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Blue Mountains Unions & Community

News and views - Blue Mountains Unions Council (BMUC Inc.)

Updated: 2018-01-16T23:00:55.541+11:00


Trump – There's no other word but racist


Donald Trump has been branded a shocking and shameful racist after it was credibly reported he had described African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many of their citizens had ever been permitted to enter America.

US diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock that such crude remarks could ever be made in a semi-public meeting by the president of America.

In a strongly-worded statement, the UN said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist, while the Vatican decried Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive”.

‘Shithole countries’? Words worthy of a racist-in-chief

Trump initially allowed reported accounts of his comments to go unchallenged, but went into damage limitation mode on Friday, insisting he had not used derogatory words – but admitting that the language he had used at a meeting with Senators on immigration was “tough”.

But the democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was present at the meeting with Trump on Thursday – insisted that the reports were entirely accurate.

He said “those hate-filled things and did so repeatedly”.

“Shithole was the exact word used once not twice but repeatedly,” Durbin said, adding that the word was specifically used in the context of African countries.

The UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Trump's 'shithole countries' remark is racist, says UN

Salvador Sánchez, the president of El Salvador, said Trump’s words had “struck at the dignity of Salvadorans”.

“El Salvador formally protests and energetically rejects this kind of comment,” Sánchez wrote on Twitter.

US diplomats and the US embassy in San Salvador sought to assure those in El Salvador of their respect for the country. Jean Manes, the US envoy to El Salvador, tweeted in Spanish: “I have had the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans. It is an honour to live and work here. We remain 100% committed.”

Robin Diallo, the US chargé d’affaires to Haiti, was summoned to meet the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, to discuss the remarks. The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe expressed his dismay, saying Trump had shown “a lack of respect and ignorance”.

Across Africa there was diplomatic fury. Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist” and said the US ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the nation was regarded as a “shithole” country after years of cordial relations. Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable”.

The African Union said it was alarmed by Trump’s language. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” its spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told Associated Press.

“This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”

Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling ANC, said: “Ours is not a shithole country; neither is Haiti or any other country in distress. It’s not as if the United States doesn’t have problems. There is unemployment in the US, there are people who don’t have healthcare services.”

Unions offer assistance with victims’ submissions to Banking Royal Commission


12 January 2018

The ACTU is launching an online tool for victims of criminal and unethical activities by the big banks to submit their stories, which will then be presented to the Banking Royal Commission.
The Commission, frustratingly, has not yet allowed for public submissions, nor has it launched any of the submission infrastructure that was available during the Trade Union Royal Commission, which included a fully-staffed call centre just 14 days after that commission was established.

The ACTU knows that the extent of banking malpractice means that the number of people wanting to make their voices heard will be significant, and we want to ensure that all complaints against out of control sectors of the banking sector are heard.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The union movement is determined to ensure that all working people who have been exploited by the banks have their voices heard during the Banking Royal Commission.”
  • “The commission seems to be dragging its feet on allowing submissions, given that its deadline to report is only 9 months away. We are eager to do anything we can to enable more voices to be heard.”
  • “The commission should be given the full range of tools which have been made available to previous commissions.”
  • “To restrict this commission in any way will only confirm the suspicions of the Australian people that the Turnbull Government is more interested in protecting the banks than in ensuring that the system is fair for concerned Australians.”
  • “We encourage anyone who has been mistreated or ripped off by a bank to make use of this resource, and make sure that your voice is heard. 
  • It can be found at

Japan – Calls for immediate end of Nuclear Power


A group advised by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday unveiled details about a bill calling for an “immediate halt” to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power to prevent a recurrence of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The group is seeking to submit the bill to an upcoming Diet session in cooperation with opposition parties.

Sporting his signature leonine hairdo, Koizumi, one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers in recent memory, made a rare appearance before reporters with his unabated frankness, lashing out at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his persistent pro-nuclear stance.

“You may think the goal of zero nuclear power is hard to achieve, but it’s not,” Koizumi said, adding that he believes many lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party support nuclear power passively out of respect for Abe, but that they could be persuaded to embrace a zero-nuclear policy under a different leader.

“Judging from his past remarks, I don’t think we can realize zero nuclear power as long as Abe remains in power. But I do think we can make it happen if he is replaced by a prime minister willing to listen to the public,” Koizumi told a packed news conference organized by Genjiren, an anti-nuclear association for which he serves as an adviser along with Morihiro Hosokawa, another former prime minister.

Claiming that the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant exposed the “extremely dangerous” and “costly” nature of atomic power — with a means of disposing of spent fuel still not in sight — the bill drafted by Genjiren calls for Japan’s “complete switch” to renewable energy.

Specifically, it demands that all active nuclear reactors be switched offline immediately and that those currently idle never be reactivated. It also defines the government’s responsibility to initiate steps toward a mass decommissioning and to map out “foolproof and safe” plans to dispose of spent fuel rods.

The bill sets forth specific numerical targets, too, saying various sources of natural energy, including solar, wind, water and geothermal heat, should occupy more than 50 percent of the nation’s total power supply by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

That Japan has experienced no mass power shortage following the shutdown of all 48 reactors in the wake of the 2011 crisis, except for a handful since reactivated, is in itself a testament to the fact that “we can get by without nuclear power,” Koizumi said.

Harry Belafonte and Arlo Guthrie – Induction of Pete Seeger to Hall of Fame


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ACTU – Statement on Protests in Iran


9 January 2018

Statement from the ACTU:

Beginning on the 28th of December protesters took to the streets in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city. Demonstrations have quickly spread to other cities as Iranians protest the rising cost of living amid spiraling inflation and ongoing state repression. The authorities have reacted brutally, leading to scores of deaths and hundreds of arrests. Many of those detained have been accused of crimes against the state and “enmity against God”, a crime that carries the death penalty. 

