Talking union

Issue 

Talking union

ADELAIDE — The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has placed green bans on the development of a sand dune site in Tennyson to prevent its sale by the government. The site is zoned residential, but residents say it should be declared a reserve because it is the last area of its type in the region. Environmental issues are as important as wages and conditions, said organiser David Thomason.

  • Officers from St John Ambulance are discussing a package aimed at ending a month-long dispute over the forced resignation of former superintendent Alf Gunther. The Ambulance Employees Association has placed bans in a campaign for Gunther's reinstatement.

MELBOURNE — A long dispute came to a head on April 7, when 2500 maintenance workers from five Latrobe Valley unions walked off the job indefinitely over the State Electricity Commission's violation of an agreement to consult unions on contract labour worth more than $20,000. Next day, AWU members and workers from Newport power station and Fisherman's Bend also voted for one-day stoppages. Faced with possible blackouts, the SEC backed down and unionists returned to work after a mass meeting on April 10.

SYDNEY — Vista Paper Products is refusing to reinstate 26 workers who maintained a 10-month picket before winning a court settlement late last year in a dispute over company attempts to cut working conditions. On April 7 the federal Industrial Relations Commission dismissed a company appeal, reaffirming its ruling that the workers should be reinstated from December 18. The company responded that it would never re-employ the workers, and would appeal to the High Court.

  • Members of the miscellaneous and liquor trades unions have voted for amalgamation, creating a combined organisation of around 250,000 members. The new union is expected to focus on covering cleaners, brewery workers, bottlers and hotel, restaurant and club workers.

  • The Australian Workers Union is appealing against an April 6 federal Industrial Relations Commission decision to allow weekend shearing.

  • The NSW Labor Council has accused the Public Works Department of trying to stampede workers into voluntary redundancy agreements over 974 job cuts planned for the next three years. The department is offering as much as an extra eight weeks' pay, though it wants an agreement that the workers will repay some of their redundancy money if re-employed in the public sector. The Labor Council is negotiating for four weeks' pay for each year of service, while the department is offering two weeks up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Unions are warning members not to accept voluntary redundancy: lump sum pay-outs quickly disappear, and new jobs are hard to find.

  • The NSW government will not allow a long weekend for Anzac Day, which falls on a Saturday this year. The usual practice has been to declare a public holiday on the following

  • The postal supervisors' association has voted itself out of existence by amalgamating with the postal workers union (APTU), which is in the process of amalgamation with the Telecom workers' union (ATEA). The ATEA has recently been given coverage at Optus, the new, private competitor for the most lucrative parts of Telecom's business.

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