Workers In Struggle
Vale to Mr. J Wavehill
On August 25th Mudburra elder and First Nations leader Mr. Wavehill passed away at the age of 85.
In 1966 Mr. Wavehill walked off Wave Hill Station with his fellow stockmen, including Vincent Lingiari, in protest of wages and conditions as well as the violent legacy of colonialism. This action and the protest which followed sparked a national movement for the return of Gurindji land, leading to Gough Whitlam’s handback ceremony in 1975.
Mr. Wavehill was in attendance at Freedom Day celebrations on August 23rd to mark the 55th anniversary of the historic walk-off.
TWU v Toll
7,000 Toll workers have voted to strike for 24 hours, as one of the largest trucking companies in Australia seeks to replace permanent workers with an Uber-style system of insecure, short-term contracts and external contractors on lower pay.
Toll’s push for a substandard enterprise agreement is aimed at slashing pay and conditions in Toll yards to win work from wealthy retailers and manufacturers by offering low rates. The agreement threatens the job security and earning potential of workers by scrapping overtime entitlements, bringing in new workers on far worse pay and conditions, and attempting to remove job security protections which would allow good, reliable Toll jobs to be contracted out to the lowest common denominator.
Other attacks on conditions by Toll include:
• Outsourcing work and undermining clauses in the current agreement so that Toll employees will no longer be engaged before outside hire
• A refusal to ensure outsourced contractors are paying their drivers the same wages as Toll workers, despite this being a clause in successive Toll agreements
• Part-time workers to lose overtime entitlements with additional work up to 38 hours a week to be paid at ordinary rates, in violation of the award standards
• A refusal to sign a deed of transfer ensuring that workers’ pay and conditions will be guaranteed at Allegro, meaning that workers will be forced to negotiate again with worse outcomes.
The trucking industry is one of the most dangerous in Australia: In the five years to 2020, 885 people died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics.
MUA v Qube
Stevedores are pushing back against the failure of Qube to accept any of the 42 claims in the latest EBA negotiations and its refusal to return to the table for talks.
Qube has failed to agree to a single bargaining claim regarding critical safety concerns raised by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) over the past 15 months. These include long-standing issues putting worker’s lives at risk, from dangerous consecutive runs of excessive hours over extended periods resulting in worker fatigue, rostering workers who have hit the maximum run of shifts and untrained workers being coerced to undertake high-risk work.
The increased use of casualised workers and late calls with available shifts has meant that workers must forgo other work because the company refuses to negotiate a reasonable cut off times for daily work rosters.
The workers have decided to take a stand, by refusing work until the company comes back to the table. The dispute at this level has reached its 4th week.
AWU v GrainCorp
AWU members at Graincorp are on strike - they are fighting to win a pathway to permanent jobs for casual workers, some of whom have been in insecure work for more than 12 years, and a fair pay rise that recognises their hard work throughout the pandemic.
In their last agreement, GrainCorp pulled a bait-and-switch where the new permanent roles won by the Union were given to new hires, overlooking loyal, long-term experienced staff.
GrainCorp has refused to put a new offer on the table, even after 87% of workers voted NO to their previous offer! Now GrainCorp is using the pandemic to avoid offering workers a fair deal, thinking they can wait them out.
WMWA v WA Mining
The Western Mineworkers Alliance (WMWA) has demanded that an independent expert body, funded by the mining industry, be set up to oversee sexual harassment and abuse claims after a survey found almost one in four women in WA mining has experienced sexual assault at work.
Western Mineworkers Alliance (WMWA), headed by the Australian Workers’ Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union – Mining and Energy Division, plays a vital role campaigning to improve the working lives of workers employed in WA mining.
The WMWA says the new independent expert body is urgently needed so workers can raise complaints without fear of retaliation or blacklisting by site management.
The call comes after a WMWA survey revealed that not only have a majority of female workers on WA mine sites experienced sexual harassment, most are also wary of raising it with management because of a deeply embedded culture of cover-up that discourages reporting and accountability.
APA NSW v NSW State Government
NSW Paramedics have pleaded for help as patients are forced to sit in ambulances for up to six hours amid the state’s escalating Covid crisis.
The state’s paramedics union says frontline healthcare workers have been pushed to the edge and is demanding the NSW government for funding.
Australian Paramedics Association – NSW (APA NSW) - delegate Brett Simpson said paramedics were working obscene hours because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Concerns are held for their wellbeing and Mr Simpson called on the NSW government to cough up money for reinforcements.
CFMMEU ACT v ACCC
The collapse of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) cartel case against the CFMEU ACT Secretary, Jason O’Mara raises serious questions about the ACCC’s behaviour in the matter and is yet another failed prosecution emerging from the 2014 - 2015 Heydon Royal Commission.
“This case has been an abuse of power by the ACCC and should never have proceeded to court”, said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.
“All of the charges against Jason O’Mara have been withdrawn at committal and the ACCC must explain how this case proceeded when they knew the charges were unsupported by the facts.”
“It is another example of the appalling abuse of legal process and failed prosecutions stemming from the discredited Heydon Royal Commission.”
“The ACCC has engaged in the blatant victimisation of Jason O’Mara. An honest, hardworking trade unionist has endured three years of trial by media and attack on his character.”
“The ACCC has attempted to weaponise the Consumer and Competition Act to attack the right of trade unions to collectively bargain.”
“The Federal Government sank significant funds into this case, continuing its endless war against the rights of working Australians and the trade unions that represent them.”
Trade unionists must continue campaigning for the abolition of the draconian and anti-worker Australian Building and Construction Commission and the end of all discriminatory laws against construction workers and their unions.
The Worker’s Solidarity Bulletin is a living document written to reflect what is happening within the labour movement, here in Australia and across the world. The producers of this publication, and participants in Workers Solidarity more broadly, don’t necessarily endorse or agree with all of the views in this publication. This is a place for debate and discussion.
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