Posts Tagged ‘unions’

An end to the Queensland Acts

January 5, 2015

Minister Katter said the legislation, intended to protect sacred sites and other places of significance, was ‘socially divisive’, ‘simplistic’, would ‘freeze development’ and gave too much power to the Commonwealth. Detailed responses from each government department were shown to support this view. A submission to repeal the Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act was withdrawn in October (Dec. 44456).

[PN: A little over a year after the Commonwealth Games Protests of 1982 the Qld Government made extensive changes to what was known as the Queensland Acts which had kept a kind of apartheid in place in Queensland since the 1890s – here is a report of those changes using newly released Cabinet Minutes as their source]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs

Grants totalling $1.5m for religious organisations running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were approved by Cabinet members, with $1m allocated to the Lutheran Church (for Hopevale and Wujal Wujal) and $115,000 for the Brethren Church at Doomadgee (Dec. 42170, Dec. 42302, Dec. 44383). New community services legislation, to provide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, was approved (Dec. 42644, Dec. 42821, Dec. 44013). Provisions for liquor sales and other administrative functions were included.

Members considered the issue of award wages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait…

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Pride review – power in an unlikely union

January 3, 2015

A wonderful film that at times had me in tears not because I am sentimental but because of the reminder about the ground we have lost.

Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and George MacKay sparkle in this tale of lesbian and gay activists’ support for the miners’ strike

Paddy Considine in Pride Left to right: Freddie Fox, Ben Schnetzer, Faye Marsay, Joseph Gilgun, Paddy Considine and George MacKay forge unity between lesbian and gay activists and striking miners in Pride.

Cards on the table: having been actively involved in the banner-carrying, badge-wearing, internecine bickering of student politics in the early 80s, I am predisposed to embrace any movie that celebrates the rag-tag allegiances that sprang up across class and gender boundaries during the miners’ strike. A fondness for cute quiffs, turn-ups, and Dexys hats helps too, along with nostalgia for the time when playing Bronski Beat records really loudly could be interpreted as a political act. Add to this an enduring love of British films such as Brassed Off and Made in Dagenham, which blend hard fact with sentimental fiction…

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Worth a note: you cannot legislate to find good teachers by Robyn Ewing

January 2, 2015

Robyn Ewing is professor of teacher education at the University of Sydney. March 13, 2013

“A capacity to teach is something you either have in your heart or you don’t”.

One of the best teachers I ever had was Miss Greenlees, my fourth grade teacher at Harbord Primary School. She believed in me, understood me as a person, engaged me in the learning process and had high expectations of what I could achieve. Nearly everyone has a favourite teacher in their lives. Just as everyone has an opinion on what makes a good teacher, largely because it’s a profession to which we’ve all had some exposure: whether or not we have children.

Over the course of my schooling as a primary, high school and university student – and later as a teacher and teacher educator – I’ve been fortunate to encounter many exemplary teachers. I have learnt that a good teacher can change lives and have a profound influence long after their students have left the schoolroom. Indeed, good teachers touch eternity.

How sad it is, then, that many in our community seem neither to value nor understand this. How else do you explain the falling status of educators, the relatively low pay for experienced teachers and the constant deskilling of the profession through over-emphasis on high-stakes testing?

I have no issue with the notion teachers should have a strong intellectual capability, along with well-developed literacy and numeracy skills. But that is only one part of the story. Even these skills cannot be effectively measured by a one-size-fits-all test before graduation. While there are many positive features of both the state and federal announcements about attracting high-quality pre-service teachers into the profession, a good teacher must be more than a high school graduate who achieves a high Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank.

Why are we placing all our emphasis on entry scores when pre-service teachers go on to do a degree? And if intending teachers have to score in the top one-fifth of students – a band 5 – why another test before they graduate? All good questions, but did any education policymaker ask us – the teacher educators – our thoughts? And the biggest question of all is, where will the funding come from? Every year I have been in teacher education there have been real cuts to funding and increased costs to absorb.

If a test before graduation on literacy and numeracy is instituted, it will not ensure a teacher knows how to establish real relationships with individual learners to teach them how to spell or add. Or to plan lessons that are motivating and fun, that challenge students and encourage them to take risks. Such a test will not discern whether a teacher is a lifelong learner. Or whether they are imaginative and can motivate those learners who are highly anxious or do not see any point in school. Or if they can ask challenging questions and encourage children to think creatively. Or will work well with colleagues, parents, the community and others. A test cannot measure aptitude, compassion, enthusiasm, flexibility, problem solving or dedication to teaching. A capacity to teach is something you either have in your heart or you don’t. You can’t legislate it into to practice.

