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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Fair Work Australia – champagne or cats’ piss?

Were colleagues in your workplace breaking out the champagne to celebrate the beginning of Labor’s Fair Work laws?  Yours neither.

The reason is simple.  For most workers Labor’s industrial relations laws are a continuation of Howard’s laws with some minor adjustments.

For building workers they are a disaster. Gillard’s gestapo on building sites will continue to arrest workers for taking industrial action over safety issues. 

How many building workers will Rudd and Gillard sacrifice on the altar of profit for  building bosses?

Rudd’s new industrial laws won’t make much difference where it really counts – saving jobs and increasing real wages.

Industrial action could defend jobs and win real wage increases by pushing back the boundaries of profitability, but union leaders and a fair section of the workforce won’t do that.  Yet.

Most union officials accept the logic of capitalism and the need for wage restraint.

For many employees the fear of job losses forces them to accept wage cuts.

For example here in Canberra teachers have accepted 6 percent over two years reluctantly because of the financial climate and calls from the ACT Labor Government for wage restraint.  Their agreement sets the new low for wage restraint for other Canberra public servants.

In the Tax Office workers have just voted for a wage cutting job cutting agreement.  But despite all the rhetoric of the bosses  44 percent of staff who voted still voted against it. 

The agreement will see the ATO attack staff over the next few years, slowly, slowly slowly spreading the disease of contract type work and reduced conditions and hours to more and more staff.

They hope the frog won’t notice the water heating up until it begins to boil.

But 6000 staff voting against the rotten deal is a good base for the CPSU to build on – first recruiting many of them, and secondly becoming more militant and standing up to job cuts and wage cuts on the shop floor. 

The AMWU- the metalworkers’ union –  is preparing to launch a campaign for real wage increases.  Despite what the daily Torygraph and its big brother The Australian argue, there is nothing remarkable about this. 

The wages share of GNP is at its lowest in the history of records being kept.

Wage cuts won’t save jobs.  They will, at best, postpone sackings for a few months and also transfer job losses to consumer sensitive areas, which will then multiply to some of the productive areas of the economy.

Rudd’s Fair Pay Commission is likely to deliver real wage cuts to workers on the minimum and low wages. That’s why the AMWU campaign is so important.

If metal workers can win real pay increases these can flow through to the low paid.

Labor as boss shows where its interests really lie.

In Queensland teachers are about to strike against the Bligh Labor Government.  The teachers’ union has been negotiating since November last year for a pay increase and job security.

It was only after teachers struck in May that the Queensland Government offered a 12.5 percent increase over 3 years. 

This would still leave them at the bottom of the pay scale nationally within 12 months. 

The teachers have rejected the offer and will strike at the end of July and into August.

Rudd’s industrial laws don’t radically alter the incredible power that bosses have over workers in the workplace. They reinforce it.

And as some unions begin to move against the reality of Labor’s Workchoices Lite – see for example John’s article on Rudd’s Workchoices last December – we may be witnessing an historic break between industrial and political reformism.

Queensland teachers are showing us that industrial action has a much better chance of getting real wage increases and protecting jobs than relying on Rudd’s largess and industrial laws.


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