unions

Anti-union bill defeated, but relying on racist Hanson is no strategy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/12/2019 - 4:36pm in

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unions

Unions have
dodged a bullet after Morrison’s Ensuring Integrity Bill was narrowly defeated
in the Senate last week. But we can’t rely on lobbying One Nation and the
Senate crossbench to stop the Liberals. The Ensuring Integrity Bill is now being
brought back to Parliament, but is not likely to be voted on until next
year. 

The ACTU has
claimed the result as a victory for people power, saying “the efforts of
ordinary workers defeated this bill” after “months of intense campaigning”.

One Nation and
Jacqui Lambie joined Labor and The Greens to vote the bill down.

But with union
movement still reeling from the failure of the Change the Rules campaign to
defeat Morrison at the election, the whole campaign amounted to no more than
appeals to email Senators, combined with lobbying efforts in Canberra. There
was not a single demonstration or stopwork rally.

The ACTU claims
it was able to convince Hanson that anyone who voted for the bill would be seen
as “union bashers”.

Central
Queensland CFMMEU organiser Chris Brodsky, formerly with the mining division
and now at the construction division, was credited with organising numerous
meetings between union officials and One Nation. 

The new laws would
make it even harder for unions to effectively organise by increasing the
sanctions for unlawful strike action by providing for the disqualification of
militant union officials and the threat of deregistration for whole unions.

But the answer
is not to retreat from protest or stopwork action. Behind-the-scenes lobbying
efforts do not build working class power or the fighting ability of the unions.

Mass
demonstrations against the Ensuring Integrity Bill would have shown very
clearly the strength of opposition in the community. And, crucially, they would
also build more confidence to keep fighting Morrison’s anti-worker agenda.

There is no
guarantee that One Nation or Lambie won’t backflip when the bills is next
introduced—Lambie’s capitulation to Dutton over the repeal of the refugee
Medevac legislation shows that. Hanson and Lambie have said that they would
support a bill that was more targeted on the CFMMEU. Hanson is trying to
position her party as holding to account both the “big unions” and the “big
corporations” like Westpac.

Rather than
celebrate, we need a strong call from the ACTU for demonstrations and industrial
action in defiance of the law, if Morrison is going to be defeated.

Racism

Worse still, by
appealing to and discussing legislation with Hanson, the union leadership ends
up sending the message that she is a legitimate political figure who deserves
respect or even gratitude. 

Hanson has been
spewing hateful racism for the last two decades. She has called for a ban on
Muslim immigration and said Islam was a disease, feeding on the Liberals’ own
Islamophobia over refugees and the war on terror. She is also whipping up
anti-Chinese racism, claiming they are buying up houses and agricultural land.

Hanson tries to
paint herself as a friend of workers (and is looking to the Queensland state
election next year), but she votes with the Liberals over 80 per cent of the
time. She has supported their tax cuts for the rich and penalty rate cuts for
hospitality workers.

One Nation has
traditionally taken votes from Labor and the Nationals in areas hit by unemployment
and austerity. The party hopes to pick up some support from workers sick of low
pay and cuts to services by using anti-refugee and anti-Chinese racism.

In May’s federal
election One Nation recorded strong gains in regional Queensland and the Hunter
Valley on the back of their strident support for coal mining. Most of the gains
were at Labor’s expense.

The CFMMEU
mining division in Queensland threatened to campaign against Labor candidates
over the issue of Adani—a move that opened the door to some of their members
voting for One Nation. This is a disaster. Any support for One Nation among
workers and unionists will only help spread their racism. 

Racism is poison for the working class. It divides workers against each other, eroding solidarity and effective struggle against the bosses. We can’t rely on lobbying racist politicians like Hanson to beat Morrison’s anti-worker agenda. It’s not too late to build a fightback based on mobilisation and strikes that can stand up to the Liberals and Hanson.

By Miro Sandev

The post Anti-union bill defeated, but relying on racist Hanson is no strategy appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Cabinet To All Pitch In And Buy Matthias ‘Numbers Man’ Cormann A Calculator For Christmas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/11/2019 - 7:21am in

cormann

With the end of the parliamentary year in sight Scott Morrison’s cabinet have done a whip around with everybody chipping in to buy Senate Leader Matthias ‘Numbers Man’ Cormann a calculator for Christmas.

“In an ideal world we would have a finance minister who could do numbers,” said a Government Insider. “But we’ve made an exception for Matthias as with his accent it’s funny when he reads out the budget as he sounds just like the Terminator.”

“But it does have it’s draw backs on the plus side him stuffing up Dutton’s numbers was hilarious but stuffing up the numbers on the Union busting bill not so much.”