Like anything there are skills you can improve, but you’ve got to start with a predisposition for patience and kindness, and throw in a touch of fun (none of that is revealed in an HSC mark). When learning is fun, magic occurs in a classroom and children’s lives are changed forever. We should not impose further rules on a profession that is already underpaid and overworked. Where is the recognition for existing teacher quality? Where in the debate about teacher quality is the undertaking to improve salaries to a level commensurate with other professions that require high ATARs for university admission? Where is the discussion about responsibility for educational outcomes that depend on parental engagement?

It’s also important to remember that it’s not just about attracting high-quality people to the profession, it’s also about retaining them and finding a way to mentor and support them in our most challenging contexts. Where is the funding for ongoing professional development of teachers? In the finest Socratic tradition, to solve the education problem we need to break it down into a series of questions.

Before politicians issue their edicts, I wonder why they don’t consult the profession itself – why not ask teachers what they need to do their job? When’s the last time one of these policymakers came into a classroom? Other than for a photo opportunity? Governments should look first at the strengths of a profession already under huge pressure through lack of resourcing. Or perhaps everyone could sit down and ask themselves the question: ”Who was my favourite teacher and why?”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/worth-a-note-you-cannot-legislate-to-find-good-teachers-20130312-2fyf6.html#ixzz2Nei9uJ4N

 

Education ‘reform’ another wrong diagnosis: union protectionism and the conventional wisdom

January 2, 2015

 I found this article in Washington Post, 12-17-09 but I omitted to save the authors name so my apologies to that person. It remains pertinent in 2015 especially here in Australia as our politicians and bureaucrats are hellbent on following one bad example after another in the name of ‘reform’. I think the article represents the opinion of many good and committed teachers. I am a committed teacher union activist however my criticisms of our unions are similar to those of the author.

The standards and accountability fad is an intellect-gutting, society-destroying myth

“Good teachers are the key to good schools. A major obstacle to staffing America’s school with good teachers is union protectionism.” So goes the conventional wisdom. I’m no fan of education unions. I fault them for not taking the lead in education reform, for misplaced priorities, and for a willingness to support bad legislation just to keep a seat at the federal education reform table. I was hammering union leadership on those issues decades before I could do it with the click of a mouse. That said, when it comes to education reform, teacher unions get an undeserved bad rap. No way are they the major obstacle to school improvement. Mark that problem up to institutional inertia, innovation-stifling bureaucracy, and misguided state and federal policy. Trace union bad press back to its origins and it’s clear that much of it comes from ideologues and organizations less interested in improving education than in destroying union political clout and privatizing public schools.

No, the main opposition to the education reform effort set in motion about twenty years ago by corporate heads and Congress isn’t coming from go-along-to-get-along unions. The sustained and blistering attacks come from professional educators like Alfie Kohn, Susan Ohanian, Stephen Krashen, Ken and Yetta Goodman, and dozens of others I could name. And me. Retired or otherwise independent, we can say what we think without fear of retribution or being accused of being self-serving. Most importantly, unlike the architects of No Child Left Behind and its gestating offspring, the Race to the Top, we’ve spent thousands of hours in real classrooms working directly with real students.

What do we think about Washington-dictated education reforms? We think they’re sufficiently abusive, counterproductive, and downright stupid to warrant a massive class action suit by parents and grandparents against those responsible. What explains the radically different views of experienced teachers and the suits in corporate suites and Congress who’re now running the education show? A sign that hung in Albert Einstein’s Princeton University office sums it up: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Data-enamoured, spreadsheet-studying, educationally clueless policymakers think Einstein was wrong. What is it, exactly, that can’t be counted? Most people think babies are born with minds like blank paper. Parents, teachers, and others, “write” on that paper, filling it with advice, information, explanations, and interpretations. Schools organize and compress the process with textbooks and teacher talk, and tests check how much kids can remember long enough to pencil in the “right” oval on a standardized test. It’s that simple. Except it isn’t. Not even close. Kids’ minds are never, ever, like blank pages. To matters they consider important, they attach explanatory theories. When a teacher or other explainer dumps information on them that doesn’t match their theories, they reject it. They may play the school game-may store the explainer’s theory in short-term memory until the test is over and the pressure is off-but rarely do they adopt it.

