Talking union

August 21, 1991

MELBOURNE — The Industrial Relations Commission has brought forward the next national wage case to September 17 and 18 and asked unions, the government and employers to present submissions on whether centralised wage-fixing should continue. Government and union opposition to the April national wage decision has motivated this move, although the ACTU's campaign to win Accord Mark VI "in the field" has fizzled. Secret talks between ACTU officials and the government are believed to have resulted in a new agreement.

The Association of Employers of Waterside Labor wants to renege on the 1989 "in principle" agreement on waterfront reform by laying off workers during the current downturn. The agreement preserved some guarantees of regular employment for the remaining wharfies in an industry noted for its wide fluctuations in demand for labour. Tas Bull, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, said that the association had refused to talk to the union on this issue.

Tripartite discussions on sanctions on industrial actions have fallen apart because employer organisations refuse to agree to legislation protecting the right to strike. Currently industrial action is severely limited by Sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act — which forbids solidarity action and allows common law actions against unions and strikers.

SYDNEY — Giant glass manufacturer AGM has announced plans to close down its large inner-Sydney Waterloo plants and consolidate its operations at the recently acquired Smorgon plant at Penrith. Many jobs will be lost at the Waterloo plants.

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