Sunday 1st of October 2023

the need for workers unions...


In Australia, unfortunately, some workers don't realise the value of unions because their working conditions are "okay" and "fair". The workers don't realise unions fought hard to improve workers conditions to these standards — standards that could slip very quickly under the relentless pressure from the Liberals (CONservatives).

Now workers who enjoy safety and rights don't value as they should the organisations that brought them these essential benefits. It's a sad case as the Liberal (CONservative) government — on behalf of employers — has been trying hard to demonise unionism under Rattus Howard and now with renewed vigour under Little Shit Abbott. 

Of course, there has been some abuse by union leaders who stretched their own entitlements, but by comparison with the hard-bashing CEOs and crooked politicians, these are very small misdemeanours. Companies often hide their sins by moving cash from profits, offshore. See the latest tax dance shuffle for the benefit of Uncle Rupe. 

And most of the mediocre mass media is designed to be union bashing. Unions are easy targets, especially with individuals' narcissistic selfishness loading this age of deceit. The government and the media work in tandem to divide workers, by enticing some workers to "choose" with the idea that choice is freedom, while in reality more often than not, this freedom is to work more for less — and pay the price in stress, sickness and earlier death.  

Thus UNIONS are essential to help workers fight for proper rights and maintain safety. Everyone should boycott Qatar, until there no more workers death due to working conditions in preparation of the Soccer World Cup. All workers should be unionised and protected — not used as if a disposable product in a careless society.


More than 500 Indian migrant workers have died in Qatar since January 2012, revealing for the first time the shocking scale of death toll among those building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

Official figures confirmed by the Indian embassy in Doha reveal that 237 Indians working in Qatar died in 2012 and 241 in 2013. A further 24 Indians have died in January 2014.

These come after the Guardian revealed last month that 185 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar in 2013, taking the total from that country to at least 382 over two years.

Human rights groups and politicians said the figures meant Fifa could not "look the other way", and should be leading demands for Qatar to improve conditions for the estimated 1.2 million migrant workers fuelling a huge construction boom.

The figures from the Indian embassy show that 233 Indian migrants died in 2010 and 239 in 2011, taking the total over four years to 974. Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in December 2010, there have been 717 recorded Indian deaths.

However, the Indian embassy did not provide further details on who those individuals were, their cause of death or where they worked. But analysis of the lists of dead Nepalese workers showed that more than two-thirds died of sudden heart failure or workplace accidents.

Qatar's ministry of labour and social affairs told the Guardian: "With specific regard to these new figures, we were aware that local media had previously reported some of these headline numbers, and we are clarifying them. Clearly any one death in Qatar or anywhere else is one death too many – for the workers, for their families, but also for Qataris who welcome guest workers to our country to perform valuable jobs. We are working to understand the causes of these deaths – as these statistics could include a range of circumstances including natural causes, and road safety incidents, as well as a smaller number of workplace incidents."

Nicholas McGeehan, a Gulf researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: "These figures for Indian deaths are a horrendous confirmation that it isn't just Nepalese workers who are dying in Qatar."

bias even from the "best" journos...


commentator Michelle Grattan wrote recently that:

Overreach seems to be endemic in this government. One would think that, after Tony Abbott laid it on far too thick about workers' conditions at SPC Ardmona and received a tongue lashing from one of his own, Treasurer Joe Hockey would have been extra careful.

But no. Hockey fell into a similar trap – and his slap down came from a rather bigger player.

When it announced that it planned to shut down its Australian manufacturing, Toyota cited a range of reasons. But Hockey wanted to put as much blame as possible on the costs imposed by the workers' conditions. 

We should note that Michelle uses the softer term of “overreach” rather than the word “lying”, whch she used previously whenever she referred to Gillard’s so-called carbon tax “lie”. 

But in light of the Opposition Leader’s attacks on the Government’s performance, she had this to say:

But it is a simplistic attack, which doesn’t do justice to Shorten’s own economic knowledge. Shorten’s attention should be on the creation of a forward looking industry policy, because the end of the auto sector will be a fait accompli (production is due to finish in 2017) by the time of the next Labor government.