Kids don’t change their theories because doing so would be too traumatic. Their beliefs-about themselves, about others, about how the world works-are their most valued possessions (just as they are for the rest of us). Their theories are “who they are.” Casually exchanging them for someone else’s ideas would undermine their identities, their individuality, their confidence in their ability to make sense of experience. I learned the hard way-from thousands of adolescents-that I couldn’t teach them anything important. All I could do was try to get them to think about a particular matter, then ask them a question or give them something to do that their theories couldn’t handle and let them struggle to work it out. Changing their minds had to be their doing, not mine. Bottom line: It’s impossible to count how much kids really know. Period. Standardized tests are an appalling, monumental waste of time, money, and brains. Especially brains.

To the “standards and accountability” cheerleaders-the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, the US Department of Education, newspaper editorial boards, syndicated columnists, and so on-the complex, counterintuitive, kid-controlled, impossible-to-measure learning process I’m describing is alien. But that process lies at the very heart of teaching and learning. Trying to shield it from destruction is why older, experienced teachers are the most vocal, determined opponents of the present reform fiasco. They know the “blank paper,” count-the-right-answers theory propelling the standards and accountability fad is an intellect-gutting, society-destroying myth. And they know that adopting national standards and tests will lock that myth in place far, far into the future.

How have political events shaped education policy and the production of regulatory and quality frameworks in Australia?

December 30, 2014

How have political events shaped education policy and the production of regulatory and quality frameworks in Australia? What effects may this have on how and who you can ‘become’ as an early childhood professional?

Political events will always shape our society and culture generally. Politics is the activity of organising people and society to achieve purposeful collective outcomes. What these outcomes may be, and how they will be achieved, and who for, is defined as ideology. Politics per se should not be defined primarily by political parties and parliamentary participation; organised people, community members, trade unions, involved in extra-parliamentary activity have and can also significantly shaped early childhood policy and regulatory outcomes.

The State (the rule of law, parliaments and local government, the military and paramilitary) mediates the expressed interests of the contending parties. The State is the product of the means to achieving said social organisation which is partly defined by policy and regulations

Policy as quality and regulation while expressed through the transactions of The State machinery is shaped by the relative power of contending forces that work under and within its mandates. While the current federal government works to protect the market and the needs of corporate business and power it must, as an emperor sans culottes, must attempt to disguise prevarication and counter reforms as an ‘Education Revolution’.

Current ALP policy is a reminder that policy rhetoric and actual practice need to be interrogated if we are to make sense of the political landscape; what political and departmental representatives say they mean and what they do should never be taken at face value.

‘Productivity’, the business person’s and politician’s euphemism for ‘corporate profits’, informs the direction of ALP policy for children and education. The former deputy prime minister in addressing corporate business groups says it as it really is;

‘In today’s world’, she told a gathering of the Australian Industry Group, ‘the areas covered by my portfolios – early childhood education and childcare, schooling, training, universities, social inclusion, employment participation and workplace cooperation – are all ultimately about the same thing: productivity’. …. Further to the point ‘I’m going to be ignoring the old battles between unions and employers, public and private schools (taxpayer-funded-non-government-schools), the trades and universities and welfare and work’ … ‘Instead, I’m going to be measuring policies against the all-important criteria of how effectively they increase national productivity.’ (Dusevic 2009)

The question now is what should be done and by whom? For advocates and activists the real questions are; what are Australian governments hiding; where are the support and resources for; children who are having social, emotional or academic difficulties; school libraries and librarians; science and art rooms; maintaining and cleaning schools and care for gardens; to incorporate the creative arts, music, and dance? Why are essentially human activities regarded as distinct to literacy and numeracy, and good learning generally? These questions tell us quite a deal about what quality may mean. Is there a connection between the absences and regulation?

The view of education implied by the likes of PM Gillard is a default setting for a second-rate, standardised mass education for the mass of the people, the working class. Are Australian governments (COAG) the best advocates for school improvement? Do they assists to raise the sights and standards of teacher moral and professional learning. How does the Ministerial Council’s (MCEETYA) ‘Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians’ compare to the past two declarations?

How do we argue for, and provide a choice between an education worthy us of us all, as creative citizens, rather than a mass education suitable only for entraining teachers, students and the masses for the needs of corporations? For these choices to be made there needs to be a voice alerting our communities to other possibilities. This is the role of the early childhood teacher who regards themselves as an activist and advocate.

Dusevic, T. 2009, The Great Gillard Experiment, The Best Australian Political Writing 2009, MUP.

