Talking Union

Wednesday, September 11, 1991

MELBOURNE — The Victorian Secondary Teachers Association and the Federated Teachers Union of Victoria decided on September 6 to step up their industrial campaigns against the loss of 2000 jobs. There will be a full-day stoppage on September 12, rolling regional stop-works, bans on extra classes and staff planning for next year and a major publicity campaign including rallies with parents and students.

The leaderships of the two unions have endorsed the campaign because the job cuts breach even adverse industrial agreements which they had forced on their memberships. "How will I ever sell another agreement to the members?", said one FTUV councillor. Teachers are the only sector taking industrial action so far even though about 10,000 jobs in Victoria will be lost because of budget cuts.

  • The federal government has resurrected plans, first mooted four years ago, to toughen anti-union sanction powers of the Industrial Relations Commission while exempting unions from common law actions. The 1987 proposals include retention of the ban on secondary boycotts under sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practices Act and the establishment of a new Labour Court. The proposals will be considered by the tripartite National Labour Consultative Council.

  • Employer organisations and the federal government have urged the IRC to allow enterprise bargaining in their formal submissions on the future of the wage-fixing system. The ACTU will not make a submission until after its September 11-13 congress. However, it has lodged a joint submission with metal unions calling upon the IRC to ratify a further 4.5% productivity-enterprise bargaining pay deal. The Metal Trades Industry Association opposes enterprise bargaining as an immediate prospect.

  • Plans for a merger between the Transport Workers Union and the National Union of Workers are facing difficulties due to opposition from the important, left-leaning Victorian branch of the TWU. The Victorian group says the TWU should look to amalgamation with other transport unions, rather than the storage workers. The TWU will now hold a ballot on the matter, and the Victorian group will circulate an anti-amalgamation case.

PERTH — More than 800 rail jobs will be axed in the next five years if Westrail plans to revamp its freight operations are given the go-ahead by Premier Carmen Lawrence's Labor government. Even before the state budget, WA government sector unions had been told at least 3000 jobs would go. To

undercut any union campaign, the government mounted an advertising campaign appealing to individual workers to opt for a redundancy plan, with an October 10 deadline.

All Westrail workers have been given a copy of the government's offer — the carrot being an extra 12 weeks' pay if redundancies were accepted by the deadline. However, the offer doesn't apply to workers Westrail still needs. The proposed redundancies do not include jobs lost through the transfer of interstate freight functions to the new National Rail Freight Corporation.

SYDNEY — In a submission on the national wage case last week, the ACTU admitted that workers in the metals and engineering industry had suffered large real wage cuts under the accord while also being among the most accommodating with productivity deals. The ACTU called on metal industry employers to ratify a deal for a round of enterprise bargaining for a 4.5% productivity deal.

  • The NSW Labor Council has called a protest rally for September 17 in opposition to the Greiner government's new industrial relations bill. The document, more than 300 pages, is the longest submitted to the parliament for decades and would strip workers under state awards of many long-established rights. The Greiner industrial bill is widely seen as a test run for the policy of a future Liberal government at federal level.

  • The International Labour Organisation has notified the federal government that its federal anti-strike laws violate international conventions guaranteeing freedom of association and the right to organise. The ILO has suggested amendment of section 45D of the Trade Practices Act, a Fraser-era law which the Hawke government has failed to repeal.
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