NTEU election TV ad and more

To help NTEU raise the profile of universities and university underfunding this election, please like and share our ‪‎VoteSmart‬ TV ad, vote Green in the Senate www.facebook.com/NationalTertiaryEducationUnion

There is, as the conventional wisdom has it, no point throwing good money after bad. Hence the understandable decision of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) to devote its electoral fighting fund to helping the Senate campaign of the Greens rather than donating to the ALP.

“The NTEU voted yesterday to spend $1 million on its own campaign ahead of the September election to support the Greens in maintaining the balance of power in the Senate. “This is a watershed decision for our union,” said national President Jennie Rea. i was pleased to be a CDU NTEU delegate to this special decision to support the Greens in the Senate, Adam Bandt in Melbourne and Andrew Wilkie in Dennison.

The ALP government’s cuts to higher education are just Dumb Cuts.

National Day of Action
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is joining forces with the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) for a National Day of Action on Tuesday 20 August to champion the cause of publicly-funded and properly-funded higher education in the lead-up to the Federal election.

Rallies are being organised in key centres with more events on campuses on Tuesday: http://www.nteu.org.au/events/national_day_of_action. Eight out the 10 NTEU Branches that are taking industrial action today over stalled enterprise bargaining are in Victoria: La Trobe University, RMIT, Swinburne University, Victoria University, University of Ballarat, University of Melbourne.

Deakin University staff will strike for 24 hours. They will rally at 12 noon 550 Bourke Street in Melbourne before joining the central rally at 2pm at the State Library in Swanston Street.

Swinburne University staff are taking a half-day strike from 12:30pm, with all members converging on the Hawthorn campus for a mass rally and march around the campus. University of Ballarat staff commence a three-hour stop work from 11:30am with a rally with NUS and CAPA students at 12:30pm in the Founders Theatre on the Mt Helen campus.

At Victoria University, members will stop work and 1pm and travel to 2pm State Library rally. At RMIT staff commence a half day strike at 1.30pm being joining the main rally.

La Trobe University staff on six campuses will commence strike action from 11am. Members at Bundoora and Franklin Street campuses will join the State Library rally.

Victorian Division Secretary, Dr Colin Long, said: “Universities have been riding on the backs of staff, with big increases in student numbers. This is causing great strain in the sector. Our members have had enough.

“We want manageable workloads and improved career paths, as well as more secure work. Education quality will decline if classes sizes don’t keep increasing and if we don’t turn around the level of casualisation. The Labor Government cuts are making a bad situation worse.”

Higher education in Australia stands at a tipping point, according to Jeannie Rea, National President of the NTEU.

“Over the past three years, the Labor Government has slashed over $4 billion from higher education with the complicity of the Coalition,” she said.

“This cannot go on. Properly funded universities and properly supported students are essential for a smart future for Australia.”

Rea said the NTEU, NUS and CAPA were also calling on the school and TAFE teachers and students, parents, employers, unionists and other members of the community to join the campaign to make education, including higher education, a big issue in this year’s federal election.

“When we call for education for all – we mean from early childhood to higher degrees. Higher education should be available regardless of background or circumstance, but the costs of education keep increasing,” Rea said.

NTEU members at ten universities are taking industrial action on Tuesday as enterprise bargaining negotiations break down over key issues including workloads and job security.

For more information go to www.nteu.org.au/20aug, www.capa.edu.au, www.unistudent.com.au
Media comment: Dr Colin Long, NTEU Victorian Division Secretary: 0403 920 361 clong@nteu.org.au;
Media Comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531; jrea@nteu.org.au;
More info: Carmel Shute NTEU Media Officer: 03 9254 1910; 0412 569 356 cshute@nteu.org.au

Solidarity with striking NTEU members

2. 5 reasons you cant trust Abbott http://www.act.australianunions.org.au/5_reasons?recruiter_id=59761

3.On Abbott as PM. Please watch. http://ow.ly/o1KIZ

4.Workers’ rights

The Abbott Coalition has an Orwellian industrial policy titled: The Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws, published in May this year.

Abbott claims there will be no return to the obnoxious Work Choices, no return to the rip-off AWAs – the individual contracts that overrode collective agreements and awards.

More power to the boss

Abbott will stick with the Fair Work Act but push it as far as he can toward Work Choices. He names the provision for Individual Flexibility Agreements in the Fair Work Act, and says he will deregulate this option for an individual employee to make a personal agreement about hours of work etc with their employer. With Abbott:
once a worker signs an IFA they can’t get out of it for 13 weeks, and
an Enterprise Agreement will not be allowed to include a clause about how IFAs can work, so the individual worker is really on their own if the employer demands an IFA.
It is pretty much like Howard’s AWAs.

