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John Passant

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November 2011



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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)



Victory to Victorian nurses

The other day Victorian nurses imposed bans in their fight for better pay and the retention of nurse patient ratios. The hospitals have cancelled elective surgery as a consequence.

The Baillieu Government in Victoria and the  Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association sought and won orders from Fair Work Australia suspending the action on the grounds it was endangering patients.

The Nurses Federation and their members refused to comply with the order and continued their action.  

The  Victorian Hospitals Industrial Association then provided evidence to Fair Work that the bans had continued. The Fair Work Commissioner ordered the nurses to end their industrial action and reopen beds by 7.30pm on Friday (today).  She also ordered  that all nurses be told of her order by 4.30pm.

If the bans continue then the Victorian Government can seek orders in the Federal Court which would give it the power to seek fines for nurses and their union for their unprotected industrial action and also seek to jail them.

There is a precedent for this. The previous Victorian Labor Government took court action against the nurses in 2007.

Both Labor and the Liberals represent the one percent.

These attacks on the nurses are all occurring under the Labor Party’s Fair Work Act which essentially makes industrial action illegal except in certain bargaining periods (ie when the negotiated agreement ends and workers have voted in favour of action)  or when Fair Work Australia orders that the protected action end. The Fair Work Act is a law of the one percent.

It is not yet clear what the Nurses Federation will do in response to this order today. Certainly they have distributed material to members advising them of the Tribunal’s decision. That however is not the same as saying they will end action.

At their last mass meeting to impose the bans, it was made clear to members that only a further mass meeting could lift the action. Here’s what one of their posts to members ends up with after yesterday’s orders. ”Members are reminded that we resolved that our industrial action would continue until an agreement was accepted at a statewide members meeting –  a meeting is scheduled for Monday 21 November at 2pm at Festival Hall.’ 

That presumably means nurses will continue with their action, and hopefully on Monday reaffirm it and perhaps take further action. However the Victorian union leader Lisa Fitzpatrick has been reported as saying that ‘the union would ‘try to ensure that beds were opened from 7.30 tonight.’ If so, then this capitulation could mean the fight is over before it starts.

However recent reports indicate nurses may still be closing beds. Monday’s meeting will decide the way forward. More action will win this for them. That means they may decide to defy the law and risk fines and jail.

In 1969 the Tramways Union was fined for taking industrial action. Clarrie O’Shea, their leader, refused to pay. John Kerr jailed him. Rolling stoppages across Australia saw a virtual general strike hit th country. An anonymous benefactor paid the fine and the penal provisions became a dead letter for a decade.

Victorian nurses have the power to destroy the system of fines and threats of jail that are part and parcel of Labor’s Fair Work Act. They could possibly do it on their own, given the level of public support for them. 

They could escalate the action, for example, by walking off the job. They aren’t threatening patients – Baillieu and Fair Work Australia are by bullying nurses in the justified fight for better pay and for the retention of current nurse patient ratios.

Then the whole rotten edifice of fines and jail could become a dead letter and allow workers the right to take action for better wages, conditions and to defend jobs at any time.And what  a magnificent lesson for other workers – the way forward is industrial action, not the game playing that the Fair Work Act imposes on you.

Indeed, such is the importance of this dispute that other workers and unions should be mobilising in support of the nurses to help them smash Labor’s draconian and anti-worker Fair Work Act and win better pay and conditions.


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