Tag Archives: Rank and File


The Left on Labour Day 2011

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Labour Day, Brisbane, 2011 Socialist groups missed an opportunity this Labour Day. There has been a shift inside the Labour movement and the Left has not recognised it fully nor have they responded to it. Observe the Labour Day march … Continue reading


Brisbane Labour Day Celebrations 2011

This gallery contains 3 photos.

The Qld Council of Unions Labour Day Committee have organised a March and Celebration to be held on Monday 2 May, 2011. 10:00am March Commences from the Cnr of Wharf & Turbot Sts, please check with your union for details … Continue reading

Hard Times for economic refugees

As people are already aware, the main focus of the 2007 election campaign is interest rates on housing mortgages. This is underlined by the number of times the shadow treasurer, Wayne Swan, mentioned interest rates in the debate with Treasurer Costello on 30 October 2007.

Video: Port Hedland Refugee Detention Centre, 2001

Unfortunately it is the lower paid people with large mortgages that will pay for banks increasing the cost of borrowing.

Who can blame these people for their concern?

Especially those who have paid off mortgages and the others who hold shares in banks that are producing record profits and returns on investment.

The latter have benefited from the current boom in the economy.

This is a system that rewards the better off while lower paid, time-strapped workers pay the price.

Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs)

For example, Telstra, with its record profits, recently offered their technicians AWAs.

One was offered an extra $5000 a year for working an extra hour per day and no travel allowance.

As a result, he will be on a reduced hourly rate.

This is the impact of WorkChoices – a reduced hourly rate, loss of allowances and penalty rates and increased control by the employer.

This later point will be useful to governments (Labor or Liberal) in downturns.

The impact is devastating for the unskilled and bad for the skilled but more surreptitious.
As Gore Vidal said: “It is not enough that some will succeed, others must fail.”

For those that wish to read the analysis behind these statements you can read the LeftPress publication After the Waterfront: the workers are quiet

Your Rights at Work

The slogan “Your Rights at Work” is now part of Australia’s popular culture.

For example, trainers who run onto the field during 2007 National Rugby League finals wear “Your Rights at Work” T-shirts, their slogan viewed by millions.

BushTelegraph published the ALP’s industrial relations policy when it was released in May 2007.

In the lead up to the 2007 Federal election, unions are urging members to enrol to vote so they can vote against the federal government’s WorkChoices legislation.

At the same time Labor Party IR policy has changed – in the interest of employers – so much so that the Labor Party will not support ‘the right to strike’ or the ‘the right of entry’ into workplaces by unions.

Australian Council of Trade Union President, Sharan Burrows, has gone along with the ALP policy change and endorsed stickers indicating a stand that workers rights are no longer worth fighting for in the workplace but only worth voting for.

History of the “Your Rights at Work” Slogan:

Nov 2005: Your Rights At Work – Worth fighting forYour Rights At Work – Worth fighting and voting for

Nov 2006: Your Rights At Work – Worth fighting and voting for

Sept 2007: Your Rights At Work – Worth voting for

Your Rights At Work – Worth voting for

The Accord

Many workers will remember the Labor government’s Accord in the 1980s. We know that it took away workers rights with little compensation.

September 2007 opinion polls indicate that workers are now waiting for the Labor Party to win the 2007 Federal election when it is held.

Workers want Howard gone – fair enough.

But after the election workers are doomed to start over again to defend our rights at work!

The reasons for this can be found in the book:  After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet by the LeftPress Collective.

If you are interested in finding out more about the book, write to LeftPress at PO Box 5093, West End 4101 or email leftpress@optusnet.com.au

Ian Curr
September 2007

“labor opportunists
‘ave taken “U”
out of labour”
Comrade Jim Sharp

Support the Palm Island community in their bid to run the Palm Island store.

Please sign the open letter, in the following link, to the Qld. government in support of the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation’s bid to manage the Palm Island store instead of government appointees.

Please  distribute the link through your networks.