Teacher stands up for what is right

March 13, 2010

The Attack on Tenure and Teachers’ Job Security
March 10, 2010 by emmarosenthal
A recent L.A. Weekly article “addressed” the “problem” of getting rid of “bad” teachers. (see link below)

As someone who retired from LAUSD with disability retirement after trying to get the most minimal of accommodations for my dis-ability and facing incredible harassment for such a request;

As someone who requested basic accommodations, found ways to make the whole proposal cost free for the District while offering to fill high need hard to staff areas of education, (bilingual special ed) and fully aware that if I had merely kept my mouth shut, showed Disney movies, gave out busy work, and gave all my students C’s, then I would have had no problem with the same administration, but only had a problem when requesting the resources to do my job well.

As someone who NEVER had a bad evaluation, had several outstanding evaluations, and wrote and received several grants and coordinated several school wide programs;

As someone who filed and won approx 30 grievances against the district for collective and individual violations of the contract, never observing any consequences, reassignments, discipline etc against these principals for such wanton rights violations;

As someone who observed and confronted gross misuse of school funds and a crony system that favored mediocrity and obedience over dedication and commitment to teaching;

As someone who used tenure to defend and advocate for students and the community and teachers, against the will of the administration;

As someone who ONLY KNEW ONE ADMINISTRATOR who went after bad teachers– with the full support of the highly unionized faculty. (I consider her the best administrator I worked with);

As someone who observed administrators go after activists, whistle blowers, community, educator, worker and student advocates while perpetuating or ignoring sexual harassment, sexual abuse, hate speech, racism, sexism, dis-ability discrimination etc. both by staff and students;

As someone who graduated magna cum laude, is bilingual in English and Spanish, continues to study and to teach, is a life long activist and writer;

I find it hard to believe that:

1. Michael Kim, a man with cerebral palsy, who neurologically can’t control his hands, is the best example of the district trying to defend the rights of staff and students against sexual harassment and gropping!

More to point, the District doesn’t WANT dis-abled teachers. This whole case was totally offensive and outrageous, and should be transparent; a perfect example of how dis-ability discrimination is used to take us all down, to set a pretext for greater rights violations.

2. the present administration is able to select the appropriate teachers for dismissal– which of course would explain why it is so hard to fire the teachers the district is trying to fire. It is quite possible that very few of these people should be fired and the ones that need to go are comfortably doing the principal’s bidding!!!

3 given that the City of Los Angeles decided NOT to fire a single cop for beating up press and community members for the May Day demonstration a few years back, wonders what city employees ARE doing that warrants (“the easy” removal from their positions.

4. there are only bad teachers and not bad administrators, who also need to be removed from their positions which the district can do, and doesn’t. It seems that a lot of bad teaching might be resolved by creating acceptable working conditions, starting with a supportive administration.

5. that the grievance process is the problem, The grievance process is a three step process: 1.A meeting with the principal, 2. A meeting with the area supt. And 3. Binding arbitration with an arbitrator chosen by both the union and the district. A principal looses a grievance against a teacher when either the District or the arbitrator chosen by the district says a violation of that teacher’s rights has occurred. In such a situation is it right to assume that it is the teacher that is failing to perform basic assigned duties?

6.that settlements of 40-100 thousand dollars for the removal of teachers the District wants to fire, are excessive and against whom no evidence exists, other than district say so, that these teachers deserve to lose their careers, which includes 5 years of university study, and often thousands of dollars each year for materials the District fails to provide and in a District that has bought out the contracts of several of its superintendants for over half a million dollars.

The entire premise of the Weekly article is that the District can’t fire the teachers it wants to fire because of the Union and tenure, and not that these constructs actually protect the academic freedom of teachers who should not have been brought under scrutiny in the first place.

There is no evidence IN THE ARTICLE, except the District’s say so, that the District is actually trying to fire the BAD teachers. That is an essential missing element of the article. Sure there are bad teachers. But if the district isn’t going after bad teachers, but is going after teachers who demand their rights or the rights of others, then the waste of resources is even more outrageous.

http://www.laweekly.com/2010-02-11/news/lausd-s-dance-of-the-lemons/

Posted in Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Calling out neo-liberalism, Disability Rights, Education, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, UTLA, this is what a police state looks like

Abolish the ABBC: Demolish the framework of fear! Review Framework of Flesh: Builder’s Labourers Battle for Health and Safety, Humphrey McQueen, Ginninderra press, 2009.

