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John Passant

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July 2010



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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)



WorkChoices – it’s alive!

WorkChoices is dead, buried, cremated.

Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition, trying to inter a policy which destroyed the previous Coalition Government.

It isn’t.  Labor’s Fair Work Act retains most of the worst elements of WorkChoices. While some call it WorkChoices Lite Labor’s industrial laws are, apart from some changes, WorkChoices disguised.

Here are some of the similarities.

WorkChoices outlawed what is called “pattern bargaining”.  This is just spreading good agreements (real wage increases and better conditions for example) from one enterprise to others throughout the industry, backed up by industrial action if needed.

Labor’s version of WorkChoices too bans this type of bargaining.   It does this because enterprise bargaining necessarily weakens workers ability to win better pay and conditions as compared to wider bargaining.  In other words Labor kept Howard’s ban so bosses can screw workers more.

Labor has kept Howard’s limits on what can be included in agreements.  Thus, for example, employers can’t agree to collect bargaining fees from non-unionists.  Environmental and social matters are also banned from agreements.

One of the main features of WorkChoices was that it limited the right of unions to enter onto work sites. Labor’s Fair Work Act keeps these entry restrictions in a modified form.  

The main point is that it is employers who decide the details of entry of officials.  So this makes it much harder for unions to service members, recruit new members and organise activities in defence of their workers.  Again Labor is on the bosses’ side.

The Act also keeps Howard’s secret ballots. These are not mechanisms for democracy. Delays through secret ballots conservatise the process and allow the employer, the media and the Government to pressure workers.

Sometimes strike action needs to happen immediately (eg over safety issues the bosses refuse to address). The real democratic alternative is mass meetings in which workers get to hear a range of arguments about striking or not striking and take a decision then and there about how to respond to whatever the issue or issues are.  Those who do not attend are giving proxy rights to those who do and are bound by the decisions.

WorkChoices had fines for unprotected action.  Labor’s Fair Work Act keeps these fines. It also bans strike pay.

The Fair Work Act also kept Howard’s minimum 4 hour loss of pay for “unauthorised” stop work meetings.  No stoppage to my mind is unauthorised.  This is a way of intimidating workers not to meet on important and suddenly developing issues or impose bans and the like. Labor is on the side of the bosses.

Finally the Government has kept the Australian Building and Construction Commission.  The ABCC has powers that are draconian and do not apply in any other industry.  Building and construction workers should be treated like every other worker.

The ABCC is not there to clean up the industry – no successful prosecutions of workers came out of the Cole Royal Commission – but to tame militant building unions from winning better pay and conditions.

It is on Gillard’s watch that building worker Ark Tribe faces six months in jail for not attending a hearing with the ABCC over a union safety meeting.

All in all Labor’s Fair Work Act is much like Howard’s hated WorkChoices. That’s why Tony Abbott says he can live with it.

Of course he really wants to extend it further, and give the bosses more ‘flexibility’. But he won’t say that in the run up to the election.

Let’s be clear. If the economy worsens as the global economy goes into a double dip recession, both sides will attack our living standards and our unions in the name of profits.

The way to defeat WorkChoices is to defeat Labor’s copy – Fair Work –  through strike action.



Comment from Marco
Time July 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hi John,

As the old Spanish saying goes “as a sample [of the garden] here is a bud”:

“Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said both major parties should consider workplace reform.

“‘There are areas in the Fair Work Act where it has been demonstrably shown that amendments are required,’ she said. ‘While we are not seeking wholesale changes, the next government will need to keep an open mind on amending the act in a number of areas.’

“Ms Ridout said cutting the company tax rate to 25 per cent, lifting vocational education and training funding by $660 million a year to address skills shortages, and maintaining the rollout of a national broadband network should be among the priorities of both parties.

“While junior miners are calling for the mining tax to disappear, the rise in compulsory superannuation from 9 per cent to 12 per cent has also gained a new opponent. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the super rise would add $20 billion to employer payments.”

“What business wants: truth, respect and tax cuts” by Matthew Murphy. HMS. 20-07-2010.

I could sniff money in every word from that article, but I didn’t find any reference to truth, respect or love, though.

Comment from John
Time July 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Thanks Marco. Truth and respect are of themselves money. The more money one has the more ‘truth’ and ‘respect’ one has. Ask the mining maggots.

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