Backbone of Our Movement: Kim Bullimore

Kim Bullimore, NTEU Rank and file

How long have you been a union member?

I am a currently a member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). I have been a rank-and-file member now for 5 or 6 years. However, I first joined a union more than 30+ years ago, when I was 19 or 20 years old and working in retail. Coming from a working-class family, I understood the importance of being part of a union, as they are the basic defence organisation for the working class. Trade unions allow us to collectively organise, to fight and defend workers right and to act in solidarity with oppressed and minority groups.

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OHS Matters: Women and Occupational Health and Safety

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, we pose the question: are women as equally protected as men under Australia’s OHS/WHS laws?

Australia’s OHS/WHS laws apply to all employee/workers equally – the laws do not discriminate and therefore everyone’s health and safety at work is equally protected.

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Analysis: Incitement Charge a Danger for Workers' Movement

 

When Chris Breen posted a Facebook event for the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in March last year he didn’t anticipate he would end up spending nine hours in the cells of Preston police station.

But on the morning of Good Friday, 10 April 2020, he was arrested at his home. Police seized not only his mobile phone and computers but his teenage son’s laptop. By the time he was released from custody that evening he was facing a charge of incitement.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Fran Mckechnie

Fran Mckechnie smiling and waving an Australian Services Union flag

Fran Mckechnie
Australian Services Union Vic/Tas, Workplace delegate
Member of Unionists for Refugees

How long have you been a union member?

All my working life – since at least 1983.

Why did you join the union?

Strength and unity. My father was a strong union member on the waterfront. What really left an impression on me was the nurses’ strike under Irene Bolger when I was working as a nurse assistant. It opened my eyes to how the union could stand up for workers even though it felt like our backs were against the wall.

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OHS Matters: COVID-19, Vaccines and Workers

 

“We believe that COVID-19 vaccines are going to be rolled out in the near future - and that some workers/workplaces will be designated ‘priority’ and will be receiving them first. What can you tell us about this?”

 

You are right - there is a lot happening in this ‘space’ at the moment. Firstly, it’s important to know that in Australia all vaccines will be free of charge. Discussions between the States and Federal Health departments have taken place to identify priority groups who will be first in line to get vaccinated. These considerations include occupation.

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Analysis: Why Workers Should Support the Free Assange Campaign

Last month in London’s Old Bailey court, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Julian Assange would not be extradited to the USA to face 17 charges of espionage and 1 of computer hacking with sentences totalling 175 years imprisonment.

Nonetheless, Julian is being kept without charge in the notorious Belmarsh Prison,  awaiting an appeal by the US Government to the ruling. The appeal has been lodged and will likely take place in May this year. Julian’s union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) welcomed the decision but expressed concerns that the extradition was only granted on medical grounds and did nothing to question the perceived right of the USA to implement their laws against journalists anywhere in the world.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Giles Fielke

Giles Fielke photo

Giles Fielke

NTEU Delegate

How long have you been a union member?

Since I was a teenager, working at my local Safeway supermarket (who today are best represented by RAFFWU, and not the SDA ‘shoppies’, which I suppose I was a member of at the time).

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OHS Matters: Racial Abuse in the Workplace Part 2

In the last edition of the Workers’ Solidarity Bulletin, we looked at the ugly face of racism in the workplace, and in sport in particular. The column was sparked by a letter to The Age following a nasty incident during an Australia-India cricket match.

In this edition we revisit the topic after the AFL’s ‘Do Better’ report was leaked to the press, an Independent review into Collingwood Football Club’s responses to Incidents of Racism and Cultural Safety in the Workplace. The report, commissioned by the club, was authored by University of Technology Sydney’s distinguished professor, Yuwaalaraay woman Larissa Behrendt and Professor Lindon Coombes. The club had decided from the start that it would make the report public, yet despite having received it in mid-December of last year, there was no mention of it for over seven weeks– but surely its findings could not have come as a shock.

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Analysis: The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 30 Years On

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) was initiated in 1987 ‘in response to a growing public concern that deaths of Aboriginal people in custody were too common and public explanations too evasive to discount the possibility that foul play was a factor’. Indigenous organisations including Aboriginal Legal Services and the Committee to Defend Black Rights, as well as the families of those who died in custody, agitated for the establishment of an investigation into these deaths through a public campaign and political lobbying. The Royal Commission finalised and released its findings by way of a report thirty years ago, in 1991. This report found that Indigenous people faced significant disadvantage resulting in increased contact with the criminal justice system, and that the deaths investigated by the RCIADIC were not found to be the result of deliberate violence or brutality, but were instead the result of systemic failings to uphold a duty of care to Indigenous people in custody.

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OHS Matters: Racial Abuse in the Workplace

“It is time to prevent workplace abuse on the pitch.

Tim Paine was at work on that cricket pitch. If you abuse people at work, you will be summoned to a formal investigation. Sometimes you are demoted or lose your job. At a minimum, you end up with a formal warning. Being “under pressure’ is not a defence.

Paine is paid millions to play sport. That is a privilege that most workers never enjoy. If he cannot perform the inherent requirements of his job without abusing others, then why is he there? It is time WorkSafe investigated Cricket Australia. What effort, if any, is that employer making to prevent workplace abuse?”

Letter from union comrade Cindy O’Connor, printed in The Age recently.

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