July 19, 2009

This review was written by Peter Curtis for and published by The Freedom Socialist Party, Australia. http://www.socialism.com/activities/melbourne.html

— Review —

Abolish the ABBC: Demolish the framework of fear!

Review Framework of Flesh: Builder’s Labourers Battle for Health and Safety, Humphrey McQueen, Ginninderra press, 2009.

Will they jail him? Hundreds of unionists in South Australia cheered Ark Tribe as he entered court on 10 March 2009. Tribe is the latest construction worker to be threatened with six months jail for standing up for his right to make the workplace safe and objecting to the flagrant injustice of the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) star-chamber by refusing to answer when questioned. But, will they jail him? The State forces failed to convict Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser Noel Washington last year. With all the penal powers, the police, the ABCCs special powers, and all the law courts of the land, the power of the unions stopped them dead. Despite all the encouragement, belligerence and arrogance of this anti-labour federal government, despite the coercive forces available to the State they failed to follow through their threats. Legal means are no match for the collective response of workers. Solidarity grows from the social and industrial strength that workers build by organising and unifying their unions to better fight for their rights at work.

“In 1890, The Victorian Master Builders demanded the sacking of the colony’s coroner because he believed that his duties went beyond establishing the cause of ‘accidental’ death to preventing its recurrence. The coroner had attributed the death of a bricklayer to the vice-president of the Builders’ and Contractors’ Association.” In 2009, Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Workplace Relations, declared to the union movement that she and her government are unashamedly acting for these same business interests. Gillard, at the behest of her corporate masters, has made her choice and it is as bad as the other ‘choices’ we have got rid of. The Government is doing what ever has to be done to create economic and industrial conditions suited to maximising the corporations’ profits. Gillard and her ABCC are clear — woe betides any workers who demand, agitate, and enforce their rights to make a workplace safe.

Humphrey McQueen’s latest book, Framework of Flesh: Builder’s Labourers Battle for Health and Safety is an essential tool for the job of building our strength and organising our response to the bastardry of corporate bosses and their political minions within the labour movement. We are provided with a critical eye to workers’ activity on the job. The stories of labourers’ battles with their bosses as they respond to the logic of a system that drives capitalists’ to exploit, maim and kill, are insightful. Drawing on 130 years of evidence, McQueen resurrects the voices of the labourers themselves and allows them the opportunity to testify to the exploitation, the deaths, and the abuses committed by Messrs Construction Capital. Voices like Charlie Sullivan’s live on from the 1920s when he wrote that history was made by “the great and humble army whose sweat and blood are mingled in the concrete and bricks as surely as if the walls were built over a framework of human flesh.”

Such sentiment is a sobering reminder to those of us who are fortunate enough to avoid nursing a lifetimes of muscle strains, crushed bones and collapsed lungs through to retirement at age 67 — yet another of the federal government’s propositions for improving the quality of old age! McQueen asks his reader to consider the evidence, admissions and arguments that the bosses’ knowingly and actively enforce the neglect of health and safety at work. The historical evidence advises that ours is not a ‘brave new world’ but one where old objectives are still pursued today but in new ways: “In 1855 factory owners in Manchester, England organised and collected 50 thousand pounds to meet the costs of defending members who had been prosecuted by the factory inspectors. The object was to prove ‘killing is not murder’ if done for the sake of profit.”

Diminishing the labourers’ efforts by trivialising their struggles and sacrificing lives is an essential part of ruling class propaganda that is absorbed and disseminated by the corporate mass-media and perpetuated by too many of their journalists. Framework of Flesh is an antidote to the world of their creation. Few know what takes place on construction sites and they lack the experience and imagination of the Director of Construction for the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1930s, “who acknowledged the emotional strain: ‘Every day those men went on the bridge, they went in the same way as a soldier goes into battle, not knowing wether they would come down alive’.”

Yet despite a construction worker being killed every week between 1996 and 2005 and 41 deaths in 2003 alone, the Cole Commission presumed the innocence of the construction bosses. “From mid 2001, the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry repackaged the accusation that labourers threw themselves off buildings to get compensation. … to allege that unions provoked disputes over health and safety to win industrial demands such as Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) … According to Commissioner Cole, this ‘widespread exploitation’ of bosses had trivialised safety. In truth, workers on EBAs were as half as likely to be injured as those outside them. Pressing for an EBA was, therefore, a safety matter.”