Interestingly, while for the past three years Michelle never similarly challenged Abbott and Hockey as they relentlessly proclaimed that an international Triple A rating was nonsense and that we were in the same dire economic situation as Greece. In fact, no journalist, to my recollection, ever took the LNP Opposition to task as it constantly talked down Australia's good economic performance.

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untrue crap from little shit abbott...

Do we want to be a nation whose prosperity is held hostage by commodity prices, or do we want to be a nation that builds things, asks AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian.

“No country has subsidised its way to prosperity."

~ Prime Minister Tony Abbott (December 2013)

No country — that is, except all of them.

There are only all the European ones, the American ones, the South American ones, the Asian ones — pick a prosperous country and you will see government subsidies.


Because sectors like automotive production are valuable to any nation. They provide good, skilled jobs. They have flow on effects to boost jobs in other sectors. And manufacturing promotes research and development across the board.

But Australia's relatively new Coalition Government has started tearing out subsidies from critical Australian industries — flushing away jobs, skills, and future prosperity.

If you value jobs and skills, you have to invest in them.,6189

a right wing attack on workers...

Abbott government-supported efforts to pursue individual construction workers for strike penalties – including preventing the sale of assets such as homes – have been branded as an “unprecedented” ideological attack.

The construction union and the federal opposition levelled the criticism, as they argued the legal manoeuvres signalled a tough new approach that could be taken against any worker engaging in unprotected industrial action.

Nigel Hadgkiss, who was appointed by the Coalition government as director of the pre-existing construction industry regulator, Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC), told the Australian newspaper asset seizure orders had been executed against workers who participated in action connected with the Woodside Petroleum project in Western Australia in 2008.

Of the 117 employees ordered by the federal court last year to pay penalties, 25 had failed to pay amounts totalling $135,625, he told the newspaper.

Two seizure orders stopping employees from disposing of certain assets had been issued and the charges registered against their houses meant they could not dispose of them until they paid the debt.

“Workers, employers and unions alike should consider this a warning that if they breach workplace laws, FWBC will not hesitate to enforce penalties imposed by the courts,” Hadgkiss told the Australian.

“There would quite rightly be public outcry if my agency was selective about who was made to comply with court orders … It will be up to the court, not FWBC, to determine whether the debt has the financial capacity to pay the penalty.”

The employment minister, Eric Abetz, voiced his strong support for the FWBC's tough approach.

“This is no different to the processes that apply to individuals who fail to comply with court orders in any other fields,” Abetz said in a statement.

“Laws have to be enforced and obeyed and individuals who do not obey court orders must be held to account. No one should think they are above the law or that certain laws won’t be rigorously enforced.”

But Labor's workplace relations spokesman, Brendan O'Connor, characterised it as an “attack on the homes of workers who might take unprotected industrial action” and said the government must clarify whether the approach applied “to every Australian in a job”.

“It seems not even the great Australian dream is safe from Tony Abbott’s twisted priorities,” O'Connor said.

“This vindictive and unprecedented assault marks a new low in Mr Abbott’s ideological attack on the rights and conditions of Australian workers.”


Actually, It is my view that Woodside Petroleum should pay the fines or argue against them in court, on behalf of the workers. This may sound silly. But At the time, Woodside may have been planning some operations that were going to destroy a pristine environment — something that eventually Woodside did not do, for commercial reasons. It would be magnanimous and eventually profitable of Woodside Petroleum to defend the freedom of workers to strike. It's a moral thing and a human right.

no fish...

The royal commission into unions is unlikely to uncover much of interest despite having been extended for a year by the federal government, legal experts predict.

Attorney general George Brandis this week announced an extension that commissioner Dyson Heydon did not ask for, and the body has yet to map out an agenda for 2015.

The Labor opposition and unions condemned Brandis for a “nakedly political” bid to maximise the impact of Heydon’s final report by timing it closer to the next federal election.

Brandis has said the government acted in the public interest to allow the commission time to tackle what it had identified as an entrenched culture of legal and moral impunity among some union officials.

Labour law academics said the government would be disappointed with the political mileage to date from the royal commission into trade union governance and corruption, which had not revealed systemic corruption and had seen many of its more serious allegations founder.

looking at it objectively...


