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.


28 08 2010

AMWU – Abbott: WorkChoices not dead, just getting ‘tweaked’

17 08 2010

AMWU – Abbott: WorkChoices not dead, just getting ‘tweaked’.

Tony Abbott has let the cat out of the bag on WorkChoices, only hours after declaring it ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

When the date for the federal election was set last Saturday, Mr Abbott rushed to assure voters that he would not bring alter the Fair Work Act and bring back WorkChoices.

Within hours, however, the Liberal Party’s IR spokesperson Eric Abetz, went on radio to say that this didn’t mean the Liberals wouldn’t ‘tweak’ the IR legislation.

By Monday, Abbott couldn’t help himself, and released a list of promises that included attacking making workers pay for the cost of secret ballots for industrial action – a change which would mean amending the Fair Work Act.

AMWU National President, Paul Bastian, said that no-one could believe Tony Abbott when it came to his promises on IR laws.

“WorkChoices is a Liberal Party article of faith. He couldn’t keep his promise for one full day as opposition leader, and that promise will be in shreds if he is elected next month.”

Mr Bastian said the AMWU would be campaigning to ensure workers understood exactly what rights they would lose if the Fair Work Act was taken away.

UN warns on waterborne disease risk among flood-affected Pakistanis

17 08 2010

16 August 2010 – Waterborne diseases continue to pose great risk to millions of people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan, the United Nations warned today, a day after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a visit to the country, described the “heart-wrenching” suffering he witnessed among flood survivors.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the hardest-hit provinces, acute diarrhoea is the leading cause of illness and accounted for nearly one in five patient visits since the floods began. The problem has also been reported in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh, the agency reported.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that as many as 3.5 million children in affected areas may now be at risk of diseases carried through contaminated water and insects. UNICEF plans to provide clean water to 6 million people.

“The lack of clean water and the unavailability of medication, in the aftermath of these floods, is a deadly combination. When added to the poor living conditions and the lack of food, which contribute to vulnerability, the picture is gruesome,” said Guido Sabatinelli, WHO’s representative in Pakistan.

Acute respiratory tract infections and skin diseases are the other health problems among those affected, according to WHO. Malaria could also pose a major threat as mosquitoes breed in the stagnant flood water.

Mr. Ban visited Pakistan at the weekend to demonstrate the support of the UN and the international community in the wake of what has been described at the country’s worst disaster in living memory, having claimed more than 1,200 lives and leaving at least 2 million homeless.

“I’m here to see what is going on. I’m here also to urge the world community to speed up their assistance to the Pakistani people,” the Secretary-General told reporters on arrival.

The Government estimated that 20 million people have been affected by the floods. The UN and its partners plan to assist at least 8 million people who are in urgent need of life-saving shelter, food, clean water, and health care. Based on a preliminary assessment of immediate needs, UN and non-UN humanitarian agencies have already requested $459.7 million through the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan, which was launched last week.

Donors have so far contributed or promised $125 million, or 27 per cent of the requested amount, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Speaking at a news conference after touring the affected areas, Mr. Ban reported scenes of washed-out roads, bridges and even whole villages, as well as people marooned on tiny islands with flood waters all around them.

“I will never forget the destruction and suffering I have witnessed today. In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this,” he stated. “The scale of this disaster is so large so many people, in so many places, in so much need.”

“These unprecedented floods demand unprecedented assistance,” stated the Secretary-General. “The flood waves must be matched with waves of global support.”

He also announced that he will allocate a further $10 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the relief effort, bringing the total disbursement from the fund since the beginning of the crisis to $27 million.

Before travelling to the flood-affected areas, Mr. Ban met separately with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, and expressed the solidarity of the UN with the Government and people of Pakistan.

He said he hoped his visit will help accelerate the rate of generous support from the international community, and noted that the immediate relief efforts would need to be complemented by longer-term reconstruction, with help from the UN and global partners.

“As the waters recede, we must move quickly to help people build back their country and pick up the pieces of their lives. Farmers will need seeds, fertilizers and tools to replant. Education, health and nutrition need to be restored quickly.

