Category Archives: Corporate behaviour

Australia’s Penal Powers for the 21st Century

White Australia was born as a penal colony. And throughout its history since there have been plenty of laws that fine, impose financial damages and lock up both the original inhabitants of the land and the working people of all nations who came here to make a living. Those laws swing into play whenever landowners and employers needed a government instrument to protect their profit making and wealth accumulation from the collective action of aboriginal communities and their supporters, and also combinations of workers whether members of unions or not.  (For more on this read Jack Hutson’s From Penal Colony to Penal Powers.)

This story (click here) describes how Labor’s Fair Work Act of 2009 replicates that history so that it systematically prevents workers from exercising their collective power in the twenty first century.

Some of us who have been around for a long time know very well that there is NO END to the hypocrisy of employers when it comes to the exercise of their power. Employers like Bluescope Steel, in their own right and through their associations like the AIGroup, AMMA, and the Business Council of Australia, constantly whinge about the role of outside third parties in industrial relations.For them, “outside third party interference”means unions, especially those that coordinate effective worker action across industries, and a Fair Work Commission with genuine democratic powers to ensure that workers human rights to organize and take collective action are protected.

But, they made sure, when they negotiated the Fair Work Act to replace Howard’s Workchoices in 2008-9, they kept and re-energized that extra third party power that would punish workers for exercising the only power they have – collective industrial action. And, what is more, new ALP negotiators and certain (not all) union leaders let them have it.

What we see here, as we have seen in other disputes, is the PENAL PROVISIONS OF THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY.

The penal provisions of the 20th century were neutralized in big disputes through the 1960’s that culminated with the national strike when Tramway Union official Clarrie O’Shea was jailed for refusing to pay fines imposed by the courts because union members were taking industrial action in defiance of the so-called “bans clauses” of the day.

The industrial strategy that led to that great union and democratic victory was ten years in the making.

The Australian workers of the twenty first century need a strategy that defeats the penal powers of the twenty first century. It is all about a deeper meaning of democracy than the very limited form that too many of us are sort of comfortable with these days.

Electing a genuine reforming Labor government backed up by the Greens and genuine pro worker and democratic independents to get rid of these undemocratic industrial laws will make a difference.But this was never on the radar in recent Federal elections.

So, that will not happen unless it is part of a conscious strategy that creates a massive and independent movement of workers that makes it impossible for Labor and Green politicians to dodge their responsibilities.

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Australia’s working poor: who stands up for them?

Obviously, not the employer organisations:

http://www.workplaceinfo.com.au/payroll/wages-and-salaries/27-a-week-to-avert-working-poor-actu (If the link does not work check the text of this short article below)

Australia’s union movement leads the way.

How to weaken that movement’s effectiveness:

– bring back in a new form anti worker / union member repressive laws – Workchoices Mark 2

– escalate daily propaganda that the union movement a s a whole is corrupt

– give privileged communication rights to white flag union and so-called “labour” leaders – eg Paul Howes, Martin Ferguson

– prevent union achievements from flowing to non organised workers

– promote the myth that only employers have the knowledge and the right to make investment decisions

and so on.

And so we struggle against all of that, right?

If you are fair dinkum against poverty, get on board with this campaign. Anything else will be weasel words.

From Workplace Information, 28/3/14

 The ACTU has called for a $27 a week increase to the minimum wage, calling it “essential if Australia is to avoid creating an underclass of working poor”.

In the next step of its campaign to boost the minimum wage, the union today lodged a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review, which included a call for a 71c per hour increase from $16.37 per hour to $17.08 per hour.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said: “A $27 per week increase to the minimum wage will ensure the gap between low paid workers and the rest of the workforce does not widen even further. 

“Australians do not want to live in a country of ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ and the only way for low paid workers to keep up is for the Fair Work Commission to approve this increase.

“That’s why the ACTU is demanding the national minimum wage increase to $649.20 a week for Australia’s lowest paid including cleaners, retail and hospitality staff, childcare workers, farm labourers and factory workers.”

 
Employer groups have been more circumspect, with the Australian Industry Group stating in its submission to the wage review that a careful approach was needed “given the adverse economic impacts which would result from an excessive increase”.
 
The Federal Government is yet to comment on the ACTU’s submission. 

A reasoned debate on casualisation?! Give us a break

The Business Review Today (online) posted this today about casualisation: http://www.brw.com.au/p/leadership/workforce_casualisation_the_discussion_e6DEzUdUr5NFkzQCaEjhOJ 

This was my comment:

I cant believe how naive this is is. How unctuous. How incredibly slow to get in tune, Stephen (Koukoulas) is. Who is this “we” that needs to have a debate / a discussion. “Reasoned”? “Apolitical”? Are you serious? A debate in its “infancy”? Give us all a break! The union movement have been “discussing”, negotiating, dare I say “struggling” against employers and governments to get “causalisation” under some control for 30 years, at least. This struggle is deeply rooted in our whole history going back 200 plus years. Not so long ago, there was the ACTU commissioned report led by Brian Howe, ie “Lives on Hold”. Any chance that you Stephen, apparently an esteemed academic, might actually know about, refer to, acknowledge it. Most bosses love the way the working class is structured these days. I suspect the main reform business wants is the reduction / removal of the casual loading. If they can get away with it, most don’t pay it any way.

A billionaire’s life can be really tough, right?

I READ THIS IN THE FINANCIAL REVIEW TODAY.

Rich man versus rich park
JOE ASTON

Do billionaire Seven Group and Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes and his fed-up Darling Point neighbours in Sydney’s leafy east have a leg to stand on in their stoush with Woollahra Council over their local green, McKell Park?

According to a meeting of the council’s community and environment committee in November last year, bureaucrats admitted that while McKell Park is one of the smallest parks in the local government area, it “contributes approximately 40 per cent of the total income generated from special events in Woollahra”.

In a locale that also includes the expansive Lyne, Cooper and Trumper parks, that’s one helluva disproportionate fund-raising contribution to local coffers by the TV baron’s closest public lawn. And when you’re paying eight figures for a harbourside pile, why wouldn’t you be irate if you have a parade of bogan bridal parties turning your serene neighbourhood into a sea of cantilevered bosoms and stretch Hummers every other Saturday?

Rear Window also hears that, in addition to Sydney car dealership king Laurie Sutton, Stokes is joined in the legal bunfight by another neighbour: Stan Howard, brother of former Prime Minister John Howard.