AWU to face questions over alleged secret deals with employers

By the National Reporting Team's Mark Solomons

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption unearths new evidence in relation to allegedly secret deals struck between the Australian Workers Union and employers.




EMPLOYERS to face questions over alleged secret deals with AWU


By the National Reporting Team's Mark Solomons


The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption unearths new evidence in relation to allegedly secret deals struck between employers and the Australian Workers Union




a representative case study...


From Victoria Rollison


Let’s put aside the irony of a Liberal government, the preacher of the ills of ‘big government’, spending $45 million to reach its expensive Royal Commission tentacles into the operation of trade unions. Let’s put aside the obvious political nature of such a witch-hunt, designed to reduce the power of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers, a seek and destroy mission with the pincer-movement aim of a) benefiting employers at the big end of town, b) reducing unions’ capacity to contribute funds to Labor election campaigns and c) to discredit Labor MPs with union backgrounds. For now, putting these contradictions and political trickery aside, which are so wholly obvious to us but strangely not apparently obvious nor interesting to commentators in the mainstream media, let’s instead look at the Trade Union Royal Commission’s findings in relation to the lives of those people the commission paradoxically claim to represent the interests of; workers.

Using my own situation as a worker and union member as a representative case study, I note with alarm that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has proclaimed the findings of the Trade Union Royal Commission (TURC) as justification to fight an election over industrial relations. Clearly Turnbull thinks that there is a large enough problem in the trade union movement, a movement just as separate to the operations of government as a private company, that he’s pushing this problem to the top of his government’s agenda. The handful of bogey-man union officials who have been cited in the TURC findings as having acted not in the best interest of workers, are now the government’s enemy number one. As a union member, I don’t like to hear about my union funds being used to fund union officials’ extravagant lifestyles, nor do I appreciate reports of criminal activity, which appear to be almost entirely confined to rogue elements in construction unions. But, as a worker and a member of a young family, a woman, a parent to a young child who has childcare and then her whole education in front of her followed by a job search, a mortgage holder, a South Australian, a buyer of groceries, a daughter of aging parents, a wife to a husband who works in the manufacturing industry and a member of a society experiencing the scary and increasingly apparent effects of climate change, I must admit, the conduct of a few dodgy union officials in industries I don’t work in, whose conduct hasn’t been proven to adversely impact the conditions of workers they represent, is about as high on my list of ‘what is the government doing about this?’ priorities as the fate of Johnny Depp’s girlfriend’s court case over the illegal entry of small dogs.

And even if I did care deeply about the conduct of some dodgy union officials in the construction industry (which I don’t), I care a thousand times more deeply about those union officials having the freedom to do their job to help safeguard the safety of workers on construction sites. I’m pleased there are union officials stopping work when they see risks to workers, because it’s blatantly clear that if the union officials didn’t care, no one would. This is because it’s obvious that many construction employers care far more about the speed of their profit making than they do the safety and wellbeing of their employees. So if it wasn’t for the unions stepping in to insist on safety, far more accidents and deaths would occur. I would have thought a responsible government would be more concerned about safety on construction sites than the isolated actions of a few bad apple unionists. Especially after that very same government were so upset about the deaths of four insulation installers that they held a Royal Commission into a government program that funded the private companies whose unsafe work practices led to the tragic deaths of workers. Another Royal Commission aimed at hurting the Labor Party; do you see a pattern forming here?

I notice a day after the release of the TURC findings, the ABC News Radio poll asking ‘In your experience, are unions riddled with ‘deep-seated’ and ‘widespread’ misconduct?’, after 3,466 votes have been cast, found 74% said ‘no’.

Web Poll Unions TURC

This result suggests I’m not alone in my perception of the TURC findings as more of a political statement than the experience of union members.

As a worker, it would be wholly irrational for me to congratulate, or indeed vote for a government vowing to smash the power of unions. As a worker in an economy with stagnant wage growth, it would be counterproductive for me to encourage my government to give employers, who already hold an elephant-on-a-seesaw-unequal position of power in the Goliath-capital battle with David-the-workers, any more power to define my working conditions. Because let’s face it, not every employer wants to pay the minimum wage, without penalty rates, minimum entitlements and no chance of a pay rise. But enough employers do (take a look at 7-eleven) so that the entire wage structure of the country would be pulled down without unions pushing back against the floodgates. When former PM Tony Abbott said WorkChoices was dead-buried-and-cremated, workers always knew that it would only take a second-term Liberal government 5 minutes to resurrect the WorkChoices zombie from the grave; a zombie who’s bite is fatal to workers’ rights.