The non-payment of wages is a major cause of the demonstrations, such as at the Haft Tapeh sugar production complex. Here workers have gone for over 4 months without pay following the privatisation of the facility. Those who attempt to engage in independent trade union activity have suffered severe repression, including torture and imprisonment on false charges such as the cases of Reza Shahabi, Esmail Abdi, Ebrahim Madadi.

Many Iranians believed that following the lifting of nuclear sanctions living standards would improve, but instead workers have seen their wages suppressed and conditions worsening. Since the signing of the nuclear deal, the economy has liberalised and foreign investment has begun to enter the country. To attract greater foreign investment the government is pushing rapid privatisation and lowering wages. This has benefited the already wealthy elite, but not working people. The unemployment rate has risen to 12.4 per cent, and youth unemployment, in a country where half the population is younger than 30, is at 40 per cent.

These brave protesters are fighting intolerable conditions, and demanding a life free from oppression and poverty. The global community must stand with them and ensure that the Government of Iran stops repressing trade union activity, allows freedom of association and collective bargaining, prevents companies from stealing wages and protects workers from aggressive privatisation.

ACTU – Glencore’s Oaky North 6 Month Lockout


10 January 2018

Workers at Glencore’s Oaky North site have today marked 6 months since they were locked out by their employer.

Despite the desperate tactics being employed by the company, the workers have stayed strong and have the full support of the Australian union movement. They will stay united for as long as it takes to show Glencore that intimidation and bullying of Australian workers will never be rewarded.

Glencore pays no tax in Australia and is exploiting our broken industrial relations system to try and slash wages and conditions for hard working, highly skilled workers at Oaky North. We cannot tolerate this and we have to change the rules.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:
  • “Glencore is a prime example of how broken the rules which once protected workers have become.”
  • “This is a company which makes massive profits from our natural resources, pays no tax on those profits, and is now trying to slash the pay of workers.”
  • “These workers are not on strike, they are not taking industrial action. They are keen to work, but the company is locking them out to deprive them of wages and a fair living. This company is trying to starve its workers and their families into submission.”
  • “The union movement will stand with these workers for as long as it takes. We won at CUB, we won at Streets, Glencore is working from a failed playbook.”
  • “Employers are pushing the envelope further and further every day. The increased use of lockouts, cancelation of agreements and other anti-worker tactics is alarming, but the union movement is equal to any challenge and we will change the rules.”

FSU – Super system failing women


The ACTU supports the FSU in pushing for changes to superannuation contributions to ensure that there is no gap in contributions while workers are on carers or parental leave.

The superannuation system is one of the great achievements of the Australian union movement but it was designed many years ago and fails to take into account the needs of modern working people, especially women, who need to take time out of work for caring and parenting responsibilities.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “We need to change the rules to ensure that all working people have a comfortable retirement.”
  • “The superannuation rules are failing women. Women on average retire with 47% of the super a man does.”
  • “We know that 85% of Australians have some form of caring responsibility, and many have to take time away from work to care for others.”
  • “It is categorically unfair that people with caring responsibilities, who spend months or years caring for others, should have a less secure retirement because of that.”
  • “The superannuation system needs to be brought up to date and made fit for purpose in 2018.”
  • “The work the FSU is doing on this issue is fantastic but we need systemic change so that all workers can benefit.”

ACTU – Vale Don McDonald


Statement from ACTU President Ged Kearney

(image) The ACTU joins with the entire Australian Union movement in mourning the loss of Don McDonald, who passed away last week after a battle with cancer.

Don was a fearless advocate for working people and dedicated his life to the improvement of the lives of others. During his time at the Builders Workers’ Industrial Union he was pivotal in winning workers’ compensation, superannuation and redundancy pay for construction workers, historic achievements which have benefited untold numbers of workers in the decades since.

Don also fought to get TAFE courses run during business hours, so that apprentices didn’t have to study at night after working all day.

After the amalgamation Don became a national official with the newly formed CFMEU.

Having experienced firsthand the devastating impact the illness can have, Don established NISAD, an organisation working to discover a cure for schizophrenia.

He will be sorely missed, and my thoughts are with his family and his brothers and sisters at the CFMEU during this time.

History of NSW Teachers Federation


Public EducationThroughout its history, Federation has campaigned long and hard on issues affecting public education, teachers' salaries and teachers' working conditions, those issues which are at the heart of teaching as a profession in New South Wales.The first Annual Conference of Federation in 1919 had listed as part of the agenda "inadequacy of teachers' salaries, understaffing of schools, unwieldiness of classes, insufficiency of accommodation, conducting of classes in sheds, corridors and unsuitable rooms to the detriment of the health of teachers and pupils". Other matters included "unhealthy congestion of school population in overgrown suburban schools, as against decentralisation into schools with a maximum enrolment of one thousand, the high percentage of unclassified and insufficiently trained teachers, inadequacy of supervision by heads of departments owing to class duties and absence of schools for the mentally disabled".  Federation continues to campaign on these issues. All go to the very heart of a quality public education delivery.In the years immediately following its establishment, Federation was concerned to increase its membership. In 1920 the membership of the Federation was 5,600 or 78% of the total membership of the Department of Education. At the end of the Twentieth Century membership was about 64,000. This number included permanent full time school, TAFE and AMES teachers, part time school, TAFE and AMES teachers and casual teachers as well as those teachers in other associated groups. Now, in the 21st Century, membership remains high.It was not until 1937 that the first organiser was appointed, following an Annual Conference decision of 1936 that stated "we are firmly of the opinion that, for a really effective increase in membership, it is necessary that some person be employed for the whole of their time organising the schools". More officers were progressively appointed. There are now 43 full time administrative officers, who service the needs of the membership and undertake recruitment activities. The First Aboriginal Education Coordinator being appointed in 1986.In 1961, 241,000 signatories for a National Education Petition were presented to the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, calling for Commonwealth funding to state schools. This was the culmination of a long campaign begun in the 1940s, to encourage the Commonwealth Government to fund certain programs in State schools. This number of signatories was a record which was only broken in 1993 by a petition calling for private health insurance to be tax deductible. (To this day such programs are funded by the Federal Government.) There is, of course, an ongoing dialogue with successive Federal Governments over equitable and adequate funding of Public Schools.Until 1968, the Union campaigned on the theme of "United Action", emphasising a community of interest between different sectors of the membership and the community, in policy development. Political, industrial and professional issues concerning public education were given focus and emphasis. There were significant advances - in 1946, for example, there was a major salaries breakthrough for teachers which gave the first realistic salary increases since 1920 and set the standard for other professional workers. The average gain was over 100 pounds for men and 80 pounds for women. Equal pay coming in 1963, with Federation among the first to gain this right for its female members.Federation made a major break with the past in 1968, its 50th anniversary, when the first state-wide strike was called over the appalling conditions in which teachers were working. The strike was an overwhelming success - the vast majority of members stopped work and the demonstration outside Parliament House is still remembered.Since then, industrial action has become a part of the Federation's [...]