“In the longer term, the huge damage to infrastructure must be repaired. The UN will be part of all this too,” said Mr. Ban, who added that he will report to the General Assembly on his visit later this week.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that an airlift of relief supplies arrived in Quetta today to help flood survivors in urban centres in Balochistan province. Four Government cargo planes moved 64 tons of tents, plastic sheets and mosquito nets from UNHCR stockpiles in Peshawar to Quetta to help speed up relief efforts. More airlifts are expected, pending the availability of aircraft.

In a related development, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has expressed her sadness and concern about the flood devastation in Pakistan and pledged the agency support for those affected.

UNESCO is preparing to send a scientific mission to help the Pakistani authorities upgrade their flood management capacity. The agency will also help carry out an evaluation of needs in preparation for launching emergency and post-disaster educational projects.

It warned that the floods could affect the archaeological site of Moenjodaro, an immense and ancient urban centre built of baked bricks that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980. The site is located just two kilometres from the Indus River.

Budgie smugglers and Bob Hawke may help sell Mad Monk

17 08 2010

* Simon Canning
* From: The Australian
* December 07, 2009 12:00AM

HOW do you market the Mad Monk? Just days after his surprise ascendancy to the leadership of the Liberals, this is now the question exercising the brains of the party machine.

They may have little time to reform the Abbott brand in the minds of electors before Kevin Rudd decides to go to the polls.

Hours after Abbott unseated Malcolm Turnbull as the leader of the opposition, Liberal strategists were already at work measuring the worth of the Abbott brand in the marketplace and beginning to chart a course for the party and its new leader to follow.

In the modern media environment speed is of the essence and an entire strategy framed on the leadership of Turnbull has had to be scrapped overnight and retooled to fit the very different model that Abbott presents.

It will be anchored on a tagline, a few simple words that encapsulate the essence of the Abbott leadership and what he would offer at the helm of the nation.

If Kevin were 07 and Obama were Hope, how would marketing gurus package the new leader?

Advertising and marketing experts agree that despite coming to the role with the not insignificant baggage of having been the party’s headkicking hardman for more than a decade, Abbott has qualities that will be a marketer’s dream.

Denis Mamo, creative director of Sydney advertising agency Ursa, says Abbott’s often criticised ability to speak his mind regardless of the consequences might prove to be the element that sets him apart.

“He has a lot of attributes that are distinct, so it is not like you are going to be short on things to pick,” Mamo says. “He is a man who speaks his mind and if you look at that point you have to look at the honesty route.”

Mamo and creative colleague at Ursa Luke Martin crafted a possible campaign poster for the new leader based on his pre-spill surf outing in a skimpy pair of Speedos.

“Tony Abbott,” the poster reads, “Nothing to Hide.”

“Even the budgie smugglers work,” Mamo says, “because it makes him more human.”

Mamo says the development of the Abbott image may ultimately mirror the making of Bob Hawke as a national leader.

The hard union man used his larrikin credentials to create an everyman image in the marketplace, and Abbott’s minders may well follow the same path.

Mike Newman, who crafted Labor’s election campaigns in the 1990s at Saatchi & Saatchi and now runs agency Seizmic, is another who sees a marketing hook in Abbott’s personality.

“He carries a lot of baggage and he was a spectacular problem at the last election,” Newman says.

“But also what he stands for is a kind of authenticity.

Abbott: I was charged with indecent assault
By Michelle Grattan
July 18, 2004
The Sun-Herald

“There is so much spin and weasel words in politics, but he comes across as the guy who is prepared to run things up the flagpole.

“He is an ideals-driven man and he is a blokey character.”

Newman jokes that the line that could deliver Abbott election victory is one that again talks to the former Howard heartland.

“The Liberals are back to the future,” he suggests.

“I think Abbott can get the public engaged and that is a huge part of marketing him.”

Rowan Dean, creative director of Euro RSCG, which last year created a lauded campaign for the Democrats on the ABC TV show The Gruen Transfer that the denuded party later adopted, says the brand makers should not fear having some fun with Abbott’s image.

“Budgie smugglers, not people smugglers,” Dean says. “Or for the women, `With ears like these I will always listen’.”

Dean is another who believes Abbott’s authenticity is the key.

“If he stays true to himself he will go OK,” Dean says. “There is an honesty about him I think people understand, but if he starts spinning he is dead because that is not who he is.”

