News briefs


Women's Party launches industrial policy

BRISBANE — A shorter working week, paid maternity leave and wage increases indexed to the cost of living are key features of the Australian Women's Party industrial relations policy, launched here on November 14. AWP industrial relations spokesperson Jeni Eastwood said enterprise bargaining had failed many women and trade unions had often forgotten them. "Enterprise bargaining based on productivity alone has a tendency to result in longer shifts for workers", Eastwood said. The party's policy calls on employers and unions "to adjust to the reality of people's lives and give priority to initiatives such as readily accessible, quality child-care and a shorter, more flexible working day so people can carry out their parenting role and enjoy the company of their children."

Call for condoms in schools

MELBOURNE — Recently released survey results by the Centre for Adolescent Health show there is a need for greater access to condoms and specifically for condom vending machines in all secondary schools. The report has been criticised by education authorities and schools who argue that existing health education programs cover the needs and queries that students have regarding sex. The survey results show, however, that many secondary students disagree. They say there is a lack of detailed education about important matters such as STD's, pregnancy, technique and even how to use contraception, and that there is a lot of room for improvement in sex education programs in schools.

Jobs lost over bus cuts

SYDNEY — At least 44 workers have lost their jobs and more could follow as the Carr Labor government's cuts to free bus travel for students take affect. The sackings took place at Custom Coaches, the largest bus manufacturer in the state. There has been a 70% decline in orders since the government's announcement that it would slash $100 million from the School Student Transport Subsidy Scheme. Previous Liberal governments had not touched this scheme. The spending cut could force some smaller private bus companies operating in the outer suburbs to close. Many suburbs in Sydney's west have very poor public transport as it is.

Carr plans compo cuts

SYDNEY — The NSW Labor government plans to cut $200 million from the Work Cover scheme. This includes: freezing automatic CPI-related increases in lump sum payments; refusing industrial deafness claims where hearing loss amounts to 5% or less; and deducting workers' pre-existing impairments, such as back injuries, from lump sum settlements. The government also wants to cut employers' premiums for workers' compensation from the current 2.5% to 2% to ensure NSW remains "competitive for employers". Peter Sams, secretary of the NSW Labor Council, criticised the proposed cuts and said that industrial action was not ruled out. The NSW Law Society is also critical of the proposed changes to Work Cover.

CSIRO may take industrial action

Industrial action appears certain in CSIRO for the first time in its history. Union members around Australia met on November 15 and overwhelmingly rejected a second enterprise bargaining offer from CSIRO. CSIRO management has offered an 5% plus 3% pay rise over two years. However the offer is conditional on the complete restructuring of current pay levels, which would likely to lead to pay cuts, and on all staff organising their own travel, which would result in staff cuts and an increased workload. Secretary of the CSIRO Division-CPSU Peter O'Donoghue said that, "Members resolved to initiate an industrial campaign from November 21. This will be averted only by CSIRO making an acceptable offer by November 20".

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