Trade Union Summer School

3 09 2010

From the Eureka Stockade to the defeat of Work Choices, the union movement in Australia has been our most important force for social progress and democracy, and our most important line of defence against exploitation, discrimination and privilege.

When organised labour has been strong, and confident in its own project, it has been able to defend and extend the rights of working people.

Just as importantly, it has reinforced other struggles for a better world – for a liveable environment, for the rights of women and oppressed minorities, and for peace and solidarity amongst peoples.

This has all taken place under left leaderships within unions.

Now as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the union movement confronts greater challenges than ever. It must face increasingly mobile and powerful corporations while shackled by anti-union and anti-worker laws, tackle the enormous challenge of global warming, and engage with governments determined to reduce it to irrelevance.

Winning Our Rights is a public forum for active unionists and workers that is focused on these enormous challenges. IT is an invaluable opportunity to learn from past struggles and develop practical proposals to strengthen left and progressive collaboration within our labour movement at a crucial time.


28 08 2010

Fair Work for Whom?

26 08 2010

Big Business Yes – Workers – No

Be careful what you wish for. Amidst the horse trading in the Senate over the Fair Work Bill one crucial fact has been lost. Despite their passionate commitment to rip up Work Choices, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have done the very opposite.

“The ALP were elected on the back of working people and the Your Rights at Work campaign. Now they are in Parliament, they have blatantly disregarded their promises to Aussie workers,” says the Bill’s greatest critic.

A video on the website shows the PM passionately condemning the same laws she has retained in the Fair Work Bill. The video highlights the hypocrisy of the legislature and the unfairness of the Fair Work Bill, demonstrating an about face by the ALP on industrial legislation that can only exist alongside the once removed practice of executive government. It

This video begs the question of whether our leaders are capable of bargaining in good faith with either the Australian people or a handful of independent MPs.

New Victorian UFU website Goes Live

26 08 2010

The New UFU web site has finally come on line after many months of meetings with UFU of A, Internet developer Atwone and all other UFU branches.

We are now  part of a national web site system that gives all states a similar look and feel but we still maintain autonomy within our own site.

The new web site gives the UFU the ability to keep members better informed via bulk email systems which means any UFU member that wants union emails sent to their home, can have this done by subscribing to the web site in the subscriptions box on the left lower side of the front page

BCOM Members will have access to a forum where messages can be left for each other.

We envisage we will also have a forum set up for delegates in the near future.

The new Retired firefighters section is available  for retirees to post pictures and stories of the past, present or recent events.

New and improved sections are the OH&S Section. There is a large amount of health and safety information in this section which has been put together by Phil Taylor (MFB) and Andrew Marmion (CFA).

There is also a National stories section where the UFU of A have the ability to input stories from around Australia so they can be shared by everyone.

All members and services covered by the Victorian UFU will be better represented on the union’s web site with the ability for members to send in pictures, stories or any local or service specific information that they may want posted. Such items will be posted into the UFU COVERED SERVICES section under the appropriate service.

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.”

Why Vote Greens?

20 08 2010

Bob Brown spoke yesterday at a Greens re-election rally to campaign workers and Greens supporters.

“This is a terrific moment in Greens history” he said, “because we are on the cusp of electing both a Greens senator out of Victoria into the national parliament, and a Greens representative out of Melbourne into the house of Representatives.”

Mr Brown also outlined the case for voting Green regardless of major party election outcomes.

“Julia Gillard has said this is a cliff-hanger election. This time Sunday we may have an Abbott government. What could be better than Adam Bandt, this person of integrity with the intellect he has, on the floor of the parliament, taking it up to an Abbott government for the next three years. And what could be better, if there is a Labor government, than not just having another Labor back-bencher in the house, but having a Green front-bencher, able to introduce legislation for a carbon tax, to tax the polluters and green the Australian economy.”


17 08 2010

By Brian Boyd, VTHC Secretary
17 August 2010

We didn’t rally around the country leading up 2007 to see anti-union reactionary Tony Abbott become Prime Minister, three years later!

When you cut through all the media hype and mis-information the issue is clear cut – it’s a No vote for Abbott.

Because the union movement’s highly successful campaign to see off John Howard (2005-07) has left an indelible impact on the electorate’s psyche. The undermining of rights at work by Howard’s WorkChoices laws was over the top. His hatred of workers being able to get together at work and collectively bargain dripped from his 1000 plus pages of draconian regulations. It wasn’t a de-regulation of the labour market as claimed. It was over–regulation, aimed at stopping workers having the effective right to organise.

The Gillard Fair Work Act 2009 saw only the partial return of those lost rights.

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.

In the lead up to this federal election the employer associations have not been shy in putting out publicly their wishlist for IR changes – all of these demands hark back to increasing WorkChoices–type restrictions on workers collective bargaining rights – including stricter right of entry rules for unions and more limitations on industrial action.

The national union movement is more circumspect. Some national union leaders argue they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ or “attract unwanted publicity” during the election period. This hasn’t earned them any ‘brownie points’ with the rank and file.

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.

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.

New ACTU President Ged Kearney said she wants ‘a second round of workplace relations law changes that would give greater protection to union delegates, scrap the Australian Building and Construction Commission, allow industrial action in pursuit of pattern bargaining and expand wage deals to include clauses on non–workplace matters such as climate change and business practices’ (The AFR 5/7/10).

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence recently said: “The fact is we still have a system that doesn’t provide for free bargaining. It still doesn’t provide for bargaining to take place in an appropriate way.” (The Australian 13/7/10).

Also 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.

While the Award and NES safety net is critical, collective bargaining will be the primary means by which improvements in workers’ wages and conditions will be achieved. This underscores the need for fair bargaining laws that respect the rights of workers to organise and be represented by their union, to have access to their union at work, and (subject to the better off overall test) to bargain freely about relevant matters.

Unions will campaign to ensure:

· The good faith bargaining system operates effectively (including access to multi-employer bargaining where appropriate) and collective bargaining rights are exercised across the workforce.

· The workers have effective rights to take protected industrial action if they choose.

· Workers have access to effective means for the settlement of disputes or grievances at work.

· The Award and NES safety net are secured and improved.

· There is recognition of the role of delegates, and they receive better protections and support (including the right to training).

· The views of workers are accorded the respect they deserve and there are improved rights to workplace consultation.

· The end to the discriminatory laws for building and constructions workers with the repeal of BCII Act and abolition of the ABCC.

· Stronger measures to reign in bogus contracting and improvements to the rights at work of independent contractors and home-based outworkers.

· Stronger protections for health and safety and no diminution of workers’ compensation.

· Pay equity for women workers, who saw the gender pay gap widened under the former Coalition government for the first time in 25 years.

· Greater job and income security, starting with the 100% protection of entitlements.

· Family friendly workplaces, including rights for employees to request work arrangements which allow them to care for families.

· That all levels of Government support quality Australian jobs and only purchase goods and services from corporations whose behaviour meets the highest standards, including respect for rights at work.

· Problems protecting the rights of 457 visa holders and migrant workers are addressed.

· The union movement is not asking the Gillard Government to legislate to do the unions work for them. They simply need a freer bargaining and organising regime, consistent with long standing ILO conventions so they can do what unions do – work for their members, free of draconian, pro-employer laws.

· Minister Crean said “he supports the ILO conventions”. It wouldn’t be difficult to amend the Fair Work Act to comply.