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Archive for May, 2019

Big union attacks ‘reprehensible’shoppies wage deals

05.13.2019, Comments Off on Big union attacks ‘reprehensible’shoppies wage deals, 苏州夜生活, by .

Nurses. n Nursing Federation stop work meeting at Dallas Brooks Hall. Melbourne Age. news. Photo by Angela Wylie. October 12 2011.’s biggest union, the nurses’ federation, has condemned the “reprehensible conduct” of the shop assistants’ union over sweet-heart wage deals that left hundreds of thousands of retail and fast food workers underpaid.
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In a rare breaking of labour movement ranks, the n Nursing & Midwifery Federation has attacked its fellow ACTU affiliate in a submission to a Senate inquiry into penalty rates.

The inquiry was prompted by a 12-month Fairfax Media investigation that revealed how the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA) struck deals with employers that left more than 250,000 workers paid less than the award, the wages safety net.

The scathing assessment by the nurses’ federation federal secretary Lee Thomas and assistant secretary Annie Butler, is the first open attack by current union chiefs since the revelation of the underpayment scandal in 2015/16.

The conservative “shoppies”, the largest private-sector union in the country, and the ALP’s biggest union affiliate, is the last bastion of conservative Catholicism in the n labour movement.

In the last few weeks, federal MPs aligned to the SDA have threatened to blow up any bid by Liberal rebels to vote to legalise same-sex marriage.

And in Victoria, Deputy Premier James Merlino, also from the SDA, has declared he will vote against proposed voluntary euthanasia laws, calling them “endorsed suicide”.

But the union has come under sustained pressure for the past two years over inferior workplace agreements that have cut or removed penalty rates and left workers at least $300 million a year worse off.

Many senior union officials have been privately scathing about the SDA deals but publicly silent. Unions are loathe to publicly criticise one another. So too are they very conscious of financial importance of the shoppies to the ACTU, and the ALP.

In its submission the nurses’ union, which is not affiliated to Labor, says it “sadly” appeared the union and employers had “co-operated” on deals “that left hundreds of thousands of low-paid employees” paid less than the award.

Ms Thomas and Ms Butler said gaps in the current industrial laws may allow such arrangements but that this did not “excuse this reprehensible conduct”.

About one in six union members in is a member of the nurses’ federation, which has been hugely successful at organising workers. A former federal secretary, Ged Kearney, is the ACTU president.

The nurses’ union has also supported a push by Greens MP Adam Bandt to make changes to the Fair Work Act.

Those amendments would protect workers from SDA-style wage deals that traded away penalty rates with inadequate compensation.

Mr Bandt’s proposed legislation was subject to a recent lower house vote where it was voted down narrowly after winning last-minute Labor support. The Coalition opposed it.

The Senate inquiry was the work of Nick Xenophon, who has said the cosy enterprise agreements between the shoppies and big employers had disadvantaged low-wage workers.

They had also provided an unfair advantage to big businesses by undercutting awards adhered to by smaller retailers, Senator Xenophon said.

‘s three largest employers, Coles, Woolworths and McDonald’s, have all benefited from wage deals with the union that have traded away penalty rates and left many tens of thousands of workers paid less than the award.

In 2016, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission, in a landmark decision, quashed an agreement between Coles and the SDA as it underpaid workers and failed the “better off overall test”.

More than half of Coles workers were paid less than the minimum rates of the award, evidence from the supermarket showed. Coles workers are now employed on an older agreement from 2011, which is currently being challenged by night-fill worker Penny Vickers in the Fair Work Commission.

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Weak wages: They know they can get away with it

05.13.2019, Comments Off on Weak wages: They know they can get away with it, 苏州夜生活, by .

On the day Labor’s Fair Work Act became law, the conservative media went into meltdown about “unsustainable” wage claims and dire warnings of “serious economic damage” afoot.
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They could not have been more wrong.

Eight years on – despite the regular warnings of “wages break-outs” that never came – worker wages are now barely growing. Even the inflation focused Reserve Bank wouldn’t mind some healthy wage increases.

So what has happened?

First, some facts. Union members earn considerably more than workers not in a union. Also, unions now represent just one in 10 private sectors workers. Membership has collapsed in a generation.

You cannot talk about weak wages growth without talking about emaciated unions.

Part of this is due to the collapse of blue collar industries, part of it is a failure to organise casual and contract workers and part of it is some of ‘s biggest unions themselves. None of these issues is new, they have been trends for decades. But they have reached a tipping point.

And it is likely to get much worse before it gets better.

In 1992 there were more union members aged 15 to 24 than there were members in their 50s. Now there is about 3.5 union members in their 50s for every young worker.

New ACTU secretary Sally McManus is campaigning hard on a bid to “change the rules,” and says the Fair Work system is “broken” – in favour of employers.

She has a point. The International Labor Organisation, as far back as 2010, found the laws had numerous fundamental breaches of basic worker rights, though it’s worth noting it was the ACTU and Labor at that time that squandered the anti-WorkChoices campaign to deliver these laws.