Abbott’s climate doubts
Adam Morton and Tom Arup
August 17, 2010

The female vote poses a particular branding challenge for Abbott, and the marketers agree that his hardline stance on issues such as abortion, which has alienated many feminists, will require particular finesse to overcome.

“I think the women are going to be a tough call,” Mamo says. “So (in marketing Abbott) they will need to find things that unite people.”

Whereas Kevin Rudd’s brand was formed in the softly, softly mock aggression of his Sunrise stints alongside failed Liberal leadership candidate Joe Hockey, Abbott’s image has been formed in the blast furnace of Lateline, The Australian and The Bulletin.

When Rudd claimed the Labor leadership, one of the first marketing moves made by the party was to run an Australia Day advertisement of Rudd introducing himself to the Australian public, and the experts agree a “meet the real Tony Abbott” approach could be a campaign ice breaker and a way in which to eject some of his baggage.

Cyberspace will also prove critical to the Abbott brand.

Whereas Rudd and Obama embraced You Tube, Facebook and MySpace, Abbott and Rudd will go head to head on Twitter. And it is here, where the voters become the flagbearers of the brand, that the success or failure of marketing the Mad Monk will first become apparent.

Long before Labor pulls the election trigger, the support that YouTubers and Twitterer’s show for the Abbott brand will be like a canary in the coalition coalmine.

For the duration of his record term as Prime Minster, John Howard owed part of his electoral success to the efforts of lauded creative director Ted Horton and marketing consultant Toby Ralph.

Horton’s ability to tap into the psyche of middle Australia was legendary and was only found wanting in the end by a tired government, new marketing technology and desire for change. Tony Abbott will be the marketing challenge of 2010. That is the only result without doubt.

US trade union petition cites illegal anti union practices

15 08 2010

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – better known as AFL-CIO – has charged several top companies operating in the country’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) with routinely violating internationally recognised worker rights.

The charges are contained in a petition filed by the AFL-CIO in support of a move to stop Sri Lanka from continuing to be a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status before the United States Trade Representative.

Companies named in the petition include Smart Shirts Lanka Ltd; Brandix Finishing Ltd; New Design Manufacturing Ltd; G. P. Garment (Pvt) Ltd; Workwear Lanka, and Ceyenergy Electronic (PVT) Ltd. Two companies, Alitex (Pvt) Ltd and Star Garments, were named as having sufficiently resolved their problems and therefore taken off the list.

A Brandix spokesman told the Sunday Times that the petition was based on trade union complaints made more than two years ago, and that Brandix had forwarded a formal response at the time. “The allegations are old, the petition is being looked into only now,” the spokesman said.

The Sunday Times understands that other companies named have similarly responded to the petition.
“In many cases,” the AFL-CIO petition alleges, “union officers and members are suspended, demoted or terminated, and many have been the victims of violent assault. In other cases, employers have promoted non-union employees councils as a way to avoid or to weaken unions.”

The petition went on to say that employers frequently failed to pay into the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), and urged employers that had down-sized or closed down factories to pay workers the wages due to them.

“When complaints of labour violations are brought before the appropriate governmental authorities, unions allege that employers rarely attend the hearings and, when they do, they frequently violate the terms of settlements and/or arbitration awards with impunity,” the petition said.

The Sri Lanka government has been reluctant to enforce the law, the petition says, adding that management-controlled “employees’ councils” constitute one of the biggest problems at EPZ factories.
“The Sri Lankan government continues to allow the BoI [Board of Investment] employees’ councils to take root and spread unimpeded by the enforcement of national laws,” the petition says.

“The BoI has previously argued that workers’ councils are evidence that freedom of 22 association and collective bargaining are respected in the EPZs. To the contrary, workers’ councils are management-dominated. It is management that chooses most workers’ council representatives and stacks the councils with supervisors and office-based (rather than shop floor) workers.

“Also, management sets the schedules and agendas for meetings and limits discussions to marginal workplace issues, avoiding wages, hours and most conditions of work.”

In addition, managements have used employees’ councils to thwart unionisation efforts, the petition says. In some cases, management refuses to recognise the nascent union, and instead “bargains” directly with the employees’ council, as if the body were the legitimate representative body of the workers.

“In other cases, management will offer benefits to workers’ council members if they do not join the union, or threaten members of the workers’ councils if they do.” The petition cited the case of Work Wear Lanka, which “went so far as to register the workers council as a union – an application that was approved by the government.”