The words of Ben Mulvogue, Secretary of the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation, should resonate today. In 1915, he reminded and reassured his members that: “the union does antagonise, and strives to abolish many things that are, and advocates and tries to inaugurate changes which should, and will, be made in the future. … The object and aims of the union movement and the realisation thereof have been the dream of the sages and seers, and the prophets of the past ages. Every new demand for better physical protection of the workers ensures a great ideal development for future generations.” Rights are not privileges to be handed out by the master to be taken back when they choose. Fighting for our rights at work and health and safety go hand in hand, they are only won and defended through struggle. Even if we could vote for our rights, this act would not prevent deaths and injuries at work. To absorb and act on this knowledge is ‘responsible unionism’ — the agitation and organisation for workers’ rights.

The West Gate Bridge towering over the Melbourne docks is an ever present memorial to those workers and their families who lost a life in the “most murderous of all incidents on Australian construction sites.” Workers recently contracted by Leightons to carry out repairs on the overloaded bridge only to be duped of their wages and conditions, and see their health and safety representative and union delegates sacked, are now being represented in the media as the “violent thugs that are threatening to undermine every principle of human decency.” In recent weeks Leightons’ corporate leaders, are carrying on Hollands’ legacy: while recognising that the lack of health and safety on sites could not be ignored, in practice the pursuit of profits came first for both.

Frameworks of Flesh makes an outstanding contribution to the continual struggle to make construction sites fit for workers to work on. It is much more than that however, because the research is so thorough. McQueen provides both the evidence and the analysis necessary to make sense of why builders, and capitalists generally, do what they do. Understanding developments by interrogating our history are necessary if unionists are to prepare themselves for the inevitable struggles ahead. The proposed national standards for Occupational Health and Safety will fall a long way short of where we need them to be unless unionists get organised and demand something better. Both unfettered right of entry for union officials and the ability of unions to collectively bargain and organise across an industry are essential steps toward safer workplaces. The ABCC may finally be abolished but this government’s intention is to maintain it and merely re-badge it. Our best form of defence is to strengthen both our individual understanding and our collective capacity to resist by learning from the combined wisdom that is accrued from our own experience and that of working people yesterday and today. Framework of Flesh is one exemplar from which we all can benefit.

Peter Curtis

Peter Curtis is a socialist and campaigner for the equitable provision of education. He is a teacher and a member of the Australian Education Union. Framework of Flesh is available for $30 from Solidarity Salon. http://www.framework-of-flesh.com.au

Demolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Defense of Ark Tribe.

July 19, 2009

Speakers’ notes for the Demolition of the
Australian Building and Construction Commission and the
Defense of Ark Tribe.


It is very important that the word is passed around to as many people as we can get to. This includes addressing youth groups, book groups, church groups, and any collective of concerned citizens.
Following is a selection of speaking points for anyone who is addressing a group to inform them of these real threats to getting home safely from a day at work. It is important for fellow workers and citizens to understand that the battle against the ABCC is in defense of our civil liberties and democratic rights. The ‘Spirit of Eureka’ could be invoked here.
Use them and please adapt these points according to your audience.
Other additions, thoughts and examples are welcomed. For example a few lines of the song ‘Solidarity for Ever’ could be included to sing at the end of a meeting.

Outline
A) Speakers Notes.
1. The Construction Commission is an issue For All Working Australians Who Value A ‘Fair Go’.
2. Federal ALP And The “Tough Cop On The Beat”
3. What kind of democracy? – Exercising Our Rights to Participate – Making our Communities and Unions matter.
4. Everyday on site building workers are menaced by the absence of health and safety … Young apprentices and training, and safety at work.
B) Statement of defiance
C) Model motion
D) Personal message to Ark Tribe
E) Appendix including other useful contacts and web sites.

The CFMEU’s Construction Division’s Campaign
to defeat the unjust laws of ABCC

1. This is an issue for all working Australians who value a fair go.
At the ACTU Congress in June, every union in this country indicated its opposition to these unjust laws being used against workers.

You have all seen the Work Safe ads on television – “talk it, act it, get home alive”

http://www.workcover.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/WorkSafe/SiteTools/About+WorkSafe/Campaigns

Real Threats – to lives of workers, and livelihoods of whole families

Did you know? In this fair and democratic country, Australia, values that we care about are being violated by the fact that an working man faces being sent to jail for 6 months for alerting government health and safety authorities to unsafe working conditions that threatened the lives of his and fellow workers.

Occupational Health and Safety laws breaches by employers, like those that Ark and his work mates identified, are, in effect, being imposed on workers by the Construction Commission because any action taken to protect safety and conditions is deemed unlawful.