Blank cheque for more anti-worker changes

As a backup, Abbott will get the Productivity Commission to investigate the Fair Work Act and its impact on the economy, productivity and jobs.

While Abbott claims that the Productivity Commission is independent and impartial, in fact the Productivity Commission is deeply committed to the view that the best outcomes are achieved when business is free of regulation and ‘the market’ can produce its best results without ‘outside interference’. A Productivity Commission Inquiry will open the door to radical attacks on those dreadful ‘outsiders’ – employees organised into trade unions.

Employers’ immediate wish-list

While the Productivity Commission is busy taking submission from all sides, an Abbott Coalition government would:
Abolish the newly established ‘fair rates’ rules for the long distance trucking industry and its associated Remuneration Tribunal
Reestablish a special punitive enforcer for building and construction workers – the Australian Building & Construction Commission, which is notorious for prosecuting delegates and officials for holding workplace meetings over health and safety problems
Give small businesses protection against prosecution for underpaying employees
Allow employers to restrict or deny right of entry of union officials to a workplace, especially to recruit members
Require union officials to name union members to the employer before the official could get entry to the workplace
Subject union officers to ‘bullying’ allegations on the same terms as problems of workplace bullying of employees by employers, supervisors or other employees
· Demand that enterprise bargaining negotiations must examine improved productivity, when the union’s basic role is to negotiate and campaign for better wages and conditions for the employees.
A positive workers’ alternative to Abbott

In the real world of Australia, a genuine government effort to provide quality secure jobs for everyone should include:
· Respect for the fundamental rights of employees to form and join trade unions and to collectively bargain, including by holding strikes and bans, with their employers, as laid out in International Labour Organisation Conventions which Australia ratified long ago.

· Restrict the right of an employer to lockout, as Qantas did with its extraordinary global shutdown in 2012.

· Aim for full employment with specific proposals for job creation.

· Permanency after six months in the National Employment Standards.

· Make worker-centred flexibility central to fair work outcomes.

· Focus on the relationship between precarious work, underemployment and youth unemployment and its interaction with the social security payments system – improve the Newstart Allowance by at least $50 per week.

· Use public sector employment to recreate a standard of good work practices.

· Debunk myth that low wages and mean welfare provision equal more jobs.

Call for a Community Summit

The next federal government should convene a Community Summit and not a Productivity Commission Inquiry, and the Community Summit should examine:
· How to achieve full employment with secure quality jobs

· Labour market processes to better place workers into jobs

· How short-term community sector grants programs cause job insecurity

· Scandinavian programs on integration of education, welfare and work

· How Superannuation Funds could support Public Housing investment.

The trade union movement has had major scandals uncovered in the Health Sector Union. The new standards of governance for unions is a vital response to this massive abuse of members’ funds. These legislated changes are now being implemented, and should be allowed to work.

However, the Abbott Coalition intends to maximize the advantage the HSU scandal has provided to continue to hound union offices and tie up union resources.

But the union movement itself must step up the pace of its own renewal programs if it is to provide a more effective counter to the already massive corporate power in the workplace, and in public life and national politics.
Authorised by Peter Murphy, SEARCH Foundation, 128 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

5.CFMEU calls on Abbott and Rudd to rule out bowing down to demands of Chinese Resource Companies The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has called on both Labor and the Coalition to reject outright the possibility of bringing in Chinese labourers for the purpose of building mining projects in Australia, following comments by the Executive Vice President of the Chinese Mining Association in Melbourne.
CFMEU Construction Division national secretary Dave Noonan said that the request from Mr Wang Jiahua to bring in Chinese workers and employ them under their terms was unacceptable.

6.Union rally supports Yallourn workers locked out

7. Aussie works, Aussie rights

8. Abbott’s planned Commission of Audit = Job Losses and Cuts to Social Services

Tony Abbott’s Liberals have been relying on a ‘Stop the Boats’, ‘Axe the Tax’ negative campaign strategy but his commitment to establish a Commission of Audit if the Coalition is elected is a major threat to all Australians.

Public sector jobs and social services are in the firing line, and if the economy weakens Abbott’s commitment to budget cuts – austerity – will make things worse. He also plans to cut Australia’s company tax, and so he will have to cut government spending and/or increase regressive taxes like the GST if he wants to deliver budget surpluses and pursue his ideological goal of shrinking the public sector and welfare state.

The Coalition has already committed to cutting the company tax rate by 1.5% in 2015 but are also going to have a 1.5% tax on big business to fund the paid parental leave scheme. The Coalition corporate tax cut will cost the budget $5 billion over the next four years, and with the carbon and mining taxes also to be scrapped, it’s clear social services like health, education and social security will be at risk if Abbott is elected.