When asked whether the Government had considered replacing Cormann as Senate leader the Spokes person said: “With whom?”

“Look, keeping Matthias in cabinet is a great way to keep the Minister for the Dark Arts Peter Dutton in his place. As we know if he were to challenge ScoMo Matthias would once again cock up the numbers.”

“A dodgy numbers man in finance is way better than Dutton as PM, trust me.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

Strike wins big pay rises for 1000 Woolies workers in Sydney

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/11/2019 - 1:37pm in

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unions, unions

Woolies
Warehouse workers in Sydney have won a 16 per cent pay rise over three years
after a solid 24 hour strike.

The strike by 1000 workers at
the Minchinbury distribution centre, “sent a clear message to management” union
delegate Matthew Mattaio said. Both permanent and casual staff completely shut
down the warehouse, with hard pickets stopping trucks from entering the
strategic Western Sydney centre. 

Management’s attitude to the workforce was on display
during the strike, as they set up a large mobile surveillance camera set up in
close proximity to the picket line. Workers have face bullying and
intimidation from managers, triggering a spontaneous illegal walk-out earlier
this year.

But in the face of further indefinite strike action
set to begin on 15 November, management gave in on many of the workers’
demands.

The 16 per cent wage increase over the three year
enterprise agreement includes a front-loaded 8 per cent in the first year,
followed by 4 per cent annual increases afterwards.

The big pay increases followed a campaign, “to get
equality pay with all the other Woolies people that do similar workloads”,
Matthew told Solidarity. The workers’ initial claim was for 16 per
cent in the first year and 28 per cent over three years. Workers at warehouses
in Victoria are paid 16 per cent more than the workers in Sydney.

But in the context of record low wage growth for
workers of just 2.2 per cent a year, the result is a “really good outcome”,
Matthew said.

The pay increase will provide much needed assistance
to the Sydney workers, with the highest cost of living of any city in the
country. The workers are members of the newly-formed United Workers Union
(UWU), formerly NUW members.

Workers have also secured increased redundancy
entitlements of four weeks for each year’s service, now capped at 82 weeks
total as opposed to 40 weeks previously for redundancy payouts. This will help
protect workers against the threat of job losses from automation. 

There will also be more transparent pathways for
casuals to become permanent, with length of service a deciding factor. This was
a great reflection of the solidarity of the picket line where casuals—some who
were not even rostered on for that day—stood side by side with permanents on
the picket line. As many as 400 of the workers at the warehouse are
casuals.

The result showed how strike action and strong union organisation can win serious gains on pay and conditions.

By Jess Whittall

The post Strike wins big pay rises for 1000 Woolies workers in Sydney appeared first on Solidarity Online.

University of Melbourne casuals are fighting back

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/11/2019 - 1:21pm in

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unions, unions

Casuals at the University of Melbourne have delivered a blow to the myth that casual workers are too insecure and vulnerable to stand up and fight for their rights. Over 2019 NTEU activists have organised casuals across the university into a rank and file “casuals network”.  This network has campaigned on a number of issues. Earlier this year, after the university refused to reimburse casual tutors for the compulsory working with children check, we rallied and won reimbursement in every school and faulty.

Since then we have fought for an end to the illegal “piece
rate” payment for marking and for casual tutors to be paid for lecture
attendance.

On 1 November over 100 casual staff members,
alongside students and permanent staff, rallied outside the Dean of the Faulty
of Arts’ office. We intended to deliver a petition signed by over 300 staff
calling for casual tutors to be paid for lecture attendance.

When the Dean refused to meet us and receive the
petition, we decided to take it to him. Staff members filed into the Dean’s
office chanting “union power” and occupied the office for several hours. When
he continued to refuse to meet with us we rallied again the following Friday. Once
more over 100 permanent and casual staff marched across the campus.

Following these two successful actions University HR
declared a “dispute” and called a meeting with the NTEU branch. NTEU casuals
refused to be demobilised by negotiations behind closed doors, and over the two
days around 40 casuals attended these meetings to tell their stories of
exploitation and insecurity and to hold the university to account.

HR is on the ropes but casuals will keep fighting
until we have a clear victory. Tutors must be paid for attending lectures and
the marking piece rate must be abolished.

For too long sections of the NTEU leadership have
put the issue of casualisation in the “too hard” basket. This has been based,
partly, in the belief that casuals are incapable of fighting because of their
insecure status. This is a disastrous position for any union to hold, but
particularly for the NTEU given the high rate of casualisation in the sector.

