Chris Slee

Sri Lanka is under pressure over repeated allegations of war crimes committed during its war against the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The war, which lasted nearly three decades, ended with the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. An estimated 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the first five months of 2009 alone.

More than 500 people attended a dinner of the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) on February 4.

The ATC, formed in 2009, campaigns for the rights of Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who have been subject to discrimination, oppression and massacres at the hands of successive racist Sri Lankan governments since the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948.

In December 1984, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) expelled Tamil farmers from three villages in the Ma'nalaa'ru region in the northeast of the island of Sri Lanka and seized 1500 acres of land.

The land has been occupied by the SLA ever since. The displaced farmers told two Tamil National Alliance members of the Sri Lankan parliament who recently visited the area that the army still bans them from returning. They are not even allowed to look at their land.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has condemned the federal government's planned increase in the “efficiency dividend” imposed on the Australian Public Service.

“Efficiency dividend” is a euphemism for funding cut. In the 2012-13 financial year the “dividend” will be 4%, based on the assumption the public service will increase its efficiency by 4% during the year.

Such cuts have been continuing for many years. In 2011-2012 the “efficiency dividend” is 1.5%.

In a November 9-15 ballot, Austalian Taxation Office (ATO) staff voted 57% to 43% to accept management’s proposed enterprise agreement.

This was the second all-staff vote. The previous version of the enterprise agreement was rejected by 59% to 41%.

The two drafts did not differ much. Both provided for a pay rise of 9% over three years. The final version includes two once-off bonuses, but these are dependent on meeting certain targets which may not be achieved.

From November 9 to 15 Australian Taxation Office staff will vote on management's proposed enterprise agreement. This is the second time a staff ballot has been held. The first version of management’s proposal was rejected in June by a majority of 59% to 41%.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is recommending that staff vote “no”, because the pay offer of 9% over three years is less than the expected rate of inflation.

A ballot of CPSU members endorsed this position following a recommendation by union’s Tax Section Council.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in the Australian Taxation Office have voted to reject management's latest proposed enterprise agreement. As a result, the CPSU has launched a campaign for a "no" vote in the all-staff ballot to take place over November 9-15.

Management is still offering a pay rise of only 9% over three years. The CPSU has produced posters highlighting the discrepancy between this 3% a year offer to workers and the 58% rise that Tax Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo has sought from the Remuneration Tribunal.

Australian Taxation Office management has announced it will put a revised draft enterprise agreement up for a staff vote between November 9 and 15. The new version is little different from management’s original proposal, which was rejected by staff by a margin of 59% to 41% in June. The total pay rise being offered is still 9% over three years, which is less than the expected rate of inflation.

Thousands of Customs Officers attended stop-work meetings around Australia on October 13. They voted to take further industrial action next week if needed as part of their campaign to have the federal government agree to a fair pay agreement.

Customs officers at than fifty locations took action. This caused delays at international airports, ports, cargo inspections, international mail centres and other customs sites.

Workers in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship have won pay rises of about 11% over three years. Management initially offered only 9%, but conceded bigger rises following a 65% “no” vote to the offer in a staff ballot. Members of the Community and Public Sector Union had threatened industrial action over the issue.

By contrast, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) management has so far refused to go beyond its original offer of 9% over three years.

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