Abbott’s speech to the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2012 gives us some indication of what to expect if the Abbott Coalition is successful. The core sections of the speech are set out below.

After beginning the carbon tax repeal process and giving the navy new instructions for responding to illegal boats, establishing a commission of audit will be an incoming Coalition government’s most urgent task. The commission will be asked to consider the range and effectiveness of existing Commonwealth government programmes and agencies and to make recommendations for improvement.

This no-more-than-once-in-a-decade review of what government does and how government does it, will report within four months to the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance. That way, the operations of government can be improved and streamlined while a new government has maximum political capital to take hard decisions.

Other questions that the commission of audit might ponder could include: whether the federal health department really needs all 6000 of its current staff when the Commonwealth doesn’t actually run a single hospital or nursing home, dispense a single prescription or provide a single medical service; whether the federal education department really needs all 5000 of its current staff when the Commonwealth doesn’t run a single school; and whether we really need 7000 officials in the Defence Materiel Organisation, when the United Kingdom, with armed forces at least four times our size, gets by with 4000 in the equivalent body?

John Howard and QLD Premier Campbell Newman have both used commissions of audit to justify budget cuts in the past and we can expect the same from an Abbott government. Abbott and Hockey will use the recommendations of an ‘independent panel of experts’ to justify their agenda.

The Business Council of Australia, the lobby group that did so much to push the deregulation of the labour market in the 1980s and 90s and WorkChoices in 2005, has also called for a commission of audit. The BCA has released a report that calls for:

An independent, whole-of-government audit should be commissioned to examine government spending and program efficiency. This audit must come to terms with the appropriate size of government. A fundamental issue to be examined must also be the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the states and territories. The audit should: identify current activities that should not be performed by government; recognise the need for stability and certainty for some programs (including defence); and address the level of debt that could be sustained, including to fund productive infrastructure.

Ø The review would be undertaken by an independent panel and conducted in a number of stages comprising near-term actions and recommendations, medium-term actions and institutional reforms.

Ø It would investigate and identify any overlap between the Commonwealth and the states in health and education, aged care, Indigenous welfare and environmental approvals.

Ø It would also be required to identify options for a clearer delineation of responsibilities for policy and service delivery.

And argues for:

Placing a hard cap on the size of the federal government by holding tax as a share of GDP below 23.7 per cent, such that future budgets do not see any slippage.

Consideration should be given to raising the rate of GST as well as broadening its base as a means of providing additional revenue to replace revenue forgone from the abolition and reduction of other taxes.

The government should commit to lower the company tax rate to 25 per cent as a priority as and when fiscal circumstances permit. This recognises that the growing mobility of investment and increasing sensitivity of capital flows to tax settings have important implications for Australia’s long-term growth prospects.

Labor came to office in 2007 just before the biggest financial collapse since 1929. The government acted decisively to prevent the economy sliding into recession. The Labor stimulus package together with the stimulus measures implemented by key trading partners like China protected jobs and living standards.

According to economist John Quiggin, ‘Economic outcomes under Labor have been good in absolute terms and spectacular when the global economic environment is taken into account.’

Almost alone in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australia escaped recession, whether this is judged on the “two quarters of negative growth” rule of thumb or a more general assessment of economic performance. Inflation has remained quiescent, sitting right in the middle of the Reserve Bank’s target range. Unemployment remains near its 30-year low. Despite unfavourable demographic trends associated with the ageing of the baby boomers, the employment-population ratio is near an all-time high. John Quiggin

Austerity has been a dismal failure all around the world with serious social, economic and political consequences. This has been clearest in Greece and Spain where savage spending and wages cuts enforced by the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission have seen unemployment skyrocket to 27% and youth unemployment jump to 60%. This is a social and economic disaster. The rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece shows how the far-Right can gain from this crisis.

Australia is in much better shape than Greece and Spain. East Asia is a more dynamic economic region and Australia, unlike Eurozone countries, controls its own currency. But there are still around 1.5 million unemployed and underemployed Australians, housing costs are extremely high, and 2.2 million people live below the poverty line. So, not everything is rosy. A better economic policy is needed to make Australia fairer and more secure in a low carbon future.

Abbott will use the commission of audit process to justify cuts to the public sector and social services that will cost jobs and increase the pressures on Australians. And if the global economy does slow, especially China, Abbott’s austerity will make a bad situation much worse.

Australian will need to increase government spending by 3-5 per cent of GDP over the next decade to fund health, aged-care, education and social services and so will need to increase taxes (capital gains, top marginal income tax, tax on big business) and scrap rorts that benefit the rich and vested interest, such as huge tax benefits for high income earners superannuation contributions.



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