Talking union

Issue 

MELBOURNE — Nissan workers have voted to accept a redundancy package from the company, which will close its Australian car manufacturing plants by October. According to vehicle builders' union (VBEF) secretary Ian Jones, the deal averages out to five weeks' severance pay, five weeks' pay for every year of service and a few other benefits. The industry award entitled workers to only two weeks' pay for every year of service.

  • Metalworkers' union (MEWU) members are on strike and picketing South Pacific Tyres' Melbourne plant because the company is refusing to honour overtime arrangements contained in a registered 1987 industrial agreement. On February 14, 120 maintenance workers were suspended, and the next day the company stood down 350 production workers, threatening to stand down another 350 if the union didn't resolve the dispute. The company is trying to provoke a split between MEWU and National Union of Workers members, most of the latter being production workers.

SYDNEY — The right-wing dominated NSW Labor Council announced the sacking of seven staff on February 10 due to state government funding cuts and a slump in affiliation fees. The sackings are the subject of negotiations with the clerks' union (FCU) and are yet to be discussed at a full Labor Council meeting. Present affiliations to the council are 867,000, down from a high of around 1 million. The cutbacks include the shutdown of two occupational health and safety units whose funding, initiated under previous Labor governments, was cut off by the anti-union Greiner government. Prominent Democrat Armon Hick is among the casualties after being taken on as a press officer only last year.

  • The federal government has informed the NSW Labor Council that it will discuss ratification of 74 International Labour Organisation/United Nations conventions in the next 18 months. Some existing federal and state laws violate ILO/UN conventions on collective bargaining and other matters.

  • The Public Sector Union and the Professional Radio and Electronics Institute are brawling with the Telecom and postal unions (ATEA/APTU) over coverage of Optus Communications, which has bought the licence to compete with Telecom. The ACTU and the company support single-union coverage by the ATEA/APTU, which are in the process of amalgamating. This casts doubt on a proposed amalgamation of the PSU and PREI based on the assumption that the radio union would cover Optus and Aussat workers.

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