Stephen McBurney gets ABCC War on Workers position


A new head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission has been appointed to replace Nigel Hadgkiss who resigned in September after admitting he contravened the Fair Work Act.

Stephen McBurney will begin a five-year term as commissioner from 6 February.

McBurney served as an assistant commissioner for the the Howard government anti-trade union ABCC from 2006 to 2008.

Another fat cat position for the Turnbull government in its War on Workers.

ACTU – Unions to fight casualisation of Australia's workforce


Unions have signalled they will campaign for significant legislative changes to reverse the casualisation of the Australian workforce.In an interview with the Australian, the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, said workforce casualisation would be a key priority for the union movement next year.“One of the key things we want to change for working ­people is turning around or reversing the casualisation of jobs,” she said.Unions seek dramatic pay increases to ensure minimum ‘living wage'McManus said she would lobby Labor to support a new definition of casual work, which would include workers who have a “reasonable expectation of ongoing work” and who are completing regular shifts.Unions also want legislative changes to give casual workers the ability to automatically convert to permanent employment after six months with the same employer.Brendan O’Connor, the shadow workplace relations minister, said Labor was committed to examining the casualisation of the Australian workforce and the ACTU’s proposals.He said “something has to be done”, and indicated the need for an objective test to ensure casual employment was being used for proper purposes.“Too often now we see people working as their main job in what employers are deeming to be casual, even when they work for years on end,” he said. “For that reason, Labor is committed to examining this.”Industry groups have immediately dismissed the proposals, saying they are not new and had already been considered and rejected by the Fair Work Commission.The federal government appears to have changed its focus on employment from the usual mantra of “jobs and growth” to the new slogan of “let’s keep Australians working”.Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash declared an economic revival fuelling strong jobs growth will be key to the coalition’s election fortunes, with her new super-portfolio to take centre stage.McManus said the old slogan was being canned because it was clearly not ringing true.“There’s been more jobs, but they’ve been casual jobs,” she told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday. “And growth? Well, we’ve seen profits grow but we haven’t seen wages grow. Wages are at a record low.”Labor’s O’Connor argued Australians did not need “patronising” or “insulting” slogans, but rather a government committed to ensuring wages were keeping up with prices.“We’d like the government to explore why is wage growth at its lowest in 20 years, and why are people confronted with only casual work, when in fact they have permanent families,” O’Connor said.“They need some sense of security in their workplace, they need opportunities at work that mean they can get a home loan or a car loan. But too often, you see that’s not happening.”The union’s proposal for automatic casual conversion was already considered in detail by the Fair Work Commission earlier this year, as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards.The ACTU had argued to the commission that casual employment was being improperly and unfairly used for “a significantly large category of workers” in a manner that undermined Australia’s safety net.Many casual workers were permanent in all but name, the union argued, and were afforded significantly inferior rights and conditions, despite working regularly for the same employer.That accords with the findings of the most recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) study, which found 60% of workers who self-identified as casuals were doing regular shifts for an employer they had been with for at least six months.But the commission rejected the union’s conversion proposal, and instead gave workers the right to request a conversion to permanent employment after 12 months of regular work.A[...]

Australian Unions Team – Cash out for Christmas


Senator Cash, the Minister who brought you raids on union offices, failed anti-worker legislation, and attacks on the rights of working people, has been removed from industrial relations responsibilities.It’s good news to end the year on.Minister Cash has spent her entire time in charge of industrial relations running nakedly political, ham-fisted attacks on working people. Raids, Royal Commissions, wage cuts and misuse of public funds.  Now, wage growth is at record lows, and 40 per cent of Australians are in insecure work.  It’s a terrible legacy. $4/hr jobs, penalty rate cuts, and 1 in 10 jobs are going to visa workers.But that’s not why Cash lost her job. Cash lost her responsibilities for industrial relations because people like you took action. The Prime Minister’s hand was forced. Cash was a liability.People like you who put pressure on Cash in her own backyard, chipped in to run billboards and radio ads in Perth and to keep up the pressure about the need to change the rules so working people have basic rights. This year, we faced incredible threats to the rights on working people, led by Senator Cash. In the last six months, we had five pieces of legislation put into the parliament to attack working people and their unions. So far, none has passed, after a massive people powered effort to call on the rest of the Parliament to oppose the anti-worker agenda.These bills would have made it harder for working people to organise to get a pay rise. They would have given more power to big business. More power to the big banks over working people’s savings. And more power to organisations like the union raiding ROC and the ABCC.As ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said at a speech earlier this year:You can outlaw us. You can vilify us every day with your media might. You can set up Royal Commissions. You can tap our phones, you can raid our offices. You can vilify and punish our leaders. You can bring in laws to make our work harder. You can take away the support for unions to grow, and refuse to acknowledge that we exist. You can fine us, and jail us.But you will never defeat us.We’ve got a big job to Change the Rules for working people. But we can do it, by working together. We got rid of Cash, we prevented their legislation passing the house, for now, and we are changing the story about the sort of country we want to live in. Because of people like you.You’ve shown this year that by stepping up you can help workers. Workers at Fletcher Insulation, Streets Ice-Cream, Parmalat, PPG Industries, Woolworths, Chin Chin, and many, many more workplaces have won their jobs back or improved their pay and conditions because we all stepped up.Can’t wait to do it all again in the new year. Enjoy your holidays. You’ve earned it. And to everyone working over the break, we thank you. Australian Unions Team Can you spare 10 minutes over the break to complete the Change the Rules survey and share it with your networks? Thanks![...]

Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowships for 2018 Announced


Augusto Sarmento Dos Reis –––– Maria Pricilia Fonseca XavierTwo journalists from East Timor will benefit from the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship in 2018, an initiative of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.They were chosen from four outstanding applications assessed by a selection panel in Australia.The next recipients of funding from the fellowship, which aims to nurture the development of journalism in East Timor are:Maria Pricilia Fonseca Xavier, a journalist and news broadcaster in Tétum and Portuguese at Timor-Leste Television (TVTL).Augusto Sarmento Dos Reis, senior sports journalist and online co-ordinator at the Timor Post daily newspaper and website.The Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has been established to honour the memory of the six Australian journalists murdered in East Timor in 1975, and to improve the quality and skill of journalism in East Timor.The applications were assessed by a panel of MEAA Communications Director Mark Phillips; Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Organiser Trade Union Development & Education for Timor-Leste and Indonesia, Samantha Bond; Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Jock Cheetham; and former television journalist and newsreader Mal Walden, who was a colleague of three of the Balibo Five.The successful applicants will be provided with funding to assist them with specific journalistic projects in Timor. It is anticipated that each will also be offered the opportunity to travel to Australia in 2018 to spend some time observing and working in an Australian newsroom.MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said all the applications were again of a high quality and representative of the diversity of journalism in East Timor.“We are well aware that is not easy to work as a journalist in Timor-Leste, and journalists face many hurdles including a lack of resources and training, and attacks from the government on press freedom,” he said.“But we are delighted that the successful applicants represent both print/online and broadcast media, and there is a balance between genders.“Both Pricilia and Augusto are young journalists with impressive track records and a thirst to succeed in their chosen profession.”Kate Lee, executive director of Union Aid Abroad-Apheda, said: “We are delighted to again be able to partner with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to support the development of independent journalism in Timor Leste through the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship and look forward to seeing some great investigative work from Pricilia and Augusto in 2018”Funding for the Balibo Five-Roger East Fellowship has come from MEAA, the Fairfax Media More Than Words workplace giving program, and private donations.The fellowship was established on the 40th anniversary of the murders of the Balibo Five in 1975.Last year, four journalists successfully applied for funding from the fellowship, while separately the fellowship assisted Timorese journalist Raimundos Oki to spend a week with Fairfax Media in Sydney in September.The fellowship carries the names of six journalists who were murdered by Indonesian forces in East Timor in 1975.Five young journalists working for Australia’s Seven and Nine networks – reporter Greg Shackleton, camera operator Gary Cunningham, sound recordist Tony Stewart (all from Seven), reporter Malcolm Rennie and camera operator Brian Peters (both from Nine) – were killed in the village of Balibo after witnessing an incursion by Indonesian soldiers on October 16, 1975. Their killers have never been brought to justice.Freelance reporter Roger East, a stringer for the ABC and AAP who provided the first confirmed accounts of the killing of the Bali[...]

Trump Self Dealing Tax Bill – Haunted Future


Jubilant Republicans took a victory lap at the White House on Wednesday to mark what they called a historic day. 

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, praised Trump for “exquisite presidential leadership”. But in coming months and years, analyses such as the CAP’s could come back to haunt them.

Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow at the thinktank, said: “I think that the American people, whether they receive a tax increase or tax cut from this bill, are outraged that President Trump, his cabinet, and members of Congress stand to receive big payouts from this tax bill. The extent of the self-dealing became especially apparent when a last-minute provision benefitting the real estate industry was inserted at the last minute.”

Hanlon added: “Trump, of course, promised to release his tax returns, like every president since the 1970s, but has brazenly gone back on his word. Congress has the full power to obtain and release Trump’s tax returns, but the Republican majority has buried its head in the sand.

“Still, there is no doubt that Trump is getting major new tax cuts from this bill – at the same time as it preserves special loopholes, like the deductions Trump reportedly takes on his golf courses. These are just one illustration of the venality and corruption behind this bill.”

Despite White House promises that the tax overhaul would focus on the middle class, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a thinktank in Washington, estimates that middle-income households will see an average tax cut of $900 next year under the bill, while the wealthiest 1% will enjoy an average cut of $51,000.

TJ Helmstetter, communications director of Americans For Tax Fairness, said: “This is not tax reform, it’s a money grab by the ultra-wealthy, including the multimillionaires in Congress and Trump’s own cabinet, who will benefit. When all is said and done, over 80% of the tax cuts will wind up in the pockets of the top 1%. Meanwhile, all of this will be paid for by the middle class and families who are struggling to get by.”

