Talking union

Wednesday, October 23, 1991

MELBOURNE — About 170 journalists from the Age newspaper picketed the headquarters of the ANZ Bank (receivers of the troubled Fairfax newspaper empire) to protest against increased concentration of media ownership and the threat this poses to editorial independence. The workers are concerned about the bid for the Fairfax media group by the Tourang consortium, which includes Kerry Packer. "Australia already has the greatest concentration of media ownership in the Western world", Paul Chadwick of the Communications Law Centre told the picketers. A newspaper empire like Fairfax could not be considered just a private asset because it was a public service, he said. In making it easier for the Tourang bid to go through, the Hawke government had not properly considered the public interest, he added.

  • The Kirner government has threatened teacher unions with legal action if they proceed with a plan to ban the new Victorian Certificate of Education as part of their campaign against budget cuts to thousands of teaching jobs and the government's abrogation of industrial agreements with the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association and the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria. The VSTA will hold a statewide strike on October 31, and teachers, students and parents will march on Parliament House on November 3. Some high school students are organising a sympathy strike for October 31.

PERTH — Mineworkers at Western Mining Corporation's Kambalda nickel mine near Kalgoorlie have returned to work after nearly two weeks on strike in their long-running dispute over attempts to introduce piecework rates. The members of the Australian Workers' Union are also concerned about the discovery of asbestos in parts of the Kambalda ore body. The company has been campaigning since mid-year for lower electricity prices and rail charges from the state government and a range of concessions from the company's workforce. The WA Labor government recently agreed to cooperate with the company by removing descriptions of continuous rostering from the Mining Act. WMC's managing director is New Right ideologue Hugh Morgan.

SYDNEY — An October 14 deal between the federal Tax Office and the Public Sector Union is expected to become a model for provision of work-related child-care throughout the federal public service. The office expects trade-offs in the form of lower staff turnover, less parental leave, higher productivity and better morale. Child-care centres, with places allocated to the office, will be established in conjunction with local councils and state governments. The office may subsidise the centres if necessary. Parents will pay market rates for the service.

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