workers' rights & unions

A panel of union militants will lead a discussion about the new challenges facing unions and unionists in the wake of the passing of the federal Coalition government's Australian Building and Construction Commission and other anti-union laws.

The Electrical Workers Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union issued the following statement on December 7 after the 55 sacked Carlton and United Brewery maintenance workers at the Abbottsford brewery voted on a resolution to the dispute that started on June 10.

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The ETU and AMWU announced today that they have reached agreement to immediately end the dispute with the maintenance workforce at the Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne, Victoria.

The government of Hugo Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, helped lead the Bolivarian revolutionary process that made impressive social gains by redistributing oil wealth and promoting participatory democracy.

Since Chavez’s death in 2013, the Bolivarian government led by President Nicolas Maduro has faced mounting problems. In recent times, a worsening economic crisis has undermined the revolution’s gains and, along with political gains by the counter-revolutionary opposition, has raised questions about the survival of the revolution.

At a packed meeting on November 25, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Murdoch University in Perth expressed no confidence in the university bargaining team and called on the Vice Chancellor to intervene in the negotiations.

They voted unanimously to begin industrial action with a stop work between 8.30am and 12.30pm on December 7. 

They will be the first university workers in this round of collective bargaining to take industrial action.

Hundreds of service workers were arrested while striking for a US$15 minimum wage and the right to form a union in cities across the United States on November 29. Organisers say the strikers remain undaunted.

Fast food workers, many of whom are young, have been left without a union fighting for decent wages and conditions.

On November 21, a new union — the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) — announced its formation. It is a rival in more ways than one to the conservative Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA).

The SDA, long led by Labor Party officials, has been at the centre of a national wages scandal in which 250,000 people are being paid less than the award by major employers including Coles, Woolworths, Hungry Jack’s, KFC and McDonalds

Irene Bolger was branch secretary of the Victorian branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation (RANF) when 20,000 nurses went on strike for 50 days in 1986. It was one of the longest strikes in Australian history and it was led by women.

Now, flipping through a stack of trade union and history books, Bolger says: “Lengthy on an international scale, it was 50 days of rage. But still I can't seem to find any reference to one of the most significant strikes in Australian history. The sexism continues."

A cloud hangs over the annual picnic day for workers in the construction industry and their families, due to the passage of the bill to revive the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Former Prime Minister John Howard’s Building Industry Taskforce was established in 2002 — a child of the Cole Royal Commission. The ABCC was established by the Howard government in 2005, once it had achieved a majority in the Senate. 

Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) staff have made history by rejecting a management proposed deal on pay and conditions for the fourth time, each time by a larger margin.

Two other enterprise bargaining agreements were also rejected by staff in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the National Museum of Australia.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was launched on November 21 to challenge the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) in the wake of several wage scandals.

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said enterprise agreements struck between major retailers and the SDA mean “every day retail and fast food workers have over one million dollars taken from their pay packets”.

Cullinan said the RAFFWU is determined to help these underpaid workers.

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