Yet it’s the loss of union power – not the laws per se – that has tipped the scales so heavily against workers.

It’s only been in the past few years that employers have started to aggressively use the Fair Work Act to abandon enterprise bargaining and move workers onto the minimum pay and conditions of the award.

Before that they did not dare. Employment lawyers and companies now know they can get away with it, as ‘s unions haven’t been this weak for 100 years.

There are some things that would make unions stronger, beyond changes to the law.

The best and most successful unions tend to be the ones that have the least to do with internal Labor machinations. The hugely successful and fast-growing n Nursing and Midwifery Federation is a prime example, as is the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria.

Both are tough, independent and secure strong wages for their members.

The worst unions, invariably, operate as play-things of Labor warlords.

The Health Services Union corruption saga was inextricably linked with Labor factional politics. Its members were paid a pittance.

The Shop, Distributive, Allied and Employees Association is best known for opposing social change, whether it is abortion, same-sex marriage or euthanasia. It’s hugely active in Labor’s right faction.

Yet, as the largest private sector union in the country – nearly one in four private sector unionists is a member – it struck deals with ‘s biggest employers that have left, conservatively, at least 250,000 workers paid less than the award, the legal minimum.

What’s needed is serious cultural change, more transparency, and more member-driven unions.

Many unions are yet to successfully respond to the casualisation trend that started in the 1990s, let alone the gig economy which is starting to take root thanks to Uber and others.

New or existing fighting unions should not be shunned or constrained by archaic demarcation rules that dictate which union can represent workers, and where. It’s time to ditch the 19th-century structures.

Look at the important work of the National Union of Workers organising migrant farm workers – many of these workers they are not technically allowed to represent.

Some unions seem more interested in dividing the political spoils of a dying movement than in providing strong representation. Some healthy competition to improve the lives of workers is long overdue.

Otherwise, don’t expect strong unions or strong wages.

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Michael Brissenden’s The List straight out of headlines

05.13.2019, Comments Off on Michael Brissenden’s The List straight out of headlines, 苏州夜生活, by .

Journalist Michael Brissenden has seen more than his fair share of conflict over the years.
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He’s seen wars in the Middle East and the Balkans, he’s covered Obama’s first term in the White House, and dealt with politicians much closer to home for longer than he’d care to remember.

When it came to writing his first novel he had so many stories swirling around in his head it was hard to know which direction to take it.

But he had one idea he hadn’t been able to shake since covering the Yugoslav Wars during the 1990s.

“I was there and I kept running into Dragan of Brisbane, or Milosh from Melbourne, young ns on all different sides, and most of them weren’t even born there but they were sent there and they were fighting.”

Close to 30 years later and stories about ns heading off to fight for the Islamic State are in the headlines again.

The List is a timely thriller. Brissenden’s not too proud to call it an “airport kind of book”, but it will have you on high alert in any airport lounge.

Young Muslim men on the n Federal Police’s terrorist watch list start turning up dead in the western suburbs of Sydney and it’s up to the members of the K Block taskforce to find out what’s going on. Veteran policeman Sid Allen, his partner, a Muslim woman Haifa Hourani, and a humorous bunch of colleagues head the investigation. Haifa’s brother Hakim is a respected Muslim community leader with his sights set on politics. From Afghanistan, to Sydney, and in and out of the halls of power in Canberra, The List is scarily relevant.

“There are ns going over to fight in the Middle East, we know that. I started to think about what happens if they bring the war home?

“One of the big concerns for the authorities is that these radicalised kids, and they’re not all kids, some of them are mature adults, go over there and what happens when they come back?

“Anyone who goes to those conflicts comes back brutalised ??? what happens when they bring that back to ?”

Brissenden wrote the book while he was working as host of the ABC’s AM national radio program.

“I finished around midday, there was plenty of time to write ??? Canberra is pretty quiet between one and four in the afternoon.”

That sledge aside, he thinks it’s important that n authors set books in .

“We should be doing it, and it was fun writing about Canberra, sometimes it doesn’t feature other than the cliched view of Canberra being shorthand for federal parliament.”

The List isn’t a political thriller, although his Prime Minister Brian Williams is a great character, and indeed it’s set mainly in the streets of Cronulla and Lakemba.

Journalist Michael Brissenden. Photo: Rohan Thomson

There will be the inevitable comparisons to Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis’ Secret City trilogy, Brissenden knows that.

“That will happen I suppose because we’re in Canberra and we’re journalists and we’re writing but I think the things I’m dealing with are pretty different,” he said. “I’m not dealing in the politics very much, other than the way politics is interacting with this issue.

“One of the challenges we have is how politics deals with this issue and I thought it was important to explore that.”

As one of the ABC’s most experienced journalists, Brissenden, 56, found writing fiction very liberating.

“You have to make it believable, steep it in what’s going on, so people read it and believe it but it is fiction. I didn’t have it mapped out, I knew some of the twists, but I didn’t know where it was going to end until I was about three-quarters the way through.