Unions have reported the recent use of workers councils to frustrate internationally recognizsd worker rights in several factories, including Synotex Lanka pvt Ltd and Star Garments Factory. The use of workers’ councils to subvert the will of workers to form a union is a clear violation of the right to organize and bargain collectively, the petition says.

“The EPZs are under the purview of the Board of Investment, which has its own Industrial Relations Department, under a Director of Industrial Relations. The BoI also has the autonomy to establish its own rules and standards. This fact, taken together with the fact that labour inspectors under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour cannot make unannounced visits to workplaces inside EPZs, substantially reduces the frequency and effectiveness of inspections,” the petition says.

The existence of separate industrial relations under the BoI continues to be prejudicial to the interests of workers. “It is important to note too that the BoI’s Chairman has always been a prominent business leader,” the petition says. “Thus, important governmental functions have been turned over to the private sector, which is less likely to recognise and guarantee the rights of workers in the zones.”

The unions have long called for the abolition of the BoI labour inspectorate and for putting the responsibility for inspections under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour. The petition notes that it is very difficult for anyone, even a labour inspector, to enter an EPZ.

“Anyone who seeks to enter the zone must present his or her national identity card at the gate and state the purpose of his visit to BoI security. Security will then call the factory to determine whether entry to the zone may be granted. If allowed, then a pass is issued and the vehicle may enter. All entrants must pay a fee of Rs. 60.”

The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers.

Unions warn of Abbott IR deals

15 08 2010
Josh Gordon

August 15, 2010

Unions have increased their attack on Tony Abbott over industrial relations, accusing him of entering into ”secret deals” with business groups to wind back unfair dismissal laws and reintroduce individual contracts.

Australian Council of Trade Unions chief executive Jeff Lawrence has claimed the Coalition has for months been quietly reassuring business leaders that Labor’s Fair Work Act would be overhauled if it wins the August 21 election – despite opposition claims to the contrary.

”They have explicitly promised to wind back protections from unfair dismissal, reintroduce individual contracts and reduce minimum standards in awards,” Mr Lawrence said.

The move comes as a major study by 30 academics concludes that employers have been the clear winners from a decade and a half of industrial relations changes, including WorkChoices.

The study, co-ordinated by Monash University, has concluded that changes since the Howard government was elected in 1996 have ”contributed to a decisive shift in the balance of power away from employees and institutions protecting them (e.g. tribunals and unions) and towards employers”.

The ACTU has compiled an extensive dossier of quotes from business leaders to make the case that business has a major agenda to ”wind back workers’ rights and hand more power to employers”. It includes demands for lower minimum standards, the removal of redundancy protections, watered down unfair dismissal laws and the reintroduction of individual contracts.

”No doubt big business is expecting a payback from the Liberals if they gain power,” Mr Lawrence said.

Mr Abbott began the election campaign by declaring that WorkChoices was ”dead, buried and cremated”, promising that Labor’s legislation would be left unchanged for three years.

But doubts emerged after opposition industrial relations spokesman Eric Abetz said the Coalition’s policy would involve ”tweaking” the legislation.

The ACTU is claiming that there are 198 ways that the legislation could be watered down through regulations and ministerial powers without actually changing Labor’s legislation.

Amid ongoing concern and a fierce advertising campaign from Labor and unions, the Coalition is expected to release a one-page statement on industrial relations tomorrow reiterating Mr Abbott’s pledge not to change Labor’s Fair Work Act for at least three years.

But the right-wing industrial relations think tank, the HR Nicholls Society, has backed the union claims that major changes to workplace relations could be made without changes to the law.

The Monash report said the industrial relations changes since 1996 had particularly hurt workers with limited bargaining power in low-paid service jobs, as well as young people and workers with English as a second language. These workers had experienced slower wages growth than the national average, bigger workloads and less job security, access to training and flexibility.

Monash professor Richard Mitchell said the study ”unequivocally shows that employers were the clear winners under the Coalition’s employment laws”.

Another contributor to the study from Monash, Dr Anthony Forsyth, said: ”While the Howard government did boost resources devoted to enforcement agencies . . . many long-established employment conditions were eroded during the years of the last federal coalition government.”