Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tax concessions, Superannuation and the Pension.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Part 4: 'Slaving Away' outfall and fall-out : Woolworths admits moral responsibiity at Senate Inquiry : still refusing to meet workers and the National Union of Workers

Cross-posted with Advocacy

NUW National Union of WorkersUNITY IS STRENGTH Call 1300 275 689
Dear Brigid
Today saw NUW members speak at the first Senate Inquiry into Australia's temporary work visas. The NUW remains firm:
  • Coles and Woolworths have the power to fix this
  • Labour hire agencies need to be regulated
  • No workers should be forced to work for poverty wages in our fresh food supply chain
  • We cannot allow a two-class system to remain in Australia. Every worker counts!
Woolworths also appeared at today's Senate Inquiry, and admitted moral responsibility for underpaid farm workers.

However, Woolworths are still refusing to meet with workers and the NUW to talk about a Fair Food Agreement to eradicate exploitation from our fresh food. Help put the pressure on and sign the petition here!

And remember, we all have friends and family that can help. Share this petition with your community.

NUW's Godfrey Moase, Winnie Lin, Caterina Cinanni, Sherry Huang and George Robertson with Senator Sue Lines and Senator Deborah O'Neill

If you haven't watched the Four Corners program that exposed exploitation, you can watch it here.
In unity,
Tim Kennedy
National Secretary
National Union of Workers
National Union of Workers
Call: 1300 275 689
National: 833 Bourke St, Docklands VIC 3008
Click here for office locations

© Copyright National Union of Workers

Previous posts referencing this topic 
can be found on this site at:

Part 1 - Slavery in Australia. Is the 'Let 'er rip" attitude on visas for overseas workers going to be stopped? The Robinvale experience

Part 2 - Names have been named in "Slaving Away".  Here they are recorded below and their responses.

Part 3: The conscious consumer becomes the aware and ethical shopper.  Destroy the slavers from the checkouts of Australia!

What are you buying? How did it get to you?  Whose hands has it passed through?


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Brandishing Brandis knows no bounds. Now he is throwing his weight around in The Yartz!

This man probably holds these views honestly -
because he thinks he is the best arbitrator of our thoughts -
and our arts.

Miss Eagle is a former Queenslander.
She doesn't wish to return to the bad politics and racism that are still there.
And, of course, there is Brandis.

Miss Eagle has lived in Sydney and Melbourne 
and knows how egocentric each can be -
as if the sun rises only in these two places.

It is nice to hear of good things happening in the arts in Brisbane -
but Brandis! 
Brandis bullying The Yartz?!
Siphoning money off to spend on his pleasure at his leisure.
I know Brandis has been flaunting himself around
various Brisbane arts institutions for years -
but does his ego have to be inflicted on the rest of us?!

Dear Arts Colleagues and Friends,
As you will know by now, Federal Arts Minister George Brandis has taken $104.8 million off the Australia Council, over four years, to start a National Centre for Excellence run by his own office. This will decimate the Australia Council's discretionary budget, and has threatened the new programs and initiatives that started only this year.
1. Please write to your local federal MP to tell them how poor this decision is, and how it threatens the fundamental democratic process of arts funding. It doesn't matter what political party they are from, they represent you and your interests.
> Click on:
> Put in your postcode, and it will give you the contact details for your local MP.
2. Get busy on social media: ‪#‎FreeTheArts‬
3. Sign the petition: (this is still under construction at time of writing, so please check back at the end of the day to add your name).

Monday, 11 May 2015

These days, the economy is run for the benefit of business, not the rest of us.

Picture below is from here.
More shocks with the reporting of some epic results following on the easing of work rights and obligations - this time connected to the 457 visas under which workers are sponsored to work in Australia by employers.  This time it is the 'enlightened' non-feminist firm Thiess which is a subsidiary/partner of its 'enlightened' non-feminist corporate colleague Leightons.  Please note that Leighton Holdings is now known as the CIMIC Group. Those familiar with the old Leightons Holding board will remember year after year of all male boards - but now they have moved on to the token female.  BTW, please note Miss Eagle does not agree with 'the goal' supported by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) of 30% of boards to be female. 

