’s work!

ACTU Climate Change

17 06 2010

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2908008&dest=-1]

This is our much requested last Union Show episode for 2009.

We hear from the CFMEU President, Tony Maher, as well as Giulia Baggio (ACTU) and Dean Mighell (ETU) about the challenge of climate change and the unions.

The Episode has been nominated for the 2010 Antenna Community Television Award in the category of Information, Current Affairs or Interview Program. The Award will be announced on June 27 at the Antenna Awards presentation night, at the BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne.

LeftClick: VIDEO When the Dust Settles — Uranium Mining and the ETU

10 06 2010

LeftClick: VIDEO When the Dust Settles — Uranium Mining and the ETU.

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A movie explaining the decision by the QLD ETU to take a stand against the expanding uranium mining and nuclear power industries in Australia and around the world. We can only hope the lessons learned from the use of asbestos are applied to this dangerous industry. Some things are more important than $$$.