OHS Matters: Changes to Industrial Chemical Regulation

 

Starting July 1, the scrutiny on new industrial chemicals entering Australia will change. Under the previous system originally introduced under a Labour government in the 1980’s – all new chemicals had to be thoroughly assessed by the industrial chemicals regulator, NICNAS (the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme), unless a company applied for an exemption based on specific criteria.

The new scheme puts much more power into the hands of industry – which has never liked being regulated.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Gabrielle Bennett

Gabrielle Bennett
Australian Nursing & Midwifery Assocaiton
Rank and file member, previous delegate

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Backbone of Our Movement: Kath Larkin

 

Kath Larkin, Rail, Tram & Bus Union
Delegate & Deputy Women’s Officer

How long have you been a union member?

14 years (in various unions)

Why did you join the union?

I grew up understanding the importance of not just joining but being an active member of a union. My mother is a nurse and was involved in the rank and file campaign led by Irene Bolger within the nurses union in the 80s, which successfully campaigned to reform the union. Most notably they were able to remove the anti-strike clause in the constitution. And my grandfather was a member of the tramway union and participated in the 1969 general strike to free Clarrie O’Shea. So from my first job in a cafe at 15 I’ve always joined my union.

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OHS Matters: Public Transport

 

Last week we discussed some of the issues relating to returning to work, including the necessity that employers consult with workers and their representatives to ensure measures are taken to minimise risks of infection at the workplace (for example: the physical layout; air conditioning; cleaning and sanitisation; etc).

There are other risks workers may be exposed to when returning to work over which the employer has no control. A big one is the commute. We’ve seen reports of the congested public transport system in the UK as their restrictions are being lifted and workers urged to return to work, and the outrage this caused to the public and the transport unions in particular. This is an example of how things should NOT be done.

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Analysis: Are the Police Workers like the Rest of Us?

At first glance, the answer would seem to be yes. Police officers need to sell their labour power to their employer like the rest of us. Nevertheless, the position that police hold in our society and the work that they perform makes them different to almost every other worker. This separation has existed from the very origins of policing and police forces.

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OHS Matters: Returning to Work

 

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"My employer has started to make noises about us
gradually returning to work. What are some of the issues
we need to be aware of?"

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Analysis: The Capitalists Are Not United

 

The Capitalists Are Not United

 

It is now the end of May and so far, COVID-19 has been cited as the cause of death for about 350,000 people worldwide and has infected about 5.5 million people. The global response to the pandemic has been variable, but most countries have introduced some form of shut down measures, which include social distancing and business closures. The economic fallout has been severe. Many businesses will be wiped out, and some industries will take years to recover.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Can Yalcinkiya

Can Yalcinkaya, NTEU
Rank and file member

How long have you been a union member?

7 years.

Why did you join the union?

I was a long-time casual tutor and I wanted to find out about the NTEU’s plans to address the increasing casualisation in higher education. I also wanted to be part of a movement that is based on solidarity and improving the conditions of workers.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Pier Moro

 

Piergiorgio (Pier) Moro, Australia Services Union VicTas A&S Workplace delegate and a HSR

 

How long have you been a union member?

I’ve been a member with the ASU for 28 years. I have had shorter stints with other unions.

 

Why did you join the union?

It just seemed the obvious thing to do really. Two major reasons.

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OHS Matters: Working From Home

 

“I am working in administration. I am a casual, now working from home. Does the company I am working for have to provide me with an ergonomic office chair?”

 

Unfortunately, there is nothing specifically in the law that requires an employer to provide the equipment necessary, for someone to work from home. However, under Victoria’s OHS Act (and similar acts in other jurisdictions), the employer DOES have a legal duty to employees (including casual employees) to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. This is called the ‘general duty of care’ and applies to everything: the workplace, the equipment, the systems of work, supervision and training, and so on. But it is qualified by ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

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