  The Palm Island store is currently owned by the Queensland Government.  It charges inflated prices to subsidise the transport of goods to other Aboriginal communities in Queensland.    The government has recently announced that the store is to be privatised, and there are two competitors for the tender.  One is  the Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) and the other is a gaggle of bureacrats and mainly non-Palm Islanders supported by the state government.

from the PICSAC 




ABN 95 384 533 636

C/-Cecilia Sibley, Farm Road Palm Island

July 2007

The Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) was incorporated in February 2007, as a result of a public meeting held on Palm Island in December 2006.

The Queensland Government has announced plans to privatise the store, and has designed a tender process.

Anyone wishing to take part in the tender process will need to comply with the tender requirements and have in place a developed business plan setting out how the store will be managed and run, how it will be financed and how it will benefit the community.

We submitted an application to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations for funding to prepare a business plan. That application was approved and the business plan is now being prepared.

Ian James is working with Lex Wotton and the corporation committee to prepare the business plan so that when tenders are called the corporation can bid to own and control the store on behalf of ALL PALM ISLANDERS.

There is no definite date set at present for privatisation, but is expected in the near future.

To tender successfully, the bidder will have to show how it can run and finance the store, that it represents the majority of the Palm Island community and that it has in place the expertise to ensure sound governance.

Outback Stores Pty Ltd is a professional store management operator, set up by Indigenous Business Australia to assist communities to operate stores. Outback Stores has the knowledge, skill, money and the buying capacity to operate the store efficiently and according to the wishes and needs of the community. Outback Stores is able to operate the store for a community group, provided it is operated for the benefit of the whole community.

Outback Stores has visited the community twice to explain how it can partner a community group and operate the store.

The objective of the PICSAC is to provide a vehicle to represent all Palm Islanders in bidding for the store tender. To achieve this, the corporation needs to widely hear the views of Palm Islanders, and to develop agreement about the objectives of the store.

PICSAC believes that a democratically elected governing committee, comprising a majority of residents of Palm Island, should direct Outback Stores and determine the use of store profits.

It is expected that at the time of privatisation, the government will provide funds for some major spending on the store building and facilities.

This Project is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Indigenous Small Business Fund, which is administered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.






  • The government has announced it will privatise the store, and that the ownership and control of the store will be returned to the community.

  • The Department of Communities has formed a corporation called Palm Island Community Company Pty Ltd which it intends will take over ownership and control of the store.

  • The Government Corporation is a Government Business Enterprise which will charge for its fee-based services, and directors’ fees and distribute any profits remaining according to the wishes of its directors.

  • Its directors will be made up of 2 from the Federal Government, 2 from the Queensland Government, 2 from Local Government, 1 Traditional Owner, 1 Community representative, with an independent chairperson.

  • In this model, 1 community member is elected and 3 are appointed, with 5 outsiders appointed
    Although the plans for this corporation have been made public, there is almost no awareness of its existence in the Palm Island community.



  • Palm Island Community Store Aboriginal Corporation (PICSAC) has been formed to create a community vehicle to own and operate the store.

  • We can engage a professional management company, Outback Stores Pty Ltd, which can bring enormous buying power, & working capital. OS charges a fee of 4% of turnover, to operate the store using local staff, and the profits would be retained within the Palm Island community.

  • Outback Stores operates by direction from a management committee representing the community organisation.

  • The profits can be returned in full to the community with none spent on a Government Business Enterprise.

  • The use of profits should be determined by a democratically elected committee made up of a majority of Palm Islanders, for the benefit of the whole community.

  • Plans are advanced and unless the community acts now, the store will pass from one government department to another government vehicle, and be lost to the community forever. The tendering process is ‘on hold’ at present but planned for September 2007.

  • In a comparable PICSAC model, 5 community members are elected, with a maximum of 4 outsiders being appointed.


The government has been promising to hand the store to the community for more than 20 years.

PICSAC is a vehicle for all to join, to enable one tender on behalf of the whole community.

We want to ensure the community can bid to own and operate the store on behalf of the whole community-with no profits to be spent on another government body.

We are presently speaking to as many people as we can to inform all people & obtain support on Palm Island.