ACTU – Cash out, Laundy in: a welcome end to Cash’s attacks on working people


19 December 2017

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus  

“Senator Cash’s tenure as Minister responsible for Industrial Relations has been marked by repeated attempts to remove rights for working people and indifference to the real life issues facing working families.”

“Under Cash, working people’s wage growth was the lowest on record. 40 percent of the workforce is insecure work. Working people have fewer rights, and are struggling to pay the bills. Yet she oversaw the cuts to penalty rates for our lowest paid workers, opposed increases to the minimum wage, allowed wage theft and the abuse of people on work visas to become business models.”

  • As Minister, Cash mislead the Parliament about her role in a raid on union offices on no fewer than five occasions. She thought nothing of going to the media with made up stories about working people to suit her agenda. Under her tenure, life work working people has got harder, but her attention was always on making the work of unions harder.”
  • “Cash opposed Family and Domestic Violence leave and removed it from her own workers whilst withholding pay increases.”
  • “She appointed Nigel Hadgkiss to head the anti-worker ABCC despite knowing that he had broken the laws he would be responsible for enforcing, and then used tax payers’ money to pay his fines.”
  • “In the end, everyone saw she had no credibility. She was driven by ideological obsession to hurt working people and their unions, and it is that obsession which has ended her role as Minister”.
  • “Australia faces a crisis of insecure work and record low wage growth which now must be addressed.”

“We call on the new Minister, Craig Laundy, to focus on the real issues facing working people and their families and to end the ideological war his Government has been taking to those who are on the side of working people”

Eaten Fish, Manus Island's Refugee Cartoonist Escapes from Dutton–Turnbull prison


Eaten Fish, Manus Island's refugee cartoonist, given sanctuary in northern Europe Ali Dorani thanks supporters after being granted artist’s residency through International Cities of Refuge NetworkEaten Fish’s self-portrait. The cartoonist left Papua New Guinea last week after more than four years on Manus Island. Photograph: Eaten FishBen DohertyThe Manus Island refugee and cartoonist Ali Dorani has left Papua New Guinea for refuge in northern Europe.Known by his nom de plume Eaten Fish, Dorani left PNG last week. He spent more than four years in the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Manus Island, where he suffered acute persecution and dangerously poor physical and mental health.The terrible true story of Mr Eaten Fish, Manus Island cartoonistHe took the name Eaten Fish after he was rescued from the ocean when the boat carrying him to Australia broke up and sank. He was taken to Manus Island in August 2013.Dorani was freed through the efforts of the International Cities of Refuge Network, a network of cities and regions that offer long-term residencies to writers and artists who face persecution because of their work, and the Victorian poet and refugee advocate Janet Galbraith, who campaigned on Dorani’s behalf.“I have left PNG, it was a long journey but I am safe now,” Dorani said from his new home, where he will live for at least the next two years. “I am thinking about my friends in Manus Island and Port Moresby. Thank you to my supporters and people who worked to make this journey happen.”During his time in detention, Dorani chronicled his life in the refugee camp through his work, depicting life in the camp, including watching his friend Faysal Ishak Ahmed die. His work was published around the world, including in the Guardian, and the Washington Post, and by the ABC.He was backed by a network of cartoonists and artists from across the world, who drew in support to “Free Eaten Fish”.During his time in detention, Galbraith told the Guardian Dorani was frequently targeted by some guards and occasionally by other detainees. He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.“He arrived in Manus as a young man who was already quite a vulnerable person and I remember being told by some of the workers there that this guy just doesn’t fit here at all, it’s so dangerous for him,” she said.Cartoonists ​draw tributes in campaign for freedom of refugee artist held on Manus Read more“That has played out. He has severe OCD, he will wash his clothes or body for hours and still feel like it’s disgusting. He will wash himself until he’s bleeding.”Dorani was recognised by the Cartoonists Rights Network International which awarded him its Courage in Editorial Cartooning award in 2016.The International Cities of Refuge Network’s program director, Elisabeth Dyvik, said Dorani’s freedom would not have been possible without the advocacy of the cartoonists’ network, Galbraith and the Guardian’s First Dog on the Moon.“We are relieved that Eaten Fish has arrived safely in a city of refuge where he is free to pursue his career as a cartoonist. Icorn would also commend the city of refuge that has invited him to be the city’s Icorn resident for the next two years.”Dorani is the second refugee from Australia’s Manus Island camp to be granted protection through a private resettlement arrangement.In November the Iranian refugee Amir Taghinia moved to Vancouver after a group of Canadian citizens privately sponsored him to resettle there.“I am so thankful,” Taghinia told the Guardian. “I really respect these people, I now consider them as part of my family. I a[...]

ACOSS – MYEFO undone by more mean-spirited social security cuts


In responding to today’s release of the Federal Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, ACOSS said the improved outlook for the Australian economy has been overshadowed by further cruel cuts to vital social security payments for some of the most disadvantaged groups in our community.

ACOSS Director of Policy and Advocacy, Edwina MacDonald, said “The improved outlook provides the government with the perfect opportunity to strengthen our social safety net. Instead, at a time when we should be raising payments for people with the least, we are seeing further cuts to social security.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the government has decided once again to target the social security payments of the most vulnerable with a further $1.8 billion dollars in cuts. This is on top of $1.3b of cuts already before the parliament, and around $12b in the past five years.

“It is cruel to make newly arrived migrants wait three years to access benefits, including Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental leave and Carers’ Allowance. This will create an underclass of migrants – new arrivals who find themselves at even more risk financially as they try to settle into Australia.

“We know that migrants have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to our society. This will hurt people who lose their job, people who need to care for a child with disability, or a family member with a terminal illness. It will disproportionately affect women and see more children live in poverty. This will drive more people to our charities for meeting the essentials of life, such as food and shelter.

“The government is extending the freeze to Family Tax Benefit supplements and income thresholds, which means families will have to cover higher living costs with less. FTB supplements have been frozen since 2010.