The Construction Commission is the biggest threat to workers health and safety
http://www.rightsonsite.org.au provides footage of the circumstances of the dispute that leaves Ark facing the ABCC, the courts and gaol. Ark also explains why he is taking the action he is taking.
The questions – Why has nothing fundamentally changed under an ALP government?
• A government put in to power by the combined activity of tens of thousands of workers under the banner of YOUR RIGHTS AT WORK.
• Why is this government – that was put in to power to get rid of the Howard laws – now breaking its promise to get rid of those laws?
• Why is Working safe and “talking it and acting on it so get home alive” illegal if you are a construction worker?

2. Federal ALP and the “Tough cop on the beat”
Gillard’s proof? – Speech in parliament
“high levels of unlawfulness as evidenced by allegations, investigations, prosecutions, audits AND THE LIKE” !!?? … but … NO CONVICTIONS!

Why we need to DEFEND THE ACTIONS of Ark Tribe.
We CANNOT TOLERATE going to work and LEAVING OUR RIGHTS AT HOME.

Ark Tribe – Will they jail him? How do we Demolish this framework of fear?

Will they jail him? Hundreds of unionists in South Australia cheered Ark Tribe as he entered court on the 10th March 2009. Ark is the latest construction worker to be threatened with six months jail for standing up for his right to make a workplace safe and objecting to the flagrant injustice of the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s (ABCC) star-chamber by refusing to answer when questioned.
But, will they jail him? The State forces failed to convict CFMEU organiser Noel Washington late last year. With all the penal powers, the police, the special powers, and all the law courts of the land, the power of the unions stopped them dead. Despite the belligerence and arrogance of this anti-labour federal government and the coercive powers and forces available to them the enforcers failed to follow through their threats.
Legal means are no match for workers’ organised collective response from on the job. Solidarity grows from the social and industrial strength that workers build by organising and unifying themselves. Solidarity is vital to better fight for our rights at work.
While there is an ABCC there will never be Rights at Work in a Fair Work Australia.

The reason CFMEU is being targeted is because it has over decades persistently campaigned for better Health and Safety on building sites and demolition sites.
• Asbestos from 1970’s on
• Public Housing
• Environmental green bans
• Air and water pollution

3. WHAT KIND OF DEMOCRACY IS IT WHEN WE CANNOT EXERCISE OUR RIGHTS AND PARTICIPATE?
It is these kind of actions – practically demonstrate what it means to exercising our rights and participation means – THAT IS HOW WE MAKE AND DEFEND A DEMOCRACY.

Taking a stand on defending our rights at work, to express our collective opinion, and putting words into action is the BEST WAY TO UNDERSTAND AND PROTECT OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS.

Making our Communities and Unions matter
What does a fair and democratic Australia mean? The best way to answer this question is by helping each other and showing people through collective actions.
Unions matter for making and keeping Australia a fairer and democratic society.

The Liberal Howard Legacy: Terror; Alert and Alarmed; Constructing Fear
• From 2000 to 2003 Liberal Government spent $60 million on the Cole Royal Commission into building workers
• $20 million dollars was spent on anti-terrorist measures!
WHY? To smash unions; exercising rights for safe conditions and protect lives; livelihoods.
• Workchoices was the end result.
• Your Rights at Work Campaign – Tens of thousands of workers organised to defeat Workchoices. We sacked the government and its leader Howard.
Why to STOP UNIONS connecting to larger social and environmental issues STOP taking on responsibilities beyond immediate industrial issues.
UNIONISTS are people who live in the community!

Gillard speech; where is the violence and where are the convictions?
NO EVIDENCE!
When was the last time a building worker menaced you?

• We have criminal laws to deal with workers who commit crimes on site.
• Why has labour law that is meant to improve and protect conditions for workers now become a sub-branch of the criminal code?
The Construction Commission is the greatest threat to safety
Why isn’t WorkSafe tackling the Commission?
4. EVERYDAY ON SITE BUILDING WORKERS ARE MENACED BY THE ABSENCE OF HEALTH AND SAFETY – BEFORE THE UNION CLEANED UP unsafe SITES WERE UNSAFE.
THE CURRENT UNION CAMPAIGN HAS HAD AN EFFECT
Gillard’s definition of violence does not extend to the tens of thousands of building and construction workers expected to die from asbestos-related diseases. No executive or director of James Hardie faces penal sanctions over that slaughter.

