Talking union

Wednesday, September 25, 1991

ADELAIDE — The Australian National Railways Commission is about to issue more than 1000 forced redundancy notices in South Australia under an "inefficiency improvement" program. This follows the compuslory redundancy of 162 ANR employees in Tasmania. The Australian Railways Union is trying to negotiate with ANR on the issue but by September 20 had won only a 24-hour repreive.

MELBOURNE — When the federal Industrial Relations Commission resumes sitting on the national wage case on September 30, it may propose that the commission return to the role it played in the 1950s and '60s as a disputes "conciliator" that only sets minimum pay rates for awards. Over the last two decades, the IRC has set overall wage movements and established conditions for their implementation. This role has been essential to the ALP-ACTU wages Accord. Most employer bodies (except for the Metal Trades Industry Association) and the government now want a shift to enterprise bargaining. Both the bosses and the Labor government believe such a shift will more effectively achieve their aim of increasing profitability at the expense of wages and conditions, than the Accord's centralised wage-fixing system.

  • On September 19, the Victorian Industrial Relations Commission gave the State Electricity Commission new powers to stand down and dock the pay of workers engaging in industrial action. In the last two years industrial action, especially in the La Trobe Valley, has increased dramatically as the SECV has tried to cut its workforce by 15%.

SYDNEY — Mineworkers (UMFA) and building workers (BWIU) union members in most states are to vote on amalgamation in late September and early October. If the amalgamation goes ahead, the two unions will become the Construction and Mining Employees' Union (CMEU), consisting of autonomous mining and construction sectors. The eventual plan is to include timberworkers and enginedrivers (FEDFA) in an amalgamated union that will have two additional autonomous sectors: energy workers and forestry workers.

  • The Liquor Trades Union and the Miscellaneous Workers' Union have also begun an amalgamation process, intended to lead to the formation of a Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, initially consisting of two divisions. Officials recently settled on transitional operating procedures. Members of both unions will be balloted some time next year.

  • A left ticket is challenging the national leadership of the Electrical Trades Union. Colin Turner is standing for national secretary and Bob Krygsman for assistant national secretary. Supporters of the incumbents have issued a scurillous leaflet accusing the two of being puppets of the Victorian branch, led by Gary Main. Turner is a senior oil industry shop steward and Krygsman a long-time organiser for the WA branch of the ETU.

  • In an attempt to control use of non-award contract labour and freeze out the scab Troubleshooters operation in the building industry, the Building Workers Industrial Union has h Skilled Engineering. The company will employ its 4000 workers on full-time award conditions and insist that they belong to an appropriate union.

  • Australian Defence Industries has announced that it will cut around 500 jobs at its Garden Island naval dockyard, mainly through a voluntary redundancy scheme. Part of the yard's work will be transferred to Western Australia. Metalworkers' union official Pat Johnson said the sackings were poor reward for workers who bent over backwards to help the navy get its ships seaworthy during the Gulf War.

TAMWORTH — East-West Airlines announced 236 job cuts at its home base on September 18 as a result of a deal with Ansett Airlines under which Ansett will take over all maintenance work for East-West. Both companies are owned by Sir Peter Abeles' TNT and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. East-West is also

pulling out of Devonport, Tasmania, costing another dozen jobs.

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