Among the proposals included in the Australian Council of Trade Unions industrial relations legislation policy, adopted at its October conference, were provisions for unions to be able to hold elections to win recognition in workplaces where the boss refuses to bargain with them. These ballots are aimed at addressing the lack of a mechanism whereby unions can make an employer negotiate a collective agreement for workers. Such ballots have been a feature of the US industrial relations system for over 70 years.
Debate continues over how guest workers and those on 457 visas should be treated. The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) passed a resolution at its July state conference that recommends avoiding falling into the federal government and bosses’ divide-and-rule trap.
Australian unionists have a wealth of experiences to draw on in the fight against the Howard governments Work Choices legislation. Lessons can be drawn not just from the historic victories and defeats of the union movement in this country, but also from the experiences of working-class struggles in other countries.
The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office claims that nuclear safeguards “provide assurances that exported uranium and its derivatives cannot benefit the development of nuclear weapons”. In fact, the safeguards system is flawed in many respects, and it cannot provide such assurances.
The role of mining companies overseas is often shrouded in secrecy. Residents of my country Malawi, in the warm heart of Africa, are learning first hand about Australian mining companies as four of them are currently exploring for uranium.
Senate estimates hearings in November revealed that the federal government’s plans for a nuclear dump in the Northern Territory are not running smoothly. The site evaluation is lagging six months behind schedule and, as a result, Canberra wants to conduct environmental assessment and site licensing processes concurrently.
Kim Beazleys speech to the Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) Congress on October 25 illustrated the limitations of the Labor Party today regardless of who ends up being its federal leader. Beazley told the delegates that he will govern in the interests of all Australians, never just for the vested interests of a few. This is the same sort of language that PM John Howard uses, but what exactly does it mean?
The worst drought in 1000 years means that water shortage is as burning issue across Australia, cutting across the city-country divide. A Morgan poll, back in October 2005, found that 80% of Australians believe governments are not doing enough about water conservation, a view that has since been reinforced. But just how well will restrictions, water saving devices such as dual-flush toilets and rainwater tanks, and water trading schemes tackle the problem?
The Howard governments anti-worker Work Choices laws have placed a powerful weapon in the hands of bosses, which they are using to drive down wages and eliminate hard-won conditions. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on November 16 showed that average weekly earnings for full-time workers had fallen by 1.2% in real terms since Work Choices became law an average loss of $13 a week.