Australia: Hundreds rally for refugees outside detention centre gates

October 16, 2012

Demonstration in MelbourneBy Chris Peterson, Melbourne
First published in Green Left Weekly

About 200 people rallied at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention Centre on September 22, against deporting refugees to danger and mandatory detention. Dayan Anthony, a Tamil refugee, was deported to Sri Lanka in July against his will from Maribyrnong.

Antony’s Lawyer Sanmati Verma said: “Each and every professional and all community members in contact with Dayan Anthony attested that he was a torture survivor. And yet he was put on a plane and yet he was sent back to Sri Lanka.

“He was interrogated there for 16 hours by the notorious Criminal Investigation Department in the presence of Australian personnel. This deportation is the talk of law over the spirit of justice. “Regimes that commit war crimes are not magically transformed thee years later. We live in an age where the language of care has been hijacked from us. We are either on the side of Nauru or the side of people dying in the sea. This false discourse created by the expert panel [on asylum seekers] needs to be changed abolished.” Read the rest of this entry »

MP3: Rat Poison

October 15, 2012

Download MP3

Kate Wilkinson’s got something for teenagers next year
” a starting wage” she calls it , to make more jobs appear
two thousand jobs in just two years, sounds seriously weighty
the thing is but, she’s paying just a shit ten dollars eighty

F7 C
Ten dollars eighty - could Katie live on that?
F7 C
would any mp like to see that pay rate for their brat?
F7 C
If you think we’ll suck this up well you can stick it Kate

‘Cos 10 80’s rat poison
not an hourly rate

That judge they got from Canada to look at David Bain
to see if he should get a wrong imprisonment claim
That judge’s hourly labour rates four hundred fifty bucks
so don’t tell me I’m silly when I say the system sucks

Ten dollars eighty - could Katie live on that …

If anything I reckon that young workers should get more
They’ve got more youthful energy, their feet don’t get so sore
their backs are not yet buggered and their hearts are not yet broke
to pay them less than us old guys is just a bloody joke

Ten dollars eighty - could Katie live on that…

We got rid of the old youth rates, with Unite union’s lead
another fightback starting now is what we badly need
more money now for our hard work and then, to stop the rot
a new world where rich bastards don’t get to call the shots.

Protest Report: Slutwalk Dunedin

October 14, 2012

By Jessica Ward

The first of September was a cold day in Dunedin.  I got dressed in the sluttiest clothes I felt comfortable in; a short red velvet dress with a pair of black woolen tights and a splash of red lipstick. As I walked through the central city towards the dental school where the rally was to begin I saw no signs of fellow “sluts” along the way.  The town seemed almost dead with only a few couples littering the sidewalks.  Arriving at the designated meeting point outside the Dental School I was disheartened to see only a few people, mostly girls wearing fur coats which I imagine were keeping their body temperatures above freezing before the walk began.  But slowly the crowd began to grow.  Signs, badges and lists of chants were handed out. The signs, placards and patches had kindly been hand-painted by the organising committee and distributed to anyone committed to adorning themselves with pro slut propaganda.


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Cleaning the corridors of power

October 13, 2012

Jaine Ikurere“I’m getting too old to work lots of hours a night, I’ve been working all my life with a low wage and I can’t afford anything.” Those were the worlds of Jaine Ikurere, 63 years old, she works two jobs to make ends meet, and one of those jobs is cleaning offices in parliament. She is paid just $14.60 an hour, and that’s as a supervisor, most of her colleagues are paid just $13.85, just 35 cents above the minimum wage.

One of the offices she cleans belongs to John Key, the wealthiest member of parliament with a net worth of over $50 million. The union that represents the cleaners, the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) is campaigning to have parliaments cleaners paid a minimum of $15 an hour. With a pay rise Jaine Ikurere would quit her second job and spend more time with her grandchildren.

Parliamentary Services sees cleaner’s wages as an issue between them and their employer- Spotless Services, who is contracted to clean parliament.

Bill could see workers denied breaks

October 12, 2012

Smoko breakA bill currently going through parliament could see workers required to be available to work during breaks- if they get breaks at all. There has been legislation for rest and meal breaks for just four years. Prior to the Employment Contracts Act breaks were covered not by law but by industry wide agreements negotiated by unions.

Council of Trade Unions policy analyst Eileen Brown told Fairfax reporters that adequate breaks were a basic employment right, and essential for the health and safety of workers. “A break is a break - there should be quite clear time off for a break. We don’t agree that having a break means you are still available to work.”

