Talking union

August 14, 1991

MELBOURNE — Job cuts promised by the Victorian Labor government in its coming budget have already begun. The western regional office of the Ministry of Education has written to all school principals directing them to offer voluntary redundancies to all "ancillary staff" (lab assistants, clerical workers, cleaners etc). Premier Joan Kirner told ABC radio that teacher numbers too would be cut. Meanwhile, the police minister has reached agreement with the government that his staff won't be cut — fines will be increased to make up revenue!

The Civil Aviation Authority has withdrawn its offer of voluntary redundancy packages to staff after threats of industrial action over CAA plans to cut its workforce by 50%. The matter will go to the IRC again on August 14.

SYDNEY — Several media, artistic and theatrical unions have begun steps towards amalgamation under the impact of the 1990 Industrial Relations Amendment Act, which threatens deregistration of unions with less than 10,000 members after March 1993. First step will be an amalgamation of the 8000-strong journalists' association (AJA) with the 600-member commercial artists' association (ACIAA). The eventual aim is a Media Alliance uniting the AJA with the theatrical employees (ATAEA) and Actors Equity. Many television and radio workers are members of the actors' and theatrical associations. The printers' union has been involved in discussions on the alliance, but is committed to amalgamation with the metalworkers' union (MEWU) once it gets through its present amalgamation with the vehicle builders (VBEF).

ABC management is to cut another 230 from its 6000-strong workforce, axe its Canberra television news and cut its sports coverage due to a $15 million funding cut, which will be announced in the federal budget on August 20. The latest cuts follow 161 earlier lay-offs, which led to a round of industrial action.

NSW mining unions are pursuing a legal challenge to the state electricity commission's decision to sell nine coal mines. Elcom is presently finalising the sale of the Liddell pit in the Hunter Valley, which supplies the Liddell and Bayswater power stations.

In response to NSW government plans to slash 12,500 public service jobs and 3000 rail jobs, a union delegation last week urged Premier Greiner to consider greater use of permanent part-time work, reduction of early retirement availability from 58 to 55, and a fairer formula for calculating redundancy pay-outs.

The NSW Teachers Federation is attempting to make a submission in an enterprise agreement between 80 senior adult migrant English teachers and the Department of Industrial Relations and Training. The department opposes the move on the ground that union involvement would be "contrary to the intent" of enterprise agreement legislation.

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