At the University of Melbourne insecure workers make
up the majority of the workforce (74 per cent). But the casuals network has
shown that it is insecure workers themselves, organised and fighting alongside
permanent staff, who have the power and potential to win an end to
casualisation and the permanent jobs we desperately need.

By Geraldine Fela

The post University of Melbourne casuals are fighting back appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Back to the weekend—New Zealand casino workers fight to get back penalty rates

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/11/2019 - 1:06pm in

Hundreds of
SkyCity
Casino workers in Auckland, New Zealand have been striking every weekend since
September to win back weekend penalty rates. Since the 1991 Employment
Contracts Act was introduced workers there have lacked any minimum legal standards
including weekend or late night penalty rates.

Solidarity’s Erima Dall spoke to Tina
Barnett
, who works on the game floor at the casino. Tina has worked at
SkyCity for 16 years and is an executive delegate with SEA UNITE (SkyCity
Employees Association of UNITE union), which has 900 members at the casino out
of 3500 workers.

Can
you tell us about the Back to the Weekend campaign and what you are fighting
for?

The
strike is about bringing back penalty rates for nights and weekends, at time
and a half. It was going to cost the company a maximum of $40 million a year.
They didn’t budge one bit.

Those are the hours when most of their profit is being
made. It’s about appreciating the sacrifices we make. Our quality time and
family time is being taken away. When customers come to the casino it’s our job
to make that as enjoyable as possible, but when it comes to our leisure time
it’s a real struggle.

Tina Barnett

SkyCity workers fought against zero hour contracts and
then it became national legislation, so if we win this, the UNITE union will
push for it for everyone.

We have been striking for two months now. Every
weekend we strike. Management are trying to say it doesn’t have an effect. But
they always overstaff now! So in my mind we’re winning. Some workers just take the
whole weekend off now to be with their families.

Every strike has a theme. We had a strike to go watch
the rugby, we had a masked ball after the fire [at the convention centre]. And
we’re going to have a “back to the beach” action.

What
was it like the first time you walked off the game floor?

You
have to be prepared that the players are going to get upset. But they were
really supportive. As each dealer walked off there was clapping and
celebration. The management started to follow us around with security! It was
very empowering.

The strike also covers cleaners,
housekeepers, security guards and other staff at the casino. Our first picket
back in early September had 250 people participate. Now the pickets have
diminished in numbers. But we ask members to come out for at least one or two
hours to picket every strike. What’s sad is there is another union on the site
that covers the overtime of our strike. But we have to stick to our Kaupapa—the
cause. Even if we keep going over Christmas and New Year our members want to
keep fighting.

The
workforce at SkyCity is very diverse. How have you made sure the union is
inclusive?

There
was a time when recruitment got quite tough. A major barrier was not being able
to speak the language, say of our Chinese and Indian workers. Because two Māori
women were leading for a long time—myself and my friend—a lot of workers
thought it was a Māori organisation. So I chose to step down and encourage more
of our migrant members to step up. And that’s been a really big improvement.
We’re all workers doing what’s been asked of us by a corporate machine.

Tell
us about walking out for the Climate Strike and your demands for public
transport.

We’ve
negotiated in our previous agreements more public transport for the staff so there
are less cars on the road, and now SkyCity are promoting a raffle to win a
Lamborghini for customers!

The majority of staff bring in their own cars. There
is a shuttle service every two hours, but we need more public transport.
Auckland is growing rapidly. The congestion at peak hours is phenomenal. So
we’re demanding “free and frequent” public transport to the city.

In Auckland we had 80,000 at the climate strike. We
were the first workers who went on strike for the climate! It was awesome.

Can
you tell us about the fire that broke out in the convention centre?

The
fire started on a Tuesday night. There was smoke coming into the casino and
staff were told to continue to work for up to five hours—now that is thick,
black, toxic smoke.

After two days off there was a rush to get staff back
to work. Our union was demanding the health and safety report that gave
clearance for the precinct. No report has been given. They sent out a message
for anyone pregnant or with respiratory problems to stay at home. But everyone
else was expected to be back at work.

So we had strike action that weekend. We
are demanding Work Safe do an independent investigation into the long term
impacts of the smoke inhalation.

The post Back to the weekend—New Zealand casino workers fight to get back penalty rates appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Woolies warehouse workers strike back for pay equality and respect

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/11/2019 - 2:56pm in

Tags 

unions, unions

Woolworths’
warehouse workers from one of the biggest distribution sheds in Sydney went on
strike for 24 hours last Friday to send a clear message to management. 

Almost 1000 workers
there are fighting for equality of pay, respect and fair redundancy packages in
Enterprise Bargaining negotiations which have dragged on for months.