Palm Island background from Kalkadoon.org

Palm Island background from Senator Andrew Bartlett

No Action on Worker Suicides at Telstra

‘Tonight (18 June 2007) on Four Corners, in an economy demanding constant change in the workplace, the anger and distress of those who have experienced the cultural shift taking place in one of our biggest and most powerful companies — Telstra.’ — Tough Calls telecast on the ABCs 4 Corners program, 18 June 2007. Continue reading


The Aboriginal community and all supporters of justice are invited to…. Dawn Service When: Sat May 26, 6:45am Where: Sorry Park, Cnr Hill End Tce & Forbes St, West End Marking the 40th anniversary of the victory of the 1967 … Continue reading

“He can’t work, he is useless”

The QUT HR spin doctors put out propaganda with slogans like “Real people, Real service” when this institution is about “Real Money and Real Business“.

But what about the workers, teachers and students at Universities? How many times have you heard management say that one of their staff (admin worker or teacher) are useless? Even workers and teachers take up this chant against their workmates and colleagues.

It is Universities that have power to act on these prejudices as a result of an EBA signed by five unions including the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU).

The QUT Professional Staff Agreement 2005 – 2008 states:

“47.2 Notwithstanding any other provisions of this clause the University may at any time during the probation period confirm or terminate the employment of a probationary staff member.”

(My emphasis)

1. Did the union EBA negotiators understand this clause when they recommended the EBA to members?

Answer: If it can be blamed on another union it will be, if it can be blamed on WorkChoices it will be, if it can be blamed on the prior Workplace Relations Act… if it can be blamed on an individual… just so long as the nature of the master/servant relationship is not challenged openly in struggle. The deals have to be done, the only way forward is through the parliament, Labor must be elected

2. If they did, how could they recommend giving management the power to sack workers summarily?

Answer: This clause is not in the QUT Academics EBA. The NTEU did not negotiate the EBA for professional staff (sic) … the collective has gone, academic and professional staff are divided, professional staff are too concerned with their own individual pursuits. People voted for Howard.

3. Why is this clause in the QUT Professional staff agreement and not in the QUT Academic Staff agreement?

4. Has the union signed up to similar clauses in EBA agreements in other tertiary institutions?

Nowhere is there a collective strategy to challenge management where the power resides — in the workplace.

Those academics interested in industrial relations join the industrial club with human resources staff, union reps, and IR lawyers rather than organise for workers rights.
The career path for union organisers has gone down the path of professionalism like the teachers and general staff they represent, so that in the end many represent management.

Unions have known for over ten years how bad the unfair dismissal laws are. The Workplace Relations Act 1996 made them more unfair.
So much so that in 2003/2004 only 42 workers were reinstated out of over 8,000 unfair dismissal claims in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC). Good luck to the 42 but these were the ones that where the cases were heard by an IR Comissioner, what about all the others that never got that far, were bullied and harrassed out of claiming unfair dismissal.

Yes, it takes years to be build a collective, a union of workers, this task should have begun ten years ago yet it has been put off in the interest of legality, to have labor-in-power—a collective postponed for ten years as union decline worsened.

No union should have agreed to this clause or accepted it after it was agreed to by another union; not for the promise of university funding, not for increased staffing, not for more casual jobs, nor for anything.
This clause and its agreement by the unions involved gives the employer unfettered right to summarily dismiss a person on probation.
The union should be about preventing unfair dismissal before they occur. The NTEU website says:

“The NTEU is currently carrying out a widespread national and local campaign in support of the workplace rights and conditions of university staff. “

If this be true, how could the NTEU (and other unions) have let this clause slip under the radar? The union may choose to throw resources to help people who have already been sacked but the horse has already bolted.

Unfair Dismissal
I was one of the admin workers affected by this EBA, I was first sacked by my supervisor on 7 Feb 2007 at QUT under this EBA and then sacked again by the University HR department a few weeks later. Here is my story of unfair dismissal not to be hidden by the defeatist or the compromised under challenge from a HR department clearing the way for business and profit in the higher education sector.

