Analysis

I hope that when Kevin Rudd speaks of zero tolerance on lawlessness he means that bosses who kill workers with unsafe work practices will be jailed, and workers who have had their entitlements stripped away by employers, with the backing of the Howard government, will see justice.
Kevin Rudd’s decision to convene a special ALP national executive meeting to expel Joe McDonald marks a new high tide of anti-unionism in the so-called party of the unions. The ACTU, and unions like the CFMEU, should cut funding to Labor if its attacks on unionists don’t stop.
The headline of the June 21 Adelaide Advertiser blared “Unfair pay” and for once, most fair-minded people had to agree with the paper. The headline was referring to a pay rise for the state’s already overpaid members of parliament.
The following is abridged from a speech given by Nathan Fenelon — or “Natty Fen” — to the June 22 “Justice for Mulrunji” rally in Melbourne.
Federal education minister Julie Bishop has announced a tender process to trial performance-based pay in schools. Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Pat Byrne described the scheme as “cash-for-grades”, and called for more federal funding for state education.
In an effort to be reelected for a fifth term PM John Howard is trying to convince workers that this is as good as it gets. Looking at his favorite figures, we might be forgiven for thinking he’s right. In May, unemployment was at a historic low of 4.2% and the economy was growing at an annual rate of 3.8%. Employment grew by 39,400 that month while unemployment fell by 5500. However, these figures hide the reality that the benefits of the boom have been very unevenly shared.
The right to strike is always agreed in principle. “We won’t remove the right to strike”, the Work Choices ads said. Employers agree — subject to restrictions to protect their class interests. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) policy is for the workers’ right to withdraw labour without sanctions.
Prime Minister John Howard announced on June 21 a plan to take control of some 60 Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, supposedly to tackle a child sex abuse crisis in those communities. It is a plan that severely limits and in some instances eradicates the democratic and land rights of all Aboriginal people in remote NT communities.
“I’m taking control”, said Johnny Howard, with a contrived quiver of righteousness in his voice. His face was set into a familiar pastiche of horror and disgust at the degraded behaviour of lesser beings. He also conveyed a weariness — the weariness of shouldering the “white man’s burden”.
The ABC’s June 18 Four Corners program on Telstra was a damning expose of the anti-worker policies being implemented by Australia’s largest employer, Telstra. “Tough Calls” featured interviews with the family, friends and loved ones of two former Telstra workers who were driven to suicide by the relentless pressure of Telstra management to meet unrealistic performance targets.

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