Analysis: The Bosses are Attacking, We Must Fight Back

 

In the last fortnight, the franchise industry has called for the scrapping of weekend and evening penalty rates. They have said that the COVID-19 pandemic can be used to “shift the paradigm” on industrial relations.

Also in the last fortnight, the High Court of Australia ruled against giving part time and shift workers sick leave based on the number of hours worked, versus the number of days worked. It means that workers working 8 hour days, and workers working 12 hour days, accrue the same amount of sick leave. Cadbury argued that a “normal day” was 7.6 hours, and every worker could accrue no more than 10 x 7.6 hour days in sick leave. This was a battle fought by Cadbury workers, represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. The AMWU won this fight in the Federal Court. But Cadbury took the fight higher. The new decision will save employers billions of dollars in our wages, and costs us billions of dollars in lost wages.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Emma Bagg

Emma Bagg
Organiser, staff delegate and staff HSR
ASU Vic-Tas Branch

 

How long have you been a union member?

23 years.

Why did you join the union?

I came from a working-class family, but we never really talked about the union movement, but my family always talked about fighting for workers’ rights.

When I was 15 and working in hospitality, I always questioned my rights and entitlements for myself and other staff. However, it was not until I was 20 and I started work at the Colac Abattoirs and I joined the AMIEU as I realised the importance of being part of a collective and standing together.

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Analysis: STOP UNSAFE WORK! Pandemic Leave for All Workers

 

COVID-19 is a very contagious, and very deadly disease.

It spreads easily, it spreads through the air.

It spreads in workplaces.

Staying home will stop the spread.

But some workers can’t stay at home.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Glen

Glen
HSR at the Australian Services Union (Vic-Tas)

How long have you been a union member?

All my working life.

Why did you join the union?

It’s how I was raised. Coming from a working- class family it’s the way it was.

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OHS Matters: History of Industrial Manslaughter in Victoria, Part 2

 

Last edition we looked at the unions’ struggle to achieve industrial manslaughter (IM) laws in Victoria, and how, in 2017 under Luke Hilakari as Secretary, the VTHC relaunched the campaign for these laws.

Since the earlier campaign, two other jurisdictions, the ACT and Queensland had introduced IM laws - but neither had had any successful prosecutions. So we wanted better laws, laws which would ‘work’.

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OHS Matters: History of Industrial Manslaughter in Victoria, Part 1

 

 

Why have we wanted and campaigned for industrial manslaughter laws in Victoria?

On a simple level it’s a desire for justice. When a family loses a loved one in a preventable workplace incident only to see the employer, who too often broke the law, prosecuted only to avoid paying the fine by going into receivership it hits them in the guts. Even when large corporations do end up paying the fine, that fine is like a slap on the wrist, and they can even insure themselves against it. Those companies, those employers don’t really pay; no-one seems to care. Yet if someone kills another person with a drunken punch or as a result of reckless driving, that individual is sent to jail.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Joel

 

Joel, Delegate for the Rail Tram and Bus Union

How long have you been a union member?

Since I commenced my first job at 15 – 11 years now.

Why did you join the union?

I’ve made signing up to the union and becoming active a priority at every job I’ve started at. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family where everyone who has joined the workforce has been a union member. It’s just been the done thing.

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Analysis: Recession is a Reason to Fight

Australia is now firmly in the throes of a recession, as is the rest of the world. Unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Entire industries have been destroyed, and many companies will close their doors and simply will not be seen again.

Previous editions of this Bulletin have argued that the economic crisis, though catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was in the makings well before the first COVID case emerged in December 2019. This was evidenced by the crisis in retail, with some 169 closures of outlets in January 2020, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in the same month. Those closures and the impact of the retail crisis emerged before the full impact of low sales over the Christmas and holiday period would be realised. In January 2020, these were figures not seen in several decades.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Diarmaid

 

Diarmaid, NTEU
Delegate

How long have you been a union member?

6 years.

Why did you join the union?

As an immigrant, I could see how Australia had better working conditions in higher education compared to other countries I previously worked in. Better pay, more super contributions, long service leave, and other benefits. I recognised that this was the result of the work of my union, the NTEU.

Going back decades, the members had been pushing for better conditions, and now I had the chance to benefit from their victories. So I felt I needed to pay them back. Furthermore, I wanted to be able to pass those benefits onto the future workers in my sector. It’s our responsibility, I believe, to honour the struggle of those who came before us, and pass it on to those who will come after us. Unions are a way to achieve this.

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OHS Matters: COVID-19 and Abattoirs

 

In the past week there has been an increase in alarm with the number of new COVID-19 infections growing in Victoria in numbers not seen since mid-March.  The numbers are still extremely low if we look at other countries – for example the hotspot councils of Moreland and Hume had 26 and 51 active cases respectively early last week. However, the number of new infections in the state increased by 75 on Sunday June 28, the highest since the peak in April, illustrating we cannot be complacent. 

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