The Sex Discrimination Act has been in place since 1984.  Introduction of such legislation was part of Australia's obligation when ratifying the United Nations' Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  More than 30 years has gone by and corporations are only being pressed for 30% female representation!  But then WGEA - and its predecessors with other nomenclature - has always been a featherduster organisation.  And look where its so-called "carrot and stick" approach has got women.

In 2010 the then EOWA awarded Thiess an EOWA Award as an employer of choice for women.  This was at the time when there were all sorts of shenaningans going on at the site of the Wonthaggi desalination plant construction.  As for women lauding Thiess .... who? Professional women? Women further down the food chain?  With such undemanding standards, will Thiess Services and CIMIC Group end up employers of choice for women?  I don't think there is an award for providing sound workplace practices for migrant workers.  Clearly, if there was an award, I would expect Thiess Services to find themselves ineligible.  I think we could rely on the Electrical Trades Union to see to that. 

Complaints have been around for a long, long time.  Please see these listed in 2013

If you want too tickle your funny bone with a sardonic laugh or three, please read this from April last year. Note the panel for this review - a review which had its mind made up long before it began.  It had its goal clearly in view.  Now we are seeing the results of it.

Please note the ministerial responsibility in the review - it is that well known wife of fish, Senator Michaelia Cash.  These days she is the Assistant Minister for Border Protection (the portfolio for being cruel to refugees and asylum seekers, particularly women and their children) and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. Australia does not have a Minister who only handles the portfolio of women's affairs because of its significance. And, of course, a woman cannot be expected to handle such a portfolio responsibly.  It is essential that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott - who day-by-day has his credibility leaking as badly as a run down people-smuggling boat - gives significance to the portfolio.  Seems to be that gone are the days when significant women handled this portfolio with great success and benefit to those whom the portfolio served.

What we have found aired to us in recent weeks is that large numbers of men and women in the Australian workforce - particularly if they come from overseas on a 417 working holiday visa or a 457 employer sponsored visa - are treated shoddily.  The Liberal-National Parties currently in government in Australia, together with their corporate mates, are trashing Australia's reputation for fairness and equity.  Australia is becoming yet another rip-off station on the international circuit.

Such practices disadvantage ordinary Australians. How?

1. Can we really trust employers, as a group,  if they say they cannot fill their jobs with Australian employees?  Not all employers using 417s and 457s are bad employers.  However, when major corporations act like Thiess they bring everyone into disrepute.

2.  The enthusiasm with which the Abbott Government and their corporate cronies have adopted the concept - or some of the concept - of overseas working visas is part of an overall objective of driving down wages in Australia, particularly for unskilled or semi-skilled work.  And remember we don't yet know what Australia has signed up to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

3. Currently, Australian government agencies are not working for all Australians.  As a peep into the WGEA shows, no pressure is being brought to bear on recalcitrant employers and yet, as we saw in last year's Budget, the Abbott Government is prepared to place enormous financial and family pressures on Australian workers. 

4. Is Australia producing a new breed of refugees as people flee from us because of the evil and gross indecency of many employment practices in this country?

As you can see below, Networkers, I have included a reading list.  It's a bit of a mixed bag - but it will give you an idea of some of the stuff that is around and a lot of this stuff will have been inserted in the minds of politicians by professional lobbyists.  The last on the list is from one of my favourite economic commentators, Ross Gittins. I conclude this article with A Taste of Gittins from his article which I have included below:
To me the main drawback is not so much that employers may not try hard enough to find local workers to fill jobs, or that the availability of this external supply may limit to some extent the rise in skilled wages, but that it reduces employers' incentive go to the bother of training young workers. 

Still, we mustn't forget that, these days, 

the economy is run for the benefit of business, not the rest of us.

Further reading

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Happy Mothers Day - to mothers in detention everywhere

Please copy this post to 
your Facebook, your Google+, Twitter - 
everywhere you can - 
so that mothers cruelly detained will know 
that there are Australian mothers, parents, grandparents, 
thinking of them and their children on this day.

Friday, 8 May 2015

More exploitation: Employment and Work practices in the mining industry

Picture at right from here

Once upon a long ago, mining companies were major contributors to the working and social life of remote and regional Australia.  Not any more.  Mining companies are major destroyers of working conditions and social fabric in remote and regional Australia.  