Therefore, if Turnbull wants to play this game and if he is really serious that dodgy union officials are the biggest threat facing our country, and his highest agenda item in an election, I echo Bill Shorten’s words on hearing Turnbull’s plans: BRING IT ON. And so say all of us.

This post was originally published at John Menadue – Pearls and


free loaders...


Relying on the First Amendment, Ms. Friedrichs says that she shouldn’t be forced by the government to support political causes with which she disagrees. But almost four decades ago, the Supreme Court came to a sensible compromise on this issue, written by an Eisenhower appointee, Justice Potter Stewart: No public sector worker can be compelled to join a union or to pay for its political efforts. However, the state may require that every worker pay fair share fees to support the costs of collective bargaining over bread-and-butter issues like wages, benefits and working conditions.

That 1977 ruling appears in real danger of being overturned. Doing so, David C. Frederick, a lawyer representing the union, told the court, “would substantially disrupt established First Amendment doctrine and labor management systems in nearly half the country.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that losing fair share fees would not pose much of a problem; if workers really support collective bargaining, the so-called free rider problem someone like Ms. Friedrichs represents would be “really insignificant.” But humans enjoy getting benefits for nothing. In states that recognize a duty to bargain but prohibit fair share fees, 34 percent of teachers are free riders.

Because today’s conservatives are typically hostile to unions, it’s easy to forget that they were not always opposed to unionism or fair share fees. If conservatism is supposed to stand for anything, it’s the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch. In a 1991 case, Justice Antonin Scalia backed fair share fees, citing the legal duty unions have to represent the interests of nonmembers as well as members. Unless dissidents like Ms. Friedrichs want to return the raises, health care and retirement benefits that unions negotiate, conservative values suggest that they should contribute like everyone else.

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of the importance of unionism...

At the moment one of the most visible industrial disputes in Australia is occurring between Cricket Australia and its players, represented by the Australian Cricketers Association. And while the issues at stake are complex, among the consequences is the issue of the marketing of players. But regardless of what the dispute might do to the ability for cricket players – or Cricket Australia – to make money hawking fast food chicken, the players’ actions are a wonderful advertisement for joining a union.

Union membership in this country is at historic lows. The latest figures suggest just 13% of all workers are in a trade union – 25 years ago it was around 40%.

In the private sector, the numbers are even lower. Just 9% of private sector workers are in a union.

Let’s not pretend that there is no link between this lack of representation and the record low wage growth we are currently experiencing.

In the past year, private sector wages grew by just 1.7% but the average prices of health, education, utilities and automotive fuel all rose by more than double that amount, and the cost of fruit and vegetables by nearly 13%.

So bad has the situation become that the governor of the RBA, Philip Lowe, last month suggested workers needed to become more bold in their claims for wage rises. He argued that employees were most likely too fearful of losing hours should they seek higher wages. 

But while the theory that workers should not be afraid of seeking both more hours and higher wages sounds great in a panel discussion on the economy, the reality is such claims will not happen in a workforce with such meagre unionisation. 

And there is nothing coincidental about this – it is the backbone of every aspect of the Howard government’s industrial relations policy – shift power from the workers to the employers and then vigorously decry any attempts to redress the balance as harmful to the economy. 

In such a context the ALP’s recent move to enshrine penalty rates in law is a bold, and unfortunately necessary, step.

But those workers who see penalty rates being reduced and wages growing at record lows and who are also not in a union could do worse than look to the Australian cricketers. 

The issues at stake in the contract dispute between the cricketers and their union, the Australia Cricketers Association, and Cricket Australia are pretty complex. Essentially they involve a shift from the way cricketers were compensated over the past 20 years – from players receiving a set share of Cricket Australia’s revenue, to one where CA would pay players an amount unlinked from the revenue.

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