“The government’s stubborn refusal to take drug testing off the table runs counter to all expert advice from health and addiction professionals and bodies, as well as the Parliament.

“We welcome the cessation of the punitive and ineffective School Enrolment and Attendance Measure. The small investment in programs to help retrenched workers is a good step, but falls short of what is needed to address the larger problem of long-term unemployment.

“We agree that investment in essential services must be guaranteed.

“However, the Treasurer has used MYEFO to reassert his government’s case for business tax cuts in 2018. ACOSS has consistently argued that the priority of the Federal Parliament must be securing the public revenue we need to fund essential services like the NDIS, healthcare, education, social housing and social security payments.

“It is unjustifiable to slash the incomes of people with the least to pave the way for election year tax cuts.”

ANC – Election of Cyril Ramaphosa


South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has elected Cyril Ramaphosa, the country's deputy president, as its new leader.

Ramaphosa will become the country's next president should the ANC win South Africa's general elections in 2019.

The ANC has finished first in every national vote since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

Ramaphosa was born in 1952 in Soweto, a township southwest of the Johannesburg city centre, and went on to study law at the University of the North at Turfloop.

He subsequently joined student politics and served as the branch leader of the South African Students' Association.

Ramaphosa was detained on a series of occasions due to his activism and finally finished his law degree through correspondence via the University of South Africa.

In the 1980s, he became an active member of the National Union of Mineworkers, serving as its general secretary for nine years.

Ramaphosa was elected general secretary of the ANC in 1991, and in the years that followed was a key negotiator on behalf of the party during South Africa's transition to democracy.

After the country's first democratic elections in 1994, he became a member of parliament and helped write and review the post-apartheid constitution.

He was also considered as a potential deputy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, but lost that position to Thabo Mbeki, who became president of the country in 1999.

Ramaphosa became involved with Black Economic Empowerment ventures in business, especially mining and farming, and is today one of South Africa's wealthiest people.

MUA – CSL Replaces Local Workers with Highly Exploited Foreign Crews


Posted by Mua communications on December 12, 2017

One of Australia’s largest coastal shipping companies, Canadian Shipping Lines Australia (CSL) has dramatically increased the use of foreign seafarers in coastal trades in a blatant attempt to undermine employment conditions and jobs on Australia’s coastal shipping routes.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) today warned CSL will face increased scrutiny and union campaigning following their decision to introduce yet another foreign crewed vessel - the Diane - to shipping routes between Australian ports, effectively displacing local seafarers and their jobs.

Local seafarers have also been replaced on vessels Adelie and Acacia which were previously named the CSL Thevenard and the CSL Brisbane.

MUA assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said “CSL are in our sights they have used dodgy offshore tax havens to try and obscure ownership of these ships. They told the union and workers they had sold the vessels to a foreign entity. Inspectors from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have uncovered clear documentary proof on board that the vessels are owned by CSL Australia despite the fabrications of the company.”

“The increase in foreign shipping coupled with the removal of Australian seafarers from their jobs has seen CSL Australia’s local content massively reduce to around 28% of their operations. Effectively 72% of the company’s work in Australia has now been hived off to exploited foreign crews while Australian seafaring jobs have evaporated. This is completely offensive when the same vessels continue to operate on our own coast after our members have been sacked.”

“This has been a persistent attack by CSL. They have hidden the reality of vessel ownership and sacked Australian workers at the same time engaging highly exploited foreign crews to undertake the exact work and trading patterns previously undertaken by Australian workers. It is nothing but a rort and must be stopped or the industry will simply wither away.  Unfortunately, the Turnbull Government supports this, even helping to facilitate these actions through the constant issuance of Temporary Licences despite the local tax-paying workforce being decimated.

“This is the first step in an ongoing campaign which will shine a light on CSL’s dodgy dealings,” Mr Smith said.

A new disturbing element to this decision by CSL was uncovered with the release of the Paradise Papers. It showed CSL using the services of disgraced law firm, Appleby, to obscure the ownership of the ships in secrecy jurisdictions.

The MUA calls on CSL to put Australian seafarers back to work on all vessels that trade on the Australian coast.

ACTU – MYEFO contains more trickle down economic fantasies


18 December 2017

Today’s MYEFO contains more trickle down economic fantasies, with nothing to help working people get a pay rise, or address the increasing casualisation of the workforce.

Rather than assisting working people get a pay rise and a secure job, this Government has attacked unions, cut penalty rates, and refused to support increases to the minimum wage – yet it continues to forecast strong wage growth. 

The Turnbull Government has been forced to revise down their baseless and fictional wage growth estimates from just six months ago, however the projections remain unrealistic and the Government has done nothing to break wage growth out of a record slump.

MYEFO also includes a massive $2.1 billion cut to higher education, and a lowering of the higher education loan repayment threshold by $11,000 compared to the current threshold to barely more than the minimum wage – a massive tax slug to all university and TAFE graduates.

Net debt is still increasing. Net debt in 17-18 was projected to be $264 billion in 2014-15 Budget and is estimated to be $354.9 billion in this MYEFO

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australians need a pay rise. Corporate profits continue to rise while working people are dealing with record low wage growth. MYEFO contains the government’s predictions that wages will rise, but they are without justification or evidence.”
  • “The Turnbull Government has attacked unions, making it harder for people to get pay rises, while doing nothing to address casualisation, the increased use of contracting, underemployment and the cancellation of agreements.”
  • “Working people faced with electricity bills increasing 539% faster than CPI, gas prices increasing 356% faster, childcare increasing 161% faster and car fuel costs increasing 317% faster know that their livings standards are falling while Malcolm Turnbull does nothing to ensure their wages keep pace.  
  • “Workers are being told they can’t take action to increase they pay or protect their jobs yet the Turnbull government thinks that somehow wages will miraculously increase.  The rules for getting a pay rise are broken, until the rules are changed, it is hard to see how Australian’s pay can increase.
  • “The threshold for repayment for higher education loans has been lowered to $45,000 - just $9,000 per year above the minimum wage. This will take money out of the pockets of people who have just finished university or TAFE just as they are trying to establish their own lives.”
  • “If this Government wanted to see its forecasts become reality, it would support unions in pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and stop 700,000 low paid workers getting their penalty rates cut. It would stop making it hard for working people to bargain, and it would work with unions to change the rules.”
  • “The Turnbull Government’s latest forecast is strong on fantasy and weak on the real conditions faced by working people.”