Miss Eagle is now living in her third mining town and her second gold town.  First was the company town of Mount Isa - 1997-86.  A great place to be when it was owned by Mount Isa Mines.  True, there was a colourful past involving the eight month long strike in 1964 and the consequent declaration of a State of Emergency.

Then there was Tennant Creek from 1993 to 1997.  TC likes to bill itself as the site of the last gold rush in Australia.   Miss Eagle was there when the last of the major mining corporates closed down.  But there is always hope in the heart of a mining and there are always prospectors and geologists and there are smaller 'shows' around the Tennant these days.  And now Ballarat since 2012 - home to the beginnings of Australian democracy with the events surrounding Eureka and the ensuing lives of its proponents - and now finding itself, through a freeway and a good rail service, almost a western suburb of Melbourne with mining still going on below the cities streets. 

Mining has been a major component in the history of Australia: enriching the nation's economy; building strong social cultures; contributing to a strong union movement - particular through two major unions: the Australian Workers Union, and the CFMEU.

All this rich history has now been superceded by what is, arguably, a sterile social and working culture imported from that place of many poor working conditions, the USA.  It is called, FIFO.  There is no building of community and social fabric. Such tolerance of unions that may have existed and which was embedded in the community life of mining towns as dissipated.  Mining companies return more to their international shareholders than they do to the communities or states surrounding the mine sites from which they are extracting riches and leaving behind dubious environmental legacies. 

In some cases, such as Moura and Moranbah in Queensland there has a risen a sharp contrast between the old mining culture and the new - and, as it works itself out, never the twain shall meet.  This has a huge impact on the commercial hearts of the old mining towns.  The new mining ventures are full of single people, not families. The employees of the new mining ventures shop elsewhere - except perhaps for those who go to local pubs, clubs and bars.  And now the question is - how long will the old mining towns last.

There is nothing new about mining towns being swallowed up by the dust of history as the riches have been exhausted.  An example of this is Mary Kathleen in north-west Queensland which had a life of approximately thirty years.  But running out of resource is one thing. Chewing up, swallowing, and then spitting out human labour, creativity and capital is another - and that is what FIFO is doing.

That is one story.  Now there is another.  Huge environmental destruction - of the Galilee Basin and the Great Barrier Reef and its environs.  It seems that where once a community might have become united as it strove for better wages and safer working conditions, now the community becomes united against the environmental mess and destruction which is being thrust upon them

The recently elected Queensland Labor Government is fulfilling its election promise of a FIFO inquiry.  The Inquiry is being led by Jim Pearce a former miner.  The terms of reference for the Inquiry are here.   As well, they are published below.  Submissions MUST be in by 25 May.

As if this is not sufficiently controversial, Pearce spoke in the Queensland Parliament this week of the exploitative work practices of the mining companies - causing even more furore.  
A big thanks to the Galilee Basin Alliance 
who emailed the Pearce speech and set off this post.


Fly in, fly out and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland

Terms of Reference

The inquiry was referred to the committee by the Legislative Assembly on 27 March 2015. 
The Legislative Assembly has requested the committee:
1.  Inquire into and report on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland.
2.  That, in undertaking this inquiry, the committee should consider the following issues:
  • The health impacts on workers and their families from long-distance commuting, particularly mental health impacts, and the provision of health services in mining communities;
  • The effects on families of rostering practices in mines using FIFO workforces;
  • The extent and projected growth in FIFO work practices by region and industry;
  • The costs and/or benefits and structural incentives and disincentives, including tax settings, for  companies choosing a FIFO workforce;
  • The effect of a 100% non-resident FIFO workforce on established communities; including community wellbeing, the price of housing and availability, and access to services and infrastructure;
  • The quality of housing provided in accommodation villages for FIFO workforces;
  • Strategies to optimise the FIFO experience for employees and their families, communities and industry;
  • The commuting practices for FIFO workforces, including the amount of time spent travelling, the methods of transportation, and adequacy of compensation paid for commuting travel times;
  • The effectiveness of current responses to impacts of FIFO workforces of the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments; and
  • Any other related matter.

3.   Further, that the committee seek public submissions and consult with key stakeholders including local communities, resource companies, unions and local government.
4.   Further, that the committee report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 September 2015.


