Talking union

August 5, 1992

  • The former ironworkers' union (FIMEE) has taken another step towards becoming a general manufacturing union with an 80% vote by the 3500-member Glass Workers' Union to amalgamate with it. The 100,000-member FIMEE already has extensive coverage in steel, metals, chemicals and plastics. An attempt to move into the construction industry is tied up in court action. FIMEE is now moving towards amalgamation with the 110,000-strong Australian Workers' Union.

BRISBANE — About 1200 Queensland teachers condemned the Goss Labor government at a mass meeting on July 30 and voted to defy an industrial commission order restraining industrial action, if necessary. The teachers are angry over the government's handling of the Advanced Skills Teaching program negotiated last year. AST is designed to offer teachers an alternative career path to the traditional one, which eventually promoted many of the best teachers out of the classroom. The teachers want promotion in this area to be criterion-based rather than quota-based. They also want a remote areas incentive scheme and non-classroom time for primary teachers.

PERTH — In a bizarre twist to an enterprise bargaining deal, Australia Post management has issued bulletins urging staff to vote for the deal in a union ballot. NSW general manager W. Broadbridge has advised his managerial staff that securing a Yes vote is his "number one priority". The ACTU has congratulated the Communication Workers Union on its "achievement" in negotiating the deal. There is an active campaign in the union for a No vote.

SYDNEY — Months after an industrial court order reinstating them to their jobs following nine months on the picket line, printing workers from the Vista plant in Sydney's west are still tied up in legal action due to a number of unsuccessful appeals by the company. On July 30 the printing union (PKIU) won a decision ordering that the workers be back-paid to December 1991. A final appeal by Vista will go to the High Court in September. The workers say the company recently approached individual workers with an offer of $2000 each to drop the matter; they say the offer was presented in a way that made it appear the union had agreed, which was not the case.

WOLLONGONG — About 75 women are continuing a 24-hour picket at the Midford Paramount clothing factory after it closed on June 20 owing its workers $450,000 in retrenchment pay and superannuation. Four union officials were arrested when workers attempted to occupy the plant. Plant owner, the Sydney based Gazal Corporation, had leased the plant to a related company, Zallag Holdings, which went into voluntary liquidation on July 28 with debts of almost $1 million. In private negotiations last week, Gazal directors promised some payment to the women. John Owen of the Textile Clothing and A) told Green Left there is pressure on the company to "come across with some sort of payment, and I think that is getting results. The company directors are clearly worried about bad media reports." Federal employment minister Kim Beazley has offered the sacked workers the assistance of the Attorney General's Department. "Hopefully they will do an investigation to see if the owners acted illegally", said Owen. "I think the women will hang out for as long as it takes. They are getting heaps of support from the community as well as money coming from bucket collections in other factories. Apart from getting the money that's owed to them, they want to see some criminal prosecution as well."

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