“We just want to get equality pay with all the other Woolies people that do similar workloads”, union delegate Matthew Mattaio told Solidarity.

Workers at the
warehouse in Minchinbury, members of the newly formed United Workers Union
(UWU), are paid 16 per cent less than their counterparts in Victoria. Yet as a
UWU organiser pointed out, “Sydney has the third highest cost of living in the
world.”

From midnight on
Friday 9 November both permanent and casual workers formed a hard picket line
outside the Minchinbury warehouse, stopping all delivery trucks from entering.

Matthew explained that,
“The company has forced us to come out on strike today for not negotiating what
we have asked for.” He said, “What they offer is not even coming close to what
we deserve.” Workers at the warehouse were forced to take a pay cut a few years
ago due to the failure of Masters, another subsidiary of Woolworths Group.

Now they want a 16
per cent pay increase next year and 6 per cent a year for the two years
following. Management first offered 3 per cent a year with a $2000 cash bonus
up front. To put this in context, Woolworths Group management has recently
received a 30 per cent pay increase. 

“Management then came
back to us and offered 3.75 per cent, 3.5 per cent, 3.5 per cent pay increases
over the three year period with no cash bonus”, worker and UWU delegate Grant Doyle said. “which is actually lower than
the previous offer they made” he added.

Workers
are also fighting for higher redundancy entitlements and more controls on the
use of casual workers. “There’s 400 plus casuals, they all do 40 hours plus and a lot of
them have been here longer than five years”, Grant said. The union wants casual
workers to be covered by the enterprise agreement, rather than being treated
separately because they are employed through a casuals agency rather than
directly by Woolworths.

An overwhelming
majority voted to strike after it became clear that management was not going to
consider budging.

There are also other
important issues. Workers complain of being bullied and treated as “second
class” by management, with one incident leading to an illegal walk-off-the-job
a few months ago. This came after a manager initiated a physical altercation
after a worker did not have their hi-vis vest done up, a condition that is not
written into contracts.

“Management here is
different to what we’ve had in the past. They don’t listen at all,” Matthew
Mattaio said. Management’s attitude was on display during the strike with a
large mobile surveillance camera set up in close proximity to the picket
line. 

Workers were planning indefinite strike action if Woolies does not budge. “89 per cent of people who did the ballot ticked the box for indefinite action,” he added, “that sends a really strong message that we mean business.” With 95 per cent of workers in the union, an indefinite strike would be a major blow for the company. Matthew added, “We’ve taken this stance today and we’re going to take more”.

By Jess Whittall

The post Woolies warehouse workers strike back for pay equality and respect appeared first on Solidarity Online.

APA Board Expresses Support for Grad Student Right to Unionize

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 5:54pm in

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Academia, unions

“Whether unionization will best serve their employment interests and educational objectives and values is something that faculty and graduate students should be entitled to decide for themselves,” says the Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA) in a statement released yesterday. “It is thus the APA’s position that graduate students should have the right to unionize and participate in collective bargaining should they vote democratically to do so.”


Do Ho Suh, “Floor”

The statement announces that the APA “strongly opposes” a proposed rule change by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would hold that “students who perform services—including teaching and/or research—for compensation at a private college or university in connection with their studies are not ’employees'”, and thus do not have a federal right to unionize. Students have had that right since 2016.

On the APA website and via email with the organization’s members, the Board of Officers accompanied the statement with the following:

The board submitted this comment following an informal poll of APA members and constituents, initiated by the APA’s Graduate Student Council. The overwhelming majority—more than 90 percent of all respondents, and nearly 95 percent of graduate student respondents—favored the APA submitting a comment in support of graduate student workers’ right to unionize and opposing the adoption of the proposed rule. Less than 7 percent of respondents preferred the APA not comment on the proposed rule, and less than 3 percent of respondents wanted the APA to comment in support of the proposed rule.

The above comment also maintains the APA’s historical position in support of its members’ right to unionize, which was codified by the APA board in 1976 on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee on collective bargaining and unionization.

You can read the full statement here.

The post APA Board Expresses Support for Grad Student Right to Unionize appeared first on Daily Nous.

Ten things to know about the 2019-20 Alberta budget

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview of the recent Alberta budget. Points raised in the post include the following:

-The budget lays out a four-year strategy of spending cuts, letting population growth and inflation do much of the heavy lifting.

-After one accounts for both population growth and inflation, annual provincial spending in Alberta by 2022 is projected to be 16.2% lower than it was last year.

-Alberta remains Canada’s lowest-taxed province. It also remains the only province without a provincial sales tax.