Britain to celebrate 100th anniversary of women winning right to vote


Millicent Fawcett
Seven areas across England are to host projects in 2018 to mark 100 years since women in Britain were first allowed to vote, Minister for Women and Equalities Anne Milton announced Friday.

To mark the milestone event the government's "centenary cities" -- Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham -- will all stage a range of exciting projects to celebrate as well as remember the individuals who helped win votes for women. 

And government funding of a million pounds will help pay for the celebrations.

The program forms part of the government's wider plans to promote this pivotal moment in history, including the addition of the first female statue in Parliament Square of suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett, due to be unveiled in 2018. 

"The initiatives and commemorations that will take place across the country next year aim to help inspire and educate young people about UK democracy and its importance, as well as encourage more women to get into political and public life," said a spokeswoman for the Department for Education.

Although women in Britain won the right to vote in 1918, it was not the end of the campaign. Only females aged 30 or over were allowed to vote. It would be another decade before women won equality with men and were allowed to vote at 21. The age for both sexes has since been lowered to 18.

MUA – Victory For Workers Rights and Conditions


Wearing a dark T-shirt and blue jeans, the first speaker steps to the front of the podium. He is a sturdy man, tanned skin, a beard down to his chest."Comrades," says the unionist, Will Tracey, into the microphone loudly. "We have a very serious issue."Beyond them, over at the wharves, are rows of towering gantry cranes and multi-coloured shipping containers – red, blue, orange and grey.The noise from the rally is extremely loud, but across the road at the Port of Melbourne, all is quiet. High stacks of shipping containers are sitting idle on the docks. They have been forcibly stranded here for the past two weeks.Twenty years on from the infamous 1998 waterfront dispute, when Patrick stevedores locked out 1400 maritime union members, the docks of Melbourne this month emerged as the scene of an escalating union war; this time, engulfing the port's newest stevedore, Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT).What happened here, though, was not just about power and pay on the wharves. It was also representative of a new brand of militancy that has become part of the playbook of the wider labour movement and its peak bodies, who believe our workplace laws are "broken".Outside VICT, since the start of December, a pro-union picket line defied repeated court orders and spent an entire fortnight maintaining an around-the-clock presence, illegally blockading its terminal access gates so neither trucks nor staff were able to enter.Caught in the crossfire of the feud were more than 1000 shipping containers carrying millions of dollars of Christmas retail goods, fresh food, and medicine. Among them were 22 tonnes of Oreo cookies, 25 tonnes of milk powder, 26 tonnes of beer, 40 tonnes of coffee, 58 tonnes of sports shoes, 97 tonnes of peanut butter and 170 tonnes of cheese.The cargo was being "held hostage" by the unions, employer groups said, and so too were the fortunes of stevedores, freight companies and the wider supply chain.The union action was part of a protest against what unions claim was an underhanded strategy by the stevedore to smash the power of the maritime union by supposedly targeting and terminating a casual wharf worker, Richard Lunt, who had been leading a union campaign."We certainly can't have a company that stands over people who are willing to stand up for unions inside that gate," Mr Tracey roared to the crowd, over the podium scaffolding."We have a company ... that's trying to destroy the MUA's rightful place on the waterfront."At the centre of this stand-off were accusations that VICT was engaging in "union-busting" tactics after terminating Mr Lunt. The company said it was because he had been identified as ineligible for the security clearance required to work on the docks due to a 20-year-old criminal conviction. The union claimed  he was singled out because he had been leading a union campaign inside the terminal.A broader issue, it is plainly clear, was that VICT had circumvented the Maritime Union of Australia to strike a wage deal that paid vastly inferior rates compared to the city's other waterfront operators.Under the VICT agreement, a different union, the Maritime Officers Union of Australia, is the lead party. It was signed up by between five and 10 higher-paid supervisors, on behalf of the current workforce of more than 120.The MUA claimed a victory on Friday, finally calling off the picket line, after the company ceded to pressure and reinstated Mr Lunt on its books. The company would continue to pay him, but he would[...]

ACTU – Racist work-for-the-dole program must be scrapped


15 December 2017

Statement from ACTU Secretary Sally McManus

The ACTU has renewed calls for the Community Development Program to be scrapped after a Senate inquiry into the Program found that the program is causing harm to its overwhelmingly Indigenous workforce.

The racist work-for-the-dole scheme does not pay wages for the 25 hours of work participants have to do every week in order to receive welfare benefits, hands out penalties at a rate and magnitude higher than any other employment scheme and forces workers to work without OHS protections, leave entitlements superannuation or worker’s compensation in the event of injury at work.

We reject any further reviews. All workers should be paid legal wages for work. This program is racist and denies people basic rights all other workers receive. The Government should focus on real jobs in regional and remote communities instead.

The ACTU is committed to ensuring all workers in Australia are protected by Australian law and are paid a legal wage for their work.

This Abbott/Turnbull program should shame all Australians. Minister Nigel Scullion, whose lack of action despite a mountain of evidence that his program has failed and is causing harm, is alarmingly negligent.

