Talking union

December 4, 1991

  • According to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 46% of employees earn less than $440 per week (a Morgan poll estimated recently that a family of four requires $441 per week to "keep in health and live decently"). Further, some 60% of workers received less than the average weekly earnings of $561.40.

  • Computer giant IBM has announced plans to cut 1000 jobs, about 25% of its workforce. The cuts coincide with an international cutback of some 20,000 jobs by the company. IBM Australia is likely to record a loss this year following a profit of $241 million last year.

  • The Clothing Trades Union has struck a deal to overhaul long-accepted piecework rates in the industry. The agreement will provide a minimum award topped by "payment by results" productivity bonus agreements, based on workers' ability to complete a task in less than a set time. The scheme is expected to deliver a bonus of around $68 weekly to 75% of most companies' workforces.

MELBOURNE — A secret deal between the Victorian government and Trades Hall averted a statewide power strike on November 26. The State Electricity Corporation of Victoria workers threatened industrial action in response to the latest episode of creeping privatisation of the SECV by the Kirner Labor government. At issue was the plan to contract out work at one of the corporation's coal mines. The government is currently taking bids for private ownership of 40% of the incomplete Loy Yang B power station (the successful bidder will be given control over the station even though it will be 60% publicly owned).

  • Three groups are expected to contest elections for the 30,000-strong Victorian branch of the Transport Workers Union early next year. The incumbent left leadership will be challenged by centre-right and right-wing old guard factions.

PERTH WA's two main employer organisations have merged to form the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing about 10,000 employers. The new organisation replaces the Confederation of WA Industry and a previous organisation also called the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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