The full blog post can be read here.

Ten things to know about the 2019-20 Alberta budget

I’ve just written a ‘top 10’ overview of the recent Alberta budget. Points raised in the post include the following:

-The budget lays out a four-year strategy of spending cuts, letting population growth and inflation do much of the heavy lifting.

-After one accounts for both population growth and inflation, annual provincial spending in Alberta by 2022 is projected to be 16.2% lower than it was last year.

-Alberta remains Canada’s lowest-taxed province. It also remains the only province without a provincial sales tax.

The full blog post can be read here.

Unions back climate strike for jobs and secure future

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 4:34pm in

The union
turnout
on 20 September was a crucial step towards putting jobs and workers’ rights at
the centre of the climate fight.

School climate strikers made a decisive shift
following the election to reach out to unions and workers, adopting a demand
for a just transition and secure, clean jobs.

In Sydney, the biggest union contingents were from the
university education union, with hundreds of staff joining a feeder march from
Sydney Uni, UTS and the University of Notre Dame. UNSW, Western Sydney Uni and
Macquarie Uni also had their own contingents. There are now rank-and-file
climate staff groups at most of the big universities in Sydney. 

One of the highlights was the speech
from the stage by maritime unionist Tommy-John Herbert. He told the crowd, “The
MUA is currently fighting for an offshore wind project off the coast of
Gippsland Victoria that has the power to bring hundreds of jobs to unemployed
seafarers, hundreds of jobs to construction workers.

“In the Hunter Valley the
government is desperately trying to keep the Liddell power station going, they
could invest that money in renewable energy and retraining those workers. We
need tens of thousands of those jobs.”

He was on strike over enterprise bargaining, along
with others from Hutchison who attended.

The national secretary of the electricians’ union also
spoke and called for “the government to invest in renewables” and “job security
and a secure future” for workers transitioning from jobs in coal. 

Fifty National Union of Workers members who were on
strike from Fenner Dunlop voted to attend the Melbourne protest and one of
them, John, addressed the rally. Farmworkers affected by climate change also
shared the platform.

“Our work depends on the coal mining industry as we
manufacture conveyer belts for coal mines”, John said.

“Me and my workmates care about better wages and
conditions, but we also care about climate change. I know the work we do needs
to move away from coal mining, but workers who work in these industries like me
must have a say in what comes next. We need to make sure good, well-paid union
jobs are at the centre of future clean industries.”

Victorian Trades Hall also organised a contingent of
150 workers to the Melbourne rally, which met with a university staff union
contingent of another 100 people.

One group of workers at an organic foods warehouse
managed to get their workplace shut down for the day to attend the Sydney
rally.

The nurses’ union bussed in members. Cleaners,
firefighters and teachers all had contingents as did workers from the
community, transport, retail, bank and public sectors. 

The construction division of the CFMMEU brought 30-40
mostly delegates and members, as well as striking workers from GBAR. The
union’s flags were prominently displayed near the front of the stage.

Divisions

This
was despite heavy pressure from the mining division of the union not to attend
the rally—which stifled efforts to produce and distribute a leaflet supporting
the rally and linking it to the fight against the Liberals’ Ensuring Integrity
bill. 

The mining division of the CFMMEU remains hostile to
the climate movement, preferring to defend jobs in the coal industry. It also
pressured Unions NSW to scale down its support. The secretary of Unions NSW,
Mark Morey, had been asked to speak at the rally, but declined as a result.

Hunter Workers pulled its
support from the climate strike in Newcastle after facing similar pressure from
the miners’ union, and even reneged on an offer to lend the school strikers
their stage. 

There has also been some backlash within the RTBU
transport union against members who attended the climate strike as an RTBU
contingent. The union’s members include coal train drivers. Some members have
reportedly left the union over it. 

Despite these ructions, the union
mobilisation was a huge step forward from the previous strike in March. It
shows the possibilities of winning union support for the climate movement—and
to drawing in the power of workers’ strike action. This will be vital if the
movement is to force change.

The Workers for Climate Action group in Sydney has
played an important role in building this perspective within the climate
movement. If we are to successfully defeat Morrison and win a just transition,
building support for the climate strike demands within unions at the grassroots
level is critical, as is taking industrial action in favour of them.

The school strikers are
discussing another big mobilisation next year on 1 May. In Sydney, the maritime
and construction unions are already committed to a strike rally on May 1 around
industrial demands. A joint rally including climate action demands, with some
workers on strike, would be another step forward for the movement.

By Miro Sandev

The post Unions back climate strike for jobs and secure future appeared first on Solidarity Online.

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