We further condemn the decision of the Minister to release a review of the program. We don’t need a review. We need the program scrapped.

Statement from ACTU Indigenous Officer Lara Watson

The ACTU has been talking to people affected by this program since it began and we’ve been hearing what the Minister refuses to, that it is ripping employment and money out of communities, leading to desperation and hunger.

We have had an open invitation for the Minister to meet with the only organisation which is representing workers in CDP, the FNWA, and with ACTU leadership, since mid-2016, but this has gone unanswered.

The program must be scrapped, Indigenous workers must be given the same rights, opportunities and treatment before the law that all workers in Australia should be able to expect.

Jeremy Corbyn's Peace Prize Ignored


Jeremy Corbyn's Peace Prize Ignored By Maybot FawnersAs the majority of the British mainstream media disingenuously fawns over Theresa May’s pitiful capitulation to the European Union’s Brexit demands, there has been an incredibly conspicuous radio silence regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s latest achievement.On Friday, after his landmark speech in Geneva, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was awarded with a highly prestigious . But you certainly wouldn’t know it from looking at the mainstream media.Along with political activist and historian Noam Chomsky, Corbyn was handed the Sean McBride Peace Prize – a prestigious award dedicated to the memory of peace campaigner Sean MacBride, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1974.Corbyn was handed the prestigious award for his ‘sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace’, and, unlike almost all other mainstream Western politicians, for looking for ‘alternatives to war’.The full press release from the International Peace Bureau reads:Jeremy Corbyn – for his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace. As an active member, vice-chair and now vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK he has for many years worked to further the political message of nuclear disarmament. As the past chair of the Stop the War Campaign in the UK he has worked for peace and alternatives to war. As a member of parliament in the UK he has, for 34 years continually taken that work for justice, peace and disarmament to the political arena both in and outside of Parliament. He has ceaselessly stood by the principles, which he has held for so long, to ensure true security and well-being for all – for his constituents, for the citizens of the UK and for the people of the world. Now, as leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition he continues to carry his personal principles into his political life – stating openly that he could not press the nuclear button and arguing strongly for a re-orientation of priorities – to cut military spending and spend instead on health, welfare and education.As well as winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the namesake of the award, Sean MacBride, was a founding member of Amnesty International, a hugely successful charity set up by ‘ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights.’Despite the significance of such an award being handed to a mainstream British politician, the only outlets to report the story were The Skwawkbox and Vox Political. Had Theresa May or any other establishment lackey been awarded with a prestigious International Peace Award, can you seriously imagine the entire media would ignore it?Of course they wouldn’t. It would be plastered all over the news. And everyone knows it.However, as we saw in the lead up to all of our recent disastrous military interventions, the British media, rather than holding power to account, acts as a sort of post-colonial establishment cheerleader – desperately and disgustingly baying for foreign blood at whatever cost.War gives such publications the emotive headlines they require for people to continue buying them, and world peace certainly wouldn’t be considered a money spinner for the future.Combined with the fact that the current financial and political status quo only genuinely benefits the already super-rich owners of such media outlets, it is little wonder that there has been absolutely no covera[...]

John Falzon V. Social Services Minister Porter


Dr. John FalzonIn 1952 a Catholic newspaper in Ireland proclaimed: “The welfare state is diluted socialism and socialism is disguised communism.”Extreme? Yes. Dated? No. When you listen to the dying declarations of the spear-carriers for neoliberalism, it’s hard not to hear the same alarmist codswallop.The logic goes like this: being unemployed and poor is bad because people choose to be unemployed or poor. If you receive income support, it is because you are unemployed and poor. Therefore, receiving income support is bad. Therefore, removing income support is good. Coincidentally, this means more money for the rich and less for the poor.Social services minister Christian Porter’s recent National Press Club address was replete with denunciations of the “politics of envy” associated with redistributionist policies, as well as the “morally unacceptable” nature of social expenditure because it means placing a debt burden on the children of today to pay off as the adults of tomorrow.These are old tropes. Joe Hockey used them regularly when he was treasurer. The intergenerational framework is always going to be a useful means of distracting from the uncomfortable reality of class inequality in the current generation.A false divide is constructed between those who have a job (and pay taxes) and those who don’t.It is time that we did away with this fictitious divide. It was always false. It implied that the low-paid cleaner had more in common with the mining magnate than with the person who is locked out of the labour market.But now, especially as we try to understand the future of work and the massive changes to the structure of the labour market, it is time we consigned this nonsense to the rubbish bin of ideological history.People who are low paid, casually employed, underemployed, unemployed, informally employed, on dodgy contracts, women who work as unpaid or low-paid carers, students who take whatever work they can get and remain silent about the indefinite training wages, sole parents, people with a disability, aged pensioners, veterans; all have more in common with each other and with other members of the working class than we dare admit.The proposed welfare bill will push people further into poverty. We have to stand together against itBy recognising this commonality, we can begin to reframe the way in which so-called welfare dependency and the “injustice” and “immorality” of social expenditure is presented. This is crucial at a time when the government has ruled out increasing the woefully inadequate Newstart payment, which has not seen an increase in real terms since 1994.The discussion needs some perspective. We have a minimum wage that sits at around 40% of the average weekly earnings and a Newstart payment that sits at around 40% of the minimum wage. The minimum wage is not a living wage and the unemployment benefit is not even a pale shadow of a living wage. And we see the consequences at the St Vincent de Paul Society every day, where topping up from charitable assistance has become the norm for many people simply to survive.We need a solid jobs plan, and full employment should be a policy priority. Instead we keep getting served up a putting-the-boot-into-the-unemployed-plan and a slashing-social-expenditure-plan. Behavioural approaches won’t fix structural problems.The government can blame people all they like but this won’t address[...]