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In this issue of the Workers Solidarity Bulletin we look at the failures and successes of the Australian government, and governments around the world, as exposed by the ‘stress test’ of the Covid crisis. And as always the issue includes our rundown on current disputes, an interview with a unionist, an answer to an OHS query, a list of what’s on and art from our comrades.

we.are.workers.solidarity@gmail.com

 
Hollie Moly
Hollie Moly
 

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Workers In Struggle

 

Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated versus Ambulance Victoria

Nurses and paramedics who transport patients in Royal Flying Doctor Service ambulances in Victoria have started an indefinite campaign of industrial action over a pay dispute.

The union members who provide non-emergency transport, have voted to ban overtime, write slogans on their vehicles and return back to base for their meal breaks rather than eating on the road.

They fear the introduction of a two-tiered wage system that will reduce the pay of new staff by $4000 a year compared to current workers, whose wages will be grandparented (where an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases). The service says the new system is necessary to rein in costs as the industry has become more competitive.

Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said his members had been on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria transporting patients to hospitals. The sentiment was echoed by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation State Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, Electrical Trades Union and United Workers Union Versus Lactalis

140 dairy workers at Lactalis in Bendigo have been on indefinite strike since 5 November 2020. They are fighting for wage parity with other Lactalis sites and to secure long-term jobs in Bendigo. The company has said it will shut Bendigo if wages are the same or higher than other Lactalis workers. Previously, several large dairy operators have mothballed their sites (stop using the equipment or the facility but keep it in good condition so that it can readily be used again), refusing to sell to other dairy companies and thereby preventing competition. This type of industrial sabotage is devastating for regional towns and the dairy industry – with hundreds of good secure jobs leaving the town.

Cashless Debit Card

The Senate Inquiry into the Cashless Debit Card has shown overwhelming dissent with the proposal – only 10 of the 132 submissions to the Inquiry support the government’s cashless welfare card bill.

The grassroots group No Cashless Welfare Debit Card Australia, which is based in the Hinkler region in Queensland, said the scheme had caused “heartache and trauma” for participants and their families.

The biggest issue experienced by cardholders was that their rents were sometimes declined without notice.

“This leaves people in financial stress as they panic about not being able to pay the rent on time,” the group said in its submission.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory said the card was “paternalistic” and “discriminatory”.

Hong Kong

Nearly all of Cathay Pacific’s pilots and more than 90 per cent of its cabin crew have signed new, cheaper employment contracts, the airline has revealed.

In all, 2,613 of its pilots and 7,346 cabin crew accepted the take-it-or-leave-it deals, representing 98.5% and 91.6% of the two groups, respectively.

In its announcement, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier also said staff members who refused to sign the new contracts would be leaving the company but receive exit packages that went beyond statutory requirements.

The airline added that severance payouts would not be offset against pension contributions. Based on the airline’s data, some 40 pilots and 674 cabin crew opted not to sign the new contracts.
Two weeks ago, Cathay asked staff to sign new contracts that cut pay for flight attendants by 20-40%, and 40-60% for aircrew, according to their respective unions. Cathay now employs about 8,000 cabin crew, mostly in Hong Kong.
The new deals came as part of the airline’s restructuring package, in which it also laid off 5,900 people – most of them in Hong Kong – 17% of its staff had been eliminated in last month’s lay-offs.

Singapore Airlines cut 20% of staff in response to Covid-19 while Qantas and British Airways cut 30% – amongst the highest in the industry.
Hong Kong’s Flight Attendants Union (FAU), which had sought to extend the deadline so crews had more time to decide and hoped the pay cuts might not be permanent, said its nine remaining executive committee members had signed up in the final hours to keep their jobs and senior union ranking positions.

USA

Payday Report reported on Thursday 5 November 2020 at a rally in Pittsburgh, that at least 7 unions and 3 local AFL-CIOs representing over 600,000 union members have issued a call for a General Strike if Trump tries to steal the election.

“We can’t just go to our members and say go out on strike, that won’t work,” United Electrical Workers Secretary Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker said, marching down Grant Street and waving a red UE flag. “We have to show our members, the support that is out there in the community, and that people will have their backs if they go out on strike.”

Dinkelaker said that mobilizing and preparing for a General Strike now could help unions in their fight to push Biden to be more progressive.

While activists called for the votes to be counted, many also issued their criticism of Biden and called for people to be prepared to push Biden from the left.

When Obama was elected in 2008, many activists were thrilled that the Bush era was over. However, many were later disappointed and failed to mobilize in large numbers to push Obama to be bolder.


 


 

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.

See something you disagree with? Not seeing something you think we should talk about? 


Shoot us a line with your thoughts at
we.are.workers.solidarity@gmail.com

 


 

What's On

 

Workers Solidarity General Meeting (Online via Zoom)
Third Thursday of every month
Next meeting: TBA
Workerssolidarity.org.au

Starting a Worker Cooperative
Formal short online course hosted by Earthworker Cooperative
Every Wednesday until December 9th 09:30 - 12:30
03 94158700 for more info & enrolment

Book Launch: Max Ogden: A Long View from the Left (Online Event)
Hosted by Search Foundation / NIBS
Thurs 12 Nov 18:00
facebook event here


Protest: Free the refugees!
Organised by Refugee Action Collective
Sat 14 Nov 14:00
Mantra Bell City, 215 Bell St, Preston
facebook event here

Palestine National Day (Online Event)
Hosted by several Palestinian advocacy and community organisations in Melbourne.
Sun 15 Nov 17:00
crm.apan.org.au/national_day/

Tom Tanuki - White Traitor (Online Event)
Hosted by the Melbourne Fringe Festival
Mon 16 - We 25 Nov 19:00
melbournefringe.com.au/event/white-traitor/

Virtual Organising Conference
Hosted by Australian Trade Union Institute
Mon 16 - Fri 20 Nov
More info at voc2020.atui.org.au

Yellowcake Country: Maralinga to Mulga Rock (Online Event)
Final in a webinar series exploring the local, national and intvernational impacts of Australia’s uranium industry
Hosted by Nuclear Free WA and West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance
Wed 18 Nov 20:30pm (AEST)
Event info on facebook

Eureka Rebellion 166th Anniversary (Online Event)
Hosted by Spirit of Eureka
Sun 29 Nov 4pm (AEST)
More info at spiritofeureka.org

 

 
 
 
 

Workers Solidarity acknowledges that our activities take place on Aboriginal Land. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

 
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