Talking Union

Wednesday, September 18, 1991

MELBOURNE — The "Jobs for Justice" rally organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Victorian Council for Social Service on September 10 attracted only about 1000 people, perhaps because it was raining. Union efforts to build the rally were token. Workers were called off a couple of city building sites, but few braved the rain. A contingent critical of the VTHC policy on jobs (which largely urges job creation through subsidies and concessions to employers) attracted more than half of the marchers, and VTHC secretary John Halfpenny was heckled when he addressed the rally.

  • The biggest teachers' demonstration against Victorian government cuts to education spending took place on September 12. More than 6000 members of the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria went on strike, rallied and marched on Parliament House. The campaign will include rolling short school-by-school stoppages, half-day regional stoppages and work bans. Unfortunately, this campaign is not being coordinated with the campaign by the other teachers' union, the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association. The Kirner government refuses to budge on 1650 job cuts and is even asking teachers to forgo a wages back payment in return for the government not cutting a further 400 teaching jobs!

SYDNEY — About 8000 mineworkers at 43 open cuts in NSW and Queensland struck last week over delays in pay and award restructuring negotiations. One of the largest companies, Coal and Allied, threatened its workers with stand-downs. NSW miners returned to work after 24 hours in line with a Coal Industry Tribunal directive, but Queensland pits stayed out for 48 hours.

WOLLONGONG — After more than 100 years of militant struggle, the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union (PDU) is being forced out of existence through a combination of work practice changes and ACTU-sponsored amalgamations with seamen's and metalworkers' unions. Addressing 500 members and friends of the union at a September 8 meeting Sydney, PDU federal and state secretary Bob Galleghan pointed out that federal industrial laws introduced in 1987 deny unions with fewer than 10,000 members the right to exist.

"We'll still be painters and dockers as we enter other organisations", Stan Woodberry from the Port Kembla branch of the PDU told Green Left. "And we'll take into these organisations the strength, unity, militancy and family closeness we've learnt over the years."

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