The Committee invites submissions addressing the terms of reference, from all interested parties.  Guidelines for making a submission to a parliamentary committee are available here: Guide to making a submission.
Closing date for written submissions is Monday 25 May 2015 by 4.00pm.  Submissions should be sent to:
Post:     Research Director
             Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee
             Parliament House
             George Street            
             Brisbane Qld 4000  

Inquiry timeline

Submissions close:   Monday 25 May 2015
Public departmental briefing:Wednesday 20 May 2015
Public hearing in Brisbane:   Wednesday 3 June 2015 (tbc)
Regional public hearingsJune 2015 (tbc)
Reporting due:   Wednesday 30 September 2015

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

What are you buying? How did it get to you? Whose hands has it passed through?

The temporary visa program is broken and facilitates the gross exploitation of migrant workers, a view confirmed by the Four Corners program that aired last night.

Urgent action must be taken by the Federal Government to clamp down and regulate the entire temporary visa and labour hire system and remove rogue operators.

There should be an immediate halt to any expansion of the temporary work visa program until the full outcome of the Senate Inquiry is known.

National Union of Workers

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Part 3: The conscious consumer becomes the aware and ethical shopper. Destroy the slavers from the checkouts of Australia!

Hopefully, this post, Part 3 on the Four Corners program, Slaving Away, is the last ... but who knows?

Please remember the words at left: 
Every time you spend money, 
you're casting a vote 
for the kind of world you want.

One thing Slaving Away makes clear is there is room for the conscientious, ethical shopper.  If you are someone who has breezed through your shopping only focusing on personal needs or needs of your household; if you are someone who has never considered the term 'ethics' in relation to visits to Coles, Aldi, Woolworths, then now is the time to step up.

First of all, let me introduce you to Shop Ethical!  

Shop Ethical! still continues as it started - a booklet you can keep with your wallet for your shopping trips.  Then it became a website. And now, for your smart phone, there is an app.  Shop Ethical can tell you about sustainable fishing, fair trade, human and animal rights abuses... and more.

However, it is best if you can keep up for yourself because quite often the naughties make the headlines.

Take Baiada, the poultry people. Their brands are well-known: Lilydale (a major supplier to Coles  and even the cooked chooks at Coles are Lilydale) and Steggles

However, it is not only chooks that Baiada kill.  They kill people too. And racism has been an issue within its migrant workforce.  Hardly the employer of your choice - that's if you really had a choice, which many migrant workers do not have.

I steer clear of Baiada products since all that came to my notice.  I am predominantly vegetarian but another household member is a carnivore - so chook is bought once a week for that person.  However, since the slavery accusations, I have declared to the household that chicken is DEFINITELY off the menu until I can find a really ethical source.  I don't rank my chances highly!

Akers Farms (turn to Part 2) apparently provides most of the sweet potatoes up and down the east coast.  I'm going to go back to local farmers markets and see what I can find in the way of an ethical source.  

As you, the ethical consumer will realise, fruit and veg in the major suppliers comes either on a plastic wrapped tray or loose.  I've never paid much attention - but I did happen to note that I bought some packaged celery and zucchini from Aldi and one gave information about the supplier.  I think we, as ethical shoppers, have to be able to check the source of a product if we wish.  So I am going to be writing to the Big 3 asking for the source of the product to be supplied on the loose fruit and veg.  

It is noteworthy that Slaving Away did not deal with Metcash, the suppliers of IGAs.  Not enough hours in the day?  Brands the same and if dealt with once in the Big 3, no need to go there again?

So what will the ethical shopper be looking out for:
  • Fair Trade -v- Unfair Trade
  • Animal cruelty
  • Human cruelty - as in Slaving Away
  • Fair pay and safe working conditions
  • Union membership
  • Local product and produce to support local jobs and firms
  • Ethical corporate conduct
  • Pricing - fair, too high, too low.  Watch out for too low. How? Why? What shortcuts?
  • Quality
If you think of a few other necessary things to add to the above list, please let me know.

Part 2 - Names have been named in "Slaving Away". Here they are recorded below and their responses.

Major corporations were named on Slaving Away last night.

Below are the links to responses
by major named companies & corporations.
I rate the Costco response highest -
and I didn't think much of Coles.

It might be an idea to look in from time to time
to check for additions.  

KFC Response [pdf]

based on the link immediately above check your sweet potatoes purchased

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