Tim Gooden

On July 17, unionists and residents from Forrest, a small town in the Victorian Otways region, converged on the shire office at Colac to protest against an Optus communications tower being placed in the middle of their town.
The community picket line was established on the site for the new tower two weeks earlier. The community sought support from the construction unions, which it has received from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and the Electrical Trade Union.

On May 18, during proceedings in Fair Work Australia, negotiations ended between Ford and the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Metal Workers Metals Division over the “Ford Australia Enterprise Agreement 2009 (Skilled Trades)”.

The content of the agreement has been the subject of a dispute that has involved two 24-hour strikes.

On May 10, skilled trades members of the Electrical Trade Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union from Geelong and Broadmeadows Ford plants held a 24-hour stoppage.

They were demanding better pay and conditions under their enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) and took their protest to the street.

Ford wants to freeze the wages of all fixed-term employees at the current (2008) level one entry rate ($986.65 a week).

The company did not verify the length of its proposed wage freeze.

On April 15, Geelong unionists hosted a reception for Ark Tribe, an Adelaide construction worker facing six months in jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Tribe was invited to the meeting by the Geelong Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union Shop Stewards Committee.

Congratulations to Victorian Electrical Trades Union secretary Dean Mighell for his frank comment in the February 11 Age (“Unions must leave Labor”).

“Delivering for all Working Australians” was the slogan for the 2009 Australian Council of Trade Unions congress held June on 2-4. This raises the question — what if you are not working or an Australian citizen? But the congress will not be remembered for such philosophical questions — there were many more immediate issues at stake.

At first glance it seems like just about everyone is pleased with the federal government’s car industry bailout. The car industry bosses are delighted. The car industry unions are happy.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union official Noel Washington appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on October 31. He is charged with refusing to be forcefully interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Two

The global financial crisis isn’t just clipping the wings of grossly overpaid bank executives and speculators in shonky “financial instruments”. It’s going to hit ordinary working people hard.

To lobby or not to lobby? Fortunately for the Australian union movement our forebears in the union leaderships didn’t spend much time trying to answer this question. Campaigns were more direct and more successful than today’s so-called strategies of “boxing smart” and “keeping your powder dry”.

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