“But the best thing was being able to take the book where I wanted it to go.”

Not every journalist has a book in them, he says.

“Everyone can have the ideas but you’ve got to write it, 90 per cent of writing is about writing. You can talk about it all you like but you have to do the hard work.”

The List is published by Hachette at $29.99.

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Lawrance reflects on 40-year career

05.13.2019, Comments Off on Lawrance reflects on 40-year career, 苏州夜生活, by .

Debra Lawrance is returning to television to put her culinary skills to the test in Hell’s Kitchen . Photo: Simon SchluterActor Debra Lawrance is returning to television after her critically acclaimed role in the ABC’s Please Like Me.
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But the 60-year-old – who is best known for playing “‘s mum” Pippa in Home and Away – isn’t about to return to Summer Bay any time soon. Instead, the Logie-award winner is dipping her toe into reality television.

Lawrance will star in the Seven Network’s new cooking show Hell’s Kitchen alongside nine other celebrities. Each of the contestants, including former Bachelorette star Sam Frost, will put their hospitality skills to the test under the terrifying guidance of Marco Pierre White.

The veteran actor admitted it might seem odd for someone usually associated with drama and theatre to take a leap into reality TV – especially when they’re experiencing what people see as a career “renaissance”.

However, she said after 40 years in show business it was time to try something different.

“I just thought, why not?” she said. “Some people assume reality TV is some dreadful secondary thing, or a shameful thing. But 27 years ago when they were casting for Pippa in Home and Away, we had the same attitude about soap operas.”

The award-winning actress said her time on the show didn’t turn her into a different person, but it did “broaden her horizons”.

“Some people can afford to sit in a theatre and be moved by Shakespeare,” she said. “Some people prefer to be moved at home with a television in the corner. Our job [first and foremost as actors] is to entertain human beings.”

After filming Hell’s Kitchen, Lawrance’s fellow contestant Sam Frost landed a gig on Home and Away. However, the soap opera veteran shot down any suggestion she would be joining her co-star and make a return to Summer Bay.

“I’m sure the older viewers would love to have her back, but I don’t know where she’d live,” she said. “I’m not living in a caravan – that’s like a demotion.”

Besides, apart from kick-starting her career, Home and Away has already given Lawrance so much: a house, a husband and two children. She calls her career the equivalent of “actor tattslotto”.

So, what’s next for the woman who wowed audiences around the world with her accurate portrayal of a bipolar mother in Please Like Me? The actor said fans can expect her to continue “ticking along”, as she’s always done.

“I thought if I could just survive into my 50s then I’d be OK,” she said, admitting that roles for female actors drop off remarkably as they get older.

“If you get the job and do a good job, you get the next one. I think that’s what’s happened to me. I feel very secure… but maybe I’m just getting to that point where I just don’t worry about anything.

“You can say this is a renaissance and getting slammed back into the public eye again, but there’s a warm familiarity to it.”

Hell’s Kitchen will premiere on Channel Seven on Sunday, August 6, from 7pm.

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IP China to get new headquarters in $40m upgrade

05.13.2019, Comments Off on IP China to get new headquarters in $40m upgrade, 苏州夜生活, by .

Public servants at ‘s intellectual property agency are set to benefit from a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its headquarters in Woden.
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Work is set to begin in early 2018 on an estimated $39.7 million refurbishment of IP ‘s office at Discovery House, which is currently the subject of a parliamentary standing committee.

Details for the upgrade were released in IP ‘s submission to the committee, made public in late July, which include a new 60-place childcare centre, the construction of a ‘health and well-being room’ for yoga and pilates classes, as well as reconfiguring conference rooms and office spaces.

A multi-puprose amenities room is also planned for the redesign, which can hold more than 200 people, as a business centre that can fit up top 20 visitors.

The planned upgrades are subject to the approval of the standing committee, as well as the successful negotiation of a 15-year lease of the site from the building’s owner.

In its submission, IP said the proposal is designed to future proof the agency, with some of its current facilities in Woden “no longer entirely fit for purpose”.

“The accommodation refresh will create an efficient, adaptable and sustainable workplace desuigned to support flexible work practices,” the submission read.

“It is anticipated that at the conclusion of the works, 2000 square metres of office space will be freed and become available to sub-let to another government agency.”

The government department, which administers trade marks and patents in has more than 1150 workers based out of Woden, making up 10 per cent of all public servants based in the suburb.

The proposed development of IP ‘s headquarters comes after the agency developed a report in 2015 looking into the accommodation of its workforce.

The report found several limitations with the current workplace arrangements, with the accommodation being “not only dated, but no longer entirely fit for purpose”.

Other findings from the report included the current workplace density at IP was 13.2 square metres per person, below the 14 square metre per person target mandated by the Department of Finance.

As part of the proposed upgrade, the ratio of meeting rooms at Discovery House would be improved and more shared spaces would be added.

IP was the only body to make a submission to the committee

Public hearings on the multi-million dollar proposal are expected to be held some time this month.

If approved, the redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2019.

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