Susan Price

A bill attacking the rights of NSW public sector workers pushed by the O’Farrell Coalition government are set to pass through the upper house on June 14, with the support of Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats and the Shooters Party. It can then be put through the Liberal dominated lower house on June 15. The anti-union bill is a draconian measure. If passed, it will give the state government the power to unilaterally set the wages and conditions of public sector workers.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Macquarie University in Sydney took rolling industrial action across four faculties during the first teaching week of semester. The industrial action was part of a campaign for a new collective agreement for academic staff. Three hundred staff and students rallied on March 3 to hear about the bargaining impasse. Issues of concern for staff include overcrowded classes, lack of facilities, workloads, budget cuts and job security.
The secretaries of eight NSW unions have signed a letter to the NSW Greens urging them to “commit to an upper house preference swap with Labor” at the upcoming NSW state election. The unions represented include the Communications Electrical Plumbing (Telecommunications and Services Branch), the Construction Forestry Mining Energy union (Energy and Construction divisions), the Maritime Union of Australia national office, the Fire Brigade Employees Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Services Union and the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union.
For communities affected by Cyclone Yasi and the recent floods across Queensland, Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, it will be no comfort to hear that the Fair Work Act provides little protection for workers from unscrupulous employers. Many bosses will choose to stand workers down without pay if their business is affected by these natural disasters. At the height of the Queensland floods, state Workplace Rights Ombudsman Don Brown told ABC Online on January 21 that employers have the right to not pay workers for time off caused by the floods.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) began industrial action on June 30 to pressure management to reach agreement with the union on a range of claims. They want reinstatement of job security protections for contract research staff; improved conditions for casual and fixed-term staff; Indigenous employment targets and an increase in paid parental leave from 26 to 36 weeks.
The Live Red Art Award and Festival, an initiative supported by Cultural Dissent seeks to promote and recognize art that investigates a radical social and political perspective.
Thousands of staff from 16 universities across the country will strike on September 16 for new union collective agreements. The actions follow strikes at the University of New England and Charles Sturt University on September 9 and at Victorian and Tasmanian campuses on May 21.
SYDNEY — A network of trade union activists concerned about climate change has formed in Sydney.
The NSW mini-budget on November 11 is a full-on assault on public services and the public ownership of major assets in NSW.
Three hundred and fifty staff at Victoria University held a mass meeting on October 21 to consider industrial action in response to the announcement of a plan to sack more than 250 staff in VU’s Higher Education and TAFE divisions.
An arrogant ALP state government, with only the approval of cabinet, announced on August 28 it would start selling off NSW energy retailers as well as public land to energy corporations for future power stations.
Fifteen hundred electricity workers walked off the job on August 29, just 24 hours after the NSW cabinet voted to sell off electricity retail in NSW.
Professor Sharon Beder, a research fellow at the University of Wollongong, prepared a submission on behalf of Unions NSW to the Ownen Inquiry that makes a powerful case against Premier Morris Iemma’s government’s proposed energy privatisation.
The proposal by Premier Morris Iemma to privatise electricity generation in NSW has been met with a campaign of opposition from unionists and community activists.
PM John Howard and ALP leader Kevin Rudd have both attacked Unions NSW secretary John Robertson for comments, secretly recorded and leaked to the media, made at a Bennelong Your Rights at Work meeting in late June.
Barry Hemsworth, a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union member and workplace delegate, was sacked unfairly from his job at Botany Cranes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in 2006, made possible by the Howard government’s unfair dismissal laws. July 2 will mark the 300th day that Barry has held vigil outside the gates of his former employer with the support of the union movement.

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