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the bill made it clear that, if an employer asked a worker to keep up their work duties, it had to be a reasonable request - and it had to be necessary to the work, or agreed to by both the employer and the employee. But of course this ignores the power imbalance between workers and employers, particularly workers not covered by union agreements

Developments at the Ports of Auckland

October 11, 2012

Ports of AucklandBy Josh Glue

Earlier this year an attempt to contract out union work at Ports of Auckland (PoA) led to a strong union fight-back, to which management responded with a lockout. The lockout dragged on for months, management refusing to back down on its demands for individual contracts and greater ‘flexibility’ of labour. During this time port workers were stretched to the limit, eating up savings and strike funds to survive without regular wages, while the Ports of Auckland management eat up Auckland ratepayers’ money on fighting the union with advertising and PR advisers. Though the lockout ended in April, with the Maritime Union of New Zealand and PoA management agreeing to return to good-faith bargaining, little has happened since then.

As sole shareholder in the Ports through the ACIL Company, the Auckland City Council called for ACIL to face its Accountability and Performance Committee in September.

After the Employment Relations Authority rejected the union’s request to take the dispute to court, many were hopeful that ACIL CEO Gary Swift would at least be held accountable by the council for prolonging the lockout and refusing to accept the union’s opposition to contracting out work at PoA.

Instead Swift fronted up with the bureaucratic equivalent of the middle finger, saying that ACIL owns the port, not the council, even though the council owns ACIL. Despite a leaked email showing his high-level involvement in management of the lockout crisis, Swift refused to reveal how much fighting the union cost the company, and hence the council, claiming it was inappropriate for the council to be told those figures.

In the absence of a new collective agreement, the status quo of following the old agreement will expire by the end of September, leaving PoA workers more vulnerable than ever to out-sourcing work to those on individual contracts with lower wages, less guarantees of conditions and less security of hours and employment.

It is highly suspicious that bargaining since April has moved so slowly, especially with the union agreeing to many of managements demands for higher flexibility in work hours, despite the damage such employer-dictated terms may do to their conditions and work-life balance. One suspects ACIL has simply stalled negotiations to get past the collective’s expiry, meaning the coming months will be telling. Though PoA management will not want strikes or lockouts over the Christmas period, further attacks on collective negotiation are possible and it will be up to the Maritime Union of New Zealand, the wider union movement, and all concerned New Zealanders who don’t want their fellow workers sold up the river, to militantly fight any attacks on workers’ rights on the streets and docks of Auckland.

Hamilton Public Forum: Support the Miners, Support the DSM

October 10, 2012

Speakers: John Minto (guest speaker) and Bex Broad
6-7.30pm, Thursday October 18
Waikato Trade Union Centre, 34 Harwood Street, Hamilton

Koha or $10 solidarity entry to help fundraising efforts for the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

Further information
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Telford staff join Lincoln collective agreement

October 9, 2012

Telford campusAdapted from TEU media release

Workers at Lincoln University’s Telford campus have negotiated successfully the right to be included on the Lincoln collective agreement. Prior to the merger of Telford Rural Polytechnic with Lincoln University, hostel and kitchen staff at Telford had no employment conditions providing rules around hours of work or shift allowances. Their new agreement will give kitchen staff time and quarter for working on the weekends and will give hostel supervision staff an allowance for weekend work.

Tertiary Education Union (TEU) deputy secretary Nanette Cormack says these terms do not yet match those received by other staff doing similar jobs at Lincoln University, but they are an improvement. The university has also committed in its terms of settlement to deliver equity with other employees in comparable roles.

“The changes agreed to in this Terms of Settlement are seen as a first step in that process” reads the ratified Terms of Settlement. The new agreement also affords members a 1.8 per cent pay rise backdated to the beginning of the year. The one-year agreement will expire on 31 December, at which point TEU hopes to continue to move Telford’s kitchen and hostel staff towards employment equity with other Lincoln staff.

Nanette Cormack says the most important step in winning these improved hours of work conditions was staff joining the union and negotiating to be covered by the collective agreement.

“When workers are members of a union and have collective coverage they have far more power to improve their working conditions. Union membership is crucial to winning pay and employment equity.”

Conflict in Syria

October 1, 2012

As the brutal regime of President Bashar Assad desperately tries to cling to power, a massive humanitarian crisis is engulfing the Syrian people. An estimated 23,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011, with the state being responsible for most of the deaths.

Over a quarter of a million people have fled the country, mainly to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. A further 1.2 million are internally displaced. The UN states that 2.5 million are in need of food and other aid.

The various rebel groups organised behind the front of the Free Syrian Army have been gaining ground in the north west of the country. Assad’s forces have been unable to disloge rebel fighters from Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Read the rest of this entry »


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