Gillard acknowledged that health and safety issues were ‘deliberately not included in Mr. Wilcox’s terms of reference’. That exclusion meant that Wilcox could not investigate one of the principal realms of illegalities by employers, or use that investigation to explain the levels of unlawfulness by workers defending themselves, as in the case of Ark Tribe. Under the review’s unbalanced terms of reference, would Tribe’s conscience have allowed him to accept Wilcox’s fee of $326, 974?

• WILCOX REVIEW – No OH&S – what sort of conscience accepts $315 K
• PM Kevin Rudd’s government is still funding the ABCC to the tune of $32 million a year. Murray Wilcox, a former federal court chief justice, was appointed to review the powers of the ABCC. He has also been asked to report on the integration of the ABCC into Labor’s proposed industrial relations umbrella, Fair Work Australia, by February 2010.
• Even though Wilcox said in an October 3 discussion paper that the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act was “discriminatory” against building workers, he did not call for its abolition far from it.
• Still bad laws though – band-aids don’t stop infections.
Young apprentices and training and safety at work – If there is any remaining doubts – REMEMBER OUR KIDS – LEST WE FORGET.
See E) Appendix for further information

B) Model motion
This meeting supports the actions of Ark Tribe to defend his democratic rights to free speech and speak out and act against laws that prevent construction workers working safely. Ensuring that employers meet their legal and statutory obligations in providing the necessary conditions for safe work practices requires the organising power and support of a union. We support and encourage actions of Ark Tribe in refusing to provide evidence to the ABCC or any other body that denies him his legal right of presumption of innocence, and to legal representation of his choice. We call on the federal government to disband the ABCC.

C) Statement of Defiance
Support Ark Tribe and his Right to a Safe Workplace.
We the undersigned welcome the refusal of Ark Tribe to provide evidence to the ABCC. We call on our fellow Australians to join Ark Tribe in breaking the laws. We accept that in signing this statement we make ourselves libel to prosecution for incitement to break the law.
Name Address email Organisation Signature

D) Personal support for Ark. Ark is standing up for all of us by defending our rights at work. While he has the support of the union and of many workers from around the country it is important to let him know. All said and done he is the one facing 6 months in a gaol.
See Ark Tribe on You Tube, and Send support to Ark on http://www.rightsonsite.org.au

E) Appendix and other useful websites
Adelaide woman Andrea Madeley has called for the national adoption of industrial manslaughter laws.
Her plea follows a $72,000 fine imposed by an Adelaide magistrate on local business Diemould Pty Ltd which had employed her teenage son Daniel until his death in their workplace on Saturday June 5, 2004.
Her call follows the state Labor government’s disgraceful attack on worker’s compensation laws last year, and the Federal Labor governments “lowest common denominator” approach to a standardised national set of worker’s compensation laws.
The teenager suffered fatal injuries when his dustcoat became caught in the unguarded spinning shaft of one of the company’s boring machines. He died the next day in the Flinders Medical Centre.
The boy suffered injuries to every part of his body – his brain bled severely, his spine was lacerated, his arms and legs were broken and both feet were severed – in the incident.
“I need to ask Daniel’s employer these questions now,” said Andrea Madeley. “We’re talking about a machine capable of tearing a human being apart – please tell me what the hell you were thinking having Daniel operating that thing alone in the factory in the middle of the night?
“It will be my life’s work to hound the conscience of shoddy operations – companies that believe the bottom line is more important than the lives of their workers and their loved ones. That is the promise I made to Danny. I aim to keep it.” http://www.void.org.au http://www.void.org.au/index.html

Ark Tribe on you tube and Send support to Ark on http://www.rightsonsite.org.au
http://www.rightsonsite.org.au provides footage of the circumstances of the dispute that leaves Ark facing the ABCC, the courts and gaol. Ark also explains why he is taking the action he is taking.
http://www.workcover.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/WorkSafe/SiteTools/About+WorkSafe/Campaigns – provides the ads seen on TV
http://www.void.org.au Voice of Industrial Death. To keep her promise to her son, and to help the families of other victims of workplace death, Andrea established the organisation VOID (Victims Of Industrial Death) in May 2006. She is its foundation President, and maintains this website for the organisation.
chriswhiteonline.org/2009/06/arks-tribe
http://www.framework-of-flesh.com.au “I hope that Framework of Flesh is read by every building worker and by all those with an interest in occupational health and safety.” Linda Clarke. Framework of Flesh: Builders’ Labourers Battle for Health & Safety by Humphrey McQueen, published by Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, 2009


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