Union Negotiation
The Director of HR Services at QUT, Graham MACAULEY called a compulsory meeting for 2 March 2007 ostensibly to hear my response to the allegations made against me by management. The real reason was that my probation was to expire on 4 March 2007 and he believed it would be easier to sack me during probation. Hence the pretext at giving me a response to what he had heard from my supervisor.

The NTEU’s industrial officer in Brisbane had been speaking to QUT HR management about my case during February 2007.

After the meeting on Friday 2 March 2007 with QUT management I wrote to the National Tertiary Education Union’s industrial officer, Leah Cenciq, asking the following questions:

  1. What reason was given to you today by the QUT HR Director, Graham MACAULEY, for my termination?
  2. Could you provide me with his written reasons?
  3. You did not tell me that the management rep at today’s meeting, Ms Jane Banney, Deputy Director of HR at QUT was a former organiser with the Qld Public Sector Union [QPSU]?
  4. Was it Jane Banney who told you about the BushTelegraph article “He Can’t Work, He’s Useless”?
  5. Did Jane Banney tell you that Graham MACAULEY would challenge that article at the meeting?
  6. After the meeting you told me how smart Jane Banney [HR Deputy Director] is. When I asked why you answered with a question ‘couldn’t you tell?’
  7. Do you regard Jane Banney’s transformation to management rep. as a valid career path for a union organiser? (emphasis not included in email to Ms Cenciq) What discussions did you have with the Deputy Director HR about my case?As yet I have received no reply from the NTEU. The industrial officer fired back a scanned image of the letter from the HR Director dated 2 March 2007 confirming my sacking (see attached). The HR Director has provided no reasons for my termination either at the 90 minute meeting or in his letter below. Logically it follows that a person can be sacked with no reason given under the QUT EBA.

It was only after I received this response with no reply to my questions from the industrial officer have I published this story.

Labor Response
The former Labor leader, Beazley, said at the WorkChoices Rally at SouthBank in June 2006 that he would rip up the IR laws on the condition that workers in each workplace voted against Australian Workplace Agreements [AWAs].

The new labor leader, Rudd, is supporting small business over unfair dismissal. He is supporting laws favourable to contractors and unfavourable to workers.

Unions should rip up this enterprise agreement and others like it. The QUT EBA is anti-worker, it is anti-union.

Failed Individuals
As if to shove my failure down my throat I received the following (almost festive) email on 13 March 207 from the NTEU declaring the birthday of WorkChoices:

As we approach the first anniversary of John Howard’s workplace laws it’s time for an assessment of their impact on the community. Hear some views from all sides from our expert panel:
it’s been one year!
Professor David Peetz (IR academic from Griffith University)
Hon John Mickel (Queensland Industrial Relations Minister)
Grace Grace (General Secretary, Queensland Council of Unions)
Stephen Nance (Manager, Workplace Relations, Commerce
Andrew Johnson (Justice and International Mission Advocate,
Uniting Church)

The experts do not get it. They talk about the effect of WorkChoices on the community. They mean the electorate. What about the workers? When the Queensland Council of Unions began this campaign they held meetings of delegates and ran through statistics about marginal seats without first addressing whether Labor would have the capacity to deliver on WorkChoices. Delegates tried to put up motions for industrial action but were prevented.

Management have assigned workers to ‘failed individual’ status. Even if workers chose the collective, they could not have it, they are seen as individuals, failed ones at that. This is how Labor sees workers as well, not to be trusted with power, only as voters every three years.

And they want workers to vote for the Rudd elite over the Howard elite.

Management consign many workers to the status of failed individuals in society.

The unemployed person is the classic.

It is he/she that society blames.

Have solidarity and collective action disappeared from the workplace at higher education instiutions like QUT? Is the NTEU a union of workers, or is it a professional association, interested in legalistic, liberal professional elites and not in workers democratic rights?

Change will only come from the workers, teachers and students themselves, this story above demonstrates that it will come from nowhere else. Under capitalism, if you can’t work, you are useless — you are no longer a real person. Only in a socialist society will workers have democratic rights.

Ian Curr
15 March 2007

WorkChoices Rally

For a description of the 28 June 2006 Union rally against the WorkChoices legislation you can download the document below: