Victoria’s Legislative Council passed the Fire Services Reform Bill on June 20, giving firefighters who develop certain types of cancer the presumptive right to compensation. Under the new law, they will no longer have to prove that the cancer was caused by firefighting.
workers' rights and unions
The Australian Workers’ Union claimed an important victory on June 7 after the Fair Work Commission upheld its appeal against a previous ruling allowing US aluminium giant Alcoa to terminate its enterprise bargaining agreement with the union.
Thousands of construction workers walked off the job and marched through Sydney on May 1.
Most workers cannot wait to get rid of this dreadful federal Coalition government. But fewer believe that a Bill Shorten-led Labor government will actually change the rules, writes Sue Bull.
Workers on the Sydney Harbour ferries that have been privatised went on strike for two hours on March 6. The strike involved workers on the NRMA-owned My Fast Ferry and Fantasea Cruising.
While the company brought in non-union skippers, all Fast Ferry services between Manly and Circular Quay were stopped by the strike and picket.
The mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) does not seem to have a strategy for life after coal, if the leaked minutes from its Queensland division’s December meeting can be believed.
It intends to cling tightly to the coalmining multinationals and hope for the best as global climate and renewable energy policies kick in.
“Join your union and bargain together” is the lesson from the recent pay campaign by EDI-Downer workers, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW assistant secretary Corey Wright told Green Left Weekly.
A three-day strike involving mass meetings, rallies and a march of 200 workers down Newcastle’s Hunter Street, encouraged the company to start serious discussions with the union after six months of stalling.
Nearly 80 workers at Laverton Cold Storage in Melbourne’s western suburbs went on strike for the first time on June 25 when negotiations for their first enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) broke down.
The Laverton workers are the lowest paid cold storage workers in Victoria, with a base rate of $20.50 an hour — only 30 cents more than the minimum wage. They work in sub-zero temperatures ranging from -10°C to -35°C. Laverton Cold Storage recently doubled the size of its facility in Truganina, showing it is not short of money.
The latest round of penalty rate cuts, which reduce weekend and public holiday penalty rates for staff in the retail, hospitality and pharmacy sectors by 10–15% from July 1, is estimated by the ACTU to affect 700,000 workers.
Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the penalty rate cuts would cost many retail and fast food workers between $2000 and $6000 a year.
In a clear win for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that Eureka Flags and other union banners can be flown from cranes on building sites.
The decision is another setback